Archive | February 2012

The Bigger the Risk, The Bigger the Reward


Risk is a very familiar word to those in the marketing field. Just how far are marketers willing to go to stand apart from their competitors and stay ahead in the game? Take a look at two marketers who risk everything to win big. Both of these marketers have shown the world that they have what it takes to battle through the obstacles, take huge risks, and come out on top.

Russell Weiner, Chief Marketing Officer at Domino’s Pizza, showed the world that admitting to the negatives of your product can lead to a positive reaction. In 2009, an employee of Domino’s posted a video of themselves doing revolting things to Domino’s pizza on YouTube. The occurrence showed the power of social media, which quickly unraveled a brand, and gave consumers one more reason to get their pizza elsewhere. Weiner’s response was daring: a campaign that would begin with consumers, in vivid detail, describing how bad the pizza was and then to introduce the reformulated version. “We had to be open, honest and transparent,” states Weiner. “People said our pizza wasn’t good enough, so we changed everything about it.” His bold and risk-taking tactics paid off as Domino’s sales in the first quarter soared 14.3 percent. By admitting to the downfalls of Domino’s pizza in a marketing campaign, Weiner won back the trust and loyalty of its customers, while improving its product is still worthwhile. Russell Weiner shown himself to be a knight in shining armor in saving Domino’s brand, and thus has joined a legend of esteemed marketers.

James Moorhead did not only double the sales of Old Spice body wash within a six month period, but the 31-year-old brand manager for Proctor & Gamble’s Old Spice was also named Adweek Media’s “Marketer of the Year.” Moorhead is awarded for his supervision of the newly created Old Spice ads featuring Isaiah Mustafa, a formal NFL player, who wears only a towel and insists that his female viewers compare their boyfriends and husbands to him. Moorhead became a loyalist of the brand in three years of working as brand manager for Old Spice. If you truly believe in the value of your brand, likes Moorhead does, you will work harder to market it. Moorhead was a big believer in moving the brand into the social media spotlight by using YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. This was a huge success and contributed to the brand popularity. Jason Bagley, one of the creative directors on the commercial advertisement project said, “You can probably imagine the type of faith and courage it takes for a large corporation to allow you the freedom to do all this.” Moorhead pulled off a near-perfect campaign, and showed us that a mixture of creativity, risk, and valor, can create great success.

These two marketers laid it all on the line to win over their consumers. They took big risks, and with that came reward. As their brands continue to flourish, the marketing world is left in awe of the task they accomplished. It’s marketers like Weiner and Moorhead who we learn from. They teach us that you can’t let others deter you from taking risks, especially when it may even be yourself who is standing in the way. Sometimes you just have to believe in your ideas, take a chance, and have a little faith!

This post was written by Manoel Reichel (@manoelthomas) and edited by Jens Heig (@JensRHeig) and Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).


Some Things You Can Never Get Back

I will never again willingly share a room in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my roommate from freshman year! But still, I don’t want to live in an 8 feet x 8 feet box with her ever again. I wasn’t prepared to share a room when I first came to school. I grew up as an only child and never really had to share much of anything with other kids, which made it hard to adjust to sharing practically everything. Luckily for me things worked out well in the end, and I was one of the lucky ones! There were many day-to-day instances regarding the dorm I lived in as a freshman that weren’t what I could call glorious.

The bathroom situation was probably the worst. I don’t know a single person who enjoys wearing shower shoes. It’s pretty disgusting when 18 girls with hair over a foot long share a shower and you find hair clumps stuck to your shower shoes on the daily. At least we always had hot water, though. Well… except for that one weekend when the water heaters quit and I had to walk all the way over to my friend’s apartment to shower.

As much as I missed having my own room that year and as much as I loathed having to use a community shower, I would not trade that year for the world. I don’t know anyone who would. Freshman year is the classic year people tell stories about for the rest of their lives. It is the last year you live under someone else’s rules, but yet somehow you’re still out on your own.  Appreciate the cramped quarters and grimy showers while you can, because growing up can be bittersweet.


This post was written by Kelsey Haukom (@KHauk) and edited/posted by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

How to Get that First Intership

Everyone is always looking for that “foot in the door”, that one opportunity that will help pave the beginning of his or her professional career, but how does one get that opportunity to get that internship, let alone stand out from the thousands of other students? As a freshman, I’ve personally asked myself these questions numerous times. Here is a list of things that I have found helpful in terms of getting a job or that first internship:

Network, network, network.

It’s crazy how all the hype these days has a lot to do with gaining a larger network. One of the keys to success is networking a ridiculous amount, yet people still don’t seem to do it. Some people still have not realized that the people you meet may not necessarily be the ones offering you a job, but those same people may know people who can. The bigger your network is, the more opportunities you may be offered.

Going along this same idea, you must also go outside of your comfort zone and walk up to professionals at job and internship fairs and introduce yourself. You must understand that you have to put yourself out there and become well-known in order to become successful.

Post fair.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say you did it – you went to a internship or job fair and you found the perfect internship. What you do in the next 24 hours will be the determining factor in whether you get called in for an interview or just get passed on like the rest. Marketing yourself goes beyond going to a fair, handing the representative a copy of your resume, and hoping they’ll call you back. You have to keep in mind that at least 200 other students did the same thing. 200 people, maybe 4 spots, what makes you different?

So here’s something you can do to stand out – email them. It’s as simple as that. Hopefully you had asked for a business card after you handed them your resume. The day after the fair send them an email using the address provided on their business card saying something like: “Hello, I spoke to you yesterday regarding the internship you have posted. I’m very interested and would love to get more information” so on so forth. It’s also important to make them remember you. Bring up something you two had discussed at the fair. I would even attach an additional copy of your resume just so they are forced to look at yours rather than search through their large stacks of other resumes.

Set up informational meetings.

If you didn’t attend any internship or job fair, another option you have to stand out from hundreds of cyber resumes is setting up informational meetings with professionals. Informational meetings are a great way to network and learn a little bit more about a specific company or the industry. These types of interactions are extremely helpful if you don’t know anyone who works in the agency or business that you want to get into. It’s pretty obvious that everyone loves talking about him or herself, and no matter how busy someone is I’ve found that most professionals have an hour or so to get coffee with a student.

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to informational meetings is that it is NOT an interview. Don’t go into the meeting expecting to get a job offer, or to even talk about yourself. This meeting is about talking to the professional and asking them about how they got in the industry, their experiences, etc. If they do ask you about yourself, you should definitely answer, but don’t always expect that too happen. 

A way to get in touch with these professionals is by cold emailing. Basically this means finding the directory and sending out an email introducing yourself, and asking for a time to meet. This may seem intimidating, but it definitely pays off.

These are just a couple of suggestions and things to think about as you start applying and looking over applications for summer internships and jobs! Good luck to all of my fellow PRSSA members who are younger like myself and looking to get their foot in the door.

This post was written by Mohamed Sakallah (@msakallah5) and edited/posted by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

Minnesota Timberwolves: More Than Just Sports

On Wednesday, February 8th, the Philanthropy Committee had Sarah Haugen of the Minnesota Timberwolves come in as a guest speaker. A Pennsylvania native with a passion for sports, Sarah is the Community Relations Manager for the Timberwolves. As Community Relations Manager, Sarah raises funds through multiple means for the FastBreak Foundation, a Minnesota Timberwolves foundation that supports over 2000 non-profits annually. From the start of our meeting it was obvious that there is a lot more to the professional sports world than just the games themselves.

Sarah helps coordinate the Timberwolves players and staff members to volunteer over 3000 hours annually through the many projects that the FastBreak Foundation puts on and supports. The FastBreak Foundation has a different theme each month that helps a different area of the community. Sarah says her favorite theme is the “Season of Giving” in December. During this time each Timberwolves player takes a foster kid on a $500 Christmas shopping spree. The player’s excitement to help the kids shop sometimes even leads them to spend any amount the kids want, the most spent as been as high as $2500.  Sarah fundraises relentlessly throughout the year to put on these charity events.

One of the biggest fundraisers put on is called “Taste of the Timberwolves”, which will be held March 6th this year. This exclusive event invites anyone who can afford a seat or table an opportunity for a night of fun, food, and prizes with the players and coaches, and its all for a great cause. This year in particular Sarah says the event has nearly an additional hundred people going. She believes “the team doing better seems to correlate with the more seats bought.” Sarah even gave our Philanthropy Committee an opportunity to help with the event, inviting anyone who was interested to procure auction items. She added, much to our committee’s excitement, that lower seat tickets and an autographed picture from the team would be potential rewards for whoever could procure the highest valued items.

The meeting with Sarah was a great experience in which our committee was able to take a closer look at the nonprofit communications and event planning angle of public relations. We greatly appreciated her taking the time to come meet with us and giving us an exciting opportunity to help with the Taste of the Timberwolves charity event.

Thank you, Sarah, for coming to talk to our chapter! You can follow Sarah on Twitter at @TWolves_CR.

For more information about the Minnesota Timberwolves FastBreak Foundation visit:

This post was written by Camille Blechinger (@_CamilleMae) and edited by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

The Keys to Communicating with Professional Journalists

One of those relationships we will inevitably have to build as public relations professionals is with news reporters and journalists. They may hold the power to get our stories, events, and clients in the press, but we have influence over the ever important brand. Business columnist Eric Wieffering talked to our PRSSA group about the best practices for a relationship between publicists and journalists. Eric has spent the last 25 years in journalism, with 14 of those being at the Star Tribune. Essentially, there are two situations where you will have to interact with reporters: when a writer calls you for information about a crisis or feature story and when you go to the reporter to promote a story. Eric gave guidelines to professionally navigate both situations.

Crisis Management

  • Be available – When there is a crisis or breaking news at your company, the best thing the spokesperson can do is answer the phone. Journalists are under tight deadlines; if you don’t talk to the reporter, you may not have a chance to get your side of the story to the public. Responding to the reporter’s needs is appreciated and critical. Eric also mentioned that it is generally best to give some sort of statement on the given situation opposed to saying “no comment”.
  • Be prepared – Part of the journalist’s job is to get accurate facts in a compelling manner. They may not always want to talk to the company’s spokesperson and may push to speak with a principal of the company.  Try your best to get the information they want to avoid negative images of the company.
  • “Become a counsel to your client. Figure out the risks and opportunities.” – In addition to being prepared, if a reporter comes to you looking for quotes or photographs, know what they are writing about. Don’t assume the story is going to be positive for the company; be proactive and aware. It is the publicist’s job to know what the story is and the possible repercussions.

Pitching Stories 

  • Know your reporter – For important stories, try to tailor your pitches to the specific reporter. Investigate what they like and what they typically write about. Of course, you can’t know exactly what everybody wants, but try to do your research.
  • Pitch new, fresh stories – A reporter is not going to write about ‘old news’. Pick the outlet you want most and try to offer some “exclusivity” with your big stories.
  • Keep it short – Between investigating, writing, blogging, and tweeting, the demand for a journalist’s time is a struggle. Many times, press releases go to the bottom of their to-do list. Be sure to include contact info so if there is interest, the writer can reach out to you for more information. “A good pitch is not a story. The pitch is going to sell the reporter, not the media kit.”
  • Write well – Creativity and originality are key to your press releases.  Even though your pitch may be short, spice it up with compelling writing.
  • “Be persistent, not overbearing.” – Be patient when waiting for a response. Reach out to the journalist a couple days after you e-mail them your press release. Don’t e-mail them at 6 p.m. on a Wednesday and call them Thursday morning expecting a response.

Thank you, Eric!!

This post was written by Brooke Ahlers (@blahlers) and edited by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).

The Keys to Staying Organized

Are you finding yourself stressed out already this semester, and realizing we’re only three weeks into school? Time to take a break and get your self organized. Here’s how:

  • Don’t overload your schedule. Extra school activities, PRSSA for example, can be very beneficial for all of us. But, make sure you’re not trying to balance being on the cheer team, debate team, having a job, and going to school all the while. If you put your energy into one group you’ll end up seeing more success and feeling more satisfied with your schedule.
  • USE A STUDENT PLANNER. This can’t be stressed enough. I don’t know how I would have survived seven semesters of college without one. It can fit your personality, have a super funky design, or you can even use the normal “Gopher Guide.” Either way, a planner is essential and don’t feel like a dork for having one.
  • Write things down. I’ve found that it’s easiest to take all of your syllabi and mark down important dates at the beginning of the semester. Tests, readings, quizzes, and anything else should be written down. This will help you stay on top of things, and will hopefully help you procrastinate less.
  • Eat your vegetables first. Okay… not literally. Imagine yourself out to dinner. If you ate your dessert before your vegetables, what would you have to look forward to? Do the same for all of your homework and studying. Try tackling the hardest and least fun tasks first, so you know you’re on the way to an easier finish.
  • REWARD YOURSELF! This is important. After a hard week of school, it’s important to unwind. Whether that unwinding is heading out to Dinkytown for a night out with friends, or staying in and renting a movie, it’s important to take a break from all things school related.
Good luck!

This post was written and posted by Kelsey Darnall (@KelseyJDarnall).