The Plague of Viral Marketing

The Red Swimsuit Phenomena

On Wednesday, May 4, Sunny Co Clothing posted a picture on Instagram of a red swimsuit. If you posted the picture of the swimsuit on your Instagram within 24 hours, you were promised the same suit delivered free to your doorstep! While shipping and handling were not covered, the swimsuit, which retails for about $64.99, was completely free. A portion of the proceeds from the shipping were to go to Alzheimer’s research.

Sure enough, Instagram blew up with this image. It went viral. Twitter blew up with funny commentary, and even celebrities made comments on social media about the infamous “red swimsuit.”

It didn’t take long for Sunny Co to realize they were in over their heads, where they responded with a post: “Due to the viral volume of participants, we reserve the right to cap the promotion if deemed necessary.”

On top of this, they stated that shipping could take 3-6 WEEKS.

At first glance, it seemed like a great marketing plan. Wow, brand awareness! Free advertising! Positive attention!  However, I’m interested to see how Sunny Co now plans to retain their customers.

Historically, when brands and products go viral, or grow rapidly, there is usually the inevitable downfall. This happens all the time. It happened to the once trendy LA fashion brand, Nasty Gal.

  • Sales hit $24 million in 2011, which was a 200% increase from the year before, the brand said publicly.
  • In 2012, they hit $100 million.
  • By 2015, they dropped down to $77 million.
  • In 2016, they filed for bankruptcy.

Nasty Gal and Sunny Co share the tactic of cultivating one-time buyers. Spending money on indirect advertising, like online ad banners, can score you a multitude of people who might buy your product once. But, if you spend $100 on an ad and one person buys an item one time, you aren’t really making money. The same scenario applies to Sunny Co’s red swimsuit. If you spend the time and hire the workforce to ship thousands of free swimsuits, are you really making money? On top of that, if you can’t deliver on your promise of a free product, are you really building your brand’s reputation for future success?

As far as I know, no one who participated in this promotion received their red swimsuit yet.  People I know have deleted their repost from Sunny Co, the original Instagram account has been shut down, and no one is talking about the brand or product anymore on social media.

Marketing dollars and social media exposure are valuable for brands when they’re targeted. If you’re in B2C sales, focus on building relationships. If your product is good, the sales will follow.  One hundred loyal customers are more valuable than 500 one-time buyers. B2C relationships last longest when they are built like any other relationship. Find your audience, personalize your message, follow up with good customer service and a good product, and retain your clientele.

The Reality of Crisis Communications

The Reality of Crisis Communications

by Andy Likes, Senior Vice President

In light of the recent events in the media, we wanted to share this piece written last year by our crisis communications and reputation management pro, Andy Likes.

Not “If,” but “When”

Throughout my 20+ years in broadcast journalism and public relations, I’ve seen my share of crisis issues. They happen every single day. I tell my crisis communications training classes that it’s not a matter of “if” a crisis happens, but “when.” Whether you are part of a small non-profit organization or a major multi-national corporation, you are vulnerable. It could be an employee issue, a cyber-attack, lawsuit, natural disaster or any other number of things, but it’s only a matter of time before your reputation is on the line for one reason or another. The biggest issue in a crisis is time!

We have clients come to The Vandiver Group in one of three phases of a crisis; pre-event, mid-event, and post-event. The clients who come to us before a crisis happens are being proactive. They want us to help write a plan, create messages, and draft template press releases before things go bump in the night. They may or may not see a crisis on the horizon, but they know anything can happen. Other clients call us mid-crisis, or after the crisis is over, for reputation management and overall communications to mitigate the damage.

Proactive Crisis Planning

Implementing a crisis plan before a crisis occurs can save you three things: time, money, and frustration.  Planning ahead saves you time. It’s easier to write a plan and use it as your guidebook when bad things happen, rather than “wing it” and address things as they occur. Planning takes preparation and time, but it’s a fraction of the time you could spend on a crisis when you’re in the middle of it. Having a succinct, understandable plan that is easy to find can also be the key to rebuilding your reputation after the crisis is over.

Having the right messages that are timely and well-delivered helps build trust with employees, the media and the public, no matter what the issue may be. Holding information back because you don’t know everything may seem easy, but it’s not the best way to handle a crisis. Give all the information you have at the time and say you’ll be back with more when you have it. It’s like ripping off a bandage – it might hurt initially, but the quicker you respond, the quicker the crisis will be over. Ultimately you want to get from the crisis to the post-event stage, so you can rebuild your reputation as quickly as possible.  That all begins with the crisis plan and having your team ready for anything.

TVG has helped companies in all three stages of a crisis for more than 20 years. Are you ready to tackle a potential crisis? How can TVG help you? Tweet us @VandiverGroup or email info@vandivergroup.com for more information.

Cause Marketing Important to Millennials, Too

By Madeleine Smith

While the term “cause marketing” was coined in the 1970s, it’s become increasingly important today for companies to support a cause or sponsor a charity. If you want proof that cause marketing is on the rise, it’s in the numbers. Engageforgood.com tracks several consumer studies, all of which support the importance of cause marketing:

  • Cause sponsorship is reported to reach $2.06 billion in 2017, a projected increase of 3.6% over 2016 (IEG Sponsorship Report, 2016).
  • 33% of consumers are now choosing to buy from brands they believe are doing social or environmental good (Unilever Study, 2016).
  • 74% of employees say that their job is more fulfilling when they have a positive impact (Cone Communications Employee Engagement Study, 2016).
  • 80% of global consumers believe that businesses must play a role in addressing societal issues (Edelman Trust Barometer, 2016).

What’s most interesting is where Millennials factor into the picture.  A 2014 Cone Communications Digital Activism Study found that:

  • 74% of Millennials surveyed learn about a companies’ social or environmental business practices, versus the U.S. average of 54%.
  • 80% of Millennials were likely to donate to a cause after learning about it through an online source, versus the U.S. average of 63%.

However, Millennials are often portrayed as the “me” generation–selfish, entitled, lazy… Also, it seems every Millennial has had the talk with their grandparent about how, “back in the day, they had to actually read books to write research papers, and walk to school uphill both ways in the snow.” The bottom-line is that they think technology has made Millennials’ lives much more convenient, and we have it so much easier than they did.

That’s probably true to some extent.  Growing up with computers, cell phones, and technology has made things easier for some of us, but harder for others.

While I’m not walking to work in the rain or churning my own butter, I’m involved in my community. I’ve spent countless hours doing unpaid work for causes that I care about – and, after doing research, I know I’m not alone.

If you’re a business owner and you want to reach Millennials, consider supporting a cause or devoting pro-bono work to a non-profit. Cause marketing statistics show that it does pay off, no matter what side of the transaction you’re on.

The Importance of Media Literacy in the Age of “Fake News”

Donna Vandiver, President & CEO

Laura Vandiver, VP of Research & Strategic Insight

Long before there was “fake news”, there was disinformation, propaganda and censorship. Many Americans are able to evaluate and decide if something they are reading is real or not, but many also have difficulty discerning “fake” news from actual, factual information, especially when false stories can be shared in an instant across the globe via social media channels. Read more

The Business of Storytelling

Andy Likes, Senior Vice President

 

Over the last 11+ years in PR, I’ve had the opportunity to work with nearly every type of subject matter expert, including doctors, engineers, lawyers, financial planners and everything in between. One thing is certain with subject matter experts- they know their job and the company better than anyone. Read more

Honor A Teacher this Valentine’s Day

Donna Vandiver, President & CEO

 

All of us can remember a teacher who made a difference in our lives. I listened to Stone Phillips (formerly of NBC’s Dateline and a Parkway West graduate) talk about Dr. Al Burr at a memorial service a few months ago. Along with many others at that service, he talked about how Dr. Burr changed his life. Read more

Going the Distance for Girls on the Run: The Queeny Meanie

Laura Vandiver, VP of Research

 

Every year on Dr. Martin Luther King Day, we honor a man who championed civil rights so that others could have opportunities, experience freedom and equality, and feel a sense of community. Here at TVG, we spend MLK Day serving our community in some way in order to honor Dr. King’s memory. This year, I spent some time creating awareness about and fundraising for Girls on the Run – St. Louis through unconventional means- an ultra run.

queeny

After several years of competing in Ironman triathlons, I was looking for a new challenge in 2017. An ultra run (any distance beyond a marathon distance of 26.2 miles) sounded fun. I started researching ultra marathons in the region, but nothing stood out to me. I kept having this recurring thought- what if I ran an ultra at Queeny Park? It’s one of my favorite places to run, so why not? You know that saying “If you want it done right, do it yourself?” That’s what I decided to do. And it’s how I came to the conclusion that running 32 miles in Queeny Park on March 11, 2017 would be my next challenge, and I’m calling it The Queeny Meanie!

queeny

I didn’t just want to run an ultra. I wanted to run an ultra for a cause. After my first season as a head coach for a Girls on the Run team last fall, it was an easy choice! The Girls on the Run curriculum not only coaches girls how to run a 5K at the end of a 10-week program, but also teaches topics on self-esteem, positivity, standing up for yourself and others, empowerment, healthy habits, goal setting, teamwork and cooperation, and identifying bullying behavior. These aren’t just running skills – these are LIFE skills. And seeing each of my girls succeed in their own big goals was an incredible experience. Girls on the Run builds confidence, and encourages girls to work together and to impact their communities in a positive way.

You can learn more about my efforts and make a donation here:

DONATE NOW

Everyone should spend some time reflecting on how you can impact your community in a positive way. Find your passion and figure out a way to help others. I hope my small contributions will have big impacts- even if it’s only on one person. Then, I’ll know I made a difference.

 

Do you run for a good cause? Want to participate in The Queeny Meanie? visit us on our website to let us know! We are passionate about getting our employees involved in our community to make a difference and we are inspired to help others find that passion, too!

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Random Acts of Kindness, Inspired by Dr. King

Patty Olsen, Senior Project Manager

 

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was more than just a single day of giving back to the community where I have lived, worked and flourished- it was an opportunity to model what principled citizenship looks like to my elementary-age son. Read more

TVG’s 2017 Day of Service: St. Patrick Center

Andy Likes, Senior Vice President

 

For more than 20 years, TVG has been giving back to clients in St. Louis and across the country. When you look at dollars and hours donated over that time, our firm and our employees have given more than $3 Million back to the communities we serve. Read more

College Athletes in the ‘Real World’: What Lacrosse Taught me about Work Ethic, Leadership and Accepting Challenges

Annie Spewak, Intern

 

Up until a year ago, my life revolved around lacrosse. My dedication to the game often dictated everything I did from my social life to my class schedule, but it also earned me a scholarship to play Division I in college. Over the years, I’ve encountered people who think sports are rather useless; after all, most athletes will never go professional, and will never earn a paycheck playing the sport. Read more

8 Tips for Strategic Pitching

Donna Vandiver, President & CEO

 
What you learned in Scouts is true- it’s best to be prepared. At TVG, when we teach staffers to pitch reporters, we talk about a number of things to make a pitch memorable and get the story picked up. Here are 8 of our best pitching tips:

 

1. Make it personal. If you were sending a note to a friend, you would know something about them. It’s no different with reporters. Know their beat, what they write about, and mention a piece they’ve done if you’ve read it and can say something relevant about it. Connecting to a reporter on a personal level will make your pitch stick out.

 

2. Do your homework. Gather good information and put it together in a compelling way. Think/Act like a reporter. What would you want to know? What would grab you? What’s grabbed you in the past?

 

3. Do your media research! Keep your media contact list up-to-date. People move around. There is nothing worse than getting a bounce back, because the reporter has moved on. Make sure all of your contacts are current and accurate before sending your pitch.

 
4. Proofread! Spell their name correctly. Don’t you automatically delete an email if your name is spelled wrong?

 

5. Get to the point. Don’t send an email asking if you can send them a pitch. This is like asking if you can ask a question. Don’t waste their time and yours with two emails, when one would do.

 

6. Maintain contact. Everyone’s busy. If they don’t respond, follow up within a few days. After that, it’s like starting over.

 

7. Say no to clickbait. Make sure your subject line matches the topic. There’s nothing wrong with being creative, but be sure you stay on message and on point.

 

8. Practice makes perfect! Don’t be easily discouraged, and don’t take it personally if a reporter doesn’t like your idea. Get better at packaging your ideas. Accept the challenge.

 

 

What are your best tips for pitching reporters? Tweet us @VandiverGroup, and let us know!

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Watch Full Movie Online A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

Director : Lasse Hallström.
Producer : Gavin Polone.
Release : January 19, 2017
Country : United States of America.
Production Company : Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, Pariah Entertainment Group, Original Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, Walden Media, Pariah.
Language : English.
Runtime : 100 min.
Genre : Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy.

Movie ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ was released in January 19, 2017 in genre Comedy. Lasse Hallström was directed this movie and starring by Dennis Quaid. This movie tell story about A dog goes on quest to discover his purpose in life over the course of several lifetimes with multiple owners.

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