Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Very PINTERESTing

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 Mashable.com, 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.

Mashable.com 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 Katy@MaroonPR.com.

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 Sarah@MaroonPR.com.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

#RunRichRun

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 Kristen@MaroonPR.com.

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 Eve@MaroonPR.com.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

SWOOSH!

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 Mitchell@MaroonPR.com.

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 Amazon.com 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 Pete@MaroonPR.com.

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, ESPN.com, 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 John@MaroonPR.com.

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 Jennifer@MaroonPR.com.