Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Unlikely Millionaire

By Pete DeLuca

“The first thing I'm going to do is buy a new fridge.” Those are the words of Louisiana high school teacher Brian Kingrey – winner of the second annual Major League Baseball 2K11 Million Dollar "Perfect Game" Challenge.

The rules seemed simple enough to Kingrey; be the first person to pitch a “Perfect Game” and win one million dollars. It was enough motivation for the 25-year old avid gamer to stop by his local GameStop, trade in his favorite video game (Marvel vs. Capcom 3), and pick up MLB 2K11 – a sport that Kingrey admittedly did not even know the rules to.

After reviewing the matchups, studying the teams, and learning the controls, Kingrey was ready. He determined his best chance of winning the competition was to pitch as the Philadelphia Phillies’ ace Roy Halladay against the Houston Astros. Nine-innings later, Kingrey was a millionaire.

Congratulations are in order for Kingrey – but also for the marketing minds at 2K Sports. Over the years, their sales figures consistently finished second to rival Sony’s MLB: The Show. Last year, 2K Sports introduced the “Perfect Game” Challenge and sold 1.09 million copies, while Sony saw sales drop to just over a million units according to Forbes.com. It is still too early to gauge the effectiveness of this year’s promotion, but with a great story like Kingrey’s receiving national attention it’s hard to believe that 2K Sports will be any less successful this season.

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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Five Guidelines for Life!

By John Maroon

Everyone likes to talk about how complicated the world is today. I would go the other way and say that the world and life is quite simple. For me it comes down to these five things that I try to adhere to (and sadly often fail at) ...

  1. Be Nice … When the words were uttered by Patrick Swayze in “Roadhouse” I didn’t realize how powerful they were. Seriously though, this is the key to success and happiness. I am not suggesting being a patsy. But being nice has so many positive results… other people tend to be nice back, it creates a feeling of trust and sharing and, well, life is too damn short to be miserable and unfriendly. Sometimes people who are in a position of some power tend to be curt, short or unfriendly with people. I believe it is because they think it makes them sound decisive and authoritative… it doesn’t, it just makes you sound like an asshole.

  2. Do What You Say You Will Do … Sounds simple enough but we all know people who just can’t do this. Maybe they are just forgetful or disorganized or maybe they are disingenuous. Whatever the reason, don’t we always love being around people who keep their word? It is all about your creditability and who you are as a person.

  3. The Golden Rule … This actually comes from the Book of Matthew in the New Testament, the words of Jesus: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” It is always something to keep in mind, especially when we are having a crappy day or things are tough. Essentially this means, be honorable… share everything and be there for others.

  4. The World is Small… And the older you get the smaller it gets. Follow the above three “rules” and when the world continues to shrink you won’t have to worry about who you treated like crap in a past life.

  5. Let me stress again that I blogged about this because I struggle with it non-stop. But if we can adhere to this I believe that the rewards come back to us tenfold. The universe rewards you for being positive and kind. Plus it makes you feel better and when you do it, life is better. The end.
John Maroon is President of Maroon PR. Contact him at John@MaroonPR.com

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sticks and Stones

By Chartese Burnett

We have all heard the old and familiar saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”, or some semblance thereof. However, the truth of the matter is that words are often times more powerful than actions. Physical bruises and injuries heal in time; but hateful, ugly and derogatory comments cut deeply – and the words sometimes forever stay in the minds of those insulted.

On Monday night during Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, the Chicago Bulls Joakim Noah responded to a fan’s alleged nasty remarks about Noah’s mother with an ugly anti-gay slur. Noah’s remarks were caught on tape. The fan’s words were not (hence the “alleged” adjective). Weeks ago, Kobe Bryant was fined for a similar transgression, after apologizing publicly and went on to demonstrate his real sentiments (not those verbalized) with various efforts to try and prove that he is not intolerant.

I am not sure how I feel about the NBA’s policy towards players hurling slurs on the basketball court, i.e. how much a player is fined or whether or not he is suspended, because there are too many factors involved in weighing in those decisions. David Stern is a brilliant and fair man, so I trust that the NBA Commissioner will make the proper decisions regarding the League, its players and its fans.

What I do know is that verbal abuse should not be tolerated in any setting – workplace, school, or home. Apologies and actions after the fact are acceptable demonstrations of remorse; however, perhaps, exercising control over our emotions, and our tongues, although not always easy, would eliminate so much hurt and the subsequent costly fallout.

Having spent a lot of time in NBA arenas, NFL stadiums and MLB ballparks, I have been privy to a lot of language – both from the players who are pros because they throw their hearts in the game and from the stands by fans who are equally as passionate. At the end of the day – it’s sports, recreation, entertainment, a GAME. It’s not about life or death. I have spent over two decades working in sports, so, there is no doubt about my love of sports, the players who play the games and the fans who support the leagues, teams and entities for whom I have worked.

But let’s not tarnish the game with unfair play. Let’s play fair and shout and even “boo” during exciting games, but let’s keep profanity, racial slurs and anti-gay remarks off the courts, fields and out of the stands. When there are SO many tragic and devastating things happening in this world (tornados, disease and terrorism, to name a few that are plaguing our country), let’s embrace and uphold sports – one of the few things that should unify us, make us laugh and give us something to cheer about.

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

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Meet Eve Hemsley and Kate Korson

Eve Hemsley is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at Eve@MaroonPR.com

Kate Korson is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact her at Kate@MaroonPR.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Give a Little, Help a Lot

By Courtney Carey

In hopes of bringing out the altruistic side of people, the online e-commerce business, PayPal, has recently partnered with a site similar to Groupon called Philanthroper. Like Groupon, Philanthroper sends out daily emails to their database notifying the public, not about a discount or sale, but instead about a new or relevant non-profit organization.

Every day, a new non-profit is highlighted and Philanthroper users are asked to donate exactly $1 – no more and no less. The theory behind the act of giving only a dollar is that when a large group of people do a small act of goodness, there is potential for a huge impact. More than just collecting money for charity, the site hopes to inspire people to take on an attitude of giving and make charity a habit instead of a random occasion. If the site can inspire even a portion of the 98 million PayPal users, it would be a huge success.

Philanthroper does not collect any fees, nor does it charge the non-profit organizations to be featured. Due to having to process international credit card fees, PayPal gets 10% of every transaction. Even though 10% seems to be a lot, they make the donating process extremely simple and also heavily assist in matching a large portion of donations.

In my opinion, micro-donations can be extremely effective. While websites such as Philanthroper might not change the mindset of people right away, it serves as a constant reminder to make charitable acts a part of everyday life. Just think – one dollar today will buy you about 1/3 of a tall Starbucks Latte. If people made it a regular habit to give up that sip of coffee and donate that dollar to charity instead, the impact could be huge.

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

Friday, May 13, 2011

Worlds Are Colliding Less in Social Media

By Mitchell Schmale

A recent article in The New York Times shed some light on a growing trend in social media networks and the ways that people connect with one another, not with the largest network of contacts possible, but instead with smaller groups of close friends, colleagues and family members.

Path, GroupMe, Frenzy, Rally Up, Shizzlr, Huddl and Bubbla are all the latest in social media platforms that allow people to connect with friends and contacts in private groups ranging in sizes of 50 people or less. The more intimate groups allow information, links or photos to be shared that may not be of interest (or for that matter appropriate) for someone’s entire list of contacts on Facebook or LinkedIn.

As the need to connect more closely with private groups of contacts in the larger world of social media grows, Facebook recently acquired Beluga, to allow the private sharing of photos and messages with small groups of users. As the trend grows, Facebook reported that as of last month, users had already created more than 50 million private groups with an average of just eight members each.

As Facebook continues to encompass contacts from all parts of someone’s life – personal, professional and otherwise – the trend to create social media boundaries among groups will grow. The applications are popular because they allow users to better categorize contacts to help keep worlds from colliding. The applications allow family members, friends, co-workers, clients, and others to be safely separated in appropriate groups where they only see content that they are interested in receiving, as well as avoid the stuff they are better off not knowing about. It sounds like a good thing for everyone involved, even if you end up missing some of the good stuff.

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

Off to Online in Seven Seconds

By Kristen Seabolt

Watch out Apple and Microsoft…the Google Chromebook is here…

Yesterday, Google unveiled the first “Chromebook” notebook at the Google I/O conference, and as Google VPs Linus Upson and Sundar Pichai said, “These are not your typical notebooks.”

In the new Chromebook, which goes on sale in June for a whopping $349, users completely skip the traditional computer desktop and are instantly connected to the internet browser within 7 seconds of pressing the power button. To put it in perspective, even the fastest computers on the market take at least 45 seconds just to start up.

Google’s logic behind the Chromebook– the web browser is the most important program on a computer and the average user spends 90% of their time on the internet, so why not take them straight to where they want to go to begin with?

There are several ways that the Chromebook is able to work so fast. First, when a Chromebook is turned on, it does not have to go through the steps of loading settings, managing programs and checking files because nothing saves to the Chromebook, everything is stored online. Also, the Chromebook automatically updates, so it will never be bogged down or get slower the older it gets.

In the world today, everything is expected to be instant, whether it is the news we are reading, the instant messages we are sending, or the movie we are downloading, and the Google Chromebook is no exception. From the moment you turn on your computer, the first thought you often have is “how long will it take before I am online?” In all honesty, most people are never even on their computers without being constantly connected to the internet. The Chromebook just makes it faster.

Even though I think the engineers who come up with these devices are genius, I don’t know that I will spend close to $350 to buy a Chromebook just yet. However, I am definitely anxious to see what these technology giants have in store for us next.

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Washington Wizards Return to Their Roots

By Katy Fincham

Today the Washington Wizards officially returned to their roots, unveiling their new look for the 2011 NBA season. After Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis took over the team last June, rumors had been swirling of Washington’s NBA franchise returning to the old Bullets name and patriotic colors. Avoiding the still controversial “Bullets” team name, the Wizards did indeed return to the nostalgic “stars and bars” uniforms.

During today’s press conference, the Washington Wizards announced that they would not only be returning to the iconic “stars and bars” uniforms, but they also unveiled two new secondary logos, which resemble to “old” look from the Bullets era and a modified version of their current Wizard logo.

“Our new look pays homage to the past while pointing to an exciting future,” said Wizards Executive Vice President of Business Operations Greg Bibb.

The Wizards did not change their look just for fun nostalgia reasons, but instead, their overall transformation is the final step in the unification of Washington sports at the Verizon Center, which includes the Washington Capitals (NHL) and Washington Mystic (WNBA). While the change is clearly the influence of owner Ted Leonsis, who now owns all three teams that call the Verizon Center home, I think it is the best overall move for the rebranding and marketing efforts of the Wizards. It brings all three teams together, while creating a fan base that spreads across three professional sports realms. The patriotic color scheme also helps in their marketing efforts, reminding fans of each team’s home in the nation’s capital.

All three teams are officially a complete package, which seems to be a refreshing and much needed boost to the Wizards franchise. As a DC-area native, I personally think this is an exciting move made by ownership, as well as a simple and smart rebranding effort made by Monumental Sports & Entertainment ownership group.

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

Monday, May 2, 2011

9 years, 7 months & 20 days

By Chris Daley

Today is my turn to contribute to the Maroon PR blog and I feel it’s impossible and irrelevant to write about anything else besides the significant news dominating the world at the moment. The confirmed death of al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden.

On 9/11/01, I was still a college student finishing up my credit requirements at Towson University. That morning – a Tuesday if I recall - I happened to have an 8 a.m. Geography class. I returned home afterward with one of my roommates who was also in that class and we turned on the TV at about 9:30 a.m. to find that the world was changing before our very eyes. With everything that happened and all of the stories we’ve heard, in the simplest terms I describe that day as very strange.

CNBC Sports Biz reporter Darren Rovell (@DarrenRovell) tweeted this last night as the news of bin Laden’s death broke, “Reports of Bin Laden killed comes 9 years, 7 months & 20 days after 9/11.” This had me thinking of the changes that have taken place during the past decade, so I “Googled” a few interesting notables:
  • The average cost of a gallon of gas was $1.46 in 2001
  • Unemployment rate was 4.8% in 2001
  • Arizona D-Backs defeated the NY Yankees in the World Series
  • Most popular movie of 2001 was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
  • Most popular song of 2001 was Lady Marmalade, Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya & Pink
  • MSN.com was the most popular website (Google was number 12)
  • Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook) was 17 years old; Justin Beiber was 7 years old
In 2001 we communicated with people differently, and still relied heavily on television and newspapers as our main news sources. I had a cell phone, but didn’t really text message people. I had a PC – a very large Hewlett Packard - but used it mostly for class assignments and downloading illegal music. I rarely even checked my email back then. When the attacks on 9/11 occurred we were all glued to the television for days, and newspapers were what we read to learn about local people affected by the attacks, as well as to gain their reactions/comments.

Today, the platforms in which we communicate have changed dramatically from just ten years ago. I have a Blackberry. I text people more than I call them and exchange messages and post reactions through Facebook. I have three email accounts I check periodically throughout the day. The list goes on and then of course there’s Twitter.

Brad Adgate (@badgate), Research Director at Horizon Media, tweeted today, “Death of bin Laden resulted in 4,000+ tweets per second on Twitter rivaling the amount for February's Super Bowl.” An amazing stat to think about.

The news about bin Laden’s death is another example of how our world is more connected than ever, and how the social media world will continue to break and influence stories before other mediums can catch up. I can’t even imagine where we’ll be ten years from today. I hope that during the next ten years one of the major topics dominating the social media universe is the end of the war on terror.

There really isn’t any point being made in my blog that isn’t already known. I more or less felt like sharing some thoughts on the news. I’m interested to see the news surrounding the death of bin Laden continue to unfold. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface on this story and sure enough I’ll be paying close attention to the details on Twitter and uniting with fellow Americans on Facebook.

Chris Daley is a Senior Account Executive at Maroon PR. Contact him at Chris@MaroonPR.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisDaley43