Friday, January 30, 2009


Stadium naming rights - PR or goodwill?

I read an article today regarding Citigroup's deal to to have the new Mets baseball stadium named Citi Field. In 2006, they agreed to pay $400 million over 2o years. So I started thinking, is naming rights to a stadium PR or simply goodwill?

I think it depends on the market and the venue; however, in smaller markets I think it's mostly goodwill. Let's take Minneapolis, for example. The Minnesota Twins are building a new stadium, which will be called Target Field. Rumors going around had it between 3M, General Mills and Target. Although, later on there was rumbling of a US Bank & General Mills tandem. Nonetheless, all of these companies are large, Fortune 500 companies. So none of these companies need the publicity. I'm pretty sure most people in Minnesota are aware of these organizations. As it turns out, Target ending up getting the naming rights and will now have Target Field, which is near the Target Center. So what is Target gaining by having their logo plastered atop the new field?

A lot of it has to do with the amount of money that is thrown toward the naming rights. Polaris or Caribou Coffee probably can't afford the money that would be needed, so I understand the economic portion. However, in Target's case, why the additional stadium? Measuring ROI on this is darn near impossible.

Let's take another example here in Minneapolis. The new Gopher stadium will be called TCF Bank Stadium. Is TCF gaining additional market share because their name is on top of the new stadium? Most people in the metro are aware of TCF, so it's not like someone is going to be driving by, see the stadium and say "hey, I think I am going to change to TCF." Again, I think this comes down to Goodwill. Smaller dollar amount required, so take out the major corporations, and bam, you have the new park. Throw in Polaris, throw in Medtronic, throw in SuperValu. All would get the same benefit that TCF is getting - minimal.

Take a look around at the different stadium names (outside of Yankee Stadium, Fenway, Soldier Field, etc) and you'll see that a lot are simple goodwill on behalf of large corporations that have some significance to that particular region.

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Monday, January 26, 2009


Recent corporate PR buzz

Two interesting articles regarding recent PR issues for two Fortune 500 companies. Their PR departments have some work now!

Article #1 - Citi
The gist of the article is that Citi, despite getting $45 billion in TARP assistance, is going ahead with their purchase of a new $50 million corporate jet. There are a few obvious mistakes in this story.
#1 - If you get $45 billion from TARP, which the tax-payers are on the hook for, it probably isn't wise to invest in a new jet. Especially when the company already has two.

#2 - Here's a quote from the head of CitiFlight "Why should I help you when what you write will be used to the detriment of our company?" replied Bill McNamee, head of CitiFlight Inc., the subsidiary that manages Citigroup's corporate fleet, when asked to comment about the new 7X.
I get his reasoning. There isn't anything he can say that will make anyone understand the logic behind this; however, outside of "no comment," this could be the worse possible response.

Maybe I am looking too much into this story, but I think this poses a serious problem for Citi. When your stock is in single digits, your company is fighting to stay afloat and you are getting bailed out by tax-payers; a new luxury jet probably isn't the best thing to go out and purchase.

Article #2 - Nike
The article discusses Nike's move to have Rafael Nadal wear more "traditional" tennis clothing. His regular garb consists of capri shorts and sleeveless shirts - not your typical attire. Nadal's loyal fans are upset and angry about this change, but from a corporate PR standpoint, this makes complete sense.

Nike, arguably one of the biggest corporate sponsors, has a right to make sure their brand is portrayed in a positive image that is most beneficial to their bottom-line - profit. By dressing Nadal in a more conservative and traditional clothing, this allows Nike to sell more product, which is ultimately the goal of their sponsorship. It's also a neat and cheap way to get publicity.

Happy Hunting!

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Thursday, January 22, 2009


Twitter - Update from previous post

Came across a great article on Seeking Alpha regarding Twitter.

From Sarah Lacy:
"But, truth be told, in this Darwinian Web cycle, the financial results are a lagging indicator when the king-du-jour of the Internet gets dethroned. If you look closely, we're already seeing loads of signals that Google is losing its grip on Web supremacy.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009



The hot topic in 2009 is the advancement of social media (SM) with Twitter being one of the more intriguing SM tools. Per its Web site, "Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?" However, to marketers, PR professionals, advertisers and most importantly, brands, Twitter is an invaluable tool. With all new things, though, Twitter does not come without varied opinion. Some love it, some don't see the value and a lot don't understand it.

My opinion on Twitter is this: it has the potential to be a beneficial resource for those individuals/companies to put forth the effort. It's a pretty unknown tool compared to Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn; but I think it has the potential to be a lot bigger. Why? The return is so much better than other forms of social media.

Imagine you're a small floral shop. You don't have the big budget for advertising, nor do you don't have the tools to put out a huge marketing campaign. Sure, you can put an ad in the local newspaper, you can place a coupon in the local pennysaver. But what is the return on those investments? More than likely, pretty small.

Now you have Twitter. It's a free service. The only real cost is the time you spend, or your employee(s) spend on it. Granted, that time could be used for other activities; but a quick 5 minutes on Twitter announcing "Dozen Roses $19.99" is a free form of advertising. I understand that larger companies would need to scale this approach quite drastically, but the concept is still the same. Why can't Polaris have a Twitter account? Why can't Best Buy tweet that they are having a 1-day sale?

The biggest concerns are security and control of content. However, I don't see why this should be viewed any differently than the content being placed on radio, print, etc.

There are a couple of good discussions out there regarding Twitter and social media. I'd encourage you to check them out. Social media is the new "it" in PR and advertising...jump on board!

Interesting read on social media in general -
Cost of social media via the MNPR blog -

Happy Hunting!

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Saturday, January 17, 2009


Is Obamamania good for America?

Whether it's his charming smile, his voice of hope or simply a breath of "change," the one thing no one can deny, is the reach and follow of Obamania. It's a great story, I won't lie. Personally, I did not vote for him - please, don't shoot! But despite the difference in opinion that Obama and I have, the dude has got "it" going right now. That leads me to the question, however, of whether or not this is good for America?

Let me explain. I won't argue that we need hope, we need change and we need a little boost. The economy sucks, our confidence is at an all time low. Despite this, people around the world are counting down to Jan. 20, 2009. The day it all becomes "official." I don't think Obama led anyone on. I think he has the our best interest in mind. Fixing the problems (what/who/why can be discussed later) is a huge task for anyone, not just Obama. What I fear is that people have gotten so wrapped up Obamania that once reality sets back in, and people realize that this isn't a quick fix, that our confidence will sink even further.

Obama never claimed to have all the answers. I don't expect him to fix everything over night. But when desperate, people cling to any sight of hope. They get high expectations, only to have their dreams crushed. People are excited, people are being active. I hope this continues when the freshness and newness of Obamania settles and reality sets back in.

Don't take this as criticism toward Obama. Although I didn't vote for him, I do support him and wish him luck. I will continue to speak against policies that I feel aren't in America's best interest. But I'll also be the first in line to help pull people out of this mess when called upon. I hope the Obama brand isn't all hype and I hope that the people aren't disappointed.

Happy Hunting!

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Monday, January 12, 2009


Barack Obama - PR mastermind?

Putting political views aside, no one can argue that Barack Obama didn't run a masterful campaign. The way he engaged voters, the press he generated and the overall public relations aspect of his campaign was brilliant. As he sets to take office and gives his inauguration speech on Jan. 20, the question looms - does the "Obama Brand" wear off?

One of the keys to Obama's successful nomination was his campaign's use of social media. His status was constantly updated via Twitter, his Facebook profile was filled with thousands of "friends" and his supporters were constantly reached via email. I firmly believe that any chance Obama has of maintaining his positive image, or of his "brand" continuing to be at an all-time high, is to continue to capitalize off the success social media brought. The tools and resources are already in place. They have contacts and they have lists. Why throw these valuable tools away? If I had any direct involvement with Obama, I would highly recommend the continued used of Twitter and Facebook. Why not update supporters of policies via Twitter? How about using Facebook to gauge public opinion? His email list is gold - a perfect way of getting direct feedback about how his term is going.

Obama's campaign was historical in the fact that it got the country involved. It got people out of their seats and finally got people to voice their opinion. It would be a shame if Obama didn't harness what every marketing and advertising company dreams of - verifiable data that generates results.

- Happy Hunting

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Friday, January 9, 2009


When it's too late to save face

We saw it when the Chrysler and General Motors CEOs flew to Washington on their private planes. Now, we're seeing it with Rod Blagojevich, Governor of Illinois. What is "it"? A case of a public relations nightmare. Even if the two auto executives decided to carpool on their subsequent trips to Washington, the damage was already done. The same can be said about Blagojevich.

Earlier today, the Illinois House of Representatives unanimously voted to impeach Mr. Blagojevich after allegations that he tried to sell the Senator seat left vacated when Barack Obama was elected. I'm no political expert, nor do I claim to know all the facts surrounding this accusation. However, from what I do know, it seems pretty obvious that ample evidence exists proving these accusations to be true.

I applaud Mr. Blagojevich's attempt to prove himself innocent, but when there is concrete evidence proving otherwise, a proper crisis communication plan needs to be put in place immediately. This includes admitting wrong doing, apologizing and immediately resigning. Instead, Blagojevich 's action has caused his image to be permanently tarnished. You can argue that by immediately admitting wrong doing would have tarnished his image, I think that it would have been less severe than how the public currently feels. People make mistakes and come back from it (i.e. Bill Clinton). Blagojevich doesn't have a future career in any public sector, but for the sake of his family, he should have followed basic public relations practice when it comes to crisis communication.

I think 2009 will bring plenty more public scandals, it'll be interesting to see how people handle these situations. An effective crisis communications plan is essential for companies and individuals to maintain what little image will be left.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009


New king of video games

VGChartz recently published an article indicating that Wii Sports has officially surpassed Nintendo's Super Mario Bros, making it the best selling video game of all time. (

All Wii consoles sold outside of Japan and South Korea come packed with Wii Sports, thus essentially meaning that every Wii console sold counted as a sale for Wii Sports. However, you must also realize that for quite some time, all Nintendo consoles that were sold came packaged with Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt combo game. The astonishing thing about this feat is that it only took Wii Sports two years (110 weeks) to surpass Super Mario Bros.

Another interesting tidbit from the link above is that every game in the Top 10 Best Selling Video Games is made by Nintendo. Part of this is due to the "packaged theory," but still pretty impressive.

Nintendo has done a fabulous job marketing the Wii, so this news comes as no surprise to me. It's also a little bit of common sense -- it worked for Super Mario Bros, why not try it for Wii Sports. I would recommend reading about Nintendo's marketing strategy for the Wii. It's quite brilliant.

- Happy Hunting!

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2008 National Championship

My two-cents regarding the 2008 National Championship

Florida: My personal opinion is that Florida is overrated. Tebow is a force and will get his numbers, but I think their defense won't be able to contain an elusive Oklahoma team. Harvin is supposedly 100%, but I don't see him being an impact.

Oklahoma: Explosive offense, solid defense. I think their defense shows up and, in the end, is the deciding factor.

My prediction:
Oklahoma 38
Florida 17

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Out with 2008, in with 2009. More of the same!

Greetings folks! I hope the holidays brought joy and happiness and that 2009 has been kicked off with a bang. For my first blog of 2009, I'm going to focus on two topics, albeit completely different topics, that are at the forefront of the new year.

Let me start my little rant with a small disclaimer: I am not a financial expert, nor do I claim to be. My view is exactly that, my view. They are gathered from my personal experiences and from commentary gathered from those experts that know far more than I do.

Now that we have that out of the way, let me begin by saying that I think 2009 is going to be far worse than what we saw in 2008. My personal belief is that recovery won't come until 1Q 2010. Despite credit rates being relatively low, consumer lending is still far off what it needs to be. With banks giving fewer loans, businesses cutting jobs and consumer spending continuing to decrease, I don't see any positive data to indicate the economy recovering any time soon.

Additionally, the biggest concern I have is commercial loans. According to an analyst at Deutsche Bank, commercial loan losses are expected to increase to 3 percent by the end of 2010. Additional research done by Reis Inc. indicates that commercial properties at risk of defaulting could triple if rental income drops by even 5 percent. Loan losses from commercial properties have the potential to make the sub-prime crisis look like child's play.

Further disaster may come from credit cards and auto loans. Credit companies are already cutting credit lines and our society has lived on credit for the past few years. You cut someones lifeline and chaos occurs. All in all, these two portfolios have the potential to see some drastic deterioration.

Eventually things will get better. How we act and alter our behavior is yet to be seen. Hopefully we can learn from this and ensure that such a crisis doesn't occur in our or our children's lifetime. As a society we need to ween ourselves off of credit and focus on saving and living within our means. Attitudes need to change. Again, it'll get better; however, I think we are in for a lot more darkness before the light begins to shine.

Social Media
Heading into 2009, one of the most intriguing topics is the advancement of social media, most notably within the corporate setting. More businesses are beginning to question if getting involved in social media can benefit their company. Some companies have already embraced social media and seen its benefits, while some companies refuse to look into social media (some rightfully so). However, I think it's a shame if a company doesn't at least look into the possibility of investing in social media.

ComScore came out with its worldwide traffic stats for November and it's interesting to see where specific social media sites ranked. It came as no surprise that yours truly, Blogger, remained in the number one with 222 million unique visitors in November (up 44 percent from November '07). Facebook is second with 200 million (up 116 percent) and is on pace to soon pass Blogger. MySpace, WordPress and Windows Live Spaces round out the Top 5.

An interesting video on Yahoo's Tech Ticker recently asked the question of how much Facebook is actually worth. While it's obviously that Facebook is clearly not worth the $15 billion valuation, has Facebook lost its edge? ComScore numbers indicate no, however, a lot of advertisers are pulling their ads from Facebook due to relatively low ROI. Now part of the reason for a pull back in ad spending has to be attributed to the economy, but I think a lot of businesses are realizing that MySpace, Facebook and other social media sites may have peaked. President-elect Barack Obama's campaign relied heavily on Twitter, however, does that make Twitter a viable investment for businesses? How do you place value on a company who's business model is solely based on ad revenue?

2009 is set to be an interesting year. Change is definitely in the air. What will that change bring? I don't think anyone knows. But that's the interesting part.

Happy Hunting!
- Kasey

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