By Clio V. Rourke | @cvrourke
Pepsi has launched a simple but effective strategy to gather and engage (young) Twitter followers: Pepsi’s social media campaign “Live for Now Music,” rewards consumers who follow the brand on Twitter and use the hashtag #PepsiMusicNOW in their tweets with free MP3 downloads. Music videos and “pop-up concerts” are also part of the campaign. The “Now” in the campaign is being generated by Twitter. As part of the partnership between Pepsi and Twitter, once a week “Pepsi will analyze the music-related Twitter posts of its American users and will publish a video commentary (also on Twitter) about whatever music people are talking about most,” reports The New York Times. The campaign’s pop-up concerts will be featured on Twitter as well, live-streamed, and Pepsi’s followers will be able to request songs through tweeting. “Live for Now Music” is part of Pepsi’s global ad campaign “Live for Now,” which launched earlier this month. “Live for Now Music” obviously aims at reaching younger consumers, whose brand loyalty is precious for soft drinks.
By Jessica Ciccone | @jblciccone
I recently returned from a trip to France with my husband and parents. When I decided to write about my experience, I wasn’t sure where to start. Should I talk about the crazy French television? Maybe the popularity of French rap? (Who knew that even existed?!) Or perhaps I should let everyone know that the stereotypes aren’t true – the French are actually extremely nice to American tourists! (At least they were to us!) In the end, I decided to ponder the ways the French lifestyle is healthier and, in my opinion, better. My thoughts…
They take their time. In the US we’re always in a hurry. We take our food to go and get our coffee in a travel mug on the way to work. In France the café is king. I think I only saw one place that advertised coffee to-go. If you want your morning cappuccino, you better sit down and drink it. And if you want take-out for dinner, you can forget about it. When you sit down at a restaurant you better block off two or three hours. I think I had a mild anxiety attack the first time I sat in a European restaurant waiting for a check.
They walk everywhere. After their three hour dinner, French people don’t usually just hop in their car. They walk. They ride their bike. They take public transportation. With so many places in Europe only accessibly by foot, it is often the best way. Not to mention petrol is hard to come by. Most European cities don’t have petrol stations in the city limits at all. Can you imagine a US city without a gas station? Incomprehensible!
They take breaks. Don’t plan on shopping between the hours of noon and 2:00pm. Everything will be closed. Who can argue with a nice, long lunch break? Sundays, Mondays and holidays aren’t a sure bet either. Trying to go to a winery on Ascension Thursday proved to be a problem for us Americans. Nothing was open, but the French had planned for it. They spent time with their families, went to the park, sat in the cafés for hours.
They eat better and less. If it’s not in season you won’t get it. Everything is fresh off the farm. Eating local is the norm. And don’t expect to need a doggie bag. The portion sizes are small. You can often eat a few small dishes and not be full. You might even have room for desert without needing to be rolled away. Of course the fact that no one snacks very much is helpful. Somehow they can sustain themselves on bread, cheese and pork. Not a bad diet in my opinion.
While I missed a few things when I was abroad – hydration for one (why doesn’t anyone seem to drink water in France?) – I definitely think we can learn quite a lot from our European friends. After all, they have a much higher life expectancy – and I’ll take that!
By Hilary Allard | @hallard
A recent ABC News story focused on the fact that marketers are moving toward embracing diversity – where JC Penney once turned away from Ellen DeGeneres when she came out on her sitcom, they have now hired her as spokesperson.
The story cites marketers featuring gay and interracial couples in their campaigns, in line with America’s diverse family profiles.
Historically, marketers surely hesitated to broaden their advertising appeal at the risk of “offending” some customers. (And, unfortunately, JC Penney has faced its own backlash from a group railing against its relationship with Ellen.)
None of this would be possible, I don’t think, without the success of the sitcom “Modern Family.” The program has shown that Americans will embrace a (hilarious) show about a white family with gay uncles who have an adopted Vietnamese daughter, an older dad with a younger Columbian wife, and, well, a neurotic couple and their precocious kids.
The show shines a light on what most people already know – that their own “modern families” quietly get up every morning, go to work and school, get dinner on the table, and watch some TV. They celebrate birthdays and holidays, take vacations and slug through life’s ups and downs together.
Of course there is money to be made for marketers who expand their target audiences, perhaps less a social change movement than a business opportunity: everyone needs to go to the grocery store, buy new shoes or look for a new car.
Whatever the motive, if marketers’ moves toward embracing diversity help create tolerance, that’s a good thing.
By Clio V. Rourke | @cvrourke
I’m sure you have been asked for your customer review by Amazon.com and other vendors plenty of times. Did you immediately delete those requests from your inbox? Why? Because they lacked an incentive for submitting a review. If you invest precious time in actually writing a review on a product instead of just “liking” it (or not), there should be some sort of reward, right? Sears agrees. The retailer’s Facebook campaign “love.hate” – “Love it? Hate it? Sears wants your opinion” – compensates Sears customers for product reviews – and, at the same time, earns Sears PR-points for corporate philanthropy. For every product review they submit via the love.hate Facebook tab, Sears’ customers can cast a vote for one of currently four charities (WWF, World Vision, American Cancer Society, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital). Every other week, Sears will “award a donation to (and then eliminate!) the charity with the least number of votes.” The last charity standing receives the grand prize of $100,000. The love.hate campaign is a win-win on multiple levels: All charities get donations. Customers can easily support their cause without having to spend much time, or any money. Sears gets consumer insights and, if the reviews are positive, free consumer endorsement. Negative reviews provide valuable feedback as well, since the feedback can be used for PR and marketing efforts. And of course Sears also gets the before mentioned points for corporate philanthropy. Love it!
By Callie Ziobro | @CallieZiobro
A colleague of mine shared the commercial below with our team last week, and in light of the recent Mother’s Day holiday, I thought I’d share it with all of you as well.
In its latest commercial, Procter & Gamble portrays motherhood as the best job in the world by showcasing Olympic athletes and what their mother’s did to help them get to where they are today.
Overall, this is one the better commercials I’ve seen for some time. It has an all-around great message as we gear up for the 2012 Olympic Games. However, watching it made me wonder why Procter & Gamble chose the direction that they did. My thoughts:
As a sponsor of the upcoming Summer Olympics in London, P&G was able to reach its target market of moms in multiple countries around the world without releasing different commercials in each market – they were able to bring it all together under one common theme.
By showing appreciation for moms and all that they do for their children, P&G “hits you where the heart is.” With this commercial as the start, P&G has launched an entire “Thank You, Mom” campaign leading up to the Olympic Games. The homepage of the company’s website highlights the new campaign.
P&G limited showing of products until the last few seconds of the commercial. More effectively, they showed moms doing everyday tasks to take care of their children, such as laundry and dishes.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, “For generations, Procter & Gamble Co.'s growth strategy was focused on developing household staples for the vast American middle class. Now, P&G executives say many of its former middle-market shoppers are trading down to lower-priced goods…” This commercial follows that model by showing not only middle class families, but also focusing on lower-end markets, showing how everyone can use P&G products, especially with the newer line of bargain-priced items. Today, many companies are adjusting their marketing strategies to appeal to lower-end markets and bargain shoppers in the wake of the recent recession.
Let us know what you think of Procter & Gamble’s newest commercial. We'd like to hear your thoughts about their marketing tactics and messaging.
By Deborah Spencer | @DeborahASpencer
As promised in my last blog post, here’s another tip that I learned from a Constant Contact compliance representative that will help you obtain the best open rates, ensure your email is not tagged as spam and stay in good standing with ISP providers.
A well thought our “From” name is an important element to a successful email marketing campaign. There are several things to keep in mind when creating a “From” name for the best possible open rate.
1. A “From” name should have the most well known or branded company information in it. This is usually the Company name or well known initials utilized by the Company. For instance, an email coming from The Castle Group could read:
From: The Castle Group
2. A “From” name should not contain personal information, such as the president's name or the head of marketing, unless they are better known to your list of recipients than the Company name.
An exception would be if your company has collected contacts on the strength of a personal name. This would be an appropriate situation to include a personal name in the “From” field of your email. Castle finds it appropriate to use our founders’ names when the message is more personal or the recipients are more personally connected to them.
From: Sandy Lish
From: Wendy Spivak
Note: If you choose include a personal name in the “From” field, change where the replies are sent. You don’t want to fill up your senior staff’s inbox with automatic replies including out of office replies and system undeliverables. We prefer that automatic replies go to Castle’s database manager, so she can keep our mailing list scrubbed and up to date.
3. If a personal name is the most recognizable to your recipient list, don’t just rely on that personal name alone for deliverability purposes. Many spammers have begun using personal names in the “From” field to create a false sense of security. In order to further set yourself apart, take advantage of the Subject line (see my previous blog post) to make clear that it’s your company. For example:
Subject: Castle’s Summer Newsletter
Look for the next installment of Another Recipe for Spam.
By Clio V. Rourke | @cvrourke
The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico happened two years ago; if it happened this year, would there be a disaster app for it? The environmental group Friends of the Earth Netherlands/Milieudefensie is currently promoting a – fake – oil spill iPhone app as part of its campaign “Worse Than Bad.” Worse Than Bad is an attack campaign on oil company Shell with the goal “to hold Shell accountable for their reckless pollution in the Niger Delta,” one of the company’s major drilling areas. In an – also fake – ad on YouTube, a Shell spokesperson played by actor David Rasche introduces the “innovative solution” to oil spills in the Delta. An app with the cynical name “Live with it” rewards residents for reporting a spill with points that can be exchanged for “helpful survival gear” and finds alternative water sources as soon as the local water has become undrinkable (the nearest source is 237 miles away). A feature called “The Pipeline Express” provides escape routes away from dangerous gas flares.
Shell actually does have an iPhone app, “Investors & Media,” but as its name indicates, it has been designed for investors.
From a PR standpoint, what do you think of the campaign, and how will, or should, Shell react? Let us know your thoughts.
By Deborah Spencer | @deborahaspencer
Email campaigns are key to many comprehensive communications programs and, as such, Castle often develops and manages them on our clients’ behalf. Recently, Castle’s Constant Contact account was compromised due to severely high number of bounces and spam reports that resulted from one (1) email that was blasted to a list provided to us by a client.
Don’t let this to happen to you! Here’s one important tip that I learned from a Constant Contact compliance representative that will help your company stay in good standing with ISP providers – and to help ensure your email campaigns are a success.
When writing an effective subject line for email marketing, follow these best practices to help increase your open rates, prevent your email from going directly into junk mail folders and ensure optimum deliverability.
1. Be short and descriptive: No more than 5-8 words or 40 characters. (Did you know that most email providers will truncate, or cut off, subject lines with greater than 60 characters?)
2. Your subject line should not contain words and punctuation commonly used by spammers. Avoid using any of the words and formatting listed below:
- % off
Free (use complimentary, on the house, our treat, be our guest, giveaway, or zero cost instead)
Full words in all caps
Dollar signs ($)
Exclamation points (!) - especially multiple punctuation (!!!!!!!!)
Multiple periods (...)
If your subject line does not comply with these guidelines, it is likely that your email will be routed directly into your contacts' spam folders. Even if the email is filtered into your contact's junk mail folder, they may still report it as spam.
Look for more tips on email marketing in my next blog. We’ll cover topics including: From Name, Permission Reminders and Managing Bounces.
By Erika Kuzmicz | @erika_k
Yesterday, Twitter saw an influx of President Barack Obama mentions after his historic declaration, “I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts. Nationally trending topics for the day included “Same-Sex Marriage Should,” “Mr. President,” “ABC’s Robin Roberts,” #MarriageEquality and “Log Cabin Republicans,” among others.
According to Topsy Labs, a social data company, Obama’s Twitter sentiment was in the negatives as of Wednesday morning. After his announcement of support for same-sex marriage around noon, the president’s sentiment sky-rocketed to an 8 on the Topsy scale (normally a 3 on the scale is seen as a very positive score).
The below tweet by President Obama’s twitter account was retweeted more than 30,000 times just Wednesday afternoon alone and is now up to almost 60,000 retweets. “Obama,” was mentioned a total of 192,433 times in the hour (12 p.m. – 1 p.m.) following the interview yesterday.
So how does this compare to other political events that were largely responded to on social media, such as Twitter? The 2008 Presidential Elections drew in a total of 1.8 million tweets on Election Day and for Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address, there were 800,000 tweets sent out. During President Obama’s speech regarding Osama bin Laden’s death, 306,000 tweets per minute, adding up to over 5,100 tweets per second.
With more people talking about the social issues of our country, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage, rather than the economic, it is clear that this is what the people want to hear from their leaders. With the increasing amount of political action being discussed right on our social media platforms, it’s hard not to wonder if it will dictate the direction of the 2012 Presidential Elections campaigns.
By Wendy Spivak | @castleevents
The Summer Olympics are still a ways off, but already there is buzz, buzz, buzz...about athletes (Michael Phelps was on "60 Minutes" already this week!), sponsors (is it really sending the wrong message for McDonald's to be sponsoring?), and favorite events (synchronized swimming, gymnastics, rowing, or basketball?) I'll admit I'm looking forward to seeing the costumes the countries choose for the opening ceremonies. All exciting, newsworthy, even water-cooler-worthy topics.
But my mind is stuck somewhere else...as an events management expert, I can't help thinking about all the logistics, the legions of staffers charged with managing and executing those logistics, and the countless contingency plans that must be crafted.
Security, travel arrangements, media requests, audio/visual, website presence/uploads/streaming, social media monitoring and execution, seating arrangements, Politics and political maneuvering, permitting issues, presentation materials, talent management, event flow, vendors, caterers, contractors, printers, transportation management, information management, decor, wardrobe, hair and makeup, scripting, community relations....oh, the list goes on.
We managed three events in the past week, and while we execute as if the world is watching, let's face it, they were stellar corporate and nonprofit events, but they weren't the Olympics. At the same time, we have to manage similar lists of logistics every time we run an event.
So when you sit down to watch a volleyball match, gymnastics performance or triathlon, I will be paying attention to a whole other subtext. You might gasp if a gymnast falls off the beam, but I'll be gasping if a mic isn't turned on, an athlete is late for an interview, hotels are overbooked or staging isn't working. I'll be watching the broadcasts and social media channels to see how smoothly all those logistics are running. The Olympics definitely test our athletes, but they also put event planning to the test.
By Clio V. Rourke | @cvrourke
“Slacktivists” and “Slacktivism” (slacker + activist or activism) are two unflattering terms to describe the social media generation and its attitude towards social change, suggesting that its members are making minimal efforts – like posting or tweeting about a cause or signing an email-petition – that result in little more than the individual feeling good about him/herself. Yet small actions can have big results – especially if professionals share their skills for a good cause. Online platform Sparked invites companies and their employees to “microvolunteer.” Sparked matches volunteers with skills-based opportunities that “can be done right from the desktop” and in less than an hour. Those opportunities – Sparked calls them “challenges” – include donating a half-hour of your time and your expertise to review a non-profit organization’s marketing plan or translation work by language professionals or bilingual employees, among other things. “Sparked Employee Volunteering is literally the world's easiest way to volunteer, helping even the busiest employees get involved,” but its outcomes make a tangible difference for non-profit organizations and their causes. It’s a win-win situation: while NPOs benefit from highly skilled volunteers, businesses can use Sparked for their PR efforts, cause marketing, and to organize their volunteers. According to Sparked, participating companies to date include Kraft Foods, SAP, Aegis Media, LinkedIn, Teradata, and the U.S. State Department. Whether criticism of slacktivism is justified or not, the minimal effort Sparked requires is precisely the reason why it works so well. “Typical volunteering engagement for a corporation is around 8%,” Ben Rigby, co-founder of Sparked, told Mashable. “We’re seeing participation rates up in the 50-80 percent range, just because it’s so simple. You can take 15 minutes or two hours and do it when it’s convenient to you.” And how about the results? You can evaluate the outcomes of several initiatives via the Sparked blog, its Facebook page, and its Twitter feed.
By Callie Ziobro | @callieziobro
When planning a trip to The Big Apple, ideas for things to do tend to lean towards the norm - A Broadway show, visiting famous monuments such as the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty, strolling down 5th Avenue and window shopping or ice skating in Rockefeller Center.
When planning your next visit to New York City here are a few activities that stray a bit outside of the box for a chance to explore this vibrant city in a whole new light.
Wine Tasting: It’s true that you won’t find any actual vineyards in New York City. However, New York as a state is the second largest wine producer in the country (next to California). Many shops sell local wines and do tastings daily. Try one of Manhattan’s newest venues, City Winery where visitors can create, learn about and sip delicious wines while listening to great musical acts or enjoying a delicious meal in an inviting, friendly environment. Various classes and tastings are also available to complete this all-in-one venue.
Comedy Show: Many famous comedy acts stop in New York City along their tour routes and there are always shows to see in famous theaters throughout the city. For a comedy show that’s a bit different from the well-known names, try a local comedy club where the freshest talent currently perform and some of the most famous names got their start. The Comedy Cellar is home to New York’s finest new talent; Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock have all graced the stage and continue to make surprise guest appearances, so you never know what you’re going to get! For a kid-friendly version with a Who’s Line Is It Anyway improv vibe visit the National Comedy Theatre.
Cooking Classes: Rather than going out for dinner, try a cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education while you’re in town. Choose from the schools’ myriad of recreational classes if you’re only visiting with a couple of people or setup a private cooking class for a larger group of twelve or more. This is a great way to try something different and learn something new about culinary expertise from the gastronomic capital of the US.
Unique City Tours: A tour, a game, a show, an experience. The Accomplice takes you on the most unique and interactive version of a tour of the city you could imagine. We can’t give away their tour locations or too much information about the experience, but The Accomplice has received rave review from their admiring participants and has been deemed a “must-do” New York City activity. CNN called The Accomplice, “The coolest thing we’ve heard about in a long time.” New York Magazine said it is “Cleverly designed – a heck of a lot of fun!” and Fox 5 New York said, “Genious…Leaves even jaded New Yorkers seeing the city like never before.”
Enjoy your next trip to New York City and post below about your new experiences!
By Kate McCaw | @katemccaw
When a swarm of bees abandons its hive it’s a sign that death is hovering near the house. Where are you?
You’re in Ireland.
If you want to know the name of the person you will marry, put a snail on a plate that’s sprinkled with flour. Cover the plate and leave it overnight. In the morning the initials of your future spouse will be on the plate – put there by the snail.
You’re still in Ireland.
When you see a black cat, hold on to a part of your hair. Otherwise you’ll have bad luck.
Now you’re in Turkey.
Not all black cats are associated with bad luck. A black cat in the audience on an opening night means a successful play. And in the English Midlands, a black cat given as a wedding present will bring good luck to the bride. (I wonder if the Pottery Barn has black cats on its registry.)
If you fall asleep facing north, that’s a very bad omen in Japan. The reason – a dead person is always buried with his/her head facing north.
When a thunderstorm develops with lightening, quickly cover the mirrors in your house for good luck. That’s Mexico. It probably wouldn’t hurt to have a few shots of Tequila as well.
Superstitions. They are as different across the world as we are diverse as people. Do we really know anything about them besides that they are usually about good luck or bad luck? Not really. Just that those superstitions transcend all nations and cultures.
The origin of superstitions can be traced back to beliefs that people held many, many years ago. Fear about the unseen and unknown, limited knowledge about the forces of nature, and a general lack of awareness about the environment in which they lived laid the foundation for certain beliefs in society, that carry on to this day.
Did they lack logic? Certainly. Did they lack proof? Most definitely. But once a belief, or superstition took hold, nothing could convince people otherwise. They were passed from one generation to another. Some superstitious beliefs even became social norms. With passing time, some superstitions were rendered false, while others succeeded in establishing themselves as truths!
If you think about it, we all are superstitious in our own ways. We may have beliefs or notions that a particular color, number, object or person is lucky for us. We might not leave our houses without our lucky pencil. We might believe in leprechauns and pots of gold at the end of a rainbow. We might be too afraid to go to work on Friday the 13th. None of us, I believe, is completely immune to superstitions. And frankly, these superstitions contribute to our belief systems and strangely enough, become part of our internal support systems.
Now where did I leave my lucky rabbits foot?
Please share with us any workplace or other superstitions that you may have!
By Andrea Teixeria | @ateixeia05
While emails have become the default tool of communication in offices, sometimes picking up a phone is the best thing you can do. Far too often we have resorted to emailing without sparing a few minutes to judge if a one-on-one conversation or perhaps a meeting, can be the better solution for the intended communication. Some may even go as far as to say that emails should only be used when an in-person conversation is unnecessary or impossible. However, emails are an essential part of our lives, and we cannot do without them. What we can do is opt for telephone calls when the situation at hand 'calls' for them. Here is a look at instances where picking up the phone makes more sense.
1. When there is a possibility that the email's tone could be misinterpreted
More than once, you may have received or written emails that were understood differently and taken in a spirit that wasn’t intended. The drawback of emails is that they cannot communicate the tone of the message, and can end up being misinterpreted. So, if you feel that the spirit behind or tone of the message you type can play spoilsport, use the phone to express your thoughts convincingly.
2. Phones work best when it comes to getting things done
Studies have revealed that phone support works consistently better than emails as a customer service option, when it come to getting things done. As a more passive form of communication, an email may not quite have the same impact as a phone call, where the power of intonations, modulations and plain vocal persuasion can yield the intended results! You can get your message across and have it resolved quickly and with fewer hassles, by punching numbers on your phone.
3. For urgent communications, there is no substitute to phone calls
If you have received a message requesting that you call back, you may have instead emailed saying 'What's up?' on more than one occasion. This can be both rude and frustrating. The overuse of emails is to blame for it. When you are asked to call back, do it. And when that someone hasn’t called you back, remind him/her gently.
For communication that is personal or of a sensitive nature, the next best thing to a face-to-face conversation is undoubtedly the telephone. The bottom line is, avoid being overly-dependent on emails and use discretion when using either form of communication.
By Clio V. Rourke | @cvrourke
How did you celebrate Earth Day? Of course one day a year is not enough to make an environmental impact – thank goodness social media is there to help you be sustainable every day (compiled by Mashable).
Live to learn:
1. Green Genie
TechCrunch’s favorite green app was developed by sustainability pros and helps you live green everyday through tips, projects, and resources – “it's like getting a master's degree in sustainability.” The app also connects users with the Green Genie Global Community on Facebook, where you can chat with fellow Captain Planets.
Available on iOS.
The sunny side:
Oh where do you put those solar panels? The SMA Solarchecker can tell you how much solar energy a location provides and how much energy and CO2 you’ll save. You’ll further learn the expected ROI and which solar energy specialists live closest to you.
Available on iOS.
It’s the details that matter:
3. Green Power Battery Saver
How often do you have to re-charge your smartphone? Right. To save power (and the planet), download the GreenPower Battery Saver. This energy-smart app automatically turns off your Wifi, Mobile data, and Bluetooth when you don’t need it and turns it back on when you do, bringing you “many extra hours to your battery life.”
Available for Android.
Scan before you shop. GoodGuide’s barcode scanning feature “instantly reveals whether products are safe, healthy, green and socially responsible.” You can even personalize the app to rate products based on your preferred cause.
Available on iOS and Android.
La vida local:
Find the closest farmer’s market or, even more direct, the closest farm to make sure your food is fresh and local. Locavore also tells you which food items are or are about to be in-season and helps you find recipes for them. Enjoy!
Available on iOS and Android.