Barack, Ben and Jerry…’Yes Pecan’!

9 01 2009

Ben and Jerry are no strangers to the world of PR.  They regularly harness the power of word of mouth to promote their products and they actively promote their good works through the media.  The latest Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream flavour is particulalrly interesting and not just because it piggy backs the news story of the century.

The new ‘Yes Pecan’ flavour is a very obvious nod to the election slogan of the soon to be President Barack Obama.  No one can fail to see the PR power of that idea.  The name of the flavour is interesting because it appears to have come not from the creative hot houses on Madison Avenue or from a laid back group huddle at B&J HQ.  Rather it was the idea of an Obama supporter which might never have come to light had the Senator not embraced the social web as part of his campaign.

According to a posting on the idea appeared on a blog.   “As many of you know, Ben and Jerry have endorsed Barack for President and are urging their fellow Vermonters to vote Barack on March 4th… Upon hearing the news, one of the commenters on our blog suggested an idea for a new Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor: “Yes, Pecan!”

Less than a year later Barack’s on his way to the Oval Office and the new ice cream is in the freezer cabinet.

Blogger Engagement #3

9 01 2009

A famous posting by Chris Anderson, the editor in chief of Wired, in his blog the Long Tail, offers advice and a warning to PR people who approach bloggers with the old fashioned blanket press release approach.  The posting ‘Sorry PR People You’re Blocked’ appeared in October 2007.   In it Chris refers to the 300 emails a day he receives from PR people.  

Because they are untargeted and often contain information that is inappropriate he equates them with spam.  Chris named the PR people, listed e-mail addresses and informed them that they were blocked.  This is pretty severe because it then prevents them from making a future targeted e-mail approaches (unless as he suggests they use a different e-mail address).   There were over 300 addresses on the list and they included some names from very eminent PR companies.    

Other journalists and bloggers are doing this too.  Some publicly and some  without our knowledge.   This means that the concept of the press release is in an inevitable decline, because it is possible to block the person and not just the press release.

More than ever our approaches to both bloggers and journalists need to be targeted and relevant.  We need to avoid blanket e-mails and scatter gun tactics.  This was always true but technology now means that a lack of relevance can come with a heavy penalty.

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