On a blustery February day, less than 24 hours after upstate New York felt the effects of winter storm Nemo, wine connoisseurs braved the cold for Cheese & Wine Lovers Weekend at the Keuka Lake wine trail. The Keuka Lake wine trail consists of seven wineries along the breathtaking (even in the winter) Keuka Lake. The wine trail has tastings daily, year round. However, the best time to visit the wineries (in my “expert” opinion) are during their signature events.
The wine trail has six signature events throughout the year: Cheese & Wine Lovers Weekend (2/9-2/10), Viva Italia! (4/6-4/7), Keuka in Bloom (5/4-5/5), BBQ at the Wineries (6/8-6/9 & 6/22-6/23), Harvest Celebration of Food & Wine (9/14-9/15), and Keuka Holidays (11/9-11/10 & 11/16-11/17).
I decided to join my fellow cheese and wine lovers this weekend at the signature event. Each winery paired a different cheese dish with some of their signature wines. While some wineries gave their guests the freedom to choose their own wines with up to five choices, others had pre-selected options.
The first stop on our wine trail was Keuka Springs vineyards. We were able to choose up to five wines at this stop and I loved ALL of them. The food and wine pairing was a cheese lasagna with an award-winning riesling.
The next winery on our stop was Barrington Cellars. They have the BEST sweet wine called “Buzzard’s Peach” which is made from peaches grown right there on the winery! While the wine was delicious, the food selection was not as impressive with simple wraps made with cheese.
McGregor Vineyard & Winery is always a favorite of mine. They had by far the BEST food & wine pairings with cheese & spinach quesadillas, pesto cheese spread and cilantro corn salsa. My favorite wine was the Thistle Blush, a sweet summer wine which I loved. But the BEST part about this winery was seeing my furry friend, Max!
(Max the dog looking like a sophisticated gentleman in his sweater.)
While I must admit, Max and his amazing wine & cheese were a tough act to follow…Ravines Wine Cellar did not impress me, despite giving them the benefit of the doubt. There was not a big selection of wines or cheese dishes. It was a miss in my book.
Next on our tour was Heron Hill, home of my FAVORITE wine, the semi-dry riesling. We spent the majority of our time at Heron Hill. I think it was a combination of the breathtaking views of the lake high atop the grape vines, the delicious cheese puff & arugula salad, and the huge wine selection.
(Beautiful view from atop Heron Hill.)
The next winery was Dr. Frank’s Wine Cellars. I have to be honest, I haven’t been impressed with this winery in the past. I always tend to stay away from red wines and stick to white. But today, I was given a sample of the Coho Red to pair with an italian fritter and I loved it! It may even be the wine that convinced me to try reds every once in a while.
The last winery of the trip was Hunt Country Vineyards. The wine tour ended at 5:00 p.m. and I’m pretty sure we walked through the door at 4:56 p.m. (I know, I was one of THOSE people) but I’m glad we got there! I found some cute things for my apartment and got to sample an extra wine! It was a wonderful end to a wonderful day! So tourists, take note: upstate New York has much more to offer than you may think! Even in the freezing winter, Keuka Lake was more beautiful than I could explain. The combination of the calm lake surrounded entirely by white silent beauty is indescribable. So for those of you who have been complaining about wanting winter to be over, remember: beauty lies in the eye of the beholder…or in a glass of local wine!
So – what is a brand?
In terms of public relations it is the key values and characteristics upheld by an organization, company, or simply an individual. For example, FedEx has a brand…The Special Olympics has a brand…and even Lady Gaga has her own (unique) brand.
In the January 2012 issue of Vanity Fair Magazine, a feature story entitled, “In Lady Gaga’s Wake” by Lisa Robinson. The article covers everything from her over-the-top fashion sense to her relationship status. It was clear to me the minute I finished reading this article that Lady Gaga’s personal brand can be summed up in one word: eclectic.
Everything about Lady G is eclectic: her wardrobe, her music, her performances, and quite frankly, her life. Some of the key messages that are conveyed in this profile are Lady Gaga’s no-nonsense attitude when it comes to dating. She even tells her interviewer, “Sure, pop a ring on my finger and make it all better. I can buy myself a f—— ring.”
From a public relations standpoint, Lady Gaga is a dream come true. She has a personal brand that cannot be duplicated because even when she isn’t on stage she’s still “in character” which is the goal with any brand.
Always be prepared. It’s the boy scouts’ #1 rule for a reason. When a company or organization is prepared, they can respond better in the event of a crisis. It’s a simple fact. Companies everywhere need to adopt the mantra: hope for the best, expect the worst. Because if you are expecting it, you can prepare for it.
In the case of the BP Oil Spill, the company was in fact, unprepared for a crisis that should have been foreseen. BP handled the crisis fairly by creating key messages and supporting them by being transparent to their target publics. One thing in particular that they did well was focus on the well-being of the workers as well as the environment. They made their CEO, Tony Hayward, available for questions and comments and told NPR that BP would fund the cleanup.
HOWEVER, the negative response that did come from Hayward falls under the “blame game” category, which as PR practitioners we know NOT to do. He told Sky News, ““I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest,” when in reality, scientists are still measuring its impact today. Hayward would have done well to simply state, “At this point in time, no one can know for sure exactly how this disaster will impact the environment. But I can assure you that we will continue to work with the world’s most knowledgeable scientists to help mitigate any damage done” (taproot creative)
The company did express compassion to the works and the environment which was a strength in their crisis communication. The only thing they could have done better was to be more prepared for something like this happening in the first place and to control the messaging their CEO put forth.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We’ve been told that since we were kids. However, what if the opinion is controversial? And what if you are a public relations practitioner who represents that controversial opinion? After examining a few op-eds, in class and on my own, I have come to the conclusion that public relations really is bigger than we may think. The need for public relations can be found in more places than we may think…
After reading an opinion article submitted to the New York Times, entitled We Need to Talk About Our Eggs, by Sarah Richards, I scrolled down to the comment section. An article that talks about the need for OB/GYNs to talk with patients about family planning and the possibility of freezing eggs would be expected to have a lot of comments. This topic can be controversial to some people. And that is clear after seeing the 56+ comments that followed.
Enabling comments on an article like this that may be controversial opens the opportunity for criticisms and labeling of the publication itself. Therefore, there is an increased need for public relations in order to uphold the reputation of the brand itself. When you enable comments, there is a greater risk for someone to comment something negative about the newspaper. As a public relations professional, you would then have to make the call whether or not to save that comment or hit “delete.”
The paper does mitigate these risks by “marking” their favorite comments. Therefore, readers can scroll through the comments and simply read the ones with the ‘Times’ icon next to it to get a feel for what the newspaper stands for. Technology is making it easier for people to share their opinions, which makes our job as PR practitioners more necessary.
Before I begin my blog post and analysis I think it is important to note that as I write this not only do I have wordpress open on my browser, but also my email inbox, Facebook, Twitter, several blogs, and Google. My point is, we are completely immersed in a world of social media and instant feedback. Therefore, when in charge of PR for a company going through a succession, it is important not to forget these important channels of communication: social media platforms.
On Wednesday, October 17, 2012, Livestrong announced that Lance Armstrong, world renowned cyclist and brain behind the Livestrong name, will be stepping down as Chairman of Livestrong. As aspiring public relations professionals with special interest in crisis communication, we knew before any statements were released that this was probably a result of Armstrong being linked to doping scandals. Unlike many other organizations facing scandal, Livestrong actually did the RIGHT thing by announcing the succession not only via press release to the media, but also directly to fans on Twitter as well as their personal blog.
Here is a screenshot of the original tweet with some replys and retweets:
The link in this tweet directs followers to the official statement on the Livestrong blog site, written by Katherine McLane. Within this statement is a direct quote from Lane Armstrong, in which he seems to do all the right things when announcing stepping down: why the individual is leaving, who will be the replacement, and thoughts about the organization. Armstrong speaks very highly of the organization as well as his successor, Jeff Garvey (his bio can be found here).
Social media sites are the quickest way to get an important message (like announcing a succession) out to the public in a professional manner. It is important not to ignore these platforms, but rather embrace them.
It’s interesting that in an age of social media and instantaneous feedback, traditional news is, in fact, still considered to be newsworthiness. I guess I suspected given the explosion of pop culture in the past ten years, there would be little “hard news” in the media at any given time. However, I was happily proven wrong when I perused the ABC News website the past few days.
In an era of Real Housewives and the Jersey Shore, it’s a miracle that anyone even continues to keep up with the news. I was pleasantly surprised to see a large portion of ABCNews.com being overtaken by promotional articles about tonight’s Vice Presidential Debate. The next most newsworthiness? A missing person case followed by a short story on Jerry Sandusky. All three of these are newsworthy. They are all relevant to a large majority of people; they are all current; and they are all significant.
While looking deeper at the latest headlines on ABCNews.com, I couldn’t help but notice that the majority of news stories were negative. It made me wonder, are people only interested in negative stories? As humans, we are naturally drawn towards issues of conflict and dramatics rather than peace and harmony. It could be argued that this is a bad quality. However, I believe that today, what is considered “newsworthy” is what is being talked about at work the next morning. Whether that’s the Presidential debate or how much Jennifer Aniston’s engagement ring costs, the public determines what is newsworthy. The media simply caters to those preferences. So if that means doing a news story on the upcoming season of the Jersey Shore, well, it must be newsworthy to someone…
With the first presidential debate set to take place tomorrow evening, this infographic looks back on the two presidential conventions of 2012. Unlike years past, this presidential election is turning to social media (specifically Twitter), to market individual campaigns.
In the past, most political campaigns/conventions have centered around traditional media forms (i.e. newspapers, magazine articles). However, this year, with the emergence of social media growing, the conventions were markedly different on social media and traditional media.
With social media, the candidate has the power to get their key message out without interference from a publication. On Twitter, both the Democratic convention and the Republican convention used the hashtags #DNC2012 and #RNC2012, respectively. By using this hashtag, users can:
• join in on the conversation by offering questions to candidates
• share thoughts/opinions of support or criticism
• create new hashtags and connect with more users
While traditional media is used to cover big stories like the conventions at large or the election itself, social media is a constantly changing medium that allows users to get the story quick and easy.
When it comes to delivery of PR messaging, social media has the potential to impact voters’ perceptions MORE than traditional media for the following reasons:
• sense of personal connection to candidates
• better sense of personality
• better understanding of individual brand and key messages
No matter who you are following on Twitter, the important thing to remember is to simply cast your vote!
As an aspiring public relations professional with an interest in the travel/tourism sector of the profession, I am drawn to the blog, “Sea Views,” written by President and CEO of Royal Caribbean, Adam Goldstein.
With their extremely successful Twitter account and other public communications efforts (they have 5,155 tweets and over 34,500 followers on Twitter), I was surprised to discover that the efforts of the CEO blog are just as successful. Goldstein blogs quite regularly, averaging about once per week dating back to April 2009.
There are also several guest bloggers who frequent the site, all of whom are high up on the corporate level. With Q & A sections, new exciting offers, as well as the latest breaking news about the construction of their cruise ships, the CEO blog is extremely successful in their communication efforts.
Keeping a CEO blog has far more pros than cons…
- A CEO blog gives the public “face time” with the man behind the brand
- It manages to keep the public informed while still being conversational
- It reminds the public that you are actively involved in a company, not merely sitting behind a desk shuffling paperwork or too rich to care…
In a highly successful (in my opinion) series of blogs entitled the “Ask Adam Blog Series,” customers from across the globe were able to ask the President and CEO of Royal Caribbean questions about a variety of subjects including: criteria for cruise upgrade, accessibility to ports, activities for children, and food and drink options. The fact that Goldstein takes the time to answer so many questions speaks volumes to the brand.
While I did find a list of the most successful CEO blogs and “Sea Views” did not make the cut (Top 10 Smart CEO Blogs), I personally feel that “Sea Views” SHOULD be on the list. It humanizes the brand, putting a face behind the logo, while still informing its valued customers about the business strategies behind Royal Caribbean cruise line.
“The video you are requesting is temporarily blocked.”
In the past, this is the text that would appear in place of a YouTube video that has been taken down. The reasons were also understandable and in agreement with YouTube’s terms and conditions; the video contains excessive violence, pornography, or violates copyright agreements. It raises suspicion when a video is taken down, however, because certain users do not like the content.
YouTube recently took down a controversial video that has sparked a wave of protests and riots among Egyptian and Libyan users. While YouTube has taken down videos or accounts that break their terms of agreement, (Lady Gaga’s account was temporarily suspended in 2011 and a video about NASA’s Mars Landing was removed completely) but never a video or account that doesn’t violate these terms.
According to a statement released by YouTube, “We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions. This can be a challenge because what’s okay in one country can be offensive elsewhere.”
So this begs the question: do social media outlets like YouTube have a responsibility to balance freedom of speech versus risking promoting inflammatory responses?
While I don’t have a complete yes or no answer to this question, there is one thing that I do believe. I think that YouTube made the right decision by temporarily removing the video BECAUSE of the extreme violence that has resulted from the outrage of the video.
*As an additional note to this blog post, I have a friend from Rochester who is currently living in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She posted on her Facebook yesterday that YouTube has been banned due to the demands of the Bangladesh government. The news story for that issue can be found here.