Beyond PR Podcast – Episode 3 – Connie DeSousa

September 5th, 2019

This month, Beyond PR brings you inside the mind of master chef Connie DeSousa as she serves up great stories of her culinary, business, and parenthood ventures in Calgary and across the globe. With a new brunch spot for Calgarians to flock to, Connie shares the concepts behind the newly opened CHIX Eggshop as well as the inspiration for her other nationally recognized restaurants CHARCUT and charbar. What is the secret to making the perfect egg? Sharpen your listening utensils and let’s dig in!

The Beyond PR podcast will bring open, honest and sometimes never-before-heard stories from notable leaders each month. Subscribe to Beyond PR on AnchorSpotifyApple Podcasts or Google Podcasts to catch episode three in September 2019. 

Nicole is a Senior Intern at Brookline Public Relations. Nicole has a deep appreciation for creativity and the arts; she longs to one day apply her writing and creative skills to start an Instagram account dedicated to fashion. 

Jumping on the Brandwagon – should brands take advantage of the latest event or trend?

August 29th, 2019

Lisa Libin, Vice President

Last month was the #10year challenge, prior to that was the Raptor’s playoff run, and we can’t forget the Ice Bucket Challenge, blue and gold dress debate and so many other trends that seemed to take over the world at one time and then disappear in the blink of an eye. But at that particular moment in time, these trends can often be a marketing win for brands. By piggybacking on some of the most searched topics of the moment, many brands are able to drive awareness and reach new audiences through creative content that ties to a trend, event or news story.

But should brands always jump on the “brandwagon”?

Companies like McDonalds took advantage of the Toronto Raptor’s recent play-off run but offering free medium fries anytime the Raptors scored two or more three-pointers in a game. From a public relations perspective, the awareness was huge. Most of the country was already watching the playoffs, giving McDonalds a captive audience to tie additional excitement to the games. But McDonalds also released its financial damage as response to the offer nearly quadrupled McDonald’s forecast, totalling more than 2.5 million fries in the regular season and playoffs combined. They may have had to put their money where their mouth is but from a PR point of view, it was worth the investment.

However, this golden moment for the golden arches isn’t always the positive outcome that brands achieve when jumping on the brandwagon. And even though a trend may be making a lot of noise in the moment, brands need to really evaluate if they should align themselves accordingly.

Gilette is an example of a brandwagon crash. In an era of #MeToo, Gilette made a bold move to create a short movie playing on their 30-year old tagline “The Best A Man Can Get”, replacing it with “The Best Men Can Be”. The company quickly came under fire with accusations from the public that the brand was trying to monetize on the #MeToo movement, with many vowing never to buy a Gilette product again. Gilette defended its position stating it took a public position to help “drive a positive change in the perception of masculinity” and many speculate Gilette released the ad expecting backlash but still wanting to create controversy to ultimately build awareness for their brand, not only among men, but among women as well.

From #10yearchallenges, the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games or World Series, big events, movements and trends perk up communicator and marketers’ ears and often make them think “should I be a part of this?” There is no yes or no answer. However, if a brand is looking to jump on a trend, it is important they do their research and be authentic. Consumers can easily see through a marketing ploy vs. a formal position, and time and time again the public will call a brand out for trying to take advantage of something they shouldn’t be a part of.

And while brands may be looking for a quick win by doing the latest #birdbox challenge, it can often have the opposite affect when overdone.

As a public relations practitioner, I am often asked by clients if they should be part of a big event or jump into a trendy social media stunt. My advice to them is generally consistent – if it makes sense, brands should authentically contribute to the conversation rather than adding to the clutter. If a brand does opt to jump on the “brandwagon”, put your own unique and creative spin on how you execute as opposed to mirroring everyone else.

Ultimately, there is always a gamble when trying to piggyback off something a brand didn’t organically create. And if a brand is OK with the risk, there is definitely potential wins to be gained.

Lisa Libin is Vice President at Brookline Public Relations. Lisa loves a good crisis (as long as it’s not a personal one!) and has vast experience in issues management and brand reputation issues, working with local and global communications teams to handle ongoing and current industry issues.

The creativity conundrum: how to keep your campaigns fresh and current

August 19th, 2019

Ashley Tymko, Account Manager

“I have an endless supply of award-winning campaign ideas! What is writer’s block? Inspiration just hits me at all times.”

In an idyllic world, the statement above is what myself, and I am sure every public relations practitioner wishes they would experience. In stark reality, creativity is relentlessly capricious. It ebbs and flows in waves and even the most seasoned of us can at times struggle to find inspiration.

Creativity can be defined in countless ways, but for the purpose of my blog, I am defining creativity as: “unique ways for organizations to evoke emotion and brand recognition among its target audience.”

I am often asked by my peers and those outside of the PR world how I continually stay creative for new and returning clients.

I thought I would share some key learnings that I’ve applied throughout the years to ensure I always put my most creative self forward.

Be authentic. This one is less of a ‘be true to yourself,’ but rather, more ‘be authentic to your client’.

Our clients work with us not only because we are good at what we do, but because we take the time to understand their needs and goals to authentically communicate their message. Strategy sessions are essential to building an excellent working foundation, but also imperative to getting those creative juices flowing with your client. We often bounce preliminary ideas off of one another to get a true sense of what they want vs. what they aren’t crazy about.

There is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all media strategy.’ Learn your client, their language, their goals and desired outcomes. The more information you have on your client, the better you can determine what approach is best and find creative ways to solve their problems and add value.

Know your strengths. Know when you operate at your optimal creative level i.e. when you produce your best work. For me, it is first thing when I wake up. I quickly brush my teeth, make a coffee and hunker down at the computer and write. My optimal time is between 5 and 8 a.m. (as I edit this blog I peeked at the clock and its 6:05 a.m.) I often get (lightly) chastised from my concerned colleagues for sending emails and documents at 5 a.m. but that’s what works for me to get in my optimal writing headspace. This is the time I can pump out a killer press release or a thought-provoking pitch.

Be aware and make time or space to allow yourself to operate most creatively. It truly helps.

Our Senior Account Manager, Angela, needs to blast soca music to slay an amazing press release. Our Senior Intern, Nicole, likes to declutter and work in a clean space and our PR Assistant, Ottilie, loves to listen to Podcasts.

Get inspired! When creative juices are running low, don’t shy away from getting inspiration from different campaigns.

Whenever I am in a rut, I think back to my favourite PR campaign, the Dove Real Beauty campaign and its evolution. It is simple, evokes emotion, connects with the target demographic and is extremely creative in the delivery of its messaging. It’s a tremendously well-rounded campaign. So much so that it was pivotal in not only promoting their brand, but having their target audiences question their competitors’ marketing tactics. Its influence is seen heavily in public relations and marketing today. Just look at their competitor, Olay’s, new campaign.

So, when you find yourself spinning your wheels running through the same three ideas over and over again, step back and gain some clarity and inspiration from other places.

I asked around the office and here are a couple of our favourite campaigns:

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” — Albert Einstein

The key word here is FUN. At the end of the day, being creative, brainstorming ideas and stretching the limits of what we thought possible is always invigorating. My favourite days are when my colleagues and I get together in the boardroom and tackle an issue together. It usually ends in a pile of giggles and us shouting out the most obscure ideas we can think of – but at the end of the session, we come out with solid ideas to present to our clients.

So even when you are exhausted, out of ideas or feel like you’re hitting a wall, turn to your colleagues for support and have fun with it.

Ashley Tymko is an Account Manager at Brookline Public Relations. Ashley has expertise in event planning, media relations, client relations and strategic planning. Ashley thrives in a fast-paced workplace where there are constant opportunities to learn new things and explore bold ideas.