How to turn corporate social responsibility into a corporate social opportunity- What is the main point of this article?

From Entrepreneur

 How to turn corporate social responsibility into a corporate social opportunity
W. Brett Wilson | Dec 9, 2012 7:00 AM ET | Last Updated: Dec 10, 2012 9:22 AM ET More from W. Brett Wilson

Here we are again, smack in the middle of the giving season. At no other time of year is there so much pressure on companies to give back to the communities in which they operate. While I wholeheartedly believe in philanthropy, I find myself increasingly frustrated by the obligatory nature of and expectations around corporate giving.

Obligatory giving is a reflection of limited-range thinking. Rather than Corporate Social Responsibility, I would prefer Corporate Social Opportunity. That’s because the best corporate philanthropy doesn’t just make a social impact — it also effectively adds to a company’s bottom line — in many ways.

In my world, giving and getting go together. Businesses should expect a return on their charitable donations. And for those who might disagree with me, think about this: charitable giving that reaps an economic return creates stronger companies that can make more meaningful contributions to their communities in the long run.

Unfortunately, business executives remain largely divided about their role in the social sector. In a 2010 Compas Inc. poll of Canadian executives, nearly half said that charitable giving should be left to shareholders. A mere one-third agreed corporations should support charities — as long as it was consistent with corporate objectives and employees’ desires.

Here’s an even more interesting statistic from a 2008 Imagine Canada survey of corporate community investment: The median cash donation was $2,000 (1.25% of pre-tax profit), while 25% of businesses didn’t contribute at all.

Ironically, businesses that unreasonably limit their charitable giving budget are also failing to explore how corporate philanthropy can help grow their business. When I co-founded FirstEnergy Capital Corp. in 1993, my partners and I decided from Day 1 to give 2.5% of pre-tax profits to charity. Thus, before we opened the door for business, we arguably cut the value of our firm by 2.5%. Around that time, fewer than 3% of Canadian businesses claimed any charitable donations, on average giving less than 1% of pre-tax profits. We wanted to do more —a lot more — for many reasons.

First, we truly used charitable giving as a marketing tool. Every time we made a contribution, we were very open about the fact we expected something in return. We wanted fair accountability and reasonable recognition. We also organized some of the most sought-after client events in the city — and turned them into successful fundraisers. Those parties included the highest quality entertainment, food and fun. They were always “free” events to clients with the “price” of admission being a cheque in the amount of the client’s choosing but payable to the charity of our choice. No cheque, no entry.

When you’re planning your giving, think about how you can engage your network of colleagues and use some creative marketing ideas

Second, we wanted our charitable giving to make an impact. It would be nearly impossible to measure the number of lives that have been touched — and dramatically improved — by FirstEnergy’s philanthropic work. Since inception, FirstEnergy has provided close to $10-million in donations to some 500 charities and community organizations, and has been one of the countless corporate players to help make Calgary a great community where people feel connected to each other and enjoy a great quality of life. Every business has a vested interest in creating stronger communities. As business guru Don Tapscott noted, “Businesses cannot succeed in a world that is failing.”

We have also engaged our broad client network to join with us in many aspects of the philanthropic process. In 1997, the Red River Flood caused enormous damage. In response, FirstEnergy allocated all of its trading commissions on a given day to Manitoba flood relief. At that time, a good trading day would have generated a bit more than $100,000 in commissions. But on that day, we raised more than four times that — closing at

more than $450,000. We also raised money for the 1998 ice storm in Quebec, the Alberta drought in 2002 and the Slave Lake fire disaster of 2011. In total, we raised several million dollars with all four of these initiatives.

What did we gain for our efforts? There was immeasurable public recognition and co-branding with larger companies, and significant recognition within the charitable community. There was also goodwill with customers, suppliers and staff, all of which collectively helped FirstEnergy dramatically increase its profile, develop new partnerships and grow its client base. In the past 20 years, FirstEnergy has enjoy incredible growth built on relationships and goodwill all developed, at least in part, by its charitable giving strategies. There is no doubt its commitment to community has been a core building block for the foundation of the firm’s overall success.

Your efforts don’t have to be as elaborate as these, but when you’re planning your giving, think about how you can engage your network of colleagues and use some creative marketing ideas to make your efforts stand out from the crowd, benefit your community, and return untold dividends to the cause and your company. That’s the opportunity in corporate giving.

W. Brett Wilson is one of Canada’s most successful businessmen and innovative philanthropists. His book, Redefining Success, is available from Penguin Books. @WBrettWilson

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Posted by on December 10, 2012 in Uncategorized


Royal Radio Pranks Gone Wrong

Royal Radio Pranks Gone Wrong by Abby Hagelage at The Daily Beast

Dec 9, 2012 4:45 AM EST

Following the recent stunt turned tragedy at Kate Middleton’s hospital, a look back at some shock-jock antics that ended very badly.

As the recent royal hoax that led to the death of young nurse proved, the line between juvenile joke and dangerous prank is thin when it comes to mass media. But Sydney’s 2Day FM wasn’t the first radio station to take a prank too far, and it likely won’t be the last. From the infamous War of the Worlds broadcast to the faked death of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, some radio pranks that generated more outrage than laughs.

Radio Prank
Rhys Holleran, CEO of the company that owns Sydney’s 2Day FM radio station, answers questions about the royal radio prank gone bad. (William West / AFP-Getty Images)

London’s Imaginary Revolution (1926)


Advertisement<During the golden age of radio, the BBC learned the hard way that some jokes just aren’t funny. On Jan. 20, 1926, announcer Ronald Knox, during his regular radio program, announced that a violent revolution was sweeping through London. In his “special announcement,” Knox described an angry mob of unemployed workers storming the city’s major buildings, looting and destroying everything in sight. Worried listeners scrambled around their radios to listen, terrified they were next. Knox even went so far as to claim Big Ben had fallen. The broadcast caused widespread panic across Great Britain until the radio station confirmed to listeners that the segment was “imaginary,” all part of Father Ronald Knox’s satirical skit. “London is safe. Big Ben is still chiming, and all is well,” read the BBC’s statement.

War of the Worlds (1938)


On Oct. 30, 1938, radio listeners across the United States were stunned to hear that America was being invaded by aliens from Mars. A dramatization of H.G. Wells’s fantasy science-fiction novel The War of the Worlds, the adaptation was designed to sound like a news broadcast—and it succeeded. Starting with a “flaming object” that fell from the sky, the report included a “field newscaster” with an eyewitness account of the aliens. “That face,” he said, “It…it’s indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent.” The broadcast sent the nation into chaos, and—with the help of the actual news—led to a national scandal. The cycle of confusion was ultimately broken when the media learned it was a farce. “Note to Editors: Queries to newspapers from radio listeners throughout the United States tonight, regarding a reported meteor fall which killed a number of New Jerseyites, are the result of a studio dramatization. The A.P.,” read the statement.

Mayor Menino’s Death (1998)


April Fools lived up to its name on April 1, 1998, when popular shock jocks Opie and Anthony announced on WAAF-FM that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino had died in a car crash in Florida. Due to Menino’s packed schedule, City Hall was unable to reach him for several hours, leading even the mayor’s family members to question whether or not he was alive. Opie (Greg Hughes) and Anthony (Anthony Cumia) were immediately fired from the station. The pair eventually landed in New York, where they staged a “Sex for Sam” contest (where couples were awarded points for having sex in public) that eventually led to the arrest of a couple having sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Infinity Broadcasting Operations was fined a total of $357,500 by the FCC, the maximum allowable amount. Opie and Anthony now host their own channel on XM Radio.


The Ochoco Dam Incident (1999)


In 1999, two DJs at KSJJ in Bend, Ore., announced that the Ochoco Dam had burst, sending millions of gallons of water downstream. The prank, meant to be a sly quip on April Fool’s Day, caused the town to spiral into chaos. With the memory still fresh of the hundreds of houses damaged a year earlier when the Ochoco Creek flooded, residents scrambled to pack their things and get out. The prank lasted until the two DJs came forward and announced that they had simply made it up for fun.

Methane Gas in Virginia Beach (1992)


In an earlier feigned natural disaster, two DJs at F99 WNOR, a radio station in Hampton Roads, Va., convinced their listeners that a massive buildup of methane gas was about to produce a deadly explosion at “Mount Trashmore,” a landfill near Virginia Beach. The DJs claimed an evacuation was necessary, causing the local 911 dispatchers to be inundated with anxious phone calls. As word spread that an explosion was imminent, panicked residents began fleeing the area. The radio station eventually announced that the news was fake, but the listeners of Hampton Roads weren’t amused, and neither was the FCC. The DJs responsible were suspended without pay for two weeks.


I’ve Been Screwing Your Sister for the Last Year” (2008)



Posted by on December 10, 2012 in Uncategorized


‘Classically bad’ press release leaves Citi vulnerable —So many PR classroom concepts in this article!

‘Classically bad’ press release leaves Citi vulnerable

By Michael Sebastian | Posted: December 6, 2012

A corporate leader once described layoffs as “site rationalizations”—as he was accepting an award for his exemplary communication skills.
No kidding.
If that’s a criterion of success, someone ought to give Citigroup an award.
In a remarkably convoluted press release on Wednesday, the banking giant announced it would lay off 11,000 employees. Several communication professionals say the press release is so bad it insults employees and gives the media carte blanche to interpret the news as it wishes.
“This is textbook of the old way of writing a press release,” said Jim Ylisela, a veteran journalist and communications consultant. “It is so perfectly bad, from start to finish.”
Here’s a look at what went wrong—and what you can do to avoid such mistakes.
‘Classically bad’
The press release, headlined “Citigroup Announces Repositioning Actions to Further Reduce Expenses and Improve Efficiency,” begins with this paragraph:

“Citigroup today announced a series of repositioning actions that will further reduce expenses and improve efficiency across the company while maintaining Citi’s unique capabilities to serve clients, especially in the emerging markets. These actions will result in increased business efficiency, streamlined operations and an optimized consumer footprint across geographies.”

Mention of the layoffs doesn’t occur until the bottom of the third paragraph.
Ylisela calls the release “classically bad.”
“It has a really, really bad headline and contains the worst possible verb one could choose—repositioning. That’s the kind of verb you use when you don’t want people to know what you’re doing.”
As Ylisela puts it, the writers of the release fell in love with “repositioning” and use it nearly every paragraph.
The quote from CEO Michael Corbat isn’t any better—it might even be worse. In the second paragraph of the release, Corbat says:

“These actions are logical next steps in Citi’s transformation. While we are committed to—and our strategy continues to leverage—our unparalleled global network and footprint, we have identified areas and products where our scale does not provide for meaningful returns. And we will further increase our operating efficiency by reducing excess capacity and expenses, whether they center on technology, real estate or simplifying our operations.”

The quote lacks any trace of humanity, explains Ylisela.
“Why wouldn’t the guy say, ‘It’s never easy to lay off people’? Instead they sound like they’re talking about saving expenses as if they’re saving on the light bill.”
Remember all your audiences

Any company regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) must disclose certain information to investors, but Jim Buckley, executive vice president and partner at investor relations firm Sharon Merrill, points out that how these companies frame such a disclosure is up to them. In other words, don’t blame the SEC for a lousy press release.

“Regulations don’t [prevent] folks from writing a good press release,” he says.

Buckley explains layoff announcements as a balancing act that affects a number of audiences, including employees and shareholders.

“Layoffs are a classic thing that are good news on Wall Street, not good for employees,” he says.

According to Ylisela, Citi failed at communicating to all of its audience segments.

“The walls between internal and external communications are no longer,” he says. “Organizations need to craft messages for both audiences that are consistent and complementary.”

He describes the release as insulting to employees and subterfuge for the media.

Becky Gaylord, a former journalist turned PR consultant, says that although she sympathizes with the people writing the release—they almost certainly felt pressure from the C-suite—they should have fought harder because the announcement leaves Citi vulnerable to media outlets that will translate the release as they see fit.

“You haven’t even given the journalist any quotes that are pithy, so they’ll go out and get others,” Gaylord says.

Good for the bottom line?

Despite the poorly written release, the Citi stock price is on the move, ticking up 2.14 percent by midday. If the announcement moved shares in the right direction, does all this criticism of Citi’s communication count for nothing?

Not a chance, says Ylisela.

“The stock always goes up when a company announces that it’s cutting expenses—that’s how the market reacts—but it’s temporary,” he explains. “They’ve ignored the other side, or buried it so far deep it’s hard to find.”

Ylisela says companies must think long-term. It’s important for employee morale and public relations—both of which affect the bottom line—to craft messages that appeal to multiple audiences, he says.

Tips for clear communication

Ylisela and Gaylord offered several guidelines to remember should you ever find yourself in the unenviable position of drafting a layoff announcement:

Don’t duck the bad news. Journalists will find it, no matter how deep you bury the news. State it clearly, and work on framing the message, so the media doesn’t frame it for you.

Show some compassion and humility in the CEO quote. Don’t cast the CEO as a money-hungry robot who looks at employees as if they’re nothing but line items. Instead, quote him mentioning how difficult it is to let people go.

Use stronger verbs. Instead of deploying passive words, opt for something more descriptive. Reporters will never use the term “repurposing” to refer to layoffs—unless, of course, they’re mocking you—but they might write “shed jobs” if they see it in your press release. “Citigroup is shedding 11,000 jobs” is much better than “Citigroup axes 11,000 employees.”

Write for multiple audiences. Don’t forget that many employees are reading your press releases and that they will form an opinion about the company and CEO based on them—regardless of how Wall Street reacts.

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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


10 key skills today’s leaders need to succeed in 2013

by PublishedDec. 6, 20126:53 amUpdatedDec. 6, 20127:00 am

What sets the most successful managers apart from others? You might be an expert in your field, even the smartest person in the room — but that’s no guarantee of success. You need an array of skills that are particularly well-suited to times of change and challenge. Here are 10 I recommend.

1. Strategic Thinking Don’t just immerse yourself in today’s tasks. Think big picture. Step back from the dance floor from time to time and take the balcony view (Hat tip for that great metaphor to the book, Leadership on the Line.”) Review systems. Set priorities aligned with major goals. Learn new and scary things. Encourage innovation by backing good people who take smart risks.

2. Collaboration Overcome the four barriers to collaboration I’ve written about before.

  • Distance: Stay on the radar with people you don’t see regularly.
  • Dominance: Change assumptions about the importance/subservience of certain roles in your organization.
  • Discomfort: Educate yourself and your staff about the work of others.
  • Dissonance: Check your demands and systems to make certain they aren’t undercutting collaboration.

Be a role model for effectively networking by showing the value of spanning old boundaries and busting old silos.

3. Emotional Intelligence Your IQ alone can’t fuel the group’s success. Emotional intelligence is critical. Build your self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. Recognize that as a leader, you are contagious. Be a source of energy, empathy and earned trust, proving optimism and realism can co-exist. Understand that resilience is key to leadership, especially in stressful times. One of my favorites reads of the past year, “The Emotional Life of Your Brain,” lays out the neuroscience of resilience and underscores that we can consciously build our capacity.

4. Critical Thinking Critical thinkers question conventional wisdom. They are vigilant about identifying and challenging assumptions that underlie actions or inaction. They are automatically wary of generalizations, inferences and unproven theories. Among their favorite questions is: “How do we know that?” They strive to independent thinkers, careful to check how their own biases might color their decisions. They do this automatically to speed up good decision-making, not to cause “paralysis by analysis.”

5. Communication This one seems so simple, yet it comes up continually in my seminars as a deficit in organizations — and it’s managers who point out the problem! Bosses who don’t communicate effectively get in the way of their team’s effectiveness. Make it your goal to master every form of interpersonal communication and make it powerful: one-to-one, small group, full staff, email, social media, and of course, listening.

Become an expert on framing, storytelling and finding the master narrative in a situation. If you don’t, others will — and the others may be your internal critics or your external competitors.

6. Motivation Telling people “You are lucky to have a job” in no way qualifies as motivation. Nor does fear, unless it is fear of letting a great boss down. Nor, interestingly, does throwing money at people. Pay them fairly, of course, but don’t stop there. Understand the key intrinsic motivators: competence, autonomy, purpose and growth. Determine the prescription for each of your employees.

7. Feedback Commit to wearing what I call “feedback glasses” — new lenses through which you look at people and their work. Through these lenses, you are always on the alert for opportunities to deliver specific, helpful information to people about their performance and their value to the organization. Upgrade the quality of all of your interactions by using them as opportunities for customized, effective feedback. In my new book, “Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know,” I devote a chapter to feedback as the key to performance management, with a complete tool kit of options.

8. Tough Conversations Don’t avoid tough talks. Learn to do them deftly, avoiding the many pitfalls they can present. Become an expert at addressing challenges and problems early and often. Don’t let problems fester or bullies prevail. Build trust as a leader so people recognize your good intentions even in the midst or wake of challenging conversations.

9. Coaching Are you among the legions of managers who habitually fix the work of others? Are you the non-stop answer machine for people who are overly reliant on you for decisions? And at the end of the day, do you wonder why you’re frustrated and exhausted and employees aren’t getting better on your watch? You need to learn to coach their growth.

Coaching is an entirely different skill from fixing. It helps people learn to improve their work and make decisions for themselves. Don’t just take my word for it; a 2012 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research says the most important tasks of effective managers are teaching skills that endure and fueling the motivation of employees.

10. Making Values Visible and Viral Let people know what you stand for. Make those conversations a part of your daily work. Lose your fear of coming off as corny or holier than thou. Tap into the great reservoir of commitment and care that people bring to their work lives, but often fail to talk about unless they’re at some professional seminar (like ours), where it pours out. Why?  Because we make it safe to talk about values like integrity, diversity, community, and service. All we have to do is start those conversations, and they always take off organically. It should happen in the workplace, too. If you don’t inspire, who will?

Each of these is a skill you can learn. I know, because I teach them! And there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing careers improve as people grow from being okay managers to being great bosses who understand the key skills of leadership


Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


What Agencies Say Won’t Happen in 2013

What Agencies Say Won’t Happen in 2013


Instead of asking industry leaders for their industry predictions for 2013, we asked them what we should expect not to see in the next 12 months even if these things get lots of attention. The bottom line: Don’t bet against TV, and check your enthusiasm for native advertising and the dawn of the mobile era.

James Kiernan, svp and managing director, Zenith Media Marketers will not be walking away from TV as it continues to deliver scale and drive our clients’ business. They will, however, continue to apply a fluid approach to video across all screens inclusive of TV, video and mobile video. Marketers will come to the realization that the concept of “native” is not new and that brands have been aligning with content dating back to when P&G invented the soap opera. It is a big buzzword, but it’s helped to get brands to recognize the need to develop custom, real-time content that fully capitalizes on a variety of unique environments and across multiple platforms. Native should not be about deceiving the consumer but rather delivering content and experiences which provide value in the form of information, utility or entertainment that is consistent with the brand’s equity. They will take advantage of new technologies that enable them to be more nimble as it relates to creating and curating content in real time. If the term “native” gets brands’ attention and opens up the conversation, then I’m on board.

Darren Herman, chief digital media officer, The Media Kitchen I do not believe that we’ll see considerable dollars in “native advertising” even though it’s all the rage today. I say this because it generally does not scale, and that’s the beauty of native advertising in that it’s platform specific and generally at least a bit custom. What I specifically like here, however, is that publishers recognize that units and programs fit into the user experience of their publishing platforms perform much better than commoditized standard ad units, and the agency world will start adopting tools and frameworks to measure the performance of these campaigns. It’s important to note that agencies have been buying site-direct programs for almost two decades, so technically “native advertising” isn’t really anything new. Also, I do not believe that Facebook will ultimately find its dominant advertising strategy in 2013. The reason for this is, I believe, the headwinds in government will not allow it to fully embrace its targeting platform to the extent it could. I believe that the government and privacy advocacy groups will be Facebook’s worst enemy and Google will draft behind all of this.

Andrew Bailey, chairman, Proximity North America There’s a lot of chatter about mobile, and every year for 10 years has been the year of mobile, but you can’t argue with the breakneck speed of consumer penetration. That is happening, and there’s no doubt mobile will play an increasingly important role, but what not to expect is a huge influx of advertising dollars into the channel because the real estate is just not there. We as an industry simply haven’t figured it out yet, and as much as we’ll continue to see tremendous consumer traction, I think we won’t see the dollars there next year. It’s almost as if the industry has been caught off guard by mobile.

David Berkowitz, vp, emerging media, 360i Storytelling will stop being used as a way to cover for ideas with no substance: Storytelling was one of the big buzzwords of 2012. Agency folks love it, as what could make us feel more creative than telling stories? But we can’t forget that we have jobs to do. One of those jobs is to tell the stories the brands already created and make those stories relevant for new consumers. Another is to achieve clients’ mutually agreed-upon objectives, and a story is only great if it makes progress toward those objectives. We will keep telling stories, as great stories spread, but we can’t get so gaga over storytelling that we forget about the work we need to do each day.

John Noe, CEO, Rokkan
I think we’ll see brands start to consolidate their mobile properties. I think brands supporting multiple apps are already starting to consolidate apps into a fewer set, if not just a single app. And with mobile sites becoming more robust and capable, the need for separate native download apps will really need a stronger business case. But another trend I see starting to fade is longer=form UGC submissions. Brands used to launch massive contests and programs getting people to submit their stories, ideas and creations, with hefty prizes on offer. But with platforms like Kickstarter, The Slate and others, I think people who are really trying to get their ideas exposed are gravitating toward these larger platforms with audiences and business models already built in. That isn’t to say that UGC for brands will die off, but I think their purpose will be shorter, simpler and less incentive based, on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. And with the growth of online video viewing, I think the trend for brands will be toward storytelling and branded content. 

Aaron Shapiro, CEO, Huge
People will not line up out the door to get their hands on the iPad4 or iPhone6. Instead, the new products will be met with a collective yawn. I love Apple products as much as the next person, but at some point, people will wake up and realize that the annual upgrade is just that — an upgrade — with each upgrade cycle adding less and less incremental value to the user. The same goes with Apple’s competitors. Smartphones and tablets are fast becoming a commoditized utility, good for several years of use, just like a laptop — and not something the digerati buy each year. Say goodbye to the mobile-gadget hype.

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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


Ad Buyers Miss the Mark Targeting Hispanic Customers

Ad Buyers Miss the Mark Targeting Hispanic Customers


Jordan Woods leads digital ad sales for, a Spanish to English dictionary.

Years ago, my well-meaning classmate stated, “I just love Latino culture!” Our Spanish professor smiled and asked, “Which one?” My professor’s response highlights a point missed by many advertisers: A singular “Latino culture” doesn’t exist.

U.S. Hispanics aren’t a monolithic market segment; they don’t all speak the same language, nor do they visit the same websites. After years of limited success, these cultural nuances are being addressed by major advertisers such as Kellogg. Still, many advertisers continue to struggle. Success in the market will largely be determined by how well advertisers understand U.S. Hispanics.

Unlike general market initiatives, where advertisers target using hyper-specific criteria (18-34 that see movies every third Friday and whose favorite color is chartreuse), Hispanic initiatives lack direction, especially when it comes to language. The myth that Spanish-only ads are the key to effectiveness has long been refuted. Unfortunately, the popular alternative — English-only ads — can be an equally erroneous choice depending on who is viewing the ad. According to Pew Hispanic Center, a mere 23 percent of foreign-born Hispanics claim to be able to adequately carry on a conversation in English. That number jumps to 88 percent among second-generation Hispanics.

One suggestion for advertisers: Segment campaigns by age and geography. This is especially important when noting the disparity in English proficiency among Hispanics in San Antonio (81 percent) and those in Miami (52 percent).

I recently asked a digital strategist about his game plan for a major advertiser’s Hispanic campaign. “We’ll work with some Hispanic networks and figure it out as we go,” he said. The current inclination of many advertisers is to play it safe: Buy display units through a network, run a few Hispanic campaigns and hope for the best. This approach is like pawning a screaming kid off on his aunt: You can’t figure out what to do, so you let someone else figure it out for you.

Advertisers should work with publishers to learn how to engage their audience. We’ve found that native units maximize Hispanic user engagement because we integrate them with language-learning activities. We’re able to do this in English and in Spanish because our users are working toward becoming bilingual. Brands must work to deploy engaging creatives that make sense on the sites where they appear.

Major brand advertisers continue to create beautiful integrated campaigns complete with well-executed native ads — but not for Hispanics. What do they get? A 728×90 banner on a Spanish-language news site. No wonder it’s not working.

Advertisers need to stop limiting their best ideas to their primary market when a large, untapped opportunity awaits them. Hispanics engage more with ads than non-Hispanics. Give them something to engage with, and boost your brand. With U.S. Hispanic buying power nearing $1.3 trillion, it is the new digital frontier. Savvy brands recognize the opportunity and pioneer a new relationship with a vast and growing market.


Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


The Perils of Marketing by Text Message from PRSA Tactics

The perils of marketing by text message

December 6, 2012

Consumers today face a constant barrage of advertising and promotional material, whether from their computer screens, bus stop benches, radios, televisions or even restroom walls.

You or your clients may be considering ways to stand out from the crowd, including reaching consumers directly by text message to market products or services.

However, while hitting “send” to generate sales may sound tempting, the legal implications of conducting marketing campaigns by text message can be serious — and costly.

Marketing communications via text message are subject to two separate federal laws: the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (popularly known as the “CAN-SPAM Act”) and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (the “TCPA”). Each of these laws can carry significant penalties.

In addition to these federal laws, text message marketing may implicate federal and state consumer protection laws, which prohibit unfair and deceptive business practices.


The TCPA generally disallows sending commercial text messages through an auto-dialer (as many marketing text messages are administered) unless the consumer has given prior express written consent to receive such messages.

If challenged, then the sender bears the burden of proving that it has obtained prior express consent.

It is not only critical to obtain consent, but also to maintain accurate records. Consumers bringing suit under the TCPA can obtain damages of up to $1,500 per sent message — for example, if a message went to 1,000 individuals, then the sender might be subjected to penalties of up to $1.5 million. Because marketing text messages often go to thousands, or even millions, of consumers at once, the potential damages for TCPA violations can be astronomical.


The CAN-SPAM Act, on the other hand, primarily applies to unwanted commercial emails (“spam”), but can also apply to marketing text messages because, often, those texts are generated by email. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that certain elements, such as a clear identification of the sender, an opt-out option and a legitimate return email address appear in each marketing communication.

If a consumer opts out of receiving messages, then the sender must cease sending communications to that person within 10 days. As with the TCPA, CAN-SPAM allows sending marketing communications to those who have given express prior authorization. Regulations under the Act make clear that the consumer’s express prior authorization must clearly identify who will be sending the messages. Fines under the CAN-SPAM Act can reach up to $16,000 per message.

As text message marketing has become more widespread, this area has proven to be fertile ground for consumer lawsuits. A number of prominent companies have recently found themselves in hot water regarding their texting practices.

Earlier this year, a class action lawsuit brought under the TCPA against a major Jiffy Lube franchisee reportedly settled for $47 million. Papa John’s, Dell, Inc., and The Coca-Cola Company have faced, or are currently facing, similar claims.

As the stakes in this area can be extraordinarily high, if you or your clients are considering a campaign that incorporates text message marketing, it pays to consult an attorney early in the process.

Bob Felber leads the Intellectual Property Practice Group at Waller Lansden in Nashville, Tenn. For more than 25 years, he has counseled clients on IP matters with an emphasis in the areas of domestic and international brand clearance and protection, domain name disputes, product distribution and franchising.
Email: Bob.Felber at

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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Uncategorized