Monday, November 26, 2012

Record-breaking Black Friday

Although the "biggest holiday shopping weekend" still has one day left, retailers are already dubbing it their most successful one yet. Some shoppers rushed to stores as early as Thanksgiving night to make their holiday purchases, while many others shopped from home. No matter where you stand regarding Black Friday, it is undeniable that this weekend extravaganza of shopping was one for the books.

A survey released by the National Retail Federation calculated that a record breaking 247 million shoppers shopped online and in stores over the Black Friday weekend, as opposed to 226 million in 2011. The average customer individually spent $423 and total sales were estimated at $59.1 billion. The National Federation concluded that the reason this Black Friday was more successful than past ones was due to the fact that it was much more convenient for customers to shop. This year, many stores opened on Thursday night instead of Friday morning, made their shipping and layaway options much more convenient, and updated their mobile Black Friday applications for smartphones and tablets. 

According to Reuters, this was the first year that online sales topped $1 billion. Additionally, online sales increased 26% from last year on Black Friday and it was estimated that $1.04 billion was spent. The most popular website shoppers visited was

Most interesting to me, however, were the apps specifically tailored to Black Friday shoppers. These apps were created to aid customers in the mapping out their plans of action and allowing them to decipher which stores were worth taking a trip to. 

Two of the most helpful apps I was able to find were the Black Friday Survival Guide and Shop Savvy. The Black Friday Survival Guide exhibits the latest deals from major retailers, which are updated up to the minute. To me, its simplicity is what makes it the most enjoyable. Time is no longer wasted flipping through circulars and deals you wish to go back to can easily be added to a "favorites" list. 

Consequently, Shop Savvy comes in handy when you are actually in the middle of a store's madness. It has a special feature that allows you to use your iPhone camera to scan a product's barcode. You are then able to view the item and compare prices at other locations. Once an item is scanned, websites are given that you can purchase the item on and the GPS locator in your phone allows it to suggest nearby stores to buy the item at a lesser price. Shop Savvy enables the posting of your information to social media outlets or into a "favorites" folder for you to go back to.

Black Friday Survival Guide via CNET

Shop Savvy via CNET

Monday, November 19, 2012

Victoria's Secret's PR nightmare

Photo via Fashionista

Victoria's Secret recently found themselves in the middle of a PR firestorm. According to Ragan's PR Daily article, one of the company's models, Karlie Kloss, flounced down the runway in a racy, Native American Runway outfit at their annual fashion show last week. Immediately after pictures aired from the fashion show, people flocked to the Victoria's Secret Facebook page and expressed their anger and shock. The company has apologized and decided not to air the outfit during the televised broadcast December 4 on CBS.

According to Fashionista, the fact that Victoria's Secret did not foresee this debacle is rather unfortunate. Just a few days before the fashion show, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt were forced to pull down their latest music video due to the fact that she was wearing "sexy Native American garb".

Native American women currently experience the highest rate of sexual murder and they saw this outfit as further promotion of the violent act against them. Both Victoria's Secret and Karlie Kloss tweeted regarding the matter and expressed their most sincerest apologies:

Although Victoria's Secret can not change the fact that they messed up, I feel that the company handled the PR crisis in an adequate fashion. They admitted that they had made a mistake and apologized immediately. There will forever be pictures of the outfit, but the fact that it will not appear in the televised segment demonstrates that they do care about their fans, listen to their complaints, and do not wish to offend anyone. Additionally, the usage of Twitter indicates that they are mindful of all forms of communication and strive to not neglect any form of social media, which is extremely beneficial to one's reputation.

To read the full article, click here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Online media and public relations

Online media is taking the world by storm. A study conducted by Pew Research Center regarding print verses online media determined that more than half of America receives its news through online sources rather than print media. Additionally, the number of Americans who depend entirely on social media for their news has doubled in the past two years. Certain publications, including Newsweek and Smartmoney Magazine, have made their content solely available online. Currently, the main concern for public relations professionals is how to communicate this change to their clients and guide them in the direction of adequately using these tools.

First of all, it is important to understand that earned media will now lead to owned media. This is because the media tools used by professionals in the fields of marketing, public relations, and social media are blending together. Only now is it possible to effortlessly turn earned media, such as Facebook likes and comments, into owned media, including client blogs, tweets, and Facebook posts. The presence of both earned media and owned media ensures a consumer that a brand or product is a respectable one and that they should try it.

Second, the tracking of a PR campaign has become much easier through the invention of Google Analytics. It is now possible to quickly and efficiently see who visited one's page and saw the print hit. Also, referring sites can now also be investigated which will allow one to see the PR hits which were most successful at bringing people to a specific page. This entire process can only benefit one's company because it will allow them to adequately plan their campaign. 

Online publications receive much more viewings than public publications. Furthermore, a story that is printed in a magazine or newspaper will be in the recycling perhaps the day after it is read, while online stories live on forever. People will have easy access to these stories through links and it will be forever searchable to them. Companies' assets are more easily attainable and may include various slideshows and videos, whereas print media can really only include a picture. 

Finally, online media has the ability to be published constantly. This allows breaking news to be written and accessed immediately. With all of this taken into consideration, it is evident that the popularity of online media versus print media will allow consumers as well as companies to remain much more up to date on various topics and products. 

To read the full PR Daily article, click here.

More info on paid, owned, and earned media:

Picture via LeaderLab.

Monday, November 5, 2012

#Instacane: Instagram's role in Hurricane Sandy

Picture via Mashable

Hurricane Sandy brought destruction and devastation to millions of people along the East Coast. The aftermath of the storm is still being felt by many and will unfortunately affect people for awhile. Being that I am in Italy, I have not seen the damage in person, but have heard from both my family and friends that the storm was monumental and unlike anything they have ever seen before in the area. Additionally, I have been kept up to date on the storm through the usage of Instagram. From the sight of the very first dark cloud in the distance, I have had access to coverage of the storm through people I follow or the browsing of hashtags.

According to Mashable, Instagram was the main social media outlet people used to share their pictures of the storm. It was approximated that about ten were sent per second. These pictures were used by CNN, Time Magazine, and other major media outlets in order to display the intensity of the powerful storm to the general public. It was calculated that by noon on October 30, over 300,000 photos were posted with the #sandy hashtag, 144,000 with the #hurricanesandy hashtag, and 23,000 with the #frankenstorm hashtag.

Also notable was the hiring of five professional photographers by Time Magazine solely to take pictures of the storm and post them to Instagram. Time even decided to use an Instagram photo as their picture for the "Hurricane Sandy" cover

Instagram's place in this natural disaster was obviously tremendous. This seemingly simple social media app has proved itself to be a force to be reckoned with. It is not only easy to use, but emerged just as people became infatuated with the visual-social trend. Instagram remains a vital tool in the distribution of information and has proven to be beneficial to both professionals and regular people who wish to remain up to date on the latest world news.

To read the full Mashable article, click here.