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Digital PR strategy - Communications Conversations - Part 3
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Talking Points Podcast: An interview with Social Fresh’s Jason Keath

Today, my podcast partner, Kevin Hunt interviews Social Fresh founder, Jason Keath. They talk social media conferences, blogging, and social media careers paths. Hope you’ll consider listening!




SHOW NOTES – July 2, 2015



Social Fresh


Social Fresh Conference


You are your priorities: How to say “no” and better manage your professional life

I came across one of those “40 quotes that…” posts last week on Forbes.

As usual, one quote stuck with me: “You are your priorities.”

Can’t remember who said it, but I like it because it hits on something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

How we manage our lives.


My priority list is pretty easy: 1) Family, 2) Business, 3) Volunteering, 4) Fun

That’s the filter. And, it helps me manage my schedule and life.

A few examples. In a prior life, I used to be a golfer. I played high school and college golf. I played 50-60 rounds a year. I was addicted. Then, a girl came along. Kids (relatively) soon after. Those took priority. Nowadays, I play very little golf. And, I get a lot of grief for it from friends and family (rightfully so). But, I’m not quitting golf permanently. It just doesn’t fit into the priority list right now. In fact, it’s toward the bottom of the list (“Fun”).

Once in a while, a friend will ask me to a Twins game or an event on a weeknight. Weeknights are tough, as I’ve committed to being away from home no more than 2 nights a week max (preferably one–see priority #1 above). One night a week is usually eaten up by MIMA–with a board meeting, a committee meeting, or an event. So, that leaves little wiggle room for other weeknight outings. Which means I’ve been saying “thanks, but I can’t do it this week” a lot the last couple years.

You are your priorities.

It’s a good filter for your decision tree.

Here’s another example. I was recently asked to speak at an out-of-town conference. It’s an event I’ve spoken at before, but it’s a multi-day event and chances are, it won’t lead to any business. So, if I put it through my priority filter, here’s what it looks like:

* The speaking gig takes me away from my family (#1 on the priority list) for 2-3 days. Not great.

* The speaking gig will most likely not result in new business or any meaningful leads (#2 on the priority list). Not great.

* However, the speaking gig would be fun (#4 on the priority list). And, it would allow me to develop content I could use on my blog and other social media sites (#2). Not bad, but not a compelling enough reason to do it.

I turned it down. I put it through the filter, and the pros (#4) just didn’t outweigh the cons (#2).

“Thanks, but no thanks.”

You are your priorities.


Twin Cities PR This Month – June

Little switch–for the last year-plus, I’ve been providing weekly, then bi-weekly updates on comings/goings, agency wins and other events around Minneapolis/St. Paul. Since that’s more work that it seems, I’m going to ratchet it back just a bit to monthly. I’m still going to capture the same information–it’ll just be on a less frequent basis.

With that–let’s look at what happened in June, and what’s ahead in July.

Fenced In, Part 3


Congrats to my friends at Fast Horse for their big win at Cannes this week for their work with Newcastle. Congrats to Jorg, Scott, Mike, Cydney and the rest of the team over at FH!


Beth LaBreche, former vice president of strategic development at Gage, recently accepted a position as vice president of enterprise marketing and communications at CHS. Congrats, Beth!

Bellmont Partners recently welcomed Ali Buckneberg to the team as an account supervisor.

Matt Lechner recently took a new position as senior digital consultant at HealthPartners.


Minnesota State Colleges & Universities is seeking a Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

space150 is seeking an associate director of PR and emerging media. Bonus: You get to work with Greg Swan!

Good gig here with one of my favorite local organizations: Children’s Hospitals and Clinics is seeking an internal communications consultant.

Work with my fellow MIMA board member, Jamie Plesser! Allianz is looking for a senior interactive marketing manager.


MIMA, along with former MIMA president, Tim Brunelle, is helping re-instate the Conversations About the Future of Advertising. The popular series is back July 15!

Looks like we’ll get to hear from 80 percent of the OLSON Engage team on July 17 at Social Media Breakfast (I kid! I kid!). Looking forward to hearing Katie Miller and George Fiddler present!

Why did @Sharpie shut down all its social media accounts?

I was researching social media brand voice examples on behalf of a client the other day, and I stumbled across the Sharpie accounts.

For those who have been paying attention, Sharpie has been widely heralded as one of the more progressive and “hip” brands when it comes to social media. Many have even applauded them for their brand voice development. Hell, Hubspot just lauded them THIS week for their brand voice (which is funny because of this next sentence).

But, I noticed something interesting as I started to dig into the Sharpie accounts: They were all dead.

Shut down.



Sharpie IG

Not a single post on any of them since July 18, 2014 on Facebook.

And this, from a brand that was not only heralded as one of THE social media case studies, but also one who was really set up well for success on social (talk about user-generated content!).

And, this from a brand with:

1) 3.6 million fans on Facebook

Sharpie FB

2) 188,000 fans on Twitter

Sharpie Twitter

3) 114,000 followers on Instagram

4) Sharpie also hasn’t posted to its blog since July 18, 2013.

Sharpie blog

This was a brand that was KILLING IT on social. Big time (supposedly, at least).

So, why did they shut it down?

That’s the million dollar question. Obviously, I don’t know the answer since I don’t work for Sharpie and they are not an ACH Communications client (yet! :).

But, it’s fun to speculate. And, I’m a blogger. So, let’s pontificate about why Sharpie would have shut down social communities totaling almost 4 million fans.

New marketing leadership

If you’ve worked on the corporate side, you’ve seen it happen. New CMO comes in. New CMO has different ideas. New CMO has to put his stamp on things. New CMO lays off half the team and starts implementing his own approach (which, in this case, maybe did not include social). Point being: When marketing leadership changes, so does strategic direction. Maybe that’s a part of what happened here.

Sharpie is owned by a big company

And big companies (like Newell Rubbermaid) have shareholders. And shareholders like results. You know what shareholders don’t like? High costs that cut into results and profitability. Maybe they saw social as an added cost. One that could be cut easily and not impact the bottom line. Not saying it’s right, but it’s a possibility.

Maybe they realized they didn’t NEED social

A quick glance at the Newell Rubbermaid stock price over the last year shows an interesting trend: The stock price went up. From $30.98 a share on June 25, 2014 to $41.51 a share yesterday. Not too shabby. June 25, 2014 is also about the time Sharpie shut down its social accounts. Just sayin. Maybe they looked at all that work they were doing in social and said “do we really need to do this?” Can we sell more Sharpie pens without social than we can WITH social? Not saying that’s the right decision–just speculating that discussion might have occurred.

There’s a variety of reasons why Sharpie could have shut its social media accounts down. And, like I said, we may never know why. But, one of the key talkers about this situation is this: What happens to those accounts now? Do they have any kind of impact on the company and its reputation? Does leaving those dead accounts up there hurt the brand?

Interesting questions, right? Judging from the comments on Sharpie’s Instagram page, fans have definitely noticed they’re not showing up anymore. But, just because they notice doesn’t mean they’re not still buying Sharpie products.

Or, maybe Sharpie is just going through a massive rebrand? Maybe they’re evaluating options right now and planning a massive re-launch? Maybe they’re just holding onto those social media accounts for now, as they plan to ramp things back up later this year?

Regardless of the reason, those social accounts are sitting out there. Completely dead. Not updated.

I gotta think that makes some kind of difference in fans/customers’ minds.

The question is: How much? And, does that perception impact their decision-making when it comes to which pen to buy?

Not sure we’ll ever know, but it’s an interesting case study.

#chevygoesemoji: Brilliant PR strategy or ridiculous stunt?

Earlier this week, you may have noticed Chevy broke some new ground in the world of PR.

It unveiled the first-ever all-emoji news release.

Yeah, you heard me. All emojis. No, for realz.

I mean, emojis are hot, right? Everyone is using them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (where they’re plentiful these days).

And, the new Chevy Cruz is obviously a vehicle that’s targeted at that younger generation. So, speak their language, right?

And, we know brands are always looking for “new and inventive” ways to bolster impressions, shares and mentions during launch events like this.

Chevy Gif

So, on the surface, I get this. And, on many levels, I actually applaud it. To start, let’s look at a few different reasons this makes sense for Chevy:

It’s hard to generate enthusiasm for launch events

Any PR agency/consultant will tell you–it’s hard coming up with new ideas for launch events. Because everything has been done. And, not every new launch event can or should be talked about incessantly for days on end. But, it’s always there–that ask. “We want more buzz built around our new product launch.” So, in this way, I think this is a win. According to a quick search on Keyhole, #chevygoesemoji has been mentioned by 599 users over the last two days with more than 22 million impressions. And, if you look at the stream, it’s actually pretty positive. Bottom line: People are actually talking about the launch of a new care. I can’t believe that happens too often.

Like it or not, it’s creative

You might think an all-emoji news release is the most ridiculous thing in the world (I kinda do), but you can’t really say it’s not creative. Especially for the PR industry, which, let’s be honest, comes across as pretty darn conservative most of the time. Chevy took a big risk here. On the surface, it looks like that’s paying off.

Integrating celebs of all stripes well

Another thing Chevy did well with this launch–they integrated celebrity endorsers well. And not just the A-list celebs like Norm McDonald and Zendaya.

They also worked in internet celebs like Tyler Oakley, famous YouTuber.

You might think–big deal, right? Well, the Tyler Oakley tweet from Tuesday had 1.8K retweets and 8K favorites at last count. The Zendaya tweet: 1.1K and 2.5K. By contrast, no single tweet sent by @Chevrolet over the last two days has garnered anywhere near those counts. So, there’s that.

A news release NOT aimed at journalists

That’s one of the more interesting angles here. The release is clearly not written for journalists. It’s written for consumers. It’s a direct-to-consumer play. That’s a much different way to think about PR–again, a big risk. I’m sure Chevy is still working with journalists to get the launch story placed–they’re just not doing it with a news release.


Chevy NR

So, I’m trying to talk myself into liking what Chevy did here.

But, I can’t quite get there.

Because if you take a step back, doesn’t this kinda feel like all those brands that jumped on the “real time marketing” bandwagon after the Super Bowl Oreo tweet?

Another thing that kinda bugs me: Is this really “on brand” for Chevy? Again, I know the Cruze is targeted at younger drivers, but this emoji thing is getting a little out of control when it comes to brands. Yeah, people use them in daily communications on their phones. But, that doesn’t mean they want to hear from the brands they follow/use in all-emoji language.

Bottom line: I like the creativity here. I like that Chevy took a risk. I like that they had some fun with what is ordinarily a pretty garden-variety tactic (news release). But, I just not 100 percent sold that this was a brilliant move.

But then again, I’m not on the Chevy team. I don’t get to see the results and how they align with their goals.

This could end up being a gigantic win.

What do you think?