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Sunday, February 29, 2004

The Selling of the Christ

With the release last week of "The Passion of the Christ" business is booming for Christian retailers that are marketing to a potentially untapped market.

Reporter John Reinan, from the Star Tribune, published an interesting article on this topic last Friday, here is an excerpt and a link to the article:

Christian consumers today represent a potentially large but untapped market. Although more than 80 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians, the Christian marketplace largely has been the province of small manufacturers, publishers and retailers who take in about $5 billion a year -- less money than Target rings up in a typical quarter...

"We definitely are swamped," said Dwight Robinson, marketing manager for Bob Siemon Designs of Santa Ana, Calif. The firm, which has sold more than 5 million "WWJD" bracelets, already has shipped hundreds of thousands of the $17 "Passion" pendants and has added extra factory shifts to keep up with demand.

Hallmark, the greeting-card giant, sells nearly $300 million worth of religious and spiritual greeting cards annually, accounting for about 10 percent of its overall card business. Rachel Bolton, a spokeswoman for the Kansas City-based company, said she expects "The Passion" to fuel a spurt in spiritual retail.

Get the rest of the article here.

FCC and Howard Stern

Howard Stern was dumped by media mogul Clear Channel Communications on Thursday, less than a week after .

The tightening down on radio broadcasting is a direct result of stricter rules set after Janet Jackson revealed too much during the Super Bowl. This issue in-and-of-itself is not that interesting, until you consider what it means for free speech.

As it stands right now, I don't have a problem with seeing less skin on America's Top Model or ER, but the question is where will it end?

I suppose that is what makes America so special. Because as soon as "censorship" goes too far people will start yelling and screaming and the rules will be relaxed.

Just something to chew on have a good weekend...

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

And The Oscar Goes To...

That's right ladies and gentleman the 76th Academy Awards are this Sunday and the advertisers are ready!

After the Janet Jackson debacle and the FCC crack-down on TV broadcasting ABC and the Academy are being overly cautious in making sure the event goes off with out a hitch.

According to, the Academy has given a very specific list of rules to advertisers here is a sample:

  • No feminine hygiene products.

  • No mention of "Oscars," the Academy Awards or any kind of awards show. Robertson forced one advertiser whose script included people sitting in the Oscars audience to remove the reference.

  • No use of an Oscar nominee or presenter in any ad. Catherine Zeta-Jones' telephone company commercials, for instance, were forbidden when she was a nominee last year.

  • No ads that mention or use clips from nominated films. In fact, the Oscars prohibit all movie ads; the academy doesn't want any questions raised if a studio that advertised heavily wins a lot of Oscars.

  • No mixed messages. The academy accepts ads from only one car company - this year it's Cadillac - so no other advertiser can show any other car in its commercial.

    The Academy Awards are becoming the new Super Bowl of the advertising world. Companies like JC Penney are planning to unveil a new ad campaign and image during the telecast!

    Get the AP news story here.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Comanche Attack Helicopter Appears Dead

First it was the Crusader Field Artillery System and now it appears the U.S. Army's Comanche Helicopter is going to follow in the artillery weapons somber footsteps to a brutal end.

When the U.S. Army announced today that they would cancel the program, acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee said the money would be used to buy 800 other aircraft, upgrade 1,400 existing helicopters and accelerate work on unmanned aerial vehicles

The Comanche, a joint venture between Boeing and Sikorsky Aircraft, has struggled to enter the field for move than twenty-years, and has cost at least $8 billion. The cancellation comes just as the system was beginning to show some success in its performance in the field.

You will hear more on this no doubt as we head into this election year and politicians look to keep constituents happy.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Tell me about yourself

Recently I have been getting a lot more feedback from readers and it has got me thinking, I want to know more about you, so tell me about yourself by taking this quick poll.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Public Relations Writing - 5 Questions

PRSA's national publication, , has published a fantastic piece on editing someone else's work. One of the reasons it is so fantastic is because I know their are likely plenty of mistakes on these pages that each of you catch each day (I know this because some of you let me know, which ).

gives five questions to consider when editing a document.

  • Is the writing clear?
  • Is it accurate?
  • Is the punctuation correct?
  • Is it fair?
  • Are all words spelled correctly?

    If I could make a habit of asking these questions every time I proofed something, I would be a lot better editor.

    If you are looking for more proofing and editing tips you might want to check this site out.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Tomorrow's PRSA Meeting

Thursday, February 19, 2004 is Minnesota PRSA's monthly meeting. Tomorrow's topic is Reputation Management and the Role of the Communicator.

Kendra Calhoun, vice president, Allina Hospitals and Clinics
Ann Folkman, APR, director of public relations, Select Comfort Corp.
Cheryl Stone, APR, vice president, public relations, U.S. Bancorp Asset Management
Jeff Van Keuren, APR, manager of public affairs, United Defense

Visit Minnesota PRSA for more info.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Product Placement and the Demise of Advertising

Television advertising as we know it is dying -- that is if you believe the experts on product placement.

Product placement is the art of getting products placed in movies or on television for a small fee. Probably the most successful and famous example of this is Reese's Pieces and the movie ET.

New Media Strategies, announced today that, in a survey of online TV viewers, 83% were receptive to product placements in their favorite TV programs, while only 17% had a negative reaction to the growing advertising trend.

Product placement is even being used by our government to fight the continuing war on drugs.

All of this leads me back to my original hypothesis...if you believe the product placement guru's it won't be long before digital television allows us to use our television remote as a mouse to select on-screen items and purchase them instantly eliminating the need for traditional TV advertising.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Ex-CEO of Colle+McVoy to run marketing firm

Jim Bergeson, former CEO of Bloomington-based Colle+McVoy, is back in the game after taking a couple years off. Kansas-based NKH&W Inc. announced that Bergeson will head up their new Minneapolis office when they open in the next few months.

According to the Business Journal, the Minneapolis office will be the $100 million agency's fourth location. The company also has offices in Tulsa, Okla. and Little Rock, Ark.

Local Radio Stations Promote Children's Home

Six local radio stations owned by Texas-based Clear Channel Communications are launching a multimedia marketing campaign to support the controversial Gift of Mary Children's Home proposed for construction in Eagan.

According to The Business Journal the campaign is scheduled to begin today and is valued $150,000.

Gift of Mary would be the largest children's institution in the state. Critics of the proposal argue that children should be placed under foster care and not in large institutions...

The goal of the pro bono campaign is to generate awareness of the new children's facility, proposed by Mary Jo Copeland, and inspire Twin Cities residents to donate funds for its construction.

Read the Business Journal article here.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Clarion Entries Due March 8

The 2004 Crystal Clarion Award competition is still open and excepting entries. Click here to find out details on how to enter the Crystal Clarion Awards.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

MPR to drop PRI for program distribution

The Business Journal reported today that Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) is planning to drop Public Radio International (PRI) programming when it revamps is national news distribution model.

According to, Minnesota Public Radio will change the way it delivers its national programs to radio stations. At present, PRI distributes most of Minnesota Public Radio's national programs — including A Prairie Home Companion, Marketplace, The Splendid Table, Sound Money and Saint Paul Sunday — to stations across the country.

Under the new model, Minnesota Public Radio will distribute most of its national programs directly to stations while making supplemental material and replays available via the web and other technologies. MPR will work directly with stations on all aspects of bringing the programs to air.

Read the Business Journal article here or get the MPR press release here.

Post Your Resume Online

I am happy to introduce a new feature to this site. If you are looking for a public relations, marketing or advertising job in Minnesota you can now post your resume here for free and make it available to over 300 PR and advertising professionals every month!

Just and I will post it on this site. Be sure to include "resume" in your e-mail header.

Resumes will be listed here in the order they were received. Most resumes will be posted for six months in PDF format.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Marketing Teens

Today's topic is probably not earth shattering for most people that read blogs but I think it is worth mentioning anyway. I was reading a piece from that talks about the need to not ignore teens when marketing your company's product.

I think my favorite quote from this article is: A skeptical client once remarked, “Yeah, but teens purchase only video games and pizza… they don’t really buy expensive items.”

That depends on whether your definition of expensive would include a $160 pair of Nike Shox or a $300 MP3 player.

Too often I think the tendency is to overlook the teen market and that's where opportunities are missed.

Just some food for thought.

Monday, February 09, 2004

New hires at Weber Shandwick

The Twin Cities office of Weber Shandwick today announced the hiring and promotions of employees in the investor relations and technology group.

Nikki Reed has joined the agency as an account executive and Melissa Holm, a former intern at the agency, was hired as an assistant account executive. Katie Elwood was promoted to senior account executive and Kaitlin Creager was promoted to assistant account executive.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Is PR on the Decline?

As most PR professionals can attest, the war in Iraq was not necessarily a good thing for corporations trying to get stories placed in the news. Today MediaDailyNews issued a report that confirms this premise. Here is an excerpt:

News coverage of America's leading corporations fell 23 percent in 2003 compared with 2002, reflecting a marked shift in the focus of U.S. media outlets from news about business to other matters - presumably national security and the war in Iraq.

While many companies struggled in 2003 to make headlines some made it look easy. Disney, Microsoft and Walmart were the leaders in media impressions last year. While the overall the number of Fortune 100 impressions decline overall, the perception of these companies improved from 2002, a year plagued by corporate scandals.

The findings, which come from a year-end analysis of media coverage of the Fortune 100 companies compiled by public relations researcher Delahaye, are fascinating from a PR point of view, interesting from a conventional media planning standpoint, but may be critically important from the perspective of communications planners who are responsible for managing the overall mix of a marketer's communications options, not just advertising.

For more details on this report visit MediaDailyNews.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

In the News

Minnesota company General Mills has been in the news a lot lately. The company is facing an investigation by the SEC into possible "loading" of orders.

Don't get too worried just yet though because according to MRP the SEC has a long-running investigation of the food industry. Last November three firms -- Kraft Foods, Dean Foods and Pepsico's Frito-Lay -- all said they'd received Wells notices. But none indicated corporate executive officers were involved.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Wal-Mart on PR campaign

According to Malaysia Business News, Wal-Mart is on a mission to improve it name. Wal-Mart has suffered in the news and has lost market share to Minnesota-based Target in recent years. In an effort to rework the company image Wal-Mart is launching a pr campaign.

Here are my favorite excerpts from this article:

"Wal-Mart Stores Inc is tired of critics who say it is a behemoth bent on destroying small-town America, driving down wages and shipping jobs to foreign sweat shops."

"Dozens of cases claiming sex discrimination and wage violations have stained its image. Editorials deplore how low-paid Wal-Mart workers must sign up for welfare to make ends meet."

"Even men’s magazine Playboy got in on the act, calling Wal-Mart’s Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters the 'epicentre of retailing’s evil empire.' But after years of abiding unflattering views, the empire is striking back with a tough new public relations strategy. "

Nothing like trying to launch a pr campaign to create a better image, only to remind everyone why your image sucks in the first place.

Another Day

Things at work couldn't be busier, but I always take time to read what is coming through on my RSS feed. Today I was delighted to see from PR Opinions there is new kids on the block, Luna Cafe.

Check out the editors comments on the Presidential election and Hot PR Topics. This should be a good one to watch.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Fantastic Game, Horrible Commercials

Yeah, it was a good game...certainly the best in recent memory. But, the commercials were another story and the half-time show, yikes!

From the funniest to the dumbest the AP News lays out the best/worst of 2004.

If you missed any of the ads you can view them at USA

And if you really care about the CBS/MTV half-time scandal you can .

Buying Medicine in Canada

"Americans pay more for prescription medicine than the rest of the world. The price differential puts prescription medicine out of reach for too many people. The current situation is unfair and cannot continue."

This quote from Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is featured on the state's new Web site that offers prescription drugs at reduced prices.

Depending on your stance on prescription drugs this is a either a brilliant public relations move by the Governor or a potentially dangerous strategy that could result in lawsuits.

Get the Business Journal story here.

Get the Star Tribune's take here.

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