Adventure Public Relations and Marketing

With the rise of social media and the increasing need for companies to establish a personal voice, public relations has become a necessary part of doing business these days. Due to this, the field has become diversified and public relations firms can specialize themselves into different industries. Having specialized firms allows for practitioners to combine passions and be inspired by the industry they are working in. One of the specialized fields that intrigue me the most is adventure public relations, these firms specialize in working with companies and professionals in the outdoor and adventure industry. All kinds of outdoor companies use adventure PR, everything from well-known brands like Columbia and North Face to adventure destinations like Vail Mountain Resorts and The Tennessee Rafting Company have utilized public relations in a variety of ways to increase their business.

Just like every other form of public relations, firms that specialize in the outdoor industry have to cover all the bases: strategy, press release, event management, as well as the occasional crisis management. The only difference is that these firms take on every problem in the mindset of an outdoorsman, which can be pretty difficult at times. One of the biggest values for these companies is conservation and environmental protection for future generations. One of these firms, Backbone Media offers many forms of marketing services to their clients, but they also clearly state that they “advocate for the protection of our environment for future generations”. (Backbone, 2017). With these values in mind, every action must be taken with the consideration of who is going to be reading and interpreting the messages that will be sent out. According to Bonnie Tsui from Ad Age, one-half of adults in America have taken an adventurous vacation in the past 5 years. These days, adventures have become mainstream, there is a huge market this kind of marketing (Tsui, 2000).

There are many examples of public relations campaigns that have brought this message into their public relations campaigns and it has worked wonderfully. One of the best companies that have utilized this is Patagonia, a company that not only sells tactical adventure clothing but also cares a great deal about the environment. They are constantly pushing new campaigns that focus on the ways that they are working to decrease their environmental footprint. They have done everything from using recycled down to insulate jackets to making wetsuits out of natural rubber. Even in their mission statement, they express their goal of using business as a mean to help environmental issues (Patagonia, 2017). Another example is the case of Naturally Superior Adventures’ use of adventure marketing tactics as a way to boost his paddling excursions. They promoted their excursions as a “do before you’re dead” experience of a lifetime, challenging middle-aged adventures to take on a new task and offer city-dwellers an opportunity to get outside and experience something different (Naturally Superior Adventures, 2017). These are the kinds of messages used every day by adventure public relations firms to help brands grow.

I want to work in a firm that specializes in adventure marketing and public relations because it would allow me to combine my love for the outside with a career that allows me to be creative while working. I would like to have a hand in every aspect of the marketing for these inspirational brands. Being able to promote companies that help people take on new adventures and try new things would be such a rewarding profession. People always say that we should work at a job that makes you happy, and I believe that a job in the field of adventure public relations would do just that.

 

References:

Patagonia, (2017). Mission Statement. Retrieved on March 17, 2017 from http://www.patagonia.com/environmentalism.html

Naturally Superior Adventures, (2017). About Naturally Superior Adventures. Retrieved on March 17, 2017 from https://www.naturallysuperior.com/about-us/

Backbone Media, (2017). Our Values. Retrieved on March 16, 2017 from http://www.backbonemedia.net/our-values/

Tsui., B. (2000, September 25). MARKETING ADVENTURES. Retrieved March 18, 2017, from http://adage.com/article/news/marketing-adventures/56747/

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SEO: Digital and Online Media Skills I’ve Learned in My Marketing Classes

We live in an incredible time where anything you want to learn can be attained through a couple searches online. Marketers have adapted to this online age and have place ads and media all across the web in hopes of grabbing your attention. In fact, according to CBS, every day we see over 5000 adverts as we go about our day! With all of this information available to consumers, it can be hard to compete.

It doesn’t have to be hard, and of course, the answer to this problem can be found with just a few clicks. In my most recent Marketing Class (100-1k), we focused on Search Engine Optimization; the process of crafting your media in a way that makes it more discoverable based on the keywords and phrases that you use in your content. Consult with any Digital Marketing (1k-10k), Internet Media (100-1k), or Online Marketing (100-1k) guru and they’ll tell you the same thing: SEO is not only interesting, but these days its completely necessary if you want to get ahead.

I’m Taking Steps (100-1k) towards Learning Digital Marketing (100-1k) and all forms of online Advertising (10k-100k) and Public Relations (1ok-100k). In that effort, this blog is going to utilize keywords and promote Search Engine Optimization as a way to grow my brand.

Using Google Adwords’ KeyWord Planner (will require you to sign in using a google account), I was able to plan out specific keywords for this blog (in bold/uppercase above) and I was even able to see how many people search those terms monthly! Google Adwords has some wonderful tools that you can use to create a search engine optimized blog, website, or any other form of media you have online.

 

References:

Google. AdWords. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from https://adwords.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/

Johnson, C. (2006, September 17). Cutting Through Advertising Clutter. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cutting-through-advertising-clutter/

 

 

Student Ambassador

I had an amazing time last week volunteering at Grand Valley State University’s Winter Career Fair as a student ambassador. It was a great experience getting to work first hand with all the employers by helping them bring in their gear, set up their booths, and attending to them throughout the event. There were over two hundred companies looking to hire students for internships and full-time positions in the Greater Grand Rapids area. Such a great opportunity for students to meet potential employers and expand their professional network.

While helping I met lots of really great people who were more than willing to lend a hand and provide help to students as they advance into a more professional standing. I received countless business cards and was able to connect with lots of employers on LinkedIn.

I would highly recommend going to a career fair if you can, even if you’re not currently looking to be hired anywhere. It was a great way for me to broaden my perspective and rub some elbows in the process. I will definitely be attending more in the future.

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Photoshopped: Poet’s Table/Estes Park

I’ve been really trying to hone in on my photoshop skills lately by editing some of my favorite photos and seeing what cool things I can do. Recently, I’ve been practicing with combining two images into something that looks real, but actually isn’t at all.

While doing this I realized how deceiving this practice can be and it made me stop and think about how we perceive images that we see online. Many artists from all kinds of industries use photo editing technologies to manipulate the images that they have taken and enhance features in a way that can make it more appealing than it really is. In the picture above, I did just that. this is actual a combination of two pictures from two very different places in the midwest. One is from the elusive Poet’s Table in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the other is from Estes Park, in the Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

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Poet’s Table, SD
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Estes Park, CO

To create this deception, I used the Magnetic Lasso tool on the foreground to cut out all unwanted parts of the image. When I got to the pine tree that stretches into the background in the real picture I deleted the part that hangs off the rock and used the clone stamp tool to erase the rest of the branch and cover it with rock texture. I did the same thing with the wine bottle that had been left on the shelf by a previous traveler. I then turned my attention to the background, and for the most part, all I had to do was crop it and drag it into place. To finish, I added a grain filter to the background and brightened it to match the foreground lighting.

It’s as easy as that! There were a few other blending tricks I used, but for the most part, it was an easy process. This just goes to show that you can’t really trust anything you see anymore because it can be easy for a professional (or student like myself) to manipulate images and deceive your mind into thinking something is real when it’s not even close!

Final Cut Pros and Cons

Learning a new technical skill is always a good thing, especially for an aspiring advertiser like myself. This week, I challenged myself with creating an entertaining video using some of the video and audio clips that I took over the last year. In the effort of learning a new skill, I tried my hand at Final Cut Pro and Soundtrack Pro. Well, the work they do is great and the process was pretty easy once I got the hang of it, but everything in between was miserable.

Before starting my project I wanted to take a look at all that I had and then lay it out in a presentable way. I did this by creating a storyboard using the free website StoryBoardThat.com. It wasn’t amazing but it got the job done! Getting your ideas out can help a lot!

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After working on my video for a good 3 hours the whole thing crashed and even though I had been saving routinely a majority of the work was lost to corrupted files. This happened again 4 hours later… But besides that, it was an enjoyable experience. While I would never say I mastered the program, I think that I understand the basics now.

the song used is “The Wolf” by Mumford and Sons.

References

Janiszewski, L (2017) What A Life [Screenshot]. retrieved from StoryboardThat.com

Janiszewski, L (2017) What A Life [Screenshot]. Final Cut Pro 10. Adobe.

Janiszewski, L [LukeJaniszewski]. (2017, February 16). What a Life. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFNmhFj0j1Y

Learning From The Chipotle Crisis

In the later months of 2015, Chipotle experienced a major crisis when they were accused of serving food that led to e.coli outbreaks in Oregon and Washington State. According to officials as of November 1, 2015, nineteen people in Washington and three people in the Portland area became sick after indulging at the Mexican food chain. While the Washington Department of Health was not able to confidently say that the e.coli outbreak was directly linked to Chipotle restaurants, they were able to speculate that this was the case. Due to this assumed linkage, Chipotle temporarily closed forty-three of its locations according to spokesman Chris Arnold this was done “out of an abundance of caution” (MarketWatch. 2015).

Ever since I first tried Chipotle, I’ve been in love. I remember the e.coli incident and was seriously concerned that one of my favorite restaurants might be closing some doors. Luckily, it seems that this news about Chipotle has breezed over us as consumers and the restaurant is now back on track and it seems that the value of their stock is starting to rise once again. The Chipotle public relations team had to work hard to regain support from their customers. This can be difficult at times, especially amongst an incredibly saturated fast food market where one slip up can cost you millions. When dealing with a crisis like this it is important to follow a plan. The Conflict Management Life Cycle in Think Public Relations is a great place to start when dealing with any sort of public crisis.

The first step in the Life Cycle is to be proactive about your crisis. A practitioner must be vigilantly scanning the environment to be prepared for any kind of crisis before it occurs. They must also look out for a crisis by tracking any potential problems in the media and inside the company by creating strategic plans in precaution. The most important part is to come up with a general plan for any crisis that may occur. It is better to have something established before crisis breaks than scrambling to come up with something when the media is already up in arms.   (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013). Just like everything else, being prepared is always better than not, so why wouldn’t companies be prepared for a crisis situation. Whether you’re waiting for something to happen or you have no suspicion of crisis, it is important to be ready for anything.

The second step is the be strategically identifying conflicts that are just rising to the surface. Part of this is to effectively communicate the risk to anyone who may be involved, it is better that information like this come from the source and not an outside investigator or the media (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013). It is also crucial to place your company strategically in order to anticipate any legal action or bad publicity by having statements ready. Chipotle was ready for this kind of issue, when it occurred the company backed up its “people before brand” mentality by closing the doors of forty-three restaurants even though there was little suspicion of outbreak in the majority of those locations, as well as hiring two food safety consultants to increase their safety precaution (Williams, G. 2015). One thing that Chipotle handled exceptionally well was resisting the “Information Vacuum” and instead was very transparent to their public. They released a statement very early on and was able to speedily react to the problem. (Hogan, M. 2009).

When outbreaks do occur it is important to react appropriately, this includes covering all of your bases through crisis communication including the utilization of the crisis management plan that was developed earlier, as well as meeting the public’s needs. A company should have lawyers ready to support them in any chance of legal procedure, and the PR team should be working to resolve conflicts among the public or internally if necessary (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013). Having these in place will help speed up the process of getting back on your feet. Mike Hogan suggests that the efficiency in which a crisis is dealt with is in direct correlation with the speed of recovery for the brand (Hogan, M. 2009). This is where Chipotle fell short. When the suspected outbreak occurred, Chipotle’s public relations practitioners did not issue any statement on their website and instead pushed their latest Halloween promotion. This did not bode well with Forbes contributor Aaron Kwittenken who said that responding to customers on twitter and facebook alone was not only a failure to uphold their “responsibly raising the bar” brand but also an example a “tone deaf” company (Williams, G. 2015).

Despite this, the Chipotle brand has seemingly recovered. Often after a crisis occurs the most important thing to do is manage the reputation of the brand which may require research and analysis into where the brand sits with its consumers. (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013). One good indicator of this is the price of the company’s stock. In Chipotle’s case, it fell dramatically in November of 2015 and still hasn’t risen even close to its value before the outbreak (MarketWatch. 2015). After assessing the situation, it is crucial to restore the brand’s image by implementing strategies that show that the company is willing to change and win back the customers it may have lost (Wilcox, Cameron, Reber, & Shin, 2013). Chipotle did a good job of this by being increasingly transparent about what it puts in its food even going as far as taking certain items off the menu when they were unable to find a producer that fits their standards for quality (Williams, G. 2015).

Having a plan in mind for a potential crisis is a necessary part of every company’s public relations repertoire. As a practitioner, you must be proactive, strategic, reactive, and finally, you must provide a way for the company to recover. These four steps can help deal with a crisis in an immense way and hopefully the first two will keep your crisis from ever getting to the public eye in the first place. Chipotle did a pretty good job of handing their e.coli crisis, but as always there are ways that we can learn from what they did. It is important to act fast and be honest with your customers. The best way to handle a crisis in an efficient and direct way is to have a plan prepared before one occurs.

References:

MarketWatch.(2015, November 01). Chipotle and the E. coli outbreak: What you need to know Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://www.marketwatch.com/story/chipotle-and-the-e-coli-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know-2015-11-01

Williams, G. (2015, November 04). Chipotle’s E. Coli Crisis: P.R. Experts Say It’s Handling It Right. Retrieved February 13, 2017, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffwilliams/2015/11/04/can-chipotle-survive-its-e-coli-crisis-pr-experts-seem-to-think-so-and-offer-advice/#1eef2d621644

Hogan, M. (2009). Crisis public relations. In B. Franklin, M. Hogan, Q. Langley, & et. al., Key concepts in public relations. London, UK: Sage UK.

Wilcox, D. L., Cameron, G. T., Reber, B. H., & Shin, J. (2013). Think public relations. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

What’s Up with Infographics?

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Every day we all consume a ridiculous amount of data. With all of this information, it’s hard to make your data stand out. One of the ways we can do this is by displaying our information through infographics, a visual display or diagram used to display a wide variety of information types. Above is a quick graphic I put together using Piktochart.com, which allows you to insert all kinds of different cartoons as well as pictures, backgrounds, and text. If you’re making something simple its the way to go.

Making your data stand out from the deluge of information we take in every day is a crucial part of advertising. One of the ways to do this is to attach a part of yourself into everything that you created, this gives people a way to connect to your work on a personal level and get a better understanding of the designer. More than anything make your infographic engaging, above I attempted to do so by having multiple slides using different backgrounds and styles under one main theme. Showing the reader something new with every step keeps the graphic visually interesting.

Infographics are a cool way to present data that stands out to the reader while creating something interesting and engaging that can also display a part of yourself. So use them! Don’t present information in a boring way anymore, present something that shows your creativity and is pleasant to look at.

 

Reference:

Janiszewski, L. (2/8/17) How To Be Prepared For Every Adventure [infographic]. retrieved from www.Piktochart.com