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No Matter How Corrupt FIFA Is, It Is Here To Stay

June 16, 2015
Flickr / Steven Depolo

Flickr / Steven Depolo

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for FIFA. The world’s governing body of soccer has been the subject of numerous headlines, not for the Women’s World Cup currently taking place, but for a large-scale corruption scandal.

It all started on May 26, when several top FIFA officials were arrested on corruption charges. A little over a week later, the long-standing President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, resigned. And to add fuel to the fire, FIFA recently fired its communications director after making a public joke about the organization’s legal troubles.

There’s no denying FIFA’s reputation is in shambles. The media is laser focused on scrutinizing the organization’s actions and missteps. But despite all the negative media, the criminal investigation, and widespread corruption, FIFA is still as powerful as ever. Do soccer fans even care about the FIFA scandals?

Sports organizations are hit with scandals all the time, yet the sports stay as popular as ever. Take the NFL for example. Last year, the NFL was thrown under the bus for its handling of issues concerning domestic violence. The NFL’s reputation took a hit, but did the sports suffer as a result? No. Fans continued to support their favorite teams and brands continued to spend millions of dollars in advertisement with the NFL.

When it comes to sports, fans care more about the game than the organization behind it. As a sports fan myself, I’ve seen some of my favorite sports get hit with scandals that dealt a blow to the organization’s reputation. Did the scandal stop me from watching the games? No way. As a fan, you’re part of a community that has one unifying factor: the love of the game. My loyalty is with my team, and almost nothing can shake that.

No matter how corrupt FIFA is, in the end, it is going to be fine. Soccer fans aren’t going to just turn their back on the sport that they love. For many countries, especially outside the United States, soccer is about more than just a game, it’s a religion. The team you root for is part of your identity and fans aren’t going to abandon the sport that’s so integral to their community and culture.

As long as soccer is still soccer, fans will continue to watch FIFA’s games. They will continue to attend the World Cup and brands will continue to shell out millions of dollars in advertisements. No matter how corrupt FIFA turns out to be, as long as soccer remains a powerhouse sport, FIFA will be a powerhouse as well.

John Oliver tackled this love/hate relationship with FIFA perfectly last year before the World Cup. As he says, no matter how appalling FIFA may be as an organization, a fan’s love for the sport outweighs everything else.

How your pitch can make noise- even amongst jingle bells

December 11, 2014
By Kevin Dooley

Photo: Kevin Dooley

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or at least that’s what every holiday song leads us to believe. But in PR, the holidays can be a difficult time of the year to capture the media’s attention. Getting a reporter to bite is never an easy task, but this time of year, normal pitching challenges are on overdrive due to the magnitude of holiday angle pitches they must receive.

Contrary to popular belief, reporters do have a life when they’re not on the clock. They visit their families during the holidays, they take vacations, and they may even write “light and fluffy” stories to maintain their beats. And while a PR professional (like you) may have found the perfect reporter for your story, there’s no guarantees that they’re available and willing to take your call or email. At EZG, we like to continue our follow up longer than we normally would to ensure we’re covering our bases.

To stay relevant, and increase your chances of having your pitch be received, the material you send should be short and simple. The end of the year proves to be a time when reporters are rushed, or regularly unavailable, so make your pitch count. Media will not dig through your pitch to find the main points. Present the most newsworthy information at the forefront instead of bogging down an email pitch with flowery language and unnecessary detail.

Additionally, remember that a holiday hook isn’t a guarantee for a press placement. If you are using the holidays as the hook, just remember you’re not alone. Reporters, especially retail and consumer reporters, must receive hundreds of holiday angle pitches a day. Make sure that what you are pitching is actually relevant to the holidays; reporters want stories that fit in with the theme of the holiday season.

No matter what time of year, it’s always a challenge for PR folks to determine what the media is looking for. However, it’s important to embrace the holiday season with finesse, creativity and brevity. With a compelling angle, whether it ties into the holidays or not, your story has a chance of being covered. With a little hard work, the holidays can truly become a wonderland for pitches.

If a blog is written in the blogosphere and no one is around to read it- does it still make a sound?

October 15, 2014
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Photo: Sebastien Wiertz

When I started my own book review blog in 2010, I thought it would be easy to attract readers.  But I quickly learned how wrong my assumption was.  Because the blogosphere is a crowded space, writing great content does not guarantee readers will follow.  After learning this lesson, I had to find ways to push out my content so readers would find it, and then become loyal followers.

Readers of this blog might be wondering, with the plethora of blogs out there how do  writers ensure their content stands out from the crowd?   Without readership- many blog messages can get lost in the shuffle and writers lose the opportunity to showcase their work and get their thoughts/opinions/expertise out to target audiences.

Bottom line- a writer can have a great blog with top-quality content, but without readers the blog’s existence is pointless.  This is why blog promotion is so important. At EZG, we’re constantly coaching our clients to promote their blogs since there is good, quality material in them.

For our readers, we’ve provided three easy tips for gaining blog readership:

  1. Make the blog easy to find

This tip may sound like common sense, but it’s surprising how many websites have a hidden blog tab or link. If site visitors are required to search the site to find the blog content, they will usually not continue the search.  By placing the blog front and center on the homepage, the content maintains visibility by being just a simple click away.

  1. Utilize social networks

A blog lives (and gains popularity) on the internet- and what better way to ensure your blog gets the eyeballs you crave? By spreading it on social networks.  When bloggers tap into their social networks, they’re ensuring hundreds (to thousands) of readers are exposed to the link.

We advise bloggers to share the links to their blogs multiple times a day to reach those who may be surfing the social sites at different times.

Bonus tip* Hashtags and @mentions are great tools for potential readers to find and share blog posts and increase the likeliness the blog link is found by readers. Twitter and Facebook are great places to find communities of other bloggers who are ready and willing to share good content!

  1. Reach out to other bloggers

Does your client (or you) follow a popular blog that covers similar subject areas?  We advise our bloggers to reach out and say hello to the other writer! For bloggers, it’s important to expand the reach of the blog by inquiring to other writers if there is an opportunity for cross promotion or guest blogging.  Bloggers, much like journalists, need content and will often welcome guest posts with open arms.  The blogger will also help promote your guest post through their various networks which expands the reach and credibility of the blog.

As a blogger myself, I have found these tips to be extremely helpful in attracting readers. The blogosphere is crowded, but with a little bit of work you can drive traffic to your blog and attract readers who trust your insights and opinions.

The Ice Bucket Challenge – Why It’s the Coolest Social Campaign Right Now

August 22, 2014

Like many of you, my Facebook newsfeed is crawling with videos of friends and acquaintances pouring ice water on their heads- there are so many of these videos that they’re impossible to ignore. In a matter of days, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral, with everyone from celebrities to politicians being nominated to take the challenge.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, allow me to explain; a person is challenged by a friend, family member, co-worker, etc., to pour a bucket of ice water over his/her head as a way to help raise awareness for the deadly disease ALS. If they don’t, they must donate $100 to help fund ALS research. From there, the person challenges a few friends (usually on social media) to take the challenge or donate within 24 hours.

Some people who made a video may not realize the Ice Bucket Challenge was not always connected to ALS. The idea was the same, but people could donate to any charity of their choice. When Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who has been living with ALS since 2009, and his family got involved, the challenge took on a life of its own. Frates’ father’s video tied the Ice Bucket Challenge to #StrikeOutALS, an on-going campaign for ALS.

#StrikeOutALS in correlation with the Ice Bucket Challenge has created a way for people to unite- through one cause- and through one challenge. Today, people are accepting the challenge as a way to raise awareness for a horrible disease rather than just donating to a charity of their choice. This campaign has purpose, and it’s working.

The challenge has gone viral for three reasons:

  1. There is a clear call to action
  2. There is a sense of urgency (24 hours to respond)
  3. Connectivity through hashtags

These three elements will ensure that the campaign will have a relatively long shelf life and is sure to bring attention to ALS. . While there are naysayers who believe the Ice Bucket Challenge hasn’t really accomplished much, the ALS Association has received over $53.3 million in donations between through August 22. Just as important- people are talking. People are talking about ALS about what it’s like to live with ALS, , and coming forward with their own tales. I can’t help but watch my friends and my favorite celebrities pour freezing water over their heads and know that it’s going to help people like Pete Frates and Anthony Carbajal.

To watch Anthony’s hilarious, yet heartbreaking video click here:

Have you participated in the #ALSIceBucketChallenge? What are your favorite #IceBucketChallenge videos?

3 Brands Winning the #WorldCup on Social Media

July 3, 2014

This year’s World Cup is officially the biggest social media event ever, and it’s not even done yet. Millions around the world are watching the matches and taking to social media to live-tweet their thoughts during games—and this is a great branding opportunity for companies.

For the brands unwilling to dedicate a large amount of their advertising budget to space during the World Cup matches, social media has acted as a great platform to gain visibility. Many brands have effectively used live-tweeting to connect to World Cup fans around the world.

There are 3 brands, which have scored on social media by creating great content and engaging hashtags during the World Cup:

Waffle House

What do waffles and soccer have in common? Very little–but that didn’t stop the Waffle House from crafting one of the most talked about Tweets during the World Cup. Before the USA vs. Belgium game, the Waffle House declared a war on Belgian Waffles by tweeting a play-on the #IBelieveThatWeWillWin chant:

Despite not actually referencing the World Cup or USA vs Belgium match, this simple tweet was a huge hit. It was retweeted nearly 24,000 times and helped the Waffle House gain coverage in the national media. The Waffle House connected to the World Cup phenomenon in an extremely clever way that drove mass engagement.

Snickers

One of the most talked about moments on social media from the World Cup was the Luis Suarez “biting incident.” Twitter exploded with people immediately making jokes about biting and twitter was buzzing.  Naturally, brands wanted to participate in the action as well. Snickers, was ready and had the perfect social post created:

The simple claim of “More satisfying than Italian” fit perfectly with their brand’s voice and capitalized on Luis Suarez’s  bizarre behavior.

By using the most popular hashtags of the week, Snickers’ post was retweeted nearly 50,000 times- resulting in one of the most popular Suarez- related tweets on social media.

Nike

As a sponsor of the World Cup, Nike spent advertising dollars in all the necessary places.  Adertising aside, they still launched the #RiskEverything campaign, using Nike’s main twitter handle and their Nike Football handle as part of the campaign. Nike’s short videos (promoted on social media) have impressive viewing statistics—upwards of 80 million views. When posted on Facebook, the video garnered over 70,000 likes and nearly 50,000 shares- Gooooooooooalllllllllllll!

Their campaign has been following the cup’s action, and has had huge user engagement with thousands of social influencers spreading the #RiskEverything hashtag. Nike’s social media campaign appears to paying off with fans around the world responding and interacting.

Of all the #WorldCup posts you’ve seen on social media, what was your favorite? Who are you rooting for? Let us know @ebben_zall!

 

My Time at EZG: A Reflection

May 16, 2014

For me, May has been a month of endings. Endings are more acute for me right now, because I am ending my time as a student, putting my years as a senior at Boston University behind me, and closing out my internship at EZG — it’s definitely time for transitions.

I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to spend the last year here at Ebben Zall Group. Last May, I started as an intern with the public relations department and throughout the past year, I have gained extremely valuable skills that helped me grow as a person and as PR practitioner. In fact, while that role is ending, I’ll be taking on new challenges here as an Account Coordinator!

As an intern, I worked on a little bit of everything. Through this experience, my PR edge has been sharpened, and my understanding of a campaign’s tactics has been deepened. It’s funny because before coming to EZG, I never thought I would enjoy working on PR for professional services campaigns, but I have learned that I really enjoy the work we do for that client set.

I was fortunate to have an internship that went beyond churning out news releases or media lists day in and day out. I was trusted to handle my own projects (especially projects involving video and social media). I’ve also enjoyed the creative process we go through when developing our EZG TV videos. Beyond working on editing the videos for EZG TV, I was able to help produce videos for clients. Seeing those videos appear on other publications’ websites made me so proud; it was really gratifying to be able to see the work I helped produce at play.

Throughout my time as an intern, I have increasingly been working to execute social media strategies. I learned that a 140 character tweet appears to be relatively simple, but it takes much more time and effort to write. Learning how to write for social media is a skill that is becoming more important to have as social media’s presence and importance grows, and I can honestly say that I have mastered it over the past year.

I’m sad that my time as an EZG intern is coming to an end, but I’m excited to learn and grow more with EZG in the years ahead. I look forward to growing as a PR professional with the incredible team and clients at EZG – and to writing more about my experiences in PR and the work we do!

Once Upon A Time…You Hired a PR Firm

April 4, 2014

Why stories are made great by the publicists who tell them.

flickr/derekGavey

flickr/derekGavey


“We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one.” The quote from Doctor Who may seem like it has nothing to do with the public relations field, but I find its meaning relevant to what we do every day at EZG.

Our job, after all, is about finding and telling stories that capture our clients’ expertise. With news and commentary
travelling at light speed every day, we have to actively leverage the news and making sure our clients are hitting the right headlines. We know their stories, their goals, and their expertise, but the real science of PR comes down to knowing what’s going on in their industry at large.

To do this, we keep our eyes peeled with tactics such as:
• Monitoring headlines to cruise the issues that reporters are covering
• Monitoring hashtags to find the conversation starters on social media
• Monitor media and marketing trends to ensure we’re using the right combination of tools to fit our clients’ needs.

Without tracking the pulse of the industry, we can’t give our clients’ stories context – and no story works in a vacuum. Bottom line: we have to think like journalists if we want to succeed. So we work to connect ideas with a timely event or popular trend in the news, always keeping in mind the real value reporters and their readers will gain from a story idea.

But the media has many sides to it, now — don’t forget to be social! Active chatter on social pages is part of the equation, and in many ways follows the same guidelines for understanding the context of a story. Whenever I draft posts for social media, I always think about how a post relates to who our client is and their social media goals. But we must also always remember why. Why are we choosing to post particular photos? Why are we choosing to use specific hashtags? Why are our client’s pages following certain individuals or groups? Understanding the why is what gets us to not only be a part of the conversation,but to be conversation starters.

Live-Tweeting: A Powerful Way to Connect

January 22, 2014
©Esther Vargas

©Esther Vargas

With so many users on social media in 2014, it is nearly impossible to simply watch T.V. “Tweet-watching” would be a more accurate phrase to use when describing how we interact with television shows this season.

Program viewers like me live-tweet during programs as they air and share opinions in real-time with other viewers by connecting with hash-tags. Live-tweeting television shows using designated hashtags has taken over Twitter, with #Sherlock , #Scandal  and #GoldenGlobes emerging as trending topics as they air. By using Twitter as a communications tool to connect with others T.V. fans, thousands of people are watching, tweeting and interacting with each other at light speed.  Because of this, television is no longer a passive activity but an interactive experience.

The shows also encourage live-tweeting as they often include the desired hashtag to use on the screen, and ask viewers to tweet @ reactions to the show’s Twitter handle. For example, when the airdate for the third season of hit BBC drama Sherlock was announced, the show introduced the hashtag #SherlockLives on the side of a hearse. Fans instantly took to the new hashtag, and used it in their tweets when Sherlock returned on January 1st, 2014. The BBC used the hashtag as they live-tweeted their reactions and exclusive photos and content for the three episodes of the series. By connecting through advertising, show promotions and Twitter, fans were able to share in the experience of the show’s premiere instead of simply observing it.

However, live-tweeting is not just reserved for TV’s biggest fans—brands are also tapping into the benefits of live-tweeting and using it as an advantage.   For example,   DiGiornio Pizza is one brand that excels at leveraging the power of Twitter conversations.  During NBC’s Sound of Music Live! DiGiornio live-tweeted the entire show which resulted in hilarious tweets and free media coverage for the brand. Using #SoundofMusicLive (the second highest trending topic that night) DiGiornio was visible to a large audience, which resulted in hundreds of retweets and catapulted the DiGiornio brand as a trending topic. While the Sound of Music and frozen pizza seem to have nothing common, the people behind the DiGiornio social media campaign created funny and clever ways to tie their tweets to the broadcast and connect back to their brand.

More Examples of DiGiornio’s Creativity here:

Live-tweeting is a new way for social media managers to garner attention for their brands on social media. While live-tweeting might not work for every brand, it is an intriguing new way to use Twitter and users are already starting to get on board. If you’re confused about how to get started, I’ve included a few helpful tips below:

  • Think before you post
  • Be spontaneous
  • Find clever and creative ways to engage
  • Bring the conversation back to your brand/program/event

Live-Tweeting has already shaped the way that broadcast outlets, brands, and consumers connect in real-time. With the rise of social media platforms like Snapchat, it shows that there is now slowing of the need for immediate stimulation. Because of that need, I feel that live-tweeting will become much more common. It will be interesting to see if more brands will utilize the potential of live-tweeting and how sales will be directly impacted—who knows we may even cover that topic on the Ebben Zall Group blog.

What I have learned about using video in public relations: 3 Valuable Takeaways

October 21, 2013

As an intern at EZG, I have seen several video projects begin with a simple idea and transform into a valuable part of marketing campaigns.  Part of my responsibilities at EZG include helping out with a variety of traditional and new media initiatives for the PR team, but I’m most interested in the video production process and how it fits into the client strategy.  What I have learned so far is that producing informative marketing video requires a great deal of creativity and legwork—but the results are worth it.

As more digital channels become available to for us to utilize in public relations, we have seen the demand for viral content increase.  Just look at the way we share news today, often through popular sites like Newsy.   I have personally seen the demand for videos rise during my internship time at EZG—which is a good indicator of things to come.

At the end of August, EZG posted about the benefits of using video to help boost a client’s brand.  Today, I want to take an opportunity to share a few tips that I have learned from my leaders and mentors while editing PR videos here at EZG.

  • Shoot more video than you need: This tip seems like common sense, but I have found myself in the position of needing more footage when I have assumed that there was enough. It is always better to have too much footage than not enough.  For example, filming fifteen minutes of footage for a two-minute video usually provides enough usable content in the end. It is always better to get too much content during the original filming of the video than to have to go back and re-shoot more footage later; it can be very difficult to re-create a scene.
  • Tell a story: Like everything we do in PR, video is another tool that helps us tell a story.  Without a clearly defined message within the video, the story will get lost and inevitably the work will lose value.  To stay away from this misstep, I always try to connect the edited clips in a way that the story is told fluidly.  Our videos are not scripted, so we often end up with a wandering narrative until the source clearly defines their main points. It can take people awhile to get to the point, but it’s the video editor’s job to hear through the words and amplify the most interesting points in an easy to understand story.
  • Use the correct tone for the video:  Our EZ|TV videos are designed to show our personality, and we think that’s great—but not every video will have the same feel.  When creating videos for our clients, I have to remain mindful of their branding messages to maintain consistency with their other marketing materials. Design, music and font choices are all part of distinguishing the client’s brand in the video, and are used as an accent to highlight the expert content that is communicated to the audience.

It is important for videos to be professional, engaging and creative in order to appeal to target audiences and inspire viral pick up.   In the public relations field, we are constantly required to attract attention to messages that reflect our clients’ brands.  Simply put, the videos that we produce are not just footage of talking heads, they are multimedia vehicles meant to teach, inspire, and motivate.

If you’re interested in learning more about video used in PR campaigns please check out these articles:


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