Thursday, January 27, 2011

Top 10 Snow Excuses for Business Professionals

By Chris Daley

The Northeast has once again been pounded by a snowstorm. This inspired me – in David Letterman fashion – to come up with the “Top 10 Snow Excuses for Business Professionals.” Unlike teachers, we really don’t get “snow days,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t get creative and find ways to blame the snow for not being able to make it in to work.

Here goes:

10) I live in the city, if I leave my house I won’t be able to get a parking spot when I come back.
9) They haven’t plowed the back roads yet.
8) My kids are off from school, I need to stay home and be with them.
7) Power’s out at my house. I need to stay home and wait for BGE to come out and fix it.
6) I don’t have any hot water, so I don’t think anyone wants me coming in and smelling up the office.
5) My dogs paws are burning from the salt on the sidewalks - I need to stay home and take care of him.
4) When I went to the store they were out of shovels, so I can’t dig out.
3) It’s not me, I’m afraid of the other people on the roads.
2) The news said we might get 6 more inches this afternoon.
1) I think the Governor called for a State of Emergency.

I’m sure there are many more. If you have one, please contribute to the list. Us business professionals can never have too many excuses.

Stay safe everyone!

Chris Daley is Senior Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact him at

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meet Kristen Seabolt

Kristen Seabolt is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

If it ain't broke, don't fix it

By Tim Richardson

Human beings are creatures of habit, period. We like our normal routines, the comfort that we find when the stars align for us. Tradition, normalcy – all things that help us get through the day-to-day challenge of a thing called “life.”

So when brands that we are loyal to and swear by decide to do anything that adversely impacts our routine, we don’t like it. Yes, I’m talking to you Starbucks.

For those who are unfamiliar with what the fuss is about, let me bring you up to speed. In March 2011, Starbucks will celebrate its 40th anniversary. Earlier this month, the company announced that, as part of that milestone, it was removing the words “Starbucks Coffee” from its signature green logo so its mermaid, or “Siren” icon, was more prominent. Say what?

Loyal Starbucks’ customers (like this one) do not like the new logo. In my opinion, the new design looks like the artwork is incomplete. The company says the change is part of a marketing plan that involves making Starbucks about more than just coffee. Okay??? Talk about forgetting “what got you there.” Consumers used words like “tacky” and “unprofessional” when venting their frustration on the company’s Facebook page. Additionally, nine different Facebook groups or pages in opposition to the new logo were created. Starbucks is an international brand and removing that key word in the logo is puzzling to me.

We’ve all heard the axiom, “if it ain't broke, don't fix it.” Just ask the Coca-Cola Company and GAP how it went for them when they ignored this idiom.

Let’s start with Coke. On April 23, 1985, the company changed its 99-year old formula and introduced a “new coke” to the public; a move that many experts still refer to as the “marketing blunder of the century.”

The company was inundated with calls from unhappy customers, and estimated receiving around 1,500 calls a day on its consumer hot line…compared to the standard 400 the day before the change was announced. Consumers were not happy that the company, despite the fact that it owns the product, took “their” Coke away. Coca-Cola conceded and returned to a variation of the old formula, under the name “Coca-Cola Classic” in July 1985. That day, the Coca-Cola Company received over 30,600 positive calls on their hot line. New Coke is no longer available.

A more recent example of why not to rock the boat involves one of the world's largest specialty retailer, Gap, Inc. In early October 2010, the company changed its well-recognized logo. The very uninspired new look debuted quietly on the company’s website, but was met with immediate displeasure from consumers and the media. The negative outcry caused the company to scrap the new logo just one week after unveiling it. Gap President Marka Hansen admitted that is was “an ill-conceived rollout” and the company expressed regret for the anger the move triggered in its loyal consumers.

At the end of the day, we are simple people who like things the way we are accustomed to having them. We don’t just drink the product, eat the food or wear the clothing; we feel a connection to it. It’s more than a brand for many of us, it’s a sense of comfort in a hectic world.

Tim Richardson
is Executive Vice President at Maroon PR. Contact him at

Monday, January 17, 2011

“We Really Messed Up”

By Pete DeLuca

“We really messed up.” Those are the words of Andrew Mason, Founder and CEO of Groupon, an email service that sends daily local deals to over 50 million customers worldwide.

Since its inception in 2008, Groupon has grown to include over 150 cities in 35 different countries. At just over 2-years old, Mason’s company was named “The Fastest Growing Company Ever” according to Forbes Magazine, which projected that Groupon would reach $1 billion dollars in sales faster than any other business, ever.

With this success came rapid global expansion – which, in this case, triggered Mason’s dilemma. According to the Associated Press, just a few weeks ago Groupon Japan featured a New Year’s deal with Bird Café – a local food delivery business in Tokyo. The result was a flood of orders to the Café, which caused late deliveries and meals arriving in “terrible condition”. Angry customers began a smear campaign against Groupon, posting pictures of their meals and writing awful reviews on online message boards.

Groupon acted quickly – apologizing profusely and refunded each purchase of 10,500 yen ($127). After the refund, the company subsequently offered each of the 500-plus customers a 5,000 yen ($61) voucher as a sign of good will. In addition, Groupon began implementing “capacity planning” formulas to help overseas businesses determine how many customers they can handle for future promotions.

Even after all that, Mason – the owner of a multi-million dollar organization, fired up his webcam for a direct message to his Japanese customers.

Mistakes happen. But the way in which a person responds to that mistake shows the individual’s true character. I think Mason’s actions are a perfect example of how a business owner should genuinely apologize to his customers. His company messed up and, although he was not directly involved, he took responsibly and went above and beyond to patch things up.

It is refreshing to see that a business owner, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, still takes the time to recognize the customers that helped make his company a success.

Pete DeLuca
is Manager of Creative Services at Maroon PR. Contact him at

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Let’s Twitchange the World

By Andrea Kunicky

Twitchange, a digital auction house selling off celebrity Twitter presences for charity, is set to launch their second social good campaign on January 29th championed by Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. Twitchange gives fans the chance to bid on an opportunity to interact with their favorite celebrities on Twitter by having those celebrities follow, mention or retweet them.

A single auction will last around a month with all proceeds being donated to a charitable cause selected by the celebrity spokesperson. Polamalu was selected as this month’s spokesperson for his work with veteran issues. The auction will raise money for Operation Once in a Lifetime, a non-profit organization whose mission is to make dreams of U.S. Soldiers and their families come true by providing free financial and moral support to U.S Service members, their families and veterans regardless of rank, deployment, physical condition or branch or service.

The most recent campaign was spearheaded by “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria in which she supported the building of homes in Haiti. The campaign received more than 35 million hits, generated over $540,000, and collected support from hundreds of celebrities including Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, and Perez Hilton.

In the past, the campaign had shown beneficial results in raising money for a wonderful cause, but there is some controversy that has become prevalent with the introduction of Twitchange. Many are saying that the social good campaign is more so about the celebrity than it is the charity component.

“I think it’s the celebrity first and the charity second,” says Peter Panepento, assistant managing editor for The Chronicle of Philanthropy. “I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing but I think people need to recognize that it shouldn’t be a replacement for the other forms of charity.”

In the past, other celebrity campaigns weren’t as successful. The recent “Digital Death” campaign featuring celebrities silencing themselves on their social media accounts hoping to raise money for an AIDS charity flopped when they were not able to reach their $1 million goal. After only a few days, the amount raised was at $450,000 and the celebrities convinced a billionaire pharmaceutical executive to donate $500,000 so they could resume their social media habits.

When learning more about this, I believe the Twitchange campaign will continue to be a growing avenue for charities. If you are an individual who is passionate about the specific charity or just a fan who would like to get a comment from their favorite celebrity on Twitter - it should not matter. In the end, we are helping these charities grow to support their mission, programs and services and also to increase awareness to others that may not have discovered them yet. This is what truly matters and is certainly a winning situation for all involved.

Andrea Kunicky is an Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Be Careful What You Tweet

By Courtney Carey

Ryan Babel, like many of us, is an avid user of the social media site, Twitter. Yahoo! Sports reported yesterday that Babel, midfielder for Liverpool’s soccer team, was charged with improper conduct by the Football Association for the content of one of his tweets.

During the match between Liverpool and Manchester United in the third-round of the FA Cup, referee Howard Webb made a questionable call in favor of Manchester. In response to the referee’s call, Babel tweeted a doctored photo of Webb wearing a Manchester United shirt with a caption reading, “And they call him one of the best referees? That’s a joke.” While Babel stated that the tweet was “an emotional reaction after losing an important game,” the Football Association did not find the tweet humorous and charged him with improper conduct.

Babel’s experience not only demonstrates that you should always be aware of what you say on a public platform such as Twitter, but that social media sites are now considered a source of serious and legitimate statements. While the use of Twitter can still be fun and light-hearted, it is important to always think about the impact that your statements may have.

Courtney Carey is Manager of Social Media at Maroon PR. Contact her at

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Man with the Golden Voice

By Katy Fincham

“I have a God given gift of voice. I am an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please! Any help will be gratefully appreciated. Thank you and God bless.”

These were the words of, ex radio-announcer Ted Williams. Homeless after battling addiction and struggling to get by, Williams spent the last few years panhandling on the street of Columbus, Ohio. Little did he know, his world was about to change forever.

The Columbus Dispatch newspaper posted a video on Monday of Williams begging on the side of a road, using his radio emcee imitations, which has since attracted over 12 million viewers on YouTube. Not only that, but Williams has been flooded with media requests and job offers.

Since dubbed “The Man with the Golden Voice,” Williams has featured his talents on numerous national programs, such as NBC’s “Today Show” in New York and “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”. The job offers have been pouring in all over the place, including the Cleveland Cavaliers and KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese.

While it is inspiring to see a man who has gone through and survived so many personal struggles, finally get his chance to turn his life around, I think the most overlooked aspect of this rags to riches tale is that of the Columbus Dispatch photographer. After seeing this homeless man, day after day, with his sign claiming to be an ex-radio announcer, the photographer gave into his curiosity... and forever changed Williams’ life.

I think that this feel-good story reminds us that curiosity did NOT kill the cat… it’s given someone an opportunity of a lifetime. A lot of the time, the smallest gestures sometimes make the biggest impact. I hope that Mr. Williams, now two years sober, takes this second chance for all that it is worth and wish him great success.

Katy Fincham
is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Coffee and Doughnuts

By Mitchell Schmale

I was excited to read about a recent medical study that gave me hope. Researchers in Spain have found that the combination of caffeine and sugar can improve the efficiency of brain activity in memory and attention skills. This is good news for me. After many years, my hard-core training regimen focusing on caffeine and sugar may be about to pay off!

The study was published in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental and found the study’s participants who consumed caffeine and sugar together improved their cognitive performance, including sustained attention and working memory, by stimulating the parts of the brain responsible for those functions.

Those subjects given only caffeine or sugar showed improved reaction time, but participants given both had improvements in attention and verbal memory. The researchers in Spain say they will require further studies to confirm their findings.

In the meantime, I have to back to training with my coffee and donuts. I plan to be a genius by the end of the year!

Mitchell Schmale is Vice President of Maroon PR. Contact him at