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The Wilkes Barre Times Leader: Net Driven Plans to Add 50 Jobs

July 21, 2014-Client Buzz0

SCRANTON — Technology that a local Internet company provides for more than 3,500 regional auto businesses in the United States and Canada will help bring up to 50 new jobs to Scranton.

Net Driven, which operates a technology platform to provide digital marketing strategies for the automotive industry, recently opened its new headquarters in the Scranton Enterprise Building on Lackawanna Avenue for more space to expand the business.

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Tie Score: PR 1 – Sports and Athletes 1


Flush with a World Cup afterglow and other summer sports in full swing, we couldn’t help but notice a correlation between athletics and public relations. Here’s what Brandware Public Relations staff has learned from their favorite athletes, teams and sports in general:

Anthony Popiel (Atlanta)
Rebranding can be a tricky process, especially when your brand’s ambassadors are as passionate as a collegiate student body. Florida State University learned this the hard way when the school’s new logo leaked to the public and a large majority of students petitioned for the return of the old one. However, rather than panicking and delaying the rest of the rebranding, FSU managed to start turning public opinion by fully revealing the athletic teams’ new uniforms, which received an overwhelmingly positive response from fans. Time will tell if the logo grows on the entire fan base, but I think every brand can learn from how FSU reacted to the initial response. They drew attention away from the logo by focusing on the look of the new uniforms and stressing that these were the same teams – they just have a new look.

Lindsay Wagner (New York)
My favorite sport, soccer, offers plenty of goal-scoring lessons applicable to PR. Here are some easy wins for off the field:

  • Pass carefully when incorporating new technologies: Honduras’ coach was angry when new goal-line technology initially indicated France hadn’t scored in their match, then said it did (a PR nightmare). He aired his frustrations publicly, which now enables all coaches to question the technology down the road. Coaches should have been prepped beforehand and told to take disputes up with FIFA directly vs. a public forum.
  • Aim better to score: Sometimes even the best PR professionals are guilty of bombarding media with irrelevant news to their beat/outlet. To score, we must aim better as PR professionals, study our target and never tire of staying creative by pulling different moves out of our playbook.
  • Stay in the game: Just like how soccer players have a wide range of skills and must dribble, pass and shoot, so does a PR professional. Stay on top of industry developments and master a variety of skills in your field to stay relevant to your team.

Zola Polynice (Atlanta)
Known as Derek Jeter to some and Derek Jeter TM to others, this marketing maven is retiring from baseball with an impeccable reputation. The Yankee captain follows these PR rules:

  • Use diverse outlets: He announced his retirement via Facebook and during his quest for the 3,000th hit, HBO made a documentary of his story – not ESPN. Jeter uses different media to appeal to wider audiences, not just sports fans.
  • Remain poised under both the spotlight and stadium lights: He is cool and collected in times of game turnarounds and during (annoying) dating rumors.
  • Demonstrate loyalty to your team: He never insults those he works with despite adversity, establishing credibility for remaining dedicated to his team.

The PR powerhouse earned a reputable status by producing solid and consistent work as a record-setting shortstop, communicating amicably with the press and leading his team by example through good sportsmanship and charity work. The Boston Globe aptly calls Jeter the “Yankee you can’t hate.”

Lindley Presley (Atlanta)
Former Atlanta Braves player Brian McCann (who to my disappointment was traded to those damn Yankees) was not only my favorite due to his clutch batting but because of his involvement with the Rally Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research. Similarly, former University of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was my top Dawg because of his play calling and the meaningful activities he did off the field with Extra Special People, Inc.

I wish more brands would follow McCann and Murray by exploring what opportunities exist for them to give back. Taking a page from their playbooks will help customers and prospects identify with a brand beyond its product offerings. At the end of the day, success is about more than how many widgets a company has made or how their stock is performing. It’s about being a brand that people can relate to and are proud to support.

Jim Taylor (Atlanta)
Growing up in Alabama, we are proud of native son Jesse Owens. As a child, I remember hearing how he grew from humble beginnings to become one of the world’s greatest athletes. As a young PR student, he became my hero all over again as I better understood the significance of his four gold medal wins at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Without speaking a word, he decimated the Nazi propaganda machine’s campaign to use the games as a springboard for their message of a “superior race.” Without lifting a pen he wrote history in Berlin, forever disproving the myth that one group of people are inherently better than another.

Jordan Walker (Atlanta)
During the FIFA World Cup, companies found clever ways to imprint their brand with the flavor of the event for a few weeks. Such is true of two automakers that approached the 2014 World Cup in very different ways:

  • Volkswagen took the genuine love of the event from each competing country and put together goal celebrations featuring its internationally popular GTI model. Each nation had a handful of celebrations featuring the car scoring a goal while wearing the country’s livery. The result was a series of short clips that could be instantly shared across social media to celebrate goals during the course of the group and knockout stages.
  • Kia approached the World Cup with the understanding that the event was not the most popular sport in the United States, much unlike the rest of the world. Their ad campaign featured things American Football fans could relate to – man caves, supermodels and sports bars. Kia demonstrated just how similar rabid futbol fans are to domestic American Football junkies by likening their enthusiasm for each sport.

Jeff Perlman (Los Angeles)
As a lifelong San Francisco Giants fan, it’s strangely ironic that the athlete who has most inspired me played for the rival San Diego Padres: Hall of Famer Right Fielder Tony Gwynn.

Supremely talented, Gwynn’s on-field accomplishments were arguably surpassed by his off-field presence, an unfathomable humility and unwavering respect for anyone who had the opportunity to meet him.

Sadly, Gwynn lost his battle with salivary gland cancer on June 16. His passing — at only 54 — left baseball with an indelible void, especially in an age of “look at me” athletes whose goal is to make the SportsCenter highlight reel. Gwynn’s impeccable reputation was perhaps best surmised by Sports Illustrated writer Tom Verducci, who remembered Gwynn as “an ambassador not just for the game of baseball, but for mankind.”

Simply stated, there’s “no better PR” than universal, unconditional respect and admiration from those of us watching from the cheap seats.

Image “Manchester United vs. Chelsea” by Paul used under CC BY 3.0 / Resized and cropped from original.

Good Day Atlanta: Okabashi Still “Flipping” 30 Years Later

July 11, 2014-Client Buzz0

BUFORD, Ga. - Summer is the season of flip-flops — which is just fine for a family-owned Buford business.

Opened in 1984, Okabashi Brands is the only injection-molded footwear manufacturer in the United States, and is renowned for being an eco-friendly company. The wide variety of shoes — including flip-flops — are 100% recyclable, anti-microbial, and dishwasher safe! More than that, they’re Made In The USA — specifically, at the company’s Buford plant.

Good Day Atlanta’s Paul Milliken got to take a tour of the Okabashi plant to see just how they keep up with the summer flip-flop demand!

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LA Times: G2G Vacation Club Turns its Luxury Travelers into Philanthropists

June 30, 2014-Client Buzz0

A vacation club with a mission to get you to part with your money isn’t novel. A newish player in the luxury travel world does exactly that, but adds a compelling give-back twist.

G2G Collection, short for Getaway 2 Give, calls itself the world’s only philanthropic luxury destination club. The top of its website keeps a running total of all money raised for charity — more than $1.2 million as of Wednesday — since the for-profit company sold its first membership in November 2012.

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Canadian Auto Dealer: Managing your Dealership’s Online Reputation with DealerRater

What others say about you is more important than what you say about yourself. Think about that statement for a minute. If you’re a business, reputation counts. And if those who’ve done business with you have good things to say, why not encourage them to spread the word? That’s something successful dealerships have been doing online, via sites like DealerRater. In fact, a recent study conducted by DealerRater, in conjunction with Dataium also discovered that those stores that boast more positive, genuine reviews online are also those that experience higher lead conversions. And yet the idea of “reputation management” still seems a bit of a myth in some quarters.

To help get a handle on what it really is about and how to use it effectively, Canadian auto dealer conducted a two-part investigation. In this, our first instalment, we interviewed Heather MacKinnon, Vice-President of National Accounts for DealerRater and asked her what dealers need to understand and adopt when it comes to successful reputation management.

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