Tag Archives: public relations

Tesla’s Cybertruck – Public Relations in Action

Students often wonder how public relations is used as a promotional tool. Compared to advertising – which is very transparent – public relations and news releases are hidden from the view of most consumers. Yet, public relations is a critical tool in the marketing toolbox. It is relatively inexpensive (compared to advertising), can be targeted to specific news outlets, can be easily focused on a specific geography and industry, is a simple way to “influence the influencers,” and it lends an aura of credibility when consumers read a story in the news.

Although public relations may look like independent news, all of the efforts are initiated by marketers in order to get attention from the media. Think of it this way: The target market is comprised of editors and writers for news releases, not the consumer. The news releases are focused on providing important information that the consumers of the media outlets want to hear about.

One company that stands above the rest when it comes to public relations is Tesla. The company is a non-stop news-making machine, headed by CEO Elon Musk.

  • Tesla uses social media extensively. It does not use traditional advertising, but instead relies on media coverage to help promote its products.
  • In November the company announced a live stream of an event in Los Angeles preceding the LA Auto Show, held at Tesla’s Design Center. This event launched the new electric Cybertruck, retailing for $39,900 – $69,900.
  • Tesla also provided information on its Web site about the new truck.
  •  In less than a week following the announcement, an estimated 150,000+ pre-orders (at $100 each) have been placed for Cybertruck, and there were millions of web hits and stories generated.
  • All this was accomplished with broken windows in the demonstration, but without a single paid advertisement!

So now tell us, where does news come from?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Start by discussing the value of public relations.
  2. A video of the news release distribution process can be seen at: https://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/
  3. Use the ‘Tesla Cybertruck’ announcement as a PR example. Have students do a search on the phrase using their phones or laptops.
  4. How many hits are there? How many videos? Does the news expand to outside of the U.S.? What is estimated the dollar value of this reach?
  5. Compare the information in several articles with the information included on Tesla’s Web site: https://www.tesla.com/cybertruck
  6. Have students select a company or product. Then, have students find business articles in the news and trace the articles back to information provided by companies.

Source:  Bloomberg; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; CNN News; Wired magazine, other news sources

 

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Naming a New Brand is Tricky!

How important is naming a new brand? It is absolutely critical – and also exceedingly difficult to accomplish. Marketers have to come up with a new name that represents the product’s value and attributes, AND be attractive to customers, AND it must not be taken by another company, AND is not too common a name, AND is not offensive to any population. Whew. No wonder so many companies use made-up words as brand names.

A recent case about the perils of naming a new brand was the ‘Kimono’ shapewear brand developed by celebrity icon Kim Kardashian West. Although the branding was rigorously researched, the ‘Kimono’ name was criticized globally as being offensive and profiting from a traditional clothing article that was a cultural symbol of Japanese heritage. The name had to go, along with the Kimono Web site, logo, labels, and more. More than two million garments will need to be relabeled so that no products are wasted.

The stakes are high for the new brand. The global women’s underwear industry is valued at approximately $83.3 billion and is still growing. It is also fragmented with new comers gaining market share at the expense of older more established brands. To her credit, Kardashian West listened to criticisms and has decided to change the name prior to releasing any product. (The new name has not yet been announced.)

What’s in a name? Everything!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students about their viewpoints on the Kimono name. Do they agree with the decision to change the name?
  2. Discuss competition: Who are the direct competitors for this product? Indirect competitors?
  3. For ‘Kimono’ put students into teams and have each team build a SWOT analysis.
    1. Strengths: What is the company good at?
    2. Weaknesses: What needs work?
    3. Opportunities: What is going on in the marketplace that is positive?
    4. Threats: What factors should the company be wary of?
  4. Put students into teams. Have each team develop a new name for the Kimono brand.
  5. Post the names on the board and vote on a winner.

Source: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Fast Company, other news sources

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When is it Necessary to Rebrand?

Everyone is likely to be familiar with the pizza brand Papa John’s. And, many people likely also recognize the image of the head of the company, founder John Schnatter. After all, it’s his face and name on the company and the product. Schnatter’s entrepreneurial story has been a big part of the company’s brand image and his visage has prominently been featured in its marketing and promotion activities.

However, Schnatter’s name and face have been in hot water after he recently made a racial slur on a conference call with its ad agency. (Note: The agency dropped Papa John’s as a client after the call.) This comes on top of Schnatter’s controversial NFL statements a year ago, criticizing football players who knelt (instead of standing) for the national anthem, and blaming them for lower pizza sales.

Eventually, the NFL ended the Papa John’s relationship and signed with Pizza Hut as the official pizza partner of the NFL. Also breaking ties with Papa John’s is Major League Baseball, eliminating its co-branded marketing efforts.

The big question: Should Papa John’s rebrand?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: When should a company rebrand? What is the impact of a visible company leader who crosses a line in society?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team research and discuss what happened with Papa John’s in regards to negative press.
  3. Poll teams: Should the company rebrand?
  4. Have teams list what would be involved in order to rebrand. What should the new brand look like?
  5. View the response from Papa John’s to its customers: https://www.papajohns.com/open-letter/
  6. Debrief the exercise.

Source: CNN Money,  USA Today, Brandchannel.com, and other news sources

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