Tag Archives: Public Relations

Lululemon Facing Dangerous Drawstrings

lululemon athletica

Lululemon is recalling nearly 320,000 women’s tops from the U.S. and Canadian markets, and there are rightfully concerns about Lulu’s second Lemon product within a few years and the negative PR of the two incidents. Just when Lululemon looked like they had put the see-through yoga pants behind them, now they are getting smacked in the face with hazardous drawstrings. And, of course, that means not only are they dealing with the current fallout but the ghosts of yoga pants past hover only a breath away once again.
The good news is that they are addressing the problem. These tops in a variety of styles and colors have all been fitted with a drawstring at the neck to pull the hood or collar tight. The problem is that at each end of the drawstring is a heavy metal or plastic clasp that makes it easy to thread through the casing and keeps the cord from fraying. But the metal/plastic clasps are at the perfect length to come swinging upward when pulled and released to smack them in the face causing injuries.
Lululemon has had seven reported injuries from the tops that were all manufactured and sold between January 2008 and December 2014. However, there have been no lawsuits filed, and Lululemon’s spokesperson says none of the injuries were serious. The company has made a wise decision in removing the products and should consider additional possibilities of reversing the negative PR. The faster they turn this situation around, the better will be their forward momentum.
If you happen to have one of these tops, stop wearing it or remove the drawstring. You can also contact Lululemon on their website to request a non-hazardous drawstring and instructions on how to put it in place. You can also check their website for a full list of the 20 styles of tops with this problem.
But one thing is certain Lululemon needs to create better guidelines when developing new products so their sales in the future will not generate another marketing fiasco. Three strikes is not what any company wants to face. And it is a good lesson for all companies that manufacture products, look for possible problems or hazardous impact attachments before releasing your product to the public.

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Beau Biden Still Doing Good from Beyond

Beau BidenSometimes your good works in this life are so consistent and well-known, that they live beyond your years. For some people, those works live on in a trust, a bequest, or a foundation. For some, it’s a business built from the ground up. For Beau Biden, that means having all your campaign funds funneled into a new charity.
The son of Vice President Joe Biden and an accomplished politician in his own right, Beau Biden had served two terms as Delaware’s Attorney General before cancer took him at the age of 46. Rumors had already placed him in the 2016 governor’s race, cancer or no cancer. His campaign continued to take in donations though he had not yet officially announced his candidacy. That’s how much donors in Delaware thought of Biden. They gave so he could consider running. They knew the sort of man he was, and they wanted that man as their governor.
Sadly, Biden passed away with much left undone in his life, many dreams yet unfulfilled. Even so, he managed to do a lot more than many in about half as many years. His own father spoke of Beau as a hero – a loving husband, dedicated father and accomplished businessman, the sort of person a father can easily be proud of. Many others felt the same way, apparently. To date, roughly $660,000 had been collected by two organizations supporting Biden’s unofficial gubernatorial campaign.
Now, CNN is reporting that many of those funds will be channeled into the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children. While the principals involved have not said how much, they still have some unfinished business on the political side, any amount at all is a testament to the strength of the memory of the man.
Hallie Biden, Beau’s widow, released a media statement about the bequest. “The campaign money will be used to continue the work Beau loved most — protecting children — and the natural place to do that is the foundation.”
In a situation fraught with sadness and difficult headlines, that is one that can give everyone a reason to smile when they remember a man who made serving others his legacy.

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Filed under Life, Public Relations

The Need To Be Responsive

responsive

You may have heard the word “responsive” when it comes to the internet and the public relations industry. But what does it really mean to be responsive? Catering to the needs and demands of your customers by creating a customized experience through your products and services is what it’s all about. Because of the wide range of devices and technology that is available today, it is more important than ever to make sure that your company website and digital media is user friendly across many different platforms.

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Filed under Education, Juda Engelmayer, Public Relations

Nike Negates Infringement Claim

nike infringement juda engelmayer

The eponymous Nike “Jumpman” logo is arguably even more famous and revered than the omnipresent swoosh. The image adorned Michael Jordan, basketball royalty and one of the richest athletes – from royalties – to ever play any game. Of course, Nike also made untold billions thanks to the “Jordan-Jumpman” brand, a fact that has them back in court defending every nickel of those millions from an artist who says Nike stole his work.

Jacobus Rentmeester sued Nike in federal court claiming copyright infringement. His suit demands profits associated with some $3.2 billion in retail sales (from 2014 alone), but Rentmeester did not stop there. The aggrieved photographer also wants Nike to halt current sales of any products featuring the Jordan brand.

At the heart of the complaint is a photo session Rentmeester says he shot while Jordan was warming up for the 1984 Olympics. Life Magazine had commissioned the work, but Rentmeester says the rights to the images remained his own. After the images had been published, reports indicated that Nike’s Jordan brand designer, Peter Moore, paid less than two hundred bucks for “temporary use of the photo slides.”

According to the suit, Rentmeester argues Nike used his photo to recreate the shot with Jordan wearing his NBA Chicago Bulls gear. The Chicago skyline was added to the shots Nike used, but Rentmeester claims the work is still fundamentally his own. According to media reports related to the suit, the claim states: “Mr. Rentmeester created the pose, inspired by a ballet technique known as a grand jete, a long horizontal jump…”

Subsequent to that initial use, Nike used the image additional times, how many depends on who you ask, as does the amount and reasons why Rentmeester was compensated on those occasions.

This case is an example of how a legal dispute can – and often will – spill over into the court of public opinion. While the case itself will be decided in the court system, the culpability and credibility of each party will have long since been decided by the fans watching this case.

Plus, public opinion will not be limited to perspectives on Nike and the photographer. Opinion and perspective will spill over onto any other athlete who is paid to sport the Jordan brand. This presents a multi-faceted branding and PR scenario requiring both a winning narrative in court and a strong positive message to offer to the court of public opinion.

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Citi Fails to pay Debts

CITI DEBTS

Few things kill a reputation faster than failure to make good on legitimate debts. Particularly when you have not only committed to pay them, but also received a more lenient consequence because you agreed to pay them. That, says Ronn Torossian, is the situation in which Citigroup itself is in at the moment.

According to a recent report in Bloomberg, Citigroup failed to send settlement checks to more than 20,000 borrowers who were judged to be eligible for payment as a result of the Independent Foreclosure Review. Media reports quoted two people “close to the matter,” saying the bank is “preparing to send out settlement checks to affected borrowers” … but they have not yet. It’s the “not yet” that is creating the extensive PR damage here. While the amount owed – reportedly $20 million – is substantial, it is a relatively small number compared to many of the others that have been tossed around in the mortgage fiasco.

Further, it’s not that high total that has people hacked off. It’s the apparent flippant view Citi seems to be taking with their money. It’s kind of like a kid who knows he’s going to be punished but refuses to accept that punishment. That’s not the time to try to save face. It’s the time to pay up and move on. If there was a time to either delay or refuse payment, it would have been BEFORE the judgment was leveled. Once the penalty was agreed to, Citi only stands to worsen an already shaky reputation by dissembling.

While Citi’s PR position is negative and bordering on a crisis, there is no need for this scenario to lead to that threatened public relations storm. The company need simply make good on its debts, treat its current customers well, and this situation could quickly dissipate. However, if the company continues to flaunt its obligations, expect there to be long-term bad blood…and expect competitors to swoop in and snap up justifiably angry customers.

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Four Ways a Strong Public Relations Campaign Can Help Build Your Brand

Help Build Your Brand

Public relations campaigns can have a huge impact on a business. They can change public perceptions, increase sales, and improve a business’s viability. However, a strong public relations campaign can also help you to build a brand. Here are a few ways.

Create a Narrative

The best brands have a story. Everyone knows Bill Gates‘ unlikely story of success; it is part of the narrative we associate with Microsoft. Similarly, Whole Foods uses their ads to tell stories about the farmers and suppliers who work with their stores, giving a human face to a large corporation. A strong public relations campaign will not only build sell products and build consumer loyalty; it will create a story that is positively associated with your brand.

Educate Your Consumers and Clients

Many companies use public relations and advertisement as an opportunity to educate the public. These campaigns not only are more likely to go viral, but more likely to build a positive brand. As your educational materials are shared, they will reach more people. In addition, consumers and clients by nature view educators as experts. Most brands can benefit from being viewed as an expert in the field with an interest in helping and educating the public. For this reason, many major financial companies include financial education as a major portion of their public relations budgets.

Add Some Personality

A strong public relations campaign has personality. Whether you choose to use humor, wit, or poignancy, these personality characteristics are what make a campaign memorable. In addition, they can add substantially to your brand. This is the reason that it is so important to plan public relations campaigns that complement your brand and reflect brand characteristics. This is the chance to show who you are!

Create a Connection

A strong public relations campaign make your target audience feel connected to your business. This will create an interest in and connection to your brand at the same time. When your customers feel engaged and connected to your company, you have an incredible opportunity to promote your brand and create a lifetime of loyalty.

While you may see a strong public relations campaign as an end in itself, it is actually a beginning. This is your chance to promote your brand and create a relationship with your target audience. Every campaign is an opportunity that you cannot afford to miss.

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Swiss Currency Hurting Citigroup Consumer Relations

citi group swiss

Financial market watchdogs expect Citigroup to lose more than $150 million because of the roller coaster ups and downs of Swiss currency. But Ronn Torossian says the NYC-based currency trading company is not alone. Many top companies were caught entirely unprepared with the Swiss National bank surprisingly removed the cap on the value of the Swiss franc.

There is a larger issue, though, than the momentary – if momentous – financial setback. Now Citi – and several other financial companies – are waiting on a bailout. If it happens, the bailout will be from a private company, but that fact would not help much in the market of public opinion.

Consider, if the general public – or many news agencies – hear the words “financial company” and “bailout” in the same sentence, that could lead to an immediate PR hailstorm for the entire financial industry.

Most average investors – those with basic 401K’s and other retirement accounts – don’t understand all the facets and intricacies of the various domestic and international financial markets. But they know how they felt when their retirement accounts took a dive in the last decade. And they understand that these companies got “bailed out” by the government. Meanwhile, the average Joe got nothing for his nightmare.

That combination of functional financial illiteracy and poisonous buzzwords could make this situation very difficult for Citigroup and the other financial companies facing what could otherwise be a fairly pedestrian scenario. Yes, they need help, and, yes, they need that assistance from an outside company. But neither scenario is anything close to what happened prior to the federal bailout of investment companies after the real estate bubble burst.

But, strictly from a PR perspective, that “difference” is less than nuance. Worse, that situation could create more unrest among consumers who still blame investment banks for a very bad last few years. And worst, Citi and the other companies are not even sure the bailout will happen. They are already reportedly talking about contingency plans. That increases both this story’s time in the new cycle and the likelihood that it will get reported outside the financial news circles. Both scenarios further increase the risk of a negative response from people who will react to the news viscerally, not logically.

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