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Lessons from the Grand Poobah of PR at Ben & Jerry’s

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If you weren’t already a fan of Ben and Jerry, you will be after this reading this. Reader’s note: this post is best enjoyed with a spoon in one hand and a pint of your favorite flavor in the other.

Ben and Jerry Flavors

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a visiting innovators lecture with guest speaker Sean Greenwood, Grand Poobah of Public Relations (yes that’s his real title) for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. It was a night well spent and one of the most interesting and inspiring lectures I have ever attended. From a guy who started as a factory tour guide and worked his way up to grand poobah, the story of Ben & Jerry’s social activism could not have had a better storyteller.

They call themselves an “aspiring social justice company” that happens to sell ice cream – REALLY good ice cream. The company, also known for partnerships with the likes of Jimmy Fallon and Sir Elton John, had very humble beginnings starting with a $12,000 investment and one local scoop shop in a renovated gas station. They built themselves on two principles:

  • If it’s…
  • Branding

    Corporate and Brand Reputation Management: Who you are matters more than your products

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    This content was co-authored by Julie McCracken

    Reputation is a critical component that often determines whether a company can bounce back from a potentially damaging situation. It’s also a determining factor in whether a consumer will decide to buy your product. These days, not only do consumers consider how they perceive your brand, but also how they perceive actions by your company.

    Promise-PurposeDo consumers have an affinity with your brand? Do they believe your company to be a good steward?

    Some of the most reputable companies are also the most valuable brands, and it’s no surprise that the two go hand-in-hand. While brand focuses on company promise (what’s in it for me?), reputation focuses on company purpose (what’s in it for us?).

     

    brands-vs-companies-graphic-2But, successful corporate and brand reputations aren’t built overnight. Reputation management is a long haul. A strong reputation can drive lasting business success by increasing employee retention, and ensuring repeat purchases from customers. However, a tainted reputation disrupts the business cycle, and can make it difficult to bounce back from. It may take years to build or even restore a powerful reputation…

    Branding

    It’s Been a Tough Summer for Jessica Alba and The Honest Company…

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    aIn early August, customers posted pictures on social media of sunburns they claimed to have gotten wearing Honest SPF 30 Sunscreen. This ultimately ignited a media frenzy putting the efficacy of Honest Sunscreen and natural sunscreen in general, into question.

    Jessica Alba defended Honest Sunscreen in an open letter on the company’s blog.

    Last week, a lawsuit was filed claiming that The Honest Company “deceptively and misleadingly” labels and markets products as being “natural.” The plaintiff, Jonathan D. Rubin claims that several products contain “unnatural” or “synthetic” ingredients specifically calling out Honest Hand Soap, Honest Diapers and Honest Multi-Surface Cleaner and stating that its sunscreen is ineffective.

    According to People magazine, a new class action suit, filed by a different consumer “claims that the sunscreen is ineffective due to the company’s recent removal of more than half of the zinc oxide originally in the product, and displays pictures of sunburned adults and children who relied upon the sunscreen for protection.”

    bJessica Alba officially enters the skincare and cosmetics world with the launch of Honest Beauty this week. Unfortunately, the media coverage around the launch…

    Corporate Responsibility

    4 Tips for Using Volunteerism to Engage Employees: #Cookies4kids

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    CFKC1-cropped1

    We’ve heard the old adage “doing well, by doing good.” In our increasingly competitive business culture, it’s still refreshing to see companies offering volunteer opportunities for their employees to give back in the communities where they work and live.

    PadillaCRT is just such a company.

    “PadillaCRT employee-owners in offices from the West Coast to the Eastern Seaboard dedicate personal volunteer time and professional pro bono hours to help others in their communities. I am grateful to every one of them for their willingness to go above and beyond,” said Lynn Casey, PadillaCRT CEO, in the agency’s “2014 Report to the Community.”

    cfkc_RVA-sale-photosJust one example of the myriad charitable organizations that PadillaCRT supports through volunteerism is Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. As part of the annual Community Service Day program, employees in our Richmond, Va. office will be volunteering for this worthy organization by selling fresh-baked cookies on Thursday, September 10 and Friday, September 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the James Center in downtown Richmond.

    Our connection with this organization began in 2007, when the young son…

    Branding

    Communications in a New Cuba: Rum, Cigars and Corporate Responsibility

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    150720_cuba_us_embassy_lgYou probably know that U.S. relations with Cuba are on better terms than they have been in decades. In fact, today marks the official opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Havana.

    This is important for many reasons: Cubans are closer to reconnecting with the wider world, and the world is closer to tapping in to 11 million people ready to buy stuff that they never could before. This is not to say that Cubans don’t know what a Big Mac* is, but in the near future, they may be granted access to spend their hard-earned pesos on the American classic. The opportunities for growth are immense to say the least, but how do the world’s largest mega corporations, like a McDonald’s, or even a smaller business come to plant their American flags in Cuba’s white sand beaches? Corporate responsibility… In order for these businesses to really make a case for their Cuban operations (facilities and a native workforce, they’re going to have to earn it.

    In order for these businesses to really make a case for their Cuban operations (facilities and a native workforce), they’re going to have to earn…

    Corporate Responsibility

    Sugar, Dopamine, and Infographics: The Importance of Responsible Content

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    Did you see it? Last week, an infographic claiming to show what happens to your body within the first hour of drinking Coca-Cola tore across the internet like wildfire. Created by blogger The Renegade Pharmacist including statistics from this BlissTree article, it featured claims such as: at “45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production, stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.”TheRenegadePharmacist

    Well, if the earlier mention of “10 teaspoons of sugar” hadn’t caught your attention, the heroin reference sure did.

    Clearly, this infographic isn’t exactly an ad for a refreshing can of Coke. And the accuracy of the content has been criticized more than a few times (see here and here), but that’s not what I want to talk about.

    There’s a ton of science about why infographics and visuals are such effective ways to convey information. According to the SAGE Handbook of Political Communication, it only takes one tenth of a second to process visual information—that’s 60,000 times faster than it takes for the brain to decode text. We know…

    Branding

    From Your Cup to the Global Stage: 5 Reasons Why Coffee’s Future is Brighter than Ever

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    This month, I attended the most buzz-worthy conference of the year. No, it wasn’t SXSW (although the crowd in attendance was probably equally stimulated) – it was the National Coffee Association’s Annual Convention. And, yes, it was just as delicious as it sounds.

    Between sipping samples from vendors around the globe, I absorbed a lot about coffee’s past, present and future. My lessons began with the legend of Kaldi the goat herder, who first discovered Coffea Arabica when his flock became unusually frisky after ingesting some bright red berries while grazing in the Ethiopian hills, and progressed to philosophical discussions on the increasingly dynamic, venture capital-backed Third Wave movement.

    While coffee’s trajectory thus far is a fascinating one, the key insight I left with is that the industry’s future is exceptionally bright.

    Here’s why:

    1-      Health Halo in the Making. Coffee has a myriad of health benefits that are backed by sound science, but are not yet widely acknowledged by consumers. Dr. Alan Leviton, of Harvard University Medical School, shared data showing that regular coffee consumption (3-5 cups/day) is associated with decreased risk of Type 2  Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer or malignancies. Basically, the more coffee people drink…

    Corporate Responsibility

    Starbucks’ #RaceTogether Campaign and the Shift toward Pro-Social Brands

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    starbucks-race-together-3

    Photo credit: kcconfidential.com

    If you’ve been to a Starbucks in the past week, you may have seen something other than your name written on the side of your coffee. The company recently launched a new campaign encouraging baristas to write “#RaceTogether” on coffee cups in order to engage customers in discussions about race relations.

    While the sentiment behind this initiative may be good, the public response was not. As it turns out, standing at the register with a line of caffeine-deprived customers waiting behind you, anxious to get their coffee and be on their way, may not be the best time or place to start a conversation about such an important issue. And that’s putting aside the question of whether all Starbucks’ employees were given the appropriate training to initiate these conversations.

    Not surprisingly, earlier this week, Starbucks announced in a memo to employees that it would be dropping this aspect of the campaign.

    And yet, with all the attention focused on the above issue, most aren’t aware that this was just one element of Starbucks’ overall Race Together initiative, which stemmed from a company forum…

    Branding

    Chocolate Cupcakes and Corporate Identity

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    Last week, Fox News published the Hungry Girl’s guide to outsmarting Valentine’s Day overeating. It’s dedicated to recipes options that won’t “ruin your budget, waistline, or the mood”.

    Valentine’s Day aside, the majority of religious and civic holidays have become synonymous with overeating. The national Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders even describes over-eating around the holidays and on special occasions as a “normalized” part of American behavior.

    All you have to do is google “holiday overeating” and you’ll find hundreds of articles describing tips to avoiding binge eating and over indulgence – as well as one that includes five ways to avoid a post-holiday heart attack. But this got me thinking – are the holidays the issue? Or, are we causing the problem?

    Let’s talk about food-specific holidays. According to The Nibble, a magazine dedicated to specialty foods, there is a food dedicated to just about every day of the year.

    cupcakes

    Photo Credit: Flickr – Farrukh

    Here’s a taste of your food holiday options:

    Corporate Responsibility

    Promoting Healthy Habits in the Workplace

    Yesterday, the New York Times Well blog ran a story about the effects of exercise on the human brain. For a while now, people have believed that regular exercise improves cognitive function, but a recent study examined just how real those benefits are. Not surprisingly, the results suggested that not only does exercise change the […]