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Taco Bell's 'Blackout' Offers New Paths for Digital Marketing

Taco Bell's 'Blackout' Offers New Paths for Digital Marketing | PR and Technology | Scoop.it
Call it disruptive or innovative—in the context of digital PR, the terms are relatively synonymous these days. Either way, the Taco Bell “blackout” serves as a compelling reminder that, as online communications become commoditized, PR pros are on the hook to create unusual campaigns that grab the attention of consumers and the media alike.
Rachel Yann's insight:

Although we talked about this topic a little in class, I have a very special, huge place in my heart for Taco Bell so I figured I could still get away with writing about them and their recent campaign. Recently, Taco Bell launched an app for their customers. They launched the app on October 29, while also blacking-out their Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. The only visible post on these social media platforms was one promoting the use of their new app, with the hashtag: #OnlyintheApp. It’s not a traditional PR campaign, but it got people talking.

 

In fact, Taco Bell gained coverage in USA Today and many PR, marketing and advertising publications. Also, after 25 hours since the app launch, 75% of Taco Bell’s 6,000 stores had processed a mobile order. Therefore, the black-out was catching people’s attention, and pushing them towards the app download. Because customers couldn’t stalk Taco Bell’s latest tweets, they had no other choice but to check out the app. After all, it’s free so why not download it?

 

The main perk of the app is that you can order your meal ahead of time, and pick up the food right when you get to the location. In my opinion, it’s fast food. Therefore, it’s already pretty quick. However, I do think that the app is convenient because you can customize your order how you’d like it without feeling bad for your order taking 20 minutes. You can ensure that your order is relayed to the cooks correctly, rather than trying to explain to the drive-thru worker that on two tacos you want three different sauces and no lettuce on two but extra on one.

 

This idea of each customer having a unique and customizable experience with Taco Bell is exactly what Rob Poetsch, director of communications at Taco Bell wanted. According to this article by PR News, about 70% of Taco Bell’s orders are customized by their customers.

 

I related this all back to the availability heuristic bias. This bias is explained in the article we read by Business Insider as, “When people overestimate the importance of information that is available to them.” I thought that maybe Taco Bell had the idea in mind that, by blacking-out their social media sites, users would realize that 1. They should look into the app and also 2. Realize how frequently they check up on Taco Bell’s social media to keep up-to-date with the newest menu items.

 

Overall, I love Taco Bell, and the way they communicate and the campaigns they launch make me love them even more. 

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Dave & Buster’s: ‘Please accept our apology’ for taco tweet

Dave & Buster’s: ‘Please accept our apology’ for taco tweet | PR and Technology | Scoop.it
The restaurant chain tweeted that ‘no Juan ever’ would say he hates tacos. Followers called the brand out for racism.
Rachel Yann's insight:

Going along with my previous post, I guess I’ll stick with embarrassing and racist tweets people have been posting lately. About a week or so ago, Dave and Busters sent out a tweet saying “‘I hate tacos’ said no Juan ever’ #TacoTuesday #DaveandBusters.” At this point, I honestly do not understand how companies can even send this tweets out, but here I am, writing another Scoopit about it. Regardless of how stupid it was, it happened. Someone decided to send it out without thinking of the consequences and they got quite a lot of backlash for it, as they should have.

 

According to this article, Dave and Busters didn’t remove the tweet for 40 minutes, for whatever reason. After they removed it, an hour later their social media team apologized via Twitter, but this sparked even more criticism. Their apology was basically just a huge run-on sentence saying they didn’t intend to offend anyone and pleaded for people to accept their apology. This is the exact tweet: “We sincerely apologize for the tweet that went out today our intention was never to offend anyone please accept our apology” I mean at least try to use ONE punctuation mark, please guys.

 

After reading this article about the awful tweet, I went back and looked at their Twitter account. What I found was a lack of content since the incident happened on November 18. However, they have produced some tweets since then, but only ones responding to angry customers. Not exactly the only activity you want to appear on your Twitter feed..

 

Anyway, this whole ordeal should have been handled much better. Dave and Busters should never tried to reduce the offensiveness of the tweet, because it was clearly quite a racist remark. In my opinion, I think they tried using minimization, which is defined in our readings as when“the accused tries to minimize the negative effects associated with the wrong act by attempting to show that the misbehavior or act is not as bad as initially thought or perceived by the audience.” They explained to their followers that they never intended to offend anyone, making it seem less of a big deal. I’m not entirely sure if it worked, but I guess they tried?

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5 lessons from Taylor Swift's Instagram campaign

5 lessons from Taylor Swift's Instagram campaign | PR and Technology | Scoop.it
Before releasing her newest album, the singer built buzz and publicity through an Instagram campaign that blended storytelling and visuals. Marketers, pay attention.
Rachel Yann's insight:

Although I’m not a huge fan of Taylor Swift, I wanted to mention her recent Instagram campaign that she had before the releasing of her new album. Her new album, “1989”, has been highly anticipated by teenage girls all around the world who can’t get enough of T-Swift’s songs about how adorable or awful boys are. She started as a country singer and then release a new song that was more of a “pop” song, which was a crazy new thing for her. However, with all of her previous songs and albums being so similar, I think she needed to do something different to reach her fans and introduce them to her new style of music.

 

She launched her 13-day visual countdown to her album release on October 27, which consisted of her posting a photo each day on her Instagram account of lyrics from a different song. The pictures also sometimes included some drawings of hers or the lyrics written by hand by T-Swift herself, giving it a nice personal touch for her fans. This campaign reached her fans directly and built up the anxiousness for her new album to finally be released. Overall, it was a great way for Taylor Swift to get her fans excited about her new music.

 

I related this back to, of course, our readings about Beyoncé and the drama she and Solange had earlier this year. In the article we read from “Bustle”, they explain how, “When Beyoncé and Solange finally did speak up, they did by not speaking. Instead, Beyoncé told the world good morning with several Instagram photos of herself and Solange while Solange posted a #TBT photo of herself and Beyoncé on Thursday.” Like we have discussed in class, the sisters used their Instagram accounts basically as their version of a press release to inform their fans that everything was fine and to clear the air. This pretty much shut down all the speculation the media had created and gave them the control over the situation. Similarly, Taylor Swift took control of her album release and used Instagram to increase the excitement from her fans. Although nobody can be as successful and amazingly intelligent as Beyoncé is, Taylor’s use of Instagram was a success as well!

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United Airlines addresses email to 'Mr. Human'

United Airlines addresses email to 'Mr. Human' | PR and Technology | Scoop.it
The reply doesn't display any effort on the airline's part to make it look like anything but a form letter.
Rachel Yann's insight:

For this post, I found an unfortunate article about United Airlines. I, myself, have had awful experiences with United Airlines, one experience was so bad that I almost didn’t get to go on my family vacation. I’m not going to go into the details because just thinking about it makes me want to scream, but here’s basically what’s been happening to them recently.

 

In this article, Chris Chmura, a Tampa-area reporter had flown (or tried to fly) with United Airlines. The plane ended up taking off around 20-30 minutes early, so he missed the flight and was stranded at the airport. Therefore, Chmura sent in a letter to express his frustration. Then, he received a letter back from United, who clearly wanted to send their deepest apologies to “Mr. Human”..

 

Yeah, it’s true, United sent out a template customer service email and didn’t even think twice to change the multiple “Mr. Humans”. What is even worse is this is the second time United has done this in the past few months. Really, guys? High quality customer service right there.

 

So, Mr. Chmura took advantage of Twitter to share this terrible experience and the story blew up, especially because he is a reporter and has many followers already. FoxTV, his station, even joked that they wanted his tagline to read Mr. Human from now on when he was on air. Chmura has still been receiving tweets about the mishap and has been making light of if, tweeting at other airlines asking if they are robots.

 

That’s where this gets really bad, because the other airlines have tweeted back that they care about their customers and are definitely not robots. In contrast, United has not responded to any of Chmura’s tweets. Not exactly the best PR on their part.

 

I think this definitely relates to Lazarsfeld’s two-step flow of communication model, which is explained in our reading, Apply Theory to Public Relations Campaigns, as “a model to describe how individuals are influenced to adopt or change their beliefs and behaviors”, and says that “individuals seldom make decisions based solely on their own beliefs; those decisions are influenced by other persons in their lives.” This model explains that opinion leaders are the people who we trust and whose opinions we respect. Chmura, in this case, would be an opinion leader because he is a credible journalist. People watch him on the news everyday so they build a trust and respect for him, and so because he has expressed disgust towards United we tend to side with him and form negative opinions towards United as well. We listen to other people’s reviews of companies and judge that company even without having our own experiences, just because those people are charismatic or assertive. Chmura is already on TV, reporting on various topics, so when this happened it was very easy for it to become well-known.

 

Overall, I think that airlines especially need to bump up their customer service game. Some are doing a good job on it, always tweeting back and listening to their customers, but United is definitely lacking. Chmura was able to make his story heard through his news station, which just hurt United even more and made them look worse.

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DiGiorno Interrupts Serious Conversation About Domestic Violence To Sell Pizza

DiGiorno Interrupts Serious Conversation About Domestic Violence To Sell Pizza | PR and Technology | Scoop.it
Twitter is a place for complex debates about important topics. It's also a place for brands to shamelessly self-promote. On Monday, these two functions collided in a terrible way.

DiGiorno Pizza, in a bafflingly tone-deaf tweet, used the hashtag &...
Rachel Yann's insight:

We all know that technology is an amazing thing that has changed the PR world for the better, but that doesn't mean that it can still be used for evil sometimes..

 

There have been many instances where a public relations professional has to step in and put their crisis management skills to the test when their client has said something very inappropriate on a social media site. Now that we have smartphones, smart watches, tablets and laptops, we are able to type out a tweet and push send before we even realize how many different ways it can offend someone. That's where my article comes into play.

 

Everyone has heard the news about the Ray Rice story where his domestic abuse was caught on tape. It is a horrific video, but domestic violence is often times something that is more so hush hush. So, when women found out that Ray Rice's wife stayed with him after the abuse happened months ago, they started a hashtag discussing their own personal abuse stories.

 

#WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft began trending and soon enough women all around the world were letting their guard down and supporting Janay Palmer by sharing their personal struggles. It was beautiful, up until DiGiorno decided to tweet before not researching what the hashtag was about. 

 

One of their employees ended up tweeting "#WhyIStayed You had Pizza", and people were very insulted and upset that they ruined this moment. They then had to implement an image restoration strategy to try to fix what they had done.

 

They used mortification, which in page three of our reading, titled "Image Restoration Theory", is defined as "Mortification—the accused simply admits being guilty or responsible for the wrongful act and asks forgiveness. If the audience believes the apology is sincere, we may pardon the wrongful act.  It may be wise to couple this strategy with plans to correct (or prevent recurrence of) the problem. But this may be done independently."


They used this by apologizing profusely and admitting that it was an awful thing to have done. They deleted the tweet and tried to start over with a fresh slate. Not that I think this fixes everything, but I think they did what they could once they realized how bad it was. I also respect their choice to not use the employees name who sent the tweet.


Overall, it was an inappropriate tweet that upset and offended many people, but when things like that happen we can turn to our trusty image restoration strategies. It just shows you that we must be responsible and cautious when using technology, and what to do in situations where someone may have made a bad call.

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Big data and planning: Real-time PR needs talent as well as tools

Big data and planning: Real-time PR needs talent as well as tools | PR and Technology | Scoop.it
Big data and planning: Real-time PR needs talent as well as tools. From PR Week
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Amazon reviews trash Barbie computer engineering book

Amazon reviews trash Barbie computer engineering book | PR and Technology | Scoop.it
A slew of critics has taken to the retail site to call the book, which depicts Barbie as needing the help of men to deal with computer issues, sexist.  (Updated)
Rachel Yann's insight:

Mattel employees must be pretty stressed these days with the new “Lammily” doll competition, but I think we also need to discuss their newest Barbie doll books that are designed to empower women. However, their newest book, “Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer” does not empower women, in any sort of way. The book is trying to encourage young girls that they can grow up and work in a male-dominated technology field, but the dialogue in the book says differently.

 

This book frustrates me to no end. It begins with Barbie designing a computer game where “you can make robot puppy do cute tricks by matching up colored blocks!” Already kind of sounding like a silly, unimpressive “engineering” project, don’t you think. Then, when her friend, Skipper, asks to play the game, Barbie laughs and tells her that, “I’ll need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!” Thus, handing all the real work over to, conveniently, two male characters. Come on Barbie, we’re rooting for you!

 

Next, Barbie ends up getting a virus on the computer, silly Barbie! When she tells Brian that her computer crashed and she needs to get back the lost files, Steven says, “”It will go faster if Brian and I help.” Uh, okay, I thought Barbie was a capable engineer, but no, Barbie exclaims, “Great!” At the end of the story, she presents her game idea to her class and receives extra credit for her design, then said, “I guess I can be an engineer!” What…? That sounds convincing, Barbie must be very sure of herself as an engineer!

 

Once the book received more hype, people took to Reddit to share their opinions. Which, we all know, is a bad, dangerous place. The real issue starts when people began trashing the book in the reviews section on Amazon. Therefore, people could share exactly what they felt, and how strongly they felt it, without Mattel really doing anything, besides pulling the book. In fact, Mattel actually did end up pulling the book, and when you go to the Amazon page, it reads that, “The publisher has discontinued this book.” http://www.amazon.com/Actress-Computer-Engineer-Barbie-Pictureback/dp/0449816192

 

Susan Marenco, the woman who wrote all of the “I Can Be” books for Mattel, told ABC News, “If I was on deadline, it’s possible stuff slipped out or I quietly abided by Mattel without questioning it.” Marenco tries to evade responsibility by making it seem like an accident, she isn’t saying it didn’t happen but, like our reading explains, “Here the accused does not deny that the offense occurred, but rather attempts to provide information that may reduce his/her apparent responsibility for the offensive act.”  

 

Mattel also sent an apology from their Vice President to ABC News explaining that the book was written in 2010 and does not reflect the image and vision that they have currently for Barbie. I don’t think you could even consider that an apology, but okay, thank you Mattel. Overall, Barbie is just a mess, and I am even more of a supporter for the Lammily dolls now.

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Someone's Getting Fired: Patriots Accidentally Tweet Racial Slur

Someone's Getting Fired: Patriots Accidentally Tweet Racial Slur | PR and Technology | Scoop.it
Can't recover this fumble.
Rachel Yann's insight:

For my post today, I figured what better time to discuss the Patriot’s Twitter blunder than during Sunday night football. Although I am not a fan of the Patriot’s in any sort of way, it really was a shame to see their Twitter account produce such a terrible and embarrassing tweet. For those of you who have not seen it, the Patriot’s were the first NFL team to reach one million followers on Twitter, so they began thanking their followers with a personalized message from Rob Gronkowski, the Patriot’s tight end, and the users Twitter handle on the back of a jersey. This was a great idea of course until the automatic reply message was sent to someone with an incredibly inappropriate handle.

 

The Patriot’s official Twitter account posted a racial slur while they were thanking this user for following them. They had set up an automatic reply feature that would send right away to anyone who followed them, and they soon learned that this was a bit dangerous. After looking through their tweets, they really didn’t dwell much on the Tweet. They handled the situation properly by immediately deleting it once they noticed the mistake, apologizing for not filtering their Tweets well enough, and then ensuring their followers that it would not happen again. Like the image restoration strategies we read about in class, they used mortification, by “simply admitting being guilty or responsible for the wrongful act and asks forgiveness,” and then used corrective action, which our reading defines as “The attempt to restore image by trying to correct the problem. This can be done by either restoring the situation to the state of affairs before the objectionable act was performed; and/or promising to “mend one’s ways” and make changes to prevent this from happening again.” This is exactly what they did when they said they “would be more vigilant in the future” because they filtering system had failed. Overall, I think it was a huge mistake and made their Twitter account look bad for a short period, because honestly, if you didn’t already hate the Patriots, this probably won’t make you start. I think people saw it, were offended, and then their account apologized and went on to keep tweeting about football and people forgot about it. It’s unfortunate it happened, but I guess they learned from it and won’t let their filtering system give out again!

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'Alex from Target' becomes Internet sensation

'Alex from Target' becomes Internet sensation | PR and Technology | Scoop.it
A lowly Target cashier is taking social media by storm. Will the brand be able to boost its PR efforts by capitalizing on the trend? 
Rachel Yann's insight:

So, if you have a Twitter account and have checked your feed in the past 36 hours, you have seen the hashtag: #AlexFromTarget. I have found multiple articles on this speculating where it came from, some people claiming it started from a girl in the UK who is now denying it and some people saying it was a Marketing campaign by a company named Breakr. Regardless of why this insane viral hashtag was created, the people of social media ran with it. By late last night I noticed that multiple Twitter accounts I followed were using the hashtag, posting the photo or playing off of this photo by posting other attractive male retail employees. This hashtag and photo was so popular that Ellen saw it. ELLEN DEGENERES. She contacted this teenage Target employee from Texas and brought him on her show within a day. Honestly if this doesn’t show you just how powerful social media is, I’m not sure anything will.

 

Whether this was in fact a marketing campaign or just a photo of an attractive young man that teenage girls everywhere made go viral, the use of social media made it trending and so successful. This reminded me of the video about “The Best Job in the World”, that was successful simply because people created the buzz about it. I think these two relate to the magic bullet theory, which in our reading called “Applying Theory to Public Relations Campaigns”, stated that, “it was based on their belief that the media (both news and entertainment media) were so powerful that they could accomplish almost anything by influencing or manipulating public opinion and social policy”.  The users of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc., were the reason that this photo and hashtag blew up, they were the ones that created the buzz. Therefore, whoever did actually create this, if they did it on purpose, just had to upload the photo and let it go viral. The power of social media circulated this photo all around the world, eventually getting this boy on Ellen and gaining Target a lot of publicity. A marketing campaign by Breakr, purposefully uploaded by Target, or simply just a photo snapped of a cute cashier; what’s your opinion?

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HP split will unlock value for customers and partners, says CEO

HP split will unlock value for customers and partners, says CEO | PR and Technology | Scoop.it
HP split will unlock value for customers and partners, says CEO. From PR Week
Rachel Yann's insight:

For today’s post, I wanted to discuss the very recent news about HP separating. A few days ago, the very popular company, Hewlett-Packard, announced (actually the Wall Street Journal announced it a day before they planned to break the news) that they would be splitting into two separate companies. Their new companies will include Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, which will only be focused on software, services and infrastructure; and HP Inc., which will be printing and personal systems. HP Inc. will continue to use their logo.

 

In the first article I read about this announcement, the idea of splitting into two companies sounded completely awful to me. In this article (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/07/business/hewlett-packard-announces-breakup-plan.html?_r=1) I first read, they explain how this split is going to cut up to 55,000 jobs. I understand that splitting into two different businesses allows them to focus directly on the different aspects of their technology, but 55,000 jobs?!That seems a little extreme and inconsiderate of their poor employees who now have to search for another job. But, taking into consideration the article by the Huffington Post, titled The Importance of Effective Internal Communications for a PR Campaign, author Phillip Keightley said, “The internal stakeholders, especially your employees, are a business's greatest asset; therefore it is important to ensure they are informed of good and bad news.” In this case, HP must communicate the bad news. Although maybe once they establish the two companies they can hire people back, who knows.

 

However, in this article I have scooped, the author describes how this split is going to “unlock value for customers and partners”.  The article explains that, “HP confirmed the separation on Monday via press release, explaining that the move will provide each company with its own, more focused equity currency.” Therefore, it seems like their choice to split into two separate companies will overall increase the quality of service for their customers. By making their customers their priority in this split, they will gain their trust and respect, which is always a good thing. I’m sure it will take their employees some getting used to, but maybe their employees will be happy to focus on their specific department rather than trying to inform customers on the printers, software, infrastructure and everything else. Overall, having the customers as their priority is an excellent idea, as long as they make this transition smooth for their employees as well. Having a good transition and keeping the employees happy and informed should be just as important as keeping the customers happy.

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Nude pictures give Apple a PR headache ahead of major event

Nude pictures give Apple a PR headache ahead of major event | PR and Technology | Scoop.it
The stolen trove of nude celebrity pictures now circulating the internet has likely left Apple feeling vulnerable and exposed, too. The company came under fire this weekend after compromising photo...
Rachel Yann's insight:

For my first scoop.it post, I wanted to discuss the unfortunate security breach that happened to a group of celebrities who had nude photos hacked from their iCloud®. Because the iCloud® is of course an Apple product, the company has received much scrutiny for this happening to our beloved celebrities, to which they have responded to by immediately trying to fix the problem.

 

In a media avisory (http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20140902006384/en/Apple-Media-Advisory#.VA9UCfldX93)  I found online, Apple stated that when they found out that there was a security breach, they were “outraged and immediately mobilized Apple’s engineers to discover the source.”, because their “customers’ privacy and security are of utmost importance to us.” They then explained that they worked for 40 hours to investigate how the accounts were hacked. They came to the conclusion that it was a direct attack on the celebrities’ accounts and passwords, which they said happens much too often these days. The last sentence reminds readers and Apple users how to avoid things like this by having a strong password and two-step verification, as well as listing the website to do so.

 

In this specific media advisory that I read, I noticed many image restoration strategies being used. First, I would say they used mortification, not necessarily to take blame for the nude photos being hacked, but being upset and mortified that it happened to their customers, who are their priority. They made it clear that they were going to figure out how this breach happened because they want to remain loyal to their customers and their privacy is important to them.

 

They also then used evasion of responsibility by saying that the attack was purely on the celebrities, and that everything they had investigated was not a cause of Apple’s system including the iCloud® or Find my iPhone. In addition, I thought they used minimization to reduce the offensiveness of the act. Minimization is explained in our reading, titled “A Theory of Image Restoration”, on page 3 as “Minimization—the accused tries to minimize the negative effects associated with the wrong act by attempting to show that the misbehavior or act is not as bad as initially thought or perceived by the audience. If an audience changes its opinion that the act was not so bad after all, then the person’s image is restore (to some degree).” Apple claims that breaches like this happen all the time, making it seem like an everyday thing that is not that big of a deal.

 

They then used the corrective action strategy by explaining how users can avoid this from happening to them. They also provide them with a website to where they can go to make sure they avoid a security breach of their own.

 

Overall, I think Apple handled this crisis well. The article I have posted here emphasizes how this security breach had terrible timing, as Apple had a huge day today announcing their new products. However, this day and presentation of new products has potential to help the company get out of the negative light, and rather, introduce all the new, positive and successful products they’ve been working on. It is a huge shame that these nude photos were stolen from the celebrities, but I think Apple did the right thing by working 40 straight hours to fix it. It also helps that other sites like Reddit have deleted them from viewing.

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