Recent Examples of PR – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

In any given week, if you look for it, you’ll find examples of public relations; good, bad and ugly.  Here’s what I found recently:

The Good:  Restaurants and fast food chains have so many examples of bad PR that you could write a novel.  So when something goes against that trend, it’s worth talking about.  Red Robin recently received great positive PR and all it cost them was $11.50.  How did that happen?  A couple expecting their second child visited a location in North Carolina.  When the bill came due, the couple was pleasantly surprised to see her meal was at no charge with “MOM 2 BEE GOOD LUC” written on the bill.

The Bad:  Allstate recently released an ad that focused on how they’ve helped numerous victims of Hurricane Sandy and how their agents put the customer first.  The problem was that one of the damaged homes featured prominently in the spot is not being covered fully by the company and the insurance claim is still in dispute.  The homeowners have vocalized their displeasure with both the company and the video.  I’ve tried to include a link to the video, but it’s been removed.  While not a PR disaster of epic proportions, this is certainly bad PR for the company.

The Ugly:  Did you happen to watch the NCAA Football Championship game on January 7th?  During the game, play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger made some comments about the girlfriend of the starting quarterback for Alabama.  What he said wasn’t necessarily inappropriate or bad, but many viewers during and after the game took to social media criticizing the comments as “creepy” and “awkward.”  In my opinion, an apology wasn’t necessary, but ESPN issued one to escape a potential firestorm.

What have you noticed recently in public relations and would you nominate it as good, bad or ugly?

Authenticity in Advertising

In my last post, I wrote about authenticity in social media.  With this post, I’m focusing on authenticity in advertising.  While that subject could likely provide enough source material to teach a full semester’s course, I’ll narrow it down to fast food advertising (and just this one post).

It’s not a secret that many hours go into enhancing the look of fast food products.  The lighting has to be just right, items are strategically placed, touch-ups are done.  In fact, quite often what you see isn’t the actual food product but something made to look like it.  Is that really ice cream you’re seeing in a commercial, or scoops of lard covered in motor oil?  Is it milk in that cereal bowl, or watered-down glue?  Yes, you read those examples correctly.  🙂

Since learning about these techniques in college,  I’ve never really trusted fast food advertising.  Watch the video below and your level of trust might be lower too.

There’s a recent trend that’s become an advertising pet peeve of mine.  Have you noticed fast food restaurants often include slow-motion shots of sandwiches being meticulously constructed with farm-fresh ingredients using pristine instruments?  It’s almost like watching a culinary version of the game “Operation!”  Do you really think that’s what occurs after you place your order at the drive-thru?  Or, is it more likely someone is slapping together food warmed under a heat lamp as quickly as possible using their hands (hopefully with gloves)?

For the above reasons, I find authenticity in fast food advertising significantly lacking.  What other industries need to do a better job of being authentic in their advertising?

What’s In A Name?

What’s in a name?  Quite a lot when you’re making a first impression.  I recently read a story about a new restaurant that opened in a nearby town.  The name of the restaurant?  Bad Apples Bistro.

Quick, what’s your first impression of that restaurant?

If it was negative, you’re not alone.  You only get one first impression.  Make the most of it, or you’ll be hoping for the opportunity of a second chance.  Whether it’s in a job interview, a business deal, a first date, or a new business venture, that initial impression is key.

When it comes to a new business venture, market research can help with the vetting process, allowing the business to improve its odds of a positive first impression.  Want to know what your potential (or existing) customers think of your idea?  Ask!  But please engage the assistance of knowledgeable professionals.  Yes, Survey Monkey is easy to use, but that doesn’t make one qualified to conduct market research.  After all, I can operate a stove, but that doesn’t make me a bistro chef.

As for my example of Bad Apples Bistro, it turns out the reviews of the restaurant are generally positive.  According to an article in City Newspaper, the chef came up with the name “as a joking attempt to prove that ‘even a bad apple can make a great dish.'”  As a self-described foodie, the restaurant sounds great and I hope to try it one day.  Let’s hope the chef’s back-story proves to be more powerful than the first impression the bistro name creates for many.