Part of a company’s public relations efforts includes putting a positive spin on news stories. As we explained in Chapter 11 "Advertising, Integrated Marketing Communications, and the Changing Media Landscape", a press release is a news story written by an organization to promote a product, organization, or person. Consider how much better a story or a product recommendation is likely to be perceived when the receiver thinks the content is from an objective third party rather than an organization writing about itself. Public relations personnel frequently prepare press releases in hopes that the news media will pick them up and disseminate the information to the public. However, there is no guarantee that the media will use a press release. Some of the PR opportunities that companies may seek to highlight in their press releases include charity events, awards, new products, company reports, and things they are doing to improve the environment or local community.
Read the following two examples of press releases. The first story sounds like it was written by a news organization, but it was created by Apple and their public relations people to highlight the introduction of the new iPhone 3G. The second press release and picture (see Figure 12.1 Picture of Stubb's Legendary Kitchen's "Feed the World Tour" ) provide an example of how a company like Stubb’s Bar-B-Q teams up with Mobile Loaves & Fishes, a charity that helps feed the hungry, to help feed homeless and poor people and restock food banks around the country. The story enhances the positive image of both organizations.
An Example of a Press Release to Introduce a New Product
Apple Introduces the New iPhone 3G
Twice as Fast at Half the Price
SAN FRANCISCO—June 9, 2008—Apple® today introduced the new iPhone™ 3G, combining all the revolutionary features of iPhone with 3G networking that is twice as fast* as the first generation iPhone, built-in GPS for expanded location-based mobile services, and iPhone 2.0 software which includes support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync and runs the hundreds of third party applications already built with the recently released iPhone SDK. In the US the new iPhone 3G is priced at a stunning $199 for the 8GB model, and just $299 for the 16GB model.** iPhone 3G will be available in more than 70 countries later this year, beginning with customer availability in 22 countries—Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and the US—on July 11.
*Based on 3G and EDGE testing. Actual speeds vary by site conditions.
**Based on iPhone 3G (8GB) and first generation iPhone (8GB) purchases. Requires new two year AT&T rate plan, sold separately. 1
An Example of a Press Release to Show How a Company Helps Feed the Hungry and Restock Food Banks around the Country
Stubb’s Teams Up with Mobile Loaves & Fishes to Launch “Feed the World Tour”
Tuesday, May 26, 5 p.m. @ Wooldridge Park
AUSTIN—Stubb’s Legendary Kitchen will kick off its 12-city “Feed the World Tour” this Tuesday, May 26 at 5 p.m. in Wooldridge Square Park, 9th and Guadalupe Streets, by serving chopped beef sandwiches with famous Stubb’s barbecue sauce to homeless and working poor people from one of Mobile Loaves & Fishes’ special catering trucks, which serve people in six cities every day.
Kurt Koegler, president of Stubb’s Legendary Kitchen, will join Alan Graham, Mobile Loaves’ founder/president, and volunteers from the company and MLF volunteers to serve the sandwiches and distribute Stubb’s T-shirts. The Austin-based company chose Mobile Loaves as its partner to kick off the “Feed the World Tour,” which is named for the stated mission of Texas Bar-B-Q legend, C.B. “Stubb” Stubblefield, who said: “I was born hungry I want to feed the world.”
After leaving Austin, the tour will swing through the Southeast, up the East Coast and into Washington, D.C. where the Stubb’s team will compete at the annual BBQ Battle on Pennsylvania Avenue. In each city, Stubb’s Legendary Kitchen and company president Koegler will barbecue for the homeless and help restock depleted food banks.
“Stubb was a cook but more than that, a lover of people. The values that guided his life still guide the company that bears his name. Stubb’s life truly is in every bottle of sauce and marinade we make. All of us at Stubb’s are thrilled to be working with Mobile Loaves and bringing all of Stubb’s Love and Happiness to those who all too often need it most” said Koegler.
“The economy has placed greater demand on organizations like Mobile Loaves and local food banks, so we couldn’t think of a better time to show our support,” Koegler said. “Stubb’s greatest joy was feeding the people who came from all around for a taste of his famous barbecue, and it is an honor for us to fulfill his mission with our Feed the World Tour.”
“We’re honored to be selected as Stubb’s charity partner for the kick-off of this awesome tour,” Graham said. “As someone who once was poor and hungry, C.B. ‘Stubb’ Stubblefield is smiling in heaven to know that his creation is helping feed brothers and sisters on the street here in Austin and around the country. We look forward to connecting Stubb’s with people on the streets here and in the other cities we serve.” 2
Press releases and other PR activities can also be used for damage control purposes. Damage control is the process of countering the extreme negative effects a company gets when it receives bad publicity. Domino’s Pizza was forced to engage in damage control after two of its employees created a video doing disgusting things to pizzas and then posting it to YouTube. If the publicity is particularly bad, as it was for Domino’s, a company might hold a press conference or prepare a speech for the top executive to give. For example, the president of Domino’s spoke on video to try to control the damage to Domino’s business. The company then posted the video on YouTube (see the video below).
Similarly, companies that move into foreign markets are sometimes perceived negatively by locals because they have little information about the firms. In India, the reputation of companies is very important to workers and their families. As a result, U.S. employers recruiting in the tech industry in India often have to work hard to make their brands and products known so people will want to work for them. The firms do so via various PR efforts.
Just as press releases can be used to promote the good things an organization or person does, press conferences can also be held when a company is simply seeking good PR. An organization might hold a press conference to announce that it has hired new, highly sought-after executives, that it is breaking ground on a new building, or to talk about its community service projects.