Thursday, March 22, 2012

Death at a Press Conference

As a public relations professional, I have heard many interesting stories over the years about press conferences going horribly wrong. From product demos not working properly to botched interviews to breaking news events across town forcing all of the gathered press to unexpectedly pack up and leave… I have heard a lot of nightmare tales of the best laid PR plans going awry. But never had I heard of the star of a press conference being killed at his very own event… until now.

Last week, a small zoo in eastern Germany held a press conference to introduce the world to its newest attraction, a 17-day-old rare bunny named Til who was born with a genetic defect of having no ears. The cute, earless and shy Til was hiding in some hay on the floor waiting for his big moment while the media in the room was setting up its cameras and getting ready to meet Til. That’s when the big moment came… While setting up his equipment, a TV cameraman took a step backwards and stepped on the tiny Til… killing him instantly, abruptly ending the press conference and making cute, earless bunnies even rarer.

The shocked director of the zoo later explained that Til “did not suffer” as the crushing misstep was a direct hit and that the cameraman was “distraught” over the accident. What a bummer press conference. As a PR practitioner, you never want years of therapy to follow your press conferences. Instead, hopefully everybody makes it out the other side alive with some good resulting press coverage as long as it’s not an obituary.   

To add insult to injury, zoo officials have reportedly frozen Til’s body until they decide whether or not to have him stuffed. Suddenly, I am feeling pretty good about my next press conference. 

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Homelessness…a new digital career?

Using the homeless for internet access…and I thought getting a free connection in Starbucks was unique.

At last week’s SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX, New York City based advertising agency, Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty (BBH), introduced festival goers to the first “Homeless Hotspot,” a trial initiative aimed at improving the lives of the homeless, as well as providing the public with an instant internet connection outside of normal business centers and coffee shops.

Throughout the festival, homeless individuals from the Front Steps Shelter in Austin had the opportunity to sign up for the Homeless Hotspot program. Each participant received a MiFi device and t-shirt which read, “I’m (insert name), a 4G hotspot” (see photo). Customers could approach the homeless person and login to the 4G network using their phones/tablets/laptops for a quick internet connection. The homeless were paid $50 up front for their service, and were able to keep any tips received. Customers were encouraged to donate $2 for every 15 minutes of internet usage.

While some critics argue that such a program exploits and takes advantage of the homeless, others believe it to be beneficial to the lives of the homeless and an opportunity to aid and assist those less fortunate. When some of the homeless participating in the program were asked, many said what they enjoyed most about the initiative was the human interaction, when usually they were ignored or treated as nonexistent. To them, it wasn’t only putting quick money into their hands; it made them feel as though they had a purpose. One man said this was the first honest job and honest living he made in a long time.   

However, since receiving national attention, the backlash received from around the country has halted future plans for Homeless Hotspots at this time in cities such as New York.  Although I admire BBH’s innovative and creative, outside the box idea, and would probably use this service if offered, I do think it could cause additional controversy if the trend were to spread. For example, I am not homeless, but what if I wanted to stand outside and let people pay me for internet access? Could the program turn you down for not being homeless? What might start as an honest way and innocent way to assist those less fortunate could end up a way for others to take advantage of the program. 

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

Monday, March 19, 2012


Like most horse racing fans I was eager to watch the pilot episode of Luck when HBO gave a sneak preview of the show in December.  Luck boasted great writing and an all-star cast, with horse racing footage that would keep you on the edge of your seat.  After one-and-a-half episodes, I feel asleep. 

I tried to keep an open mind, but the show just didn’t do it for me and I didn’t think it would last very long.  Taking the horse racing scenes out of it, the story lines weren’t captivating, and I didn’t feel like wasting hours of my time waiting for characters to develop. 

But there was some hope as I followed along people in the horse racing industry on Twitter.  The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) hosted a successful #LuckChat on Twitter each Monday night with actors from the show and fans of horse racing.  Although I didn’t participate, the discussions were fun to follow and more interesting than the show.   

This week HBO pulled the plug on the Luck, they say, as a result of three unfortunate horse deaths behind-the-scenes.  The news has caused quite a stir from animal rights activists, horse racing fans and other people that have no idea what they are talking about.  The story put horse racing in the mainstream for the wrong reasons.  People who don’t normally follow the sport are now captured by negative headlines, and people have been coming out from everywhere calling for the sport to re-evaluate all of its safety measures.

It’s pretty clear HBO was trying to pull a clever PR maneuver and use the accidental horse deaths as a way out so they wouldn’t have to say they were cancelling the show because of its declining ratings.  As someone who works in the industry of horse racing and public relations, I didn’t like this strategy at all and felt it was a little sleazy. The irony is that in the pilot episode of Luck, the show glorified a fatality on the race track, and just a couple months later the creators of the show cancel it because of accidents they couldn’t control.

When the show first aired, I heard many people say that Luck was great sports marketing.  Yes, to have a show about a sport that needs help drawing the mainstream audience can be a good thing.  However, in this case the attempt to create a mainstream television program about horse racing backfired, which hurt the sport and gave a bad impression of what public relations professionals do for a living.

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Building Your Brand beyond the Field

Whether it is Peyton Manning trending on Twitter or a March Madness bracket consuming your work week, one thing is for sure – sports is no longer simply a game.  The sports world as we knew it has evolved from an isolated competition into an entirely new ecosystem of sports entertainment.   

That’s the belief of Beverly Macy of the Huffington Post – and I tend to agree with her.  She described in a recent article that aggressive marketing changed sports at the professional, collegiate, and even local levels into “sports entertainment.”  Sports entertainment - a phrase once reserved for steel chair-wheeling professional wrestlers now encompasses everything from a Coach’s post-game tirade to an athlete’s high ankle sprain.

And at the center of it all is social media.  A world that first gained popularity in sports from athletes putting their foot in their mouth, transformed into a medium that allows an individual to contact thousands of fans – potentially generating millions of dollars through appearances and endorsements.  With that type of exposure, brand awareness becomes essential.

A brand is not simply a logo.  It is not a business card, letterhead, or a website design.  In my opinion, a brand is the reaction a person gets when they hear a name.  For example, when I say “Nike” – what do you think of?  As a brand manager, if there is a negative perception it is my job to change that.  If there is a positive reaction, I want to reinforce it.  That’s what makes a successful brand, I believe.
An athlete’s social media perception needs the same brand management.  Professional athletes are already fortunate enough to have thousands, if not millions, of fans.  With strategic use of social media platforms, an athlete can easily build a brand strong enough to turn their on-field fans into loyal followers for life.  With that sort of incentive, I would not be surprised to see more athletes focusing as hard on their social media campaigns as they do on their sport.

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

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Oh Tweet! What is Free Speech in a Social Media World?

Buried amidst the Peyton Manning soap opera, the glory of championship week, and NBA and NHL regular season madness was a short, couple graph story from the Associated Press about Twitter violations by NCAA athletes.

Yesterday, the University of Michigan football team received a verbal commitment from Ohio high school junior linebacker Mike McCray to play for the Wolverines starting in 2013. As a junior, McCray was only allowed to verbally commit to the Wolverines, not sign a National Letter of Intent, or a contract stating he will play for the school. A verbal commitment is non-binding and allows the recruit to continue the recruiting process if he so chooses.

Shortly after McCray committed, two current Michigan football players tweeted at him to congratulate him on being a Wolverine. One, redshirt senior wide receiver Roy Roundtree, attended the same high school as McCray. Redshirt senior linebacker Kenny Demens, the other tweeter, did not. Michigan was then informed that they may have broken a secondary NCAA violation which prohibits someone affiliated with a school from sending messages to recruits via social media.

The issue, or non-issue as many would argue, brings up a couple of questions: does the NCAA, or an individual institution, have the right to monitor what its members say online? Is there a difference between interaction via social media and interactions in person? Does one’s speech being public, and in many ways permanent, change the definition of it being free?

Social media is, by definition, social. It allows us to communicate with people in quick, short bursts no matter location or time of day. But social media is also a powerful news and marketing tool. There’s a difference between talking to a friend in a restaurant and communicating with someone for the whole world to see. College athletic departments are brands, as is the NCAA, and they want to protect that image. Neither tweet was incriminating, nor did they offer the promise of lavish gifts, or anything at all.  But Roundtree and Demen did break a (silly) rule and it briefly hurt the athletic department’s image and credibility.

In all likelihood the NCAA MAY slap the Wolverines on the wrist. On an ever increasing list of possible violations being committed around the country, a congratulatory tweet from a couple players is miniscule at best. However, schools are wising up to the importance of maintaining an image on social media. The University of North Carolina has stringent social media rules for theirstudent-athletes, and many others may follow suit. The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) put out their own list of Twitter tips forstudent-athletes. It focuses a lot on not only maintaining the college’s brand, but the student-athletes’ personal brand as well. And if you think professional athletes aren’t immune from Tweet-lash, outside the confines of the NCAA, think of Pittsburgh Steeler running back Rashard Mendenhall.

Free speech on social media is one of many issues facing collegiate athletics, yet it applies to students, companies, pretty much everyone. For individuals and companies out there on social media just remember: you are what you tweet!

Jen Schiller is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


By Katy Fincham

If you haven’t already heard of the latest social media craze, Pinterest, then you’ve clearly been living under a rock! A co-worker showed the site to me back in December, right in the peak of the hype, and like many, I signed up for just for the heck of it. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, I had to wait for an invite…basically an approval of my inquiry to join the “cool kids club.” Ever since then, I’ve been addicted!

According to research reported by, Pinterest is currently dominated by female users (87%) between the ages of 25 – 54. The site has quickly grown to 11.4 million users in less than a year, with the largest jump in the last four months. As a 27-year-old female who is currently planning a wedding, I am the average user. But as someone who works in the PR industry, my company has taken quick notice to the unique opportunity to help our clients brand themselves on a new social platform. recently suggested eight strategies for launching your brand presence on Pinterest. These strategies mentioned include:
  • Reserve Your Space - Just like you would reserve your Facebook or Twitter handle, you should make sure your brand/business has a handle reserved
  • Themes, Not Product Promotion – Pinterest is extremely visual and is currently centered on interests such as weddings, home d├ęcor, recipes and color themes. Your board should not look like a product catalog!
  • Use Hashtags – Just like Twitter, Pinterest uses hashtags in interest descriptions. Use wisely to ensure creative, yet consistent messaging.
  • Engage with the Community – “Like all other social networks, you need to listen and engage, not simply broadcast your message. Try allowing members of the community to post to your boards, but be sure to monitor activity for appropriate content.”
First thing to do is make sure the Pinterest is the right venue for your brand or business. If it is, Pinterest is a great way to spark interest in a more creative and visually stimulating way. Now is the time to jump in and thank outside the box.

Happy Pinning!

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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Twittamentary: Are your digital friends better than your real-life friends?

By Sarah Gubara

This is a difficult question to tackle, since we always hear that relationships with your online friends are a lot more superficial than the people you meet in person.

Last week, I was faced with this question at a basketball game. I was excited to run into a friend of mine, who I didn’t see much. As we were chattering away, we were asked how we knew each other, that’s when it hit me—we didn’t! This completely boggled my mind. Twitter has become such an integral part of my life, that it felt like we were great friends. We had been tweeting back and forth for two years, had a lot of things in common, and would run into each other around town.

Isn’t that how everyone meets their friends? Maybe, maybe not. But my story is not unique, in fact there is a documentary about Twitter, directed by Singaporean Filmmaker (and avid tweeter) Tan Siok Siok (@sioksiok).

“Twittamentary explores how lives meet and affect one another on the fast growing micro-blogging phenomena that is Twitter.” The documentary is crowd-sourced by social medians around the world. Twitter users have contributed stories on a single theme: How Twitter has affected your life and the lives of those around you. Stories include: a homeless woman who gets by from donations contributed via Twitter, a woman whose followers raised money to buy her a new laptop, and many others.

Marketing for the documentary has been socially driven as well. After releasing the first teaser, they prompted users to help them get to a thousand followers before unlocking the beta web screen.

While it’s easy to think about the novelty of social media, check out the teaser below and think about the humanity it facilitates. What’s your Twitter story?

Sarah Gubara is Manager of Social and Digital Media at Maroon PR.  Contact her at

Thursday, February 23, 2012


By Kristen Seabolt

For the past seven years, the NFL Network’s Rich Eisen has made the NFL Scouting Combine a little more interesting with his signature annual 40-yard dash in his work suit and tie (see video below). However, Rich will not be the only one running this year in his full work getup - the Twitterverse now has the opportunity to join him.

On February 21st, Rich posted to his blog, “Run with me,” a post which explained that this year everyone has the opportunity to get involved by participating in a Twitter contest surrounding his run.

Here is how it works – Take a video camera and film yourself in your work clothes at your place of work running a 40-yard dash. Then, post the video and Tweet it to Rich Eisen (@richeisen), the NFL (@NFL) or the NFL Network (@NFLNetwork) with the hastag #RunRichRun. Rich and the NFL Network will select the best and the worst videos to air on the NFL Network before Rich takes the field at the Scouting Combine.

This is yet another example of the power of social media at its finest. Since February 18th, hundreds of tweets have already been made to #RunRichRun that feature user-submitted videos as well as fan favorites.

So, if you are still in search of your 15 minutes of fame (or 6 seconds of stardom) get out there and run! And as Rich suggests, “Please, do not hurt yourself. And also do not cost yourself your job.”

So, who at Maroon PR would you like to see submit their 40-yard dash video?

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Brands to Have a Timeline Too

By Eve Hemsley

Whether you’re a fan of Facebook’s new Timeline style or not, it appears to be here to stay. As Facebook phases out personal profiles in the now ‘old’ look they are moving on to offer the new format to businesses who host Facebook brand pages.

Facebook first announced the new Timeline format at its F8 conference in September 2011. The new layout was a drastic change from what users were previously familiar with, instituting a new picture heavy, scrapbook-like format creating a collage of users’ ‘lives’ on the network. Facebook has since move forward in slowly implementing the new design for its over 800 million users.

When working in PR with clients whose companies are greatly entrenched in social media, changes to a social media giant like Facebook make you wonder, how will this affect my client? I’m sure many PR pros and CEOs wondered how their brand pages were going to look, questioning whether the new format will apply to their page as well.

It seems the world will soon get its answer. It is being hinted at that Zuckerberg and the Facebook crew will discuss the expansion of the Timeline to brand pages at their first ever fMC event for marketers on February 29th. An article by Ad Age sites that executives briefed on the company’s plans have reported that, “new pages for brands will start in beta with a handful of partners, and then be released to more marketers in stages."

The article also speculates as to what the brand pages will look like: “the tabs or apps marketers currently host on their Facebook pages to sell products or take polls may turn into boxes on the brand's Timeline…The format change could put the onus on brands to develop their own apps using custom verbs other than ‘like,’ in the same vein as Pinterest, which has a Facebook app that tracks when its users have ‘pinned’ something.”

It is also thought that brand pages will have the ability to populate their Timeline with events that occurred outside of its presence on Facebook. For example, Coca-Cola could add the year it was founded (1892) as an event on its timeline.

It seems all will be revealed at next week’s fMC conference where Zuckerberg and his team plan to discuss details of the upcoming format change and how they plan to go about the switch.

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

Thursday, February 16, 2012


By Mitchell Schmale

Sometimes in life things don’t work out the way you planned. That’s a fact. And everyone will learn this tough lesson at some point. Cory Weissman learned it firsthand while pursuing his lifelong dream of playing basketball at the college level.

Cory is a student-athlete at Gettysburg College who reminded us all of that life lesson when he stepped back on the basketball court this season for this first time in three years after suffering a life-threatening stroke as a college freshman. Cory was an ordinary kid pursuing his passion of playing basketball when he was sidelined with a sudden debilitating stroke. His dreams of basketball took a backseat as he fought to make a full recovery, but his love of the game still fueled his determination to work hard every day during his years of rehabilitation.

Cory’s inspiring story helps remind us that it’s never too late or too tough to keep working hard to chase your dream. He was already a winner before he ever took those amazing steps back on the court after his stroke. It’s not always important that things work out the way you planned, but it’s all about how you respond when presented with those sometimes painful life lessons. Don’t give up, keep trying to move forward every day and know deep down that you gave it everything you had. You may end up someplace great that you never even expected. Cory proves it.

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Convenient Mistake

By Pete DeLuca

It was a terrible ending to a tragic story as singer Whitney Houston was found dead in the Beverly Hilton hotel on Saturday. As the world received the news and the mourning began for millions of fans, Houston’s music set the charts alight again.

Houston’s music sales skyrocketed after news of her death. CNNMoney reported that three songs, “I Will Always Love You”, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”, and “Greatest Love of All” ranked first, second, and third, respectively on the iTunes chart. Houston also dominated the top 10 albums on with “The Greatest Hits” and “The Ultimate Collection” in the first and second slots.

While fans all over the world found comfort in her music, Sony raised the UK iTunes store prices of “The Ultimate Collection” album up 60%, from $7.85 to $12.50, and “The Greatest Hits” up 25% from $12.50 to $15.67 – when people realized this and became outraged over the egregious price hike, you would assume that Sony would snap into action with a full crisis management plan explaining their reasoning for exploiting a singer’s death – right?

Wrong. Instead, Sony released this statement: “Whitney Houston product was mistakenly mispriced on the UK iTunes store on Sunday. When discovered, the mistake was immediately corrected. We apologize for any offense caused”

A mistake – simply an unintentional price hike that coincidentally took place on Whitney Houston’s most desired albums and singles hours after she died. Even worse, the increased prices were not lowered until the next day and their apology statement took two days to release! And through it all Sony has made no mention of refunds or even iTunes credit.

I will be the first person to tell you that I have no idea how the principles of supply and demand work with iTunes. But when reading these stories as a consumer, I am shocked – not because of a price increase (I can almost understand that). I am shocked over the way Sony handled the fans' outrage - pretty much dismissing their customers with a three-sentence explanation. It almost makes the situation worse.

Sony needs to realize that customers are the reason that a company is successful. Customers are the empowered ones and they are the ones you need to keep happy. Somewhere in the last five days, someone at Sony must have forgotten that.

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lin Lucky to be in New York

By John Maroon

Any sports fan out there now knows about Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks. He is the Chinese-American basketball player who graduated from Harvard and in his last five games, his first starts in the National Basketball Association (NBA), he averages 26.8 points per game along with 8.0 assists. On February 10, he poured in a career best 38 points in a terrific win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

This is a great story and one that the executives at the NBA should be thrilled with. Good kid, underdog, smart, unassuming…everything you want for a league that is often times, fairly or unfairly, categorized as being filled with not so great guys.

All that said … if Jeremy Lin played for the Portland Trailblazers or the Indiana Pacers, unless you are a diehard NBA fan, you would have never heard of him. But he plays for the Knicks in the city that never sleeps where all things, good and bad, are prone to hyperbole…big time.

As a result Jeremy, has over 415,000 “Likes” on Facebook, is a trending topic on Twitter, and in the last two days he was on the cover of the Wall Street Journal and features on him have appeared on ESPN,, the New York Times, the New York Post, Reuters, Forbes and every other influential news-gathering agency you can think of. Oh yeah, his 8th grade yearbook is on eBay!

Don’t get me wrong, I am trapped in Lin-sanity as well. It is great for the league and sports in general. I hope that he capitalizes on his fame quickly. Sports fans these days (myself included) tend to move onto the next flavor of the month pretty quickly and a few bad games can change everything.

John Maroon is President and Owner of Maroon PR.  Contact him at

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Trapped in a Cell (Phone)

By Jen Schiller

A lot happened yesterday in the world and I know almost about all of it from my two cell phones and my laptop. I learned about the tragic soccer riots in Egypt through my Twitter feed, Susan G. Koman for the Cure’s decision to stop supporting Planned Parenthood from a blog, Facebook going public was all over social media, and I got my sports scores from a Droid app.

I called my parents on their cell phones, and my aunt, texted with my best friend, even my boyfriend usually calls before he knocks on the door thinking there’s a better chance he’ll reach me via technology than just by rapping on the piece of wood that separates us.

It’s a point that’s been expounded upon hundreds, if not thousands, of times: the role of technology in social interaction, learning and most facets of our everyday lives. But as our lives become more and more intertwined with communicative technology it’s likely to continue to be asked frequently and without a clear-cut answer, chicken and egg style.

So what did one mid-20s Chicago grad student do to help answer the question for himself, he decided to check himself out of the technology world for three months. Jake Reilly, son of author and sports journalist Rick Reilly, relinquished technology for 90 days to see what would happen. Judging by comments on articles about “The Amish Project” and various commentary, the experiment seems to have brought about a great cultural divide. For nearly half the world’s population, instant anywhere, anytime communication is not a lifelong dependency. But it is now. I used to occasionally forget my cell phone at home…now I’m more likely to forget my wallet, it often seems less necessary.

I’m not advocating dropping your electronic devices in a safe, deactivating all of your online accounts and living the free life. Being 700 miles from my family I rely on e-mail, text and social media to keep in touch and often to receive and relay news. I love Twitter to get information, if only partial information. Reilly’s response seems pretty dramatic to me.

But I do find myself sometimes feeling less informed. I don’t have to go searching for news, the people I subscribe to hand it to me. I don’t read a newspaper; I rarely read actually, I skim: headlines, ledes, photos. My parents often joke they talk to me less when I’m at home and I know I have been guilty of being on my phone, along with my friends, when sitting in a room together supposedly hanging out. I’m so used to being able to contact people instantaneously it makes me nervous when I can’t for some reason.

I know I could never drop everything for 90 days, nor would I want to in all honesty, but maybe someday I’ll at least take a tech-free vacation. Maybe. After all, without my Open Table and TripAdvisor apps, how would I know where to eat?

Jen Schiller is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at

Friday, January 27, 2012

OCNN: Ochocinco News Network

By Katy Fincham

Whether you’re a sports fan or not, chances are you have heard of Chad Ochocinco. The NFL veteran is best known for his flashy end zone dances and over-the-top comments. Despite your feelings about the man, I think he deserves some respect for taking advantage of his over-exposure and turning it into a clever marketing and business scheme.

In 2009, the then Bengal’s receiver, launched OCNN (OchoCinco News Network) in Miami at Super Bowl XLIV. In partnership with Motorola, Ochocinco enlisted the help of his friends and current NFL players Chis Cooley, Ray Rice and Darnell Dockett – all three of which are some of the most active and popular NFL athletes on Twitter, much like Ochocinco himself (currently 3,179,555 followers).

The off-the-wall news network seemed to be a joke at first, until many realized that it leaned more towards serious sports reporting than expected. Since then, OCNN has been a staple amongst the outlets cover the Super Bowl and present on “media row.”

This year, Ochocinco decided to reach out to his fans and give them a chance to be a part of a once in a lifetime experience. The OCNN by Motorola Super Bowl Reporter contest gave fans the chance to submit a 30-second video explaining why they should be the official correspondent for the network during Super Bowl XLVI.

In a recent interview with, Ochocinco said: “This year I'm flipping it around and the folks who send in videos -- who will probably be journalism majors and other people who love journalism and sports and football itself. And so it'll help springboard whatever else they have going on.”

For those who think Chad Ochocinco only cares about himself, he seems to be doing an excellent job of taking his public love/hate relationship and turning it into something positive for fans, but also beneficial to his future career after he hangs up his cleats.

I will be tuning in – Will you?!

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Puppies, Babies, and Old People…How they can make you a Millionaire

By Sarah Gubara

Got a mediocre product? Got a small budget for your commercial? No worries! For everyone who can’t afford to hire Kim Kardashian to endorse your products, you too can sell!

In light of the biggest showdown of commercials this year (the Super Bowl), it’s important to realize you don’t have to spend bazillions of dollars to have a great commercial that people will talk about for days. While jam-packing celebrities in a commercial (cue Kobe) can be entertaining, below you will find three categories that will help give your commercial “The X Factor” at a reasonable cost:


Many commercials have seen success with cute babies and kids like Dairy Queen, Ally Financial, Wendy’s, Nike, Pepsi, and more. But the award for the best baby commercial campaign goes to the E*Trade baby! Do you know what the E*Trade app does? Do you even need to use E*Trade? Probably not. But I did not change the channel—I wanted to see what this baby had to say!

It’s a very simple model: cute baby, deep voice-over, and boom! I’m sold. Today’s media and popular culture are saturated by images of women’s bodies selling unrelated products, so when a little person in a diaper starts talking to me—I listen.


Like babies, the advantages of using puppies (and other cute fuzzy creatures) are a no-brainer. While some furry spokesmen have disappeared (we haven’t seen the Taco Bell Dog or Target’s Bullseye in a while), Target and others have continued to employ a number of dogs for use in their commercials.

Others have followed suit and made a splash in the cutesy scene such as the Travelers’ Insurance dog. We’ve seen him lose his bone, find love, and have pups of his own. But no one has come to match the Geico Gecko, normally an unwelcomed creature, his animated persona has won over many—because who wouldn’t trust their car to a British lizard, right?

Old People:

This is by far my favorite category. While many criticize these commercials for portraying the older generation in a negative, stereotypical light, old people generally make for great, entertaining commercials. They’ve cracked us up and shocked us numerous times, from the “Where’s the beef?” lady to the Chevy Cruze commercial (which uses the stereotype of loss of hearing to make its messages stick).

But my favorite commercial character of all time, the same person who inspired me to write this blog, is Ethel. An incredible cook, whose secret ingredient is Franks RedHot Sauce…”she puts it on everything.”

So before you go out and book Tim Tebow for your commercial, do a cost-benefit analysis….you might find out that Ethel is a way better option.

Sarah Gubara is Manager of Social Media for Maroon PR.  Contact her at

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Meet M&M’s Chief Chocolate Officer, Ms. Brown

By Kate Korson

With the NFL Playoffs coming to a close, Super Bowl Hype is in full swing. We’re only two weeks away, and the sports world is gearing up for the biggest week of the year. Second to the football, beer and wings; fans especially anticipate one aspect of the whole shebang —Super Bowl Television Ads. 

In the past few weeks we’ve heard Super Bowl advertising announcements and sneak peaks from Doritos, Lexus, and H&M, among others. One announcement that personally excites me is the unveiling of a new M&M’s character, Ms. Brown. Despite the fact that she shares a name with my high school disciplinary vice principal, the character seems intriguing. After serving 70 years behind the scenes as Chief Chocolate Officer, Ms. Brown will step into the spotlight during the Super Bowl on February 5th. Firstly, I would like to note that the title Chief Chocolate Officer is something that every company should create (ehemm John Maroon).

According to a press release from Mars Chocolate North America (M&M’s parent company), Ms. Brown is witty, extremely intelligent and wise. She decided to emerge from behind the scenes after witnessing the success of Pretzel M&M’s, and believes she can show the world that M&M’s are not your average milk chocolate.

Ms. Brown launched a Twitter feed on January 16th with the inaugural tweet:

I think M&M’s has a promising social media opportunity with Ms. Brown. Currently her tweets sort of lack originality and variation but if M&M’s take advantage of her potential to be witty, funny and informative, she could be a social media hit. Given the sports world’s obsession with Twitter, I would hope that her Super Bowl ad includes some type of hash tag or her Twitter handle. Ms. Brown should live up to her title and give the Twitter world an inside look at her duties as Chief Chocolate Officer. I’d love to see some photos or interesting facts about M&M’s milk chocolate, who wouldn’t?

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Happy Birthday to Betty!

By Eve Hemsley

Most actresses in Hollywood are afraid to look like they’ve turned 40, but today marks the 90th birthday of a woman who embraces her age proudly, the beloved Betty White. To celebrate the occasion, NBC threw Ms. White a star studded birthday bash (which aired last night, Jan. 16) featuring guests like Amy Poehler, Carol Burnett and William Shatner. Many stars that couldn’t be there in person sent pre-taped birthday wished including our very own President Obama.

White’s careers spans seven decades and covers a variety of accomplishments including game shows, television series and feature films. She is best known for her comedic performances in shows like The Golden Girls, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Hot in Cleveland. White is also a successful author and a life-long animal advocate, receiving the American Veterinary Medical Association's Humane Award in 1987 for her charitable work. In 2012 White will start a new venture hosting ‘Off Their Rockers,’ a new senior citizen hidden camera show.

Among White’s many accomplishments is one perhaps a younger generation will be most familiar – the grassroots Facebook campaign to get White to host Saturday Night Live. Created after White appeared in the very popular Super Bowl ad for Snickers candy, the Facebook page “Betty White to Host SNL (please?!)” garnered much attention in only a few months. Several hundred thousand Facebookers signed the petition urging SNL producers to ask White on the show and on May 8th their wish came true. Betty White hosted SNL’s Mother’s Day episode featuring former cast members such as Tina Fey and Molly Shannon.

Although the Facebook campaign was responsible for motivating producers to have her on the show, an act which truly flattered her, White is still not convinced of the sites necessity. In the opening monologue of her appearance White admitted, "I didn't know what Facebook was. Now that I do know what it is, I have to say, it seems like a huge waste of time."

Even Hemsley is an Associate Account Executive at Maroon PR.  Contact her at

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wake-Up (Really Early) To Success

By Mitchell Schmale

The next time your alarm rings in the early morning hours to welcome you to a brand new day and you are tempted to hit the snooze button (maybe more than once) and roll over for a few more minutes of sleep, remember this… that extra slumber is not a practice associated with successful people throughout history.

The Business Insider recently featured an interesting look at 23 successful CEO’s in different industries and business who all share a common trait… waking up REALLY early to get a jump on life, work, family and any other challenges facing them during the day.

From Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to Benjamin Franklin, these successful business leaders have found an early start to their day allows them more time to run their business and also accomplish the things that are important to them, such as having time to reflect, strategize and look at the big picture, be responsive to emails, read to stay informed on topics and trends, mentor younger professionals, or have more time for their families.

So the next time you think about hitting the snooze bar, consider the alternatives and lessons learned from these business leaders. It worked for them, it can work for you.

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

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tebow Time Takes Over Twitter

By Kristen Seabolt

I had to do it. As a Baltimore Ravens fan, I am not only ecstatic that the Broncos defeated Pittsburgh in the fastest overtime victory in NFL history, but I am also excited that all of the hype makes for a great social media blog this week.

On Sunday night, Denver Broncos Quarterback, Tim Tebow, broke all kinds of records in an unforeseeable win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Most of these records were related to the game of course, however, one of his most impressive achievements came from social media. Tebow rocked the Twitter world when his touchdown pass generated 9,420 tweets per second, the highest number of sports-related tweets per second in the history of Twitter (2nd overall behind the opening of a Japanese movie).

According to ESPN, Tebow’s victorious pass beat out some of the top moments in Twitter sports history, including Team USA’s loss in the Women’s World Cup to Japan (7,196), Barcelona’s victory over Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final (6,303) and the Miami Heat’s embarrassing loss to the Mavericks in the NBA Championship (5,531). On Sunday night, almost 7 percent of tweets posted were about Tebow and the Broncos.

Tweets ranged from “In Tebow We Trust” to “Tebow for President” to “316 passing yards, 31.6 yards per completion, John 3:16.” Tweeters recited religious passages, questioned Tebow’s immortality and even picked up on the fact that Demaryius Thomas’ birthday is on Christmas. Of course, there were haters too. But even they joined in on the chaos.

For those of you who may not be sports fans or are not that impressed with this historical feat, allow me to put it in perspective …even the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death didn’t generate as much Twitter reaction as Tebow’s win. Bin Laden’s death only received 5,106 tweets per second.

That’s the power of social media for you. While 45 million viewers watched the game on TV, making it the highest rated AFC wild-card game in 24 years, more than 17 million Lady Gaga followers received her tweet, “Giants fan but wow. #Tebow That’s what the **** a champion looks like.”

Oh, and while the rest of the world was obsessing over the Broncos remarkable win, Demaryius Thomas, wide receiver who caught the game winning pass, admitted he didn’t even know the game was over...

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

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tapping into an Audience

By Pete DeLuca

Fifty years from now, when my grandchildren ask me what television shows I watched when I was their age – what will I say? I’ve had this conversation with my parents and grandparents and each time I am amazed at the nostalgic look on their face as they recall their favorite episodes of “I Love Lucy”, “The Honeymooners” and “The Andy Griffith Show”.

The sad truth is, in the 21st century the majority of the hit shows involve some form of reality television. It can be as entertaining as Flavor Flav trying to find true love, or as dramatic a group of Staten Island Mob Wives.

But amidst all of the housewives and rose ceremonies there is one form of reality television that is way over done – the talent show. American Idol, the X-Factor, Dancing with the Stars, Top Chef – at their base, they are all talent shows. It’s the same formula, recycled and transformed on a new network with a frying pan instead of a microphone. It’s over played and boring.

With all of the monotony among these types of shows – NBC’s America’s Got Talent made a move to break from the pack by signing radio personality Howard Stern as a judge last month.

Why Stern? The answer is simple: numbers. In over 30 years of broadcasting, Stern accumulated an audience of millions of extremely loyal fans. With his followers, Stern’s nationally syndicated radio show became the number one draw in nearly 60 major markets in the 1990’s. His two books, Private Parts and Miss America, both appeared on The New York Times Best Sellers List. In 1997, a movie of his life generated $41.2 million and the soundtrack topped the Billboard 200 chart.

Recently, Stern broke ties with terrestrial radio and signed a contract with Sirius Satellite Radio – that day; the stock price tripled. During the last five years, subscribers to the service increased from 1.4 million to over 15 million. With the merger of XM and Sirius in 2009, Stern’s audience is estimated between 15-20 million paying listeners daily.

Is Howard Stern a qualified judge – who cares? Will he bring a new dynamic to the show – probably not. But Stern will bring millions of new viewers. America’s Got Talent, which is already the most viewed show of the summer, may have pulled off a publicity stunt that could make it the highest rated show of the year – or (gasp) of all time… It makes me cringe when I think about what I’ll tell my grandchildren.

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

Monday, January 2, 2012

NBC Sports Network Could Be Healthy for Everyone

By John Maroon

This afternoon the little known sports network, Versus, was re-branded as the NBC Sports Network. This is shaping up to be exciting and could, ultimately, cut into ESPN’s dominance as the driving force behind all sports coverage.

Initially, the primary programming on NBCSN will be the NHL, Major League Soccer and the Tour de France as well as a few hours of NBC’s 2012 Olympics coverage. Don’t snicker at those non-major sports. Any of us old enough to remember ESPN’s early days recall a lot of billiards and rodeo before they started cracking into the big time…and the difference is that NBCSN has the power of NBC and Comcast behind them and it doesn’t get much bigger than that.

I hope that they make great strides and provide more options for our sports news. As much as I love ESPN (and I LOVE ESPN!) it is a good thing for them to not necessarily dictate all of the sports news and decide what is and what isn’t newsworthy. It will be good for ESPN too…competition is always positive…it keeps us sharp and creative.

ESPN will always be ESPN and we will tune in and love them, but NBCSN has a chance to make a difference and be a player in a one horse town when it comes to sports reporting. Other networks like Fox and Turner have brilliant sports coverage but they don’t have their own all sports network to tout.

No one news-gathering agency should ever be the lone voice determining news and that is what has happened with ESPN. They are great at it but it just isn’t how it should work.

Back in the 1970’s when newspapers were all powerful one stood above the rest, the New York Times. When they reported on something significant, the following day all the other news gathering agencies would do follow up reports on the Times’ story.

It came to be known as the New York Times effect. Today we have the ESPN effect. If they report on a potential coaching change, off field incident or trade rumor, almost immediately other outlets will report and build upon their story.

Here’s hoping that NBC Sports Network makes some noise and captures our attention and that ESPN continues to work hard and maintain their status as the worldwide leader in sports… if they compete the way the people they cover do, we, the fans, end up winning.

John Maroon is President of Maroon PR.  Contact him at