Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Are you Simply A Leader or Do you LEAD?

By Chartese Burnett

Today after our staff meeting at Maroon PR, we watched a brief poignant motivational video. I had an “aha” moment while listening to Simon Sinek share WHAT people do vs. WHY they do it and how businesses want to do business with people who believe what they believe. The point was that people make “emotional” decisions or purchases and create relationships based upon, not WHAT businesses do, but on WHY they do what they do. He cited various examples of successful entities, including Apple computer, which has enjoyed tremendous success because their “marketing” message is not based on product capabilities alone, but on the company’s endeavor to make the end user or consumer happy, satisfied, and/or fulfilled on a much deeper emotional level.

Nonprofit organizations that successfully communicate their message to demonstrate what they have done and what they are doing to positively impact society will create a loyal donor base – those who will fund and further the work of the organization. For-profit entities that operate according to their core values will garner business from and develop successful/profitable partnerships with those that share similar beliefs.

As insightful as this was, my second epiphany came when he explored this concept further, with a different “twist: using Reverend Martin Luther King, the great civil rights leader and orator, as an example of someone who LED people, black and white, to follow his movement. According to Sinek, the titles of “DR.” or “Reverend” were not the motivating factor in this demonstration of unity among masses. In 1968, hundreds of thousands of people came out to listen to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream speech”, not because of WHO he was, but because of WHAT he believed. In Sinek’s opinion, it wasn’t that Dr. King was the only person who yearned for equal rights and freedom from oppression, slavery, racism; nor was he the only great orator (although I’d argue that few could compete with Dr. King’s oratory gift back then or even ever), but the fact that the March on Washington was historical was because Dr. King INSPIRED others to act, to take a stand, to FOLLOW him.

The point was simply this: Being a leader is simply a matter of possessing a title, either one of privilege, position, or stature. However, leading involves movement. It involves moving others to action. Those who have led innovations, inventions, discovery, research, progress - -have been those whom we remember, not based on what came before or after their proper names, but based on what they believed and WHY they fought, pursued, pressed on. We remember the cures they have discovered for life threatening illnesses, the laws that have been passed in the name of equality, the advances made in science and technology, the trails blazed, and the difference it has all made in humanity.

Those who lead inspire us, motivate us, and nurture our loyalty in them. Those who lead have been very privileged to have recognized their “higher” calling; some would call it their “purpose”. When we understand what our purpose is, WHY we do what we do, and then communicate that to our constituents, clients and the world – we will attract and create a loyal following of those who believe as we do. Only when we relate on a “higher” and “deeper” level and commit ourselves to positive and meaningful core values, will we enjoy fruitful partnerships and successful endeavors.

Chartese Burnett is Director of Non-Profit PR at Maroon PR. Contact her at Chartese@MaroonPR.com

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Go Green for FREE Coffee

By Kristen Seabolt

Being a good neighbor is what Starbucks is all about. Ever since they opened their doors 40 years ago, Starbucks has done their part to create thriving neighborhoods and make positive change happen in the communities they do business in. This includes helping to reduce our collective carbon footprint.

In honor of Earth Day 2011, Starbucks has decided to thank their neighbors who do their part, and encourage others to do the same. All day tomorrow, Friday April 22, customers can stop by their local Starbucks with a travel mug and receive a FREE freshly brewed coffee or tea.

Last year, Starbucks saved more than one million plastic cups on Earth Day, and in order to minimize their carbon footprint, they have set a goal this year to make 100% of their iconic white cups recyclable and to serve 25% of beverages made in stores in reusable cups by 2015.

Using social media to promote the event, Starbucks is encouraging all 21 million Facebook fans and 1.5 million Twitter followers to RSVP to their “Get a Free cup of Coffee on Earth Day” event and to change their profile photos to pictures of their travel mugs to share the word with friends. So far, close to 185,000 customers will be attending. Including me!

In addition to free coffee tomorrow, all of Starbucks’ travel mugs will be 20 percent off, and throughout the year, any customer who brings in a travel mug will receive 10 cents off their order.

What a great way to get your free caffeine fix AND do your part to reduce your carbon footprint! Stop by Starbucks tomorrow and don’t forget your mug!

“One person can save trees, together we can save forests.”

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Check-Ins for Charity

By Courtney Carey

Checking-in online is not a foreign concept these days due to popular social media sites such as Foursquare, Gowalla and of course, Facebook. As of March, Foursquare reported that it had seven million active users. A recent social media site, DailyFeats, is taking the popular concept of “check-ins”and making it philanthropic.

This social media site describes its purpose as, “DailyFeats guides you in doing small actions -- or "feats" -- that reflect your values and your life's goals. Along the way, you'll earn points, meet a helpful community, and save money on real-life expenses, motivating you to go do good -- every day.” Each time a user reports an act on DailyFeats, they earn reward points depending on the size of the task. The acts range in size from choosing to eat healthier foods to volunteering your time at a non-profit organization. Once enough reward points are earned, they can be redeemed for coupons or discounts with certain participating organizations.

The popular social media website, Mashable.com, describes the benefits that DailyFeats offers for sponsors or corporate partners, “DailyFeats has managed to integrate its social layer with targeted coupons and sponsors. Certain actions unlock specific discounts. For example, Monster.com sponsors “!newskills” and “!makeconnections” sections whereas 1-800-Flowers.com sponsors “!sympathy” sections. It’s a smart way to target consumers and encourage good deeds at the same time.”

The catch with this social media site is that all of the actions are self-reported, meaning that people can say they completed an action even if they really did not. What is to stop people from lying on the site simply so they can reap the benefits of the rewards and coupons? While DailyFeats has some checks in place, they rely heavily on trust. Mashable describes the site’s philosophy, “The site was formed as a way to promote good deeds of any nature and ultimately to make America a better place. People may start by making themselves better, but they’ll eventually graduate to projects with more impact. The hope is that this next step won’t just be to get more rewards, but to actually embrace DailyFeats’ positive ethos.”

Is choosing to trust online users a gamble? My thought is that while there will always be those who choose to abuse the system, DailyFeats is a cool and interesting way to keep track of the good deeds, big or small, that one does on a daily basis. I look forward to seeing how this concept evolves and encourages people to make philanthropy a part of their daily lives.

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

Monday, April 18, 2011

Even the Greatest Brands Need to Stay True

By John Maroon

I was in Seattle last week for an event with the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation. While I was there, I decided to track down the first ever Starbucks store because it is a brand that I admire greatly and is the starting point for its CEO, Howard Schultz’ new book, Onward. (Sorry for my amateur photos!)

Today, Schultz still carries his key from that store where he first began working on September 7, 1982, and he doesn’t just carry that key for nostalgia reasons. He carries it, as he writes, “as a constant reminder of the responsibility I have to honor the heritage of the company and all of the people who had come before me.”

Starbucks’ is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2011. But the brand wasn’t really built until Schultz took over and fulfilled the vision he had after visiting small espresso bars in Italy and realizing that drinking coffee and gathering is an experience there…and can be in the United States as well.

The coolest thing about Schultz is that this latest book isn’t about how great Starbucks is (which it is), but about how, just a few years ago, he admits that he and the company lost its vision and needed to be righted. It started in 2000 when he stepped down as CEO and became Chairman of the company. The focus quickly became growth and they took their eye off of operations and “that experience.”

That, coupled with new competition and a failing economy, had Starbucks in a place they didn’t want to be. In 2008, Schultz was back as CEO of the company and the process of righting the ship began.

I am only in the beginning of Onward, but it seems to be a great lesson to companies and organizations of any size. Never forget what you stand for and what you want to be and how you want to be viewed. If a brand as strong as Starbucks can lose its way for a time, we all can.

John Maroon is President of Maroon PR. Contact him at John@MaroonPR.com

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Era Hits it Out of the Park with Viral Spot on Sports Rivalries

By Tim Richardson

When I started thinking about what to write about in my blog, there were a lot of topics to choose from so honing in on just one was tough. But, given the time of year and the fact that I wanted this to be light-hearted, I chose to focus on a viral advertising campaign timed with baseball season.

The beauty of sports is that it brings people together. People with nothing in common but a baseball team become united. You need to look no further than the punk-rocker & tough guy hugging when the Indians won in the movie “Major League.” But sports also create great rivalries and the New Era Cap Company, the largest and fastest growing headwear manufacturer in the United States, launched a viral campaign on April 8 that capitalizes on arguably the biggest rivalry in baseball over the past several decades, Red Sox versus Yankees. Below is the video entitled “The Trash Talking Begins.”

In my opinion, the ad is brilliant in a number of ways. First, it unites people by showing that no matter what walk of life you are from, celebrity or average Joe, being passionate about your favorite sports teams is a common thread. Second, it features popular celebrities battling over the storied rivalry as Yankees’ fan Alec Baldwin of NBC’s 30 Rock trades barbs with Red Sox lover John Krasinski of The Office (no disrespect to Krasinski, but Baldwin’s delivery, mannerisms and digs steal the show). The spot is engaging and fun… no matter how many times you watch it (I’m in double-digits). This line from Baldwin about the rivalry is a great example of the cleverness and creativity of the spot:

“John, John, John, for the last time, this is not a rivalry. Just like fire doesn’t have a RIVALRY with kindling; lawnmowers don’t have a RIVALRY with grass; America doesn’t have a RIVALRY with Costa Rica.”

Finally, and most importantly, New Era understands what fuels their consumers and goes right at that target audience in a spot that is timely, direct and, quite simply, hilarious. Since its debut, the video is approaching half a million views on YouTube and has popped up on numerous individual Facebook and Twitter accounts.

When an advertising spot or PR placement stands out to consumers and leaves them wanting more, it’s a success. And New Era is delivering by showcasing the rivalry on its website and social media outlets. On the homepage of the company’s site, fans can cast their vote for either Team Baldwin or Team Krasinksi by clicking on a graphic entitled “Rivalries Are Forever”. They can also vote on New Era’s Facebook page by clicking on the “New Era Rivalry” tab.

Based on how this viral spot is being received, I’m sure we’ve not seen the last of the Baldwin versus Krasinski rivalry. Of course, I’m sure New Era never thought the Red Sox would start the season 2-8 and 4.5 games behind the first place Baltimore Orioles. Okay, that was a homer line, but after the past 13 years I’m going to enjoy the Orioles’ first-place standing for as long as possible (And yes, I know, it’s only April).

Tim Richardson is Executive Vice President of Maroon PR. Contact him at Tim@MaroonPR.com.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Facebook Answers Prayers for Kidney Patient

By Mitchell Schmale

A recent story in the news shows that Facebook can be more than a social networking site... For one Michigan man, Facebook proved to be a lifeline that gave him a second chance at life.

Jeff Kurze was battling kidney disease and struggling as a dialysis patient. After the 35-year-old suffered a mini-stroke, Jeff was told by his doctors that he would need to add his name to the kidney donor waiting list in the hopes of finding a kidney donor match. Jeff’s wife, Roxy, understood that this process could take up to five years to find a donor match – if they were lucky. She was afraid that this was time that Jeff may not have to spare.

Roxy took matters into her own hands and reached out through Facebook asking for any interested kidney donors with the necessary blood match to help save her husband. Her prayers – and her Facebook wall post – were answered when she received a message back from Ricky Cisco, a Facebook friend she had met only once through work.

Ricky and Roxy, total strangers other than the Facebook connection, met for coffee and felt a connection in real life as well. Ricky agreed to be a live kidney donor and give Jeff and Roxy a new life together and help them pursue their dreams of starting a family. Ricky proved to be a perfect donor match and just more than four months later, the procedure was a success.

All three credit Facebook for changing their lives forever and for proving the power of connecting with people.

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Twitter Adds Interest Based Search to Capabilities

By Andrea Kunicky

With millions of people using Twitter, there's no shortage of people and organizations to follow, but unless you examine peoples' lists or feeds followed by their friends, it's a bit complicated to find people based on their interest level. Well, that all changed on Monday as Twitter announced a new updated search tool, which will now help users find new people to follow based on the subjects that interest them, such as movies and sports. Previously when users typed in a search query, they were presented with just a small selection of "People" results, all of which contained the search term (or some derivative of it) in the account username, and didn’t necessarily reflect if they had interest in that term or not. Now, when people search for a certain topic and click on the "People" section of the search results page, Twitter will return a list of the top microbloggers in that field. "This new approach helps you find the Twitter users that will best help you follow your interests," Twitter spokeswoman Carolyn Penner wrote in a blog post on Twitter.com. "For example, if you're interested in hip hop, chances are that you'd like to follow hip hop artists. Searching for 'hip hop' now surfaces accounts like @common and @questlove. (Previously, we typically showed accounts that have 'hip hop' in the name.)" Personally, I think this is a great way for all followers on Twitter to proactively use their time more wisely in regards to their interests and what they choose to read and follow. I think it will also dramatically help organizations that might not have been noticed by other audiences help them increase their visibility and grow in the long run. Twitter has done it again… growing and expanding their services to better improve our time on the site... great job! Andrea Kunicky is an Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at Andrea@MaroonPR.com