PR Industry Trends

A look back: brands and their misbehaving spokespeople

The chaos surrounding the Rio Olympics subsided for a time as countries around the world celebrated the incredible feats of their athletes. Records were broken, medals were won, and all was well and good.

And then, Ryan Lochte.


You’ve probably heard the tale of one Olympic swimmer misrepresenting his actions, and their repercussions, at a gas station in Rio. Lochte issued an apology for his behavior, but that didn’t stem the tide of growing negative perception surrounding the event. Nor did it stop companies for which he was a spokesperson from severing their ties with the controversy-embroiled swimmer.

Four major sponsors ended their relationship with Lochte earlier this week, including Speedo: “While we have enjoyed a winning relationship with Ryan for over a decade and he has been an important member of the Speedo team, we cannot condone behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for,” Speedo said in its statement. “We appreciate his many achievements and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience.”

With today’s information age, it’s clear that companies are quicker to cut ties with spokespeople for misbehavior – Lochte’s sponsors took around a millisecond


Gen Z: Five Key Insights for Healthcare Brands

Source: Phenomena

Raise your hand if you’re tired of hearing about the Millennials.

Employers have been trying to figure out how to deal with Millennials since they entered the work force about 15 years ago and healthcare has been bracing for the changes that they might bring as consumers.  Now, it’s time to start preparing for the next generation, who will comprise 40% of all consumers by 2020: Generation Z.

Members of Gen Z were born between 1995 and 2015 and have been parented by Gen X’ers and the older Millennials. They are digital natives, born after the internet was popularized and raised on smart phones.  With the youngest members of Gen Z celebrating their first birthday this year, it will be quite some time until we feel the full impact of this generation.  However, extensive research has already been done to reveal the attitudes and behaviors of the older half of Gen Z (who go up to 21 years old), many of whom are in or approaching college or about to enter the workforce.

While Gen Z won’t dominate healthcare use in the near future, smart brands are taking notice and thinking about engagement strategies now, especially as


Why Everything Tastes Better on Vacation (and what that means for your brand)



We’ve all had that moment.

While on vacation you eat or drink something that is so transcendentally delicious, it instantly ranks among the best things you’ve ever had. The pleasure is so deep and complete it’s like your taste buds are hard-wired to your very soul. “Do I detect a hint of fresh mint, or is that MDMA? Either way, I want more.”

So you buy up as many cases as you can get through customs, or obsessively hunt down the recipe to recreate it a home. But, despite your best efforts, it’s never quite the same. Sure, it’s good, but it’s not as good as you remember it.

What’s going on here? A temporary insanity of the taste buds?

Well, sort of.

Consider this: In 2008, a group of neuroscientists in California conducted an experiment that shed new light onto how we taste. Twenty volunteers were strapped into an fMRI scanner and given samples of wine. Among them were tastes from a “$10” bottle and a “$90” bottle that, in reality, were the exact same wine. It should come as no shock that the…

Higher Education

Wait… We Do Need Stinkin’ Badges?

Digital badge from Anne Arundel Community College.Digital certificates and badges are taking off in higher education as working millennials seek alternatives to full-blown degrees to demonstrate specialized skills to employers.

Younger workers, immersed in social media, are comfortable with the gamification aspect of collecting and displaying digital credentials, reports University Business’s Matt Zalaznick, and colleges are obliging.

Since launching a digital badging program a year ago, Stony Brook University on Long Island, for example, has awarded 130 badges to higher ed administration and HR management professionals. Earned badges are posted to an internal online platform, says Zalaznick, and students can then add them to a resume or to social media profiles, such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Clicking on the badges reveals details about the skills they represent.

Another, Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland, has built its badging system to meet workforce needs, awarding hundreds to students who have demonstrated specific skills that local employers want.

The University Professional and Continuing Education Association finds that nearly two-thirds of higher ed institutions cite alternative credentialing as an important strategy for the future, and that one in five colleges today issue badges.…

Digital Marketing

RIOlizations: Social marketing learnings from the 2016 Summer Games

With the Olympics over, the internet is “lit” with nostalgia: the good, the bad, and the Lochte. Back in April, Rio was projected to be the most social Olympics ever, with 18% of Millennials saying they would discuss the Games on Snapchat. The results are in, and nearly 50 million people watched Olympics coverage on that platform alone. Beyond the substantial social conversation, Rio offered many takeaways applicable to any social marketing campaign. Read on for strategic do’s and don’ts gleaned from the Summer Games.



Explore new avenues for reaching new audiences. In an effort to connect with a younger audience, NBC struck a deal with Snapchat – the reigning social network among teens today – making the app NBC’s only U.S. partner allowed to distribute official Olympics content. The partnership included a popup Snapchat Discover channel and Snapchat-curated live stories covering many aspects of the various Olympic events.

Foster connections between your subject and your audience. It’s no secret that humans love human interest stories. The storytelling aspect of the Olympics will always play a major role in sought-after coverage – it humanizes these…