Tuesday, December 17, 2013

To Bey or Not to Bey: What Beyoncé's Surprise Album has Taught Us

The age old phrase goes as follows: All publicity is good publicity.

For Beyoncé it seems as though no publicity is good publicity.

As always, Mrs. Carter not only follows her own rules, but creates them. She shocked the world by releasing a surprise fifth album last Thursday at midnight.

Let's take a look at how Beyoncé played a risky PR game, yet managed to win. And did she ever win big. In a blink of the eye, the album has become the fastest selling release in the history of iTunes.

1. She's lived & learned

After much hype and hoopla, her last album was met with a large degree of disappointment from media, critics and fans alike. It's no wonder she took a complete opposite approach for this latest album, if at first you don't succeed try, try again, right? Right. Not only has she proved that she's learned from her mistakes, but that she's a savvy business woman as well. She may take risks, but as she just showed us all, they are indeed calculated ones. A large portion of PR is attributed to gaging and understanding your audience. Reacting fast is crucial to survival. She has clearly learned from her mistakes and proven that she knows very well what we want.

2. Element of surprise 

In today's digital age its extremely difficult to keep a secret. Someone either leaked that, this website posted that spoiler, or that paparazzi saw this; not to mention throwing real time apps like Vine and Twitter into the mix. The fact that she was able to keep not only the recording stage of this project under wraps, but the video process as well, is an incredibly impressive feat. The element of surprise is something that has been lacking lately, and the fact that she was able to bring it back is retro and rewarding.

3. Quality vs. quantity

The self titled album only has 14 songs (yet 17 videos) and every single one rocks our socks off. Not often do you hear an album where each song is better than the previous one. It is clear that on this album she simply let the content speak for itself. This could've proven to be dangerous if the content wasn't up to snuff. Quality first, promotion second. It makes our jobs as PR professionals extremely difficult if there isn't quality in the products we have to promote.

Regardless about how you feel about Queen Bey, it is impossible to ignore that she knocked it out of the park on this one. This tactic is one that requires exacting execution and can only be pulled off by a superstar such as herself. Sorry to burst your bubble, but if your garage band drops a secret album it's pretty safe to say that it will remain a secret album. We can't even imagine how many moving parts were involved in this stunt, and in order for it to be effective it would have to pulled off ***flawlessly.

That being said, some takeaways for our less famous friends can include:

-Don't be shy to switch it up! Try new things. Out with the old and in with the new. Our generation has the attention span of a fly and is always looking for innovative ideas.

-Keep your secrets to yourself. There is so much temptation for competition out there. Nowadays, you are exposed to everything and anything online, thus making it incredibly easy to be influenced by others. To shut the world out and focus on your art is both a rare and necessary practise. Turn the tables on yourself and turn your attention inward instead of outward.

What do you think of Beyoncé's strategy? What other lessons would you add to our list?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Biggest PR Wins of the Week

We all know the saying, you win some, you lose some. Well, some won bigger than others in their communications efforts this week. Take a look at who we think nailed it as of late.

1. WestJet 

If you haven't seen (and shed a tear over) WestJet's latest promotional video then you must live under a rock. This video immediately went viral upon it's release on December 8th; already reaching over 15 million less than a week later. It has gained WestJet media attention all over the world, which definitely qualifies as a PR win. The short ad features lucky passengers on a flight from Ontario to Calgary meeting with jolly ol' Saint Nick himself, who was, obviously, in a blue Santa suit. Can you say branding? After their quick meet and greet with Santa they went on their way. Little did they know that while they were in the air, 150 WestJet elves, err, employees, were diligently working on a Christmas miracle. Upon arriving in Calgary, they discovered all the gifts that they had asked Santa for, on the baggage wheel. You can imagine the emotions, excitement and enthusiasm that ensued. Check out the five and a half minutes of happiness for yourself and make sure to have the kleenex handy.

2. Instagram 

WestJet wasn't the only one who had busy elves working away this week. Instagram showed the world today that they too have been up to something, and that little something is called Instagram Direct. What is Instagram Direct? Think Snapchat, but well, for Instagram. It is a new component of the app that allows you to send videos and photos directly to friends, versus posting them on a public timeline. Instagram has a history of reacting quickly to any potential competitors. When Vine first started hitting its stride, Instagram responded immediately with their own version of video. When Snapchat really started gaining traction, the Instagram team when back at it and gave us Instagram Direct. Their incredibly quick turnover rate is unmatched and their constant updates are what allow them to maintain their edge and popularity. Why use 3 separate apps when you can do everything you want in one? Our (and Instagram's) thoughts exactly.

3.  Shopify

This one hits closer to home. It isn't so much of a PR win, but an overall life win. Local tech startup Shopify just announced today that they have raised $100 million in funding. Shopify started out as a few guys trying to sell snowboards, who quickly realized that the software they were making to sell said snowboards just may be more valuable. Shopify now has over 80, 000 online stores stretched across 100 different countries. They are proof that you don't have to sell out to Silicon Valley in order to be seriously successful. Shopify has stuck around in our nation's capital and is now not only a staple in the startup community, but in the entire Canadian community. They represent the ideal, yet elusive  combination of an incomparable creative community culture married with on the mark business smarts.  Kudos Shopify!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Quick & Painless Gift Giving Guide for the Communicator in Your Life

A few gift ideas for that special PR person.

1. Juice for their lifeline. 

Chances are your favourite communicator has a smart phone. Chances are it's almost always dying.  One of these portable chargers would make the perfect stocking stuffer for that someone special.

2.  A mug with words. 

We drink oodles and oodles of  coffee, and then some. We also are kind of nerds about words. A mug with any cute or clever quote is sure to put a smile on the heart and face of your communicator.

3.  Fuel for their fire. 

One word, two syllables: Starbucks. Load up a gift card for them and they will be eternally grateful. If your PR pro isn't into coffee, David's Tea is also a good option.

4. A big ol' bag. 

This one is more for the ladies. If you think your average girl lugs around a lot in her purse, than you clearly haven't met a PR girl. We need to be prepared for every and any occasion in a split second, so our bag has got to be big.

5.  Something snazzy for their office.

We suggest a coffee table book. It's a definite conversation starter, and something both clients and colleagues can enjoy. Bonus points if it's local.

Happy holidays and happy shopping!