Friday, March 20, 2009

Vans PR Director Chris Overholser On PR 101

"Right now is a great time to re-visit public relations. In many cases, we're facing shrinking marketing budgets, but with the same demands for marketing results. PR, while not inexpensive in terms of time investment, is a relatively cheap marketing endeavor. At Vans, our biggest single PR expense is product.

At the Group Y event, we had a broad spectrum of experience in public relations; some didn't have a clear understanding of what PR is and some work in it on a daily basis. Nearly everyone at a brand, distributor or retailer is involved in PR whether they know it or not. At its simplest, PR is the relating of information about your brand or products to a target audience - usually your customers or potential customers. This usually involves utilizing media outlets – print, Web and broadcast - but can also include product seeding to influencers or product placement in film and television

There are a variety of opportunities when PR should be utilized, including the release of new products, store grand openings, special promotions and/or events, seasonal offerings, athlete news, unique employee stories, and ongoing community relations activities.

When developing a simple product PR program, there are three important steps that you need to keep in mind before you even begin to pitch your product to media:

1. Define your audience. Is it trade or consumer? For a single product, you are likely going to have a different message for retailers than you will for the end consumer.
2. Create your message. Is it appropriate for your defined audience? Is it clear and concise? Does it encompass the unique selling points that your product has?
3. Develop a set of tactics. What materials such as informational one-sheets, news releases or product photos will help you convey your product's features? What deadlines must you meet to publicize your product in the proper time frame?

Now that I've spent a little time "selling" Public Relations, a few words of caution. With PR, you cannot entirely control your message. The biggest difference between PR and advertising is that in an ad, you pay for that space and you can communicate exactly what you want in that space. In PR, we're dealing with "earned" media which means that you are earning that space in editorial through your PR efforts. You trade control of the message in return for a third party endorsement by the media outlet. The benefit is that media outlet, if respected, will provide more credible brand or product messaging than advertising can deliver."

Log on and check out Vans at create your own custom shoe too!

Burton PR Director Shana Frahm on Crisis Communications

I recently spoke on the Group Y panel discussion on "How to Maximize PR Opportunities & Expand Brand Awareness" the panelists includes myself, Shana Frahm and Chris Overholser  PR Director for Vans. There were some awesome takeaways.

Here is Shana's tips for PR Crisis Communications:

"When approaching a crisis situation in your company, it is very important to keep the senior management in the loop at all times as you are making your decisions. It's also important to inform them of any changes/developments as they happen. In addition, never approach the heads of your company with the problem without having at least 3 different solutions for your company to choose from to resolve the problem.

Other things you will need:

1. A crisis communications plan that includes what you want to say and when you want to say it: to the public, your employees and the press.
2. Your company statement on the crisis. If the crisis involves third parties or perhaps athletes who have other sponsors, make sure that you have an ongoing friendly relationship with the other companies involved so that they know what you're saying and you know what they're saying.
3. A "Q&A" that contains any negative questions that you might be asked and how your company wants to answer them.
4. Assign a designated spokesperson. Depending on the importance of the situation, you may want the PR department or the head of your company to speak.
5. Make sure that your legal and HR departments are in the loop on what you are doing. They should review all of your communications before you send them out, especially since PR is usually only responsible for journalist communications, and not the welfare of your staff or sponsored athletes.

There are many more elements to consider with regard to crisis communications and I highly recommend hiring an outside crisis PR firm that you can call on to help you get through tough situations. Many companies will work with you on a case-by-case basis, and its always best to have a few firms on hand for emergencies."

Check out Burton's latest goods:

Group Y Panel “How to Maximize PR Opportunities & Expand Brand Awareness.” Vans, The Bungalow PR + Burton

Group Y hosted its latest panel discussion "How to Maximize PR Opportunities & Expand Brand Awareness" at The Grove in Anaheim Wednesday night. The panel included Bungalow PR's Stacie Krajchir, Burton's Global PR Director Shana Frahm, and Vans' Senior PR Manager Chris Overholser.

It was definitely interesting, and a bit disturbing, to hear how good these PR experts are at manipulating the media for free publicity. WTF Overholser? I thought we were bros.

This time the gathering actually went a step beyond the panel discussion format and involved a workshop where groups were given problems to solve together. Everyone then presented their plans and got critiqued by the experts in front of an audience of over 100 people. Kind of like sorority hazing, but a bit more constructive and less scarring.

group Y is a collective of youth marketing & communications professionals with a focus on action sports and entertainment industries. Founded in 2006, the group is vehicle to bring people together and assist new relationships between others within our sphere of Action Sports and Entertainment. For more information about group Y, please visit our website at

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stimulus PR Option For Emerging Small Businesses

I have been getting a lot of questions recently at the panels I speak on, as well as through networking avenues I support, about how to get into the PR game without the high fees and risks.  There are as many PR companies as there are businesses, I always suggest working with like-minded people and companies that have similar philosophies and practices. 

We're want to do our part here and expand our outreach to creative and emerging entrepreneurs outside our immediate network--everyone needs a little push right now, and it's just good business to help fellow small businesses and entrepreneurs. We're launching a special we're calling [press by number] option for March and April.

How the [press by number] option works:

Give us your "number" (budget )

We create a special Bungalow pr-to-go package customized  based on your specific product, wish list and special editor pr leads we have in house that most benefits our client.

For example: "I have $875…$600 or $1800 to spend…"

We create a customized Bungalow pr-to-go option which depending on your "number" would look like this + include:

·      5 direct pitches by our team through our direct contacts/relationships to magazine editors from your wish list (Parents,Cookie, InStyle, Daily Candy...)

·       One celebrity placement

·      A written pitch blurb you can use to contact editors.

·      5 editor contacts

We mix + match your Bungalow pr-to-go according to your specific budget and immediate goals be it press, sales . product launch etc. 

Feel free to connect with any questions.

Aloha, This Is The Bungalow

This is The Bungalow.

We share, we innovate, we veer. We zag while others zig and we're just fine with that. 

Take a peek at our site so you can really get to know us:

PR is not brain surgury, it's simply about being persistent and knowing who to contact when and how. I'll try to guide you in getting there. 

I have the benefit of having sat on the other side for a lot of years, as a morning television producer for NBC, at Extra and The Style Network.  So I get it. I was pitched by every publicist on this green Earth and I know what pitches were successful , which were "deleted" and immediately tossed and others that were booked before I finished reading the subject line. 

I'm not gonna do much preaching here, this is really a spot for emerging entrepreneurs to get quick and easy pr tips to make things happen, connect a few like minded people and share some of my favorite things which might help you see things in a new way.

Oh, and I am available. I may not be in this country (hopefully!) but I am online somehow somewhere, I am  not one of those busy executives who has five "people" you need to navigate to reach me.  Drop an email, be clear and specific (that helps me respond a tad faster) and always include your website so I can be informed about you and even say Aloha.

Here's to lots of this + that for those who choose the less traveled path.