Named to PR News CSR A-List three years + a dozen honors for @GivingTues, @WarriorsinPink, @FrenchNever4Get, @OneYoungWorld + more

Six Copper Anvils in 2015 from our new Phoenix office: Fox Restaurant Concepts, JCPenney, Hispanic research, TVT, Juby True, IPLP

2015 Bulldog Reporter CSR: Gold, Best Mid-Size Agency for Corporate Reputation + Good Works ($3 Million to $10 Million)

Internatl PR Assoc best: @climasphere (International ’15, Environment ’14) + @transitions (Community Rlations ’13) + 10 hon mentions overall

Two PR Champions in 2015 named by the PR Council: Stephanie Clarke and Kate Urbach

Pittsburgh does it again w/4 PRSA Renaissance honors in ’15: EPIC white paper + mktg comms, Bayer MS e-newsletter + Rising Star

59 individual honors (local, national, global) for @havasprus staff, from Intern of the Year to Hall of Fame to Most Powerful in PR

Customer Service: A Big Marketing Opportunity

[Originally posted on PRWeek.]

I was recently in a car accident, arguably one of life’s most awful experiences. In this instance, I was pretty lucky, walking away without a scratch. The car wasn’t quite as lucky.

My first call was to my insurance company, Travelers. If ever there was a low-interest category, for me this was it. My insurance broker had recommended who we use, and the only time I gave it much thought was when it was time to renegotiate my premiums. I absolutely viewed car insurance as a commodity purchase.

That changed post-accident. Travelers arranged for its concierge service to handle everything, from taking my car from the city tow lot to the concierge location nearest my home, to preparing an estimate and negotiating with the body shop to have the work done. But it didn’t stop there. They encouraged me to see a doctor and called multiple times post-X-rays to make sure I was feeling OK. They arranged for my rental car. And they had called me every other day with an update on my car’s repair status. My experience had been so positive that I’ve been going around talking about car insurance, telling everyone how great Travelers is.

With my car in the shop, I needed a rental car, and Travelers arranged and paid for one with Enterprise. Typically, when I needed a rental car, Enterprise was not even part of my consideration set. That is now forever changed. Evan, the assistant manager at my local Enterprise location, greeted me by asking how I was feeling, aware that I had recently been in a car accident. He then took me to the lot to look at the available cars to see if they had one that would provide a comparable driving experience to my own car. I wasn’t happy with what he had, so he arranged for an Infiniti G37 to be brought down from another location and delivered to my home. A few days later, he called to see how I was enjoying driving the car. I’m not sure the dealership who sold me my car ever did that.

In each of these instances, the customer service I experienced was so superlative that it changed the way I thought about—and talk about—both of these brands. Smart companies will recognize that customer service is the next big opportunity in brand marketing. Exceptional service can make all the difference between a satisfied customer and a passionate brand advocate.

Brand Bowl 2012: A Kid’s View

[Originally posted on Mommy Lens.]

I live with two 8-year-old football fanatics, so I knew Sunday’s game was must-see TV. I expected running commentary as the boys’ beloved Giants battled the Patriots. What I didn’t expect was Monday night’s dinner conversation: a detailed postgame review of their favorite Super Bowl ads. At first I thought their favorites would only be for things they already knew and liked, but I was surprised that their top 10 list included three car commercials and a Bud Light spot.

Sam’s hands-down favorite commercial was M&M’s “Just My Shell.” When I asked what he liked about the ad, he said it was funny and that he liked that it featured one of his favorite songs. He then proceeded to deliver the commercial’s entire storyline, ending with his own version of the “wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.” His other favorite spots were Pepsi’s “King’s Court” “because it was funny” and he “loves ‘X Factor’ and Melanie Amaro,” and Fiat’s “Seduction,” again because it was funny and had “a cool car.”

Both boys agreed that Coke’s polar bears were funny, Doritos’ “Sling Baby” was hysterical and Honda’s Ferris Bueller parody was great, especially because they loved the movie (and I didn’t even know they’d seen it). Although they had no idea who Jerry Seinfeld or Jay Leno are, they were able to tell the story about one guy trying to get a new Acura and losing out to another guy in a flying squirrel suit. They also got a kick out of a French bulldog in running shoes for Skechers.

What got to me most, however, was Jacob’s explanation of his favorite ad, Bud Light’s “Rescue Dog.” He’s partial to puppies, so that was a big part of the draw for him, especially since he’s far from legal drinking age. But when we were talking about the ad, which he referred to as “Here Wego,” he was concerned that the people were using Wego for their own selfish reasons: to bring them beer.

Now, I’m used to the kids giving me the play-by-play after a game, but never did I think that the ads had this much of an impact on them. I was amazed by their ability to recall the spots, name the brand each ad was for and recite the scripts verbatim. Of course, as one friend put it, “This year’s ads, rife with sophomoric humor, must have been designed with a bull’s-eye target of an 8-year-old boy.”

But marketers can take heart. As Sam puts it, “You know an ad is good when the kids like it, ’cause then they bug their parents to buy stuff.”

I guess Pepsi, Bud Light, Doritos and a new Fiat are on my shopping list!

Photo Credit: Google/

My Love Affair with Dyson

[Originally posted on Mommy Lens.]

When you live with two 8-year-old boys and have countless kids in and out of your house all week, a vacuum is a major necessity. When we bought our house five years ago, we purchased a Dyson, a high-end, high-priced cleaning machine, and expected that it would last forever (or at least close to it).

The other day, I found the vacuum in my home office with a note from the cleaning lady informing me that it was broken. I started looking online for repair shops and new vacuums, trying to decide the quickest and least painful way back to household cleanliness. My husband, ever the practical one in our relationship, suggested that I spend a whole lot less on a replacement vacuum, thinking the cleaning lady wasn’t in need of such a pricey “gift.” I decided to wait until morning and see what the folks at Dyson suggested I do.

My call with Dyson customer service may truly be the best customer experience I have ever had with a brand. Nelson, my customer care representative, spent 49 minutes on the phone with me and helped diagnose my vacuum’s problem. By listening to the sound of the vacuum cleaner, he was able to detect a clog and stayed with me as I found a lovely assortment of batteries, rocks, pens, paper clips and small plastic toys stuck in the cleaning hose. He then proceeded to help me fix it, staying on the phone with me until my vacuum was purring like new.

Other brands, take note: Never once did Nelson try to sell me anything and never once did I feel like he wished he were doing something else.

Photo Credit:

The Color of Fall Is Pink

[Originally posted on Mommy Lens.]

When many think about the changing of the season, they picture the greens, red and golds that make up the beautiful fall foliage. But with October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s gotten awfully hard not to think pink.

Numerous companies have jumped on the pink bandwagon and, according to The New York Times, “the pinking of America has become a multibillion-dollar business, a marketing, merchandising and fund-raising opportunity that is almost unrivaled in scope.” While some of the brand tie-ins seem silly or gratuitous, it’s hard to argue with the $420 million raised by Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 2010 alone.

The Ford Motor Co. (one of our clients) donates 100 percent of the proceeds of its Warriors in Pink gear to Komen and during the month of October donated $1 per “like” of its Ford Warriors in Pink Facebook page. Martina McBride launched her new album, “Eleven,” with a cross-country train tour on the Pink Together Express powered by Amtrak (another client), culminating with a performance atop the Empire State Building and lighting of the building in pink, all to raise breast cancer awareness. Then you have the NFL, whose games featured players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, on-field pink ribbon stencils, special game balls and pink coins, all to support the fight against breast cancer.

But my favorite pink campaign this year was by American Airlines. I stumbled upon its efforts by happenstance; as I boarded my flight from NYC to Chicago, I was handed a pink-and-white airplane-shaped cookie asking me to #tweetthecure. Not realizing that I was flying on the day of the airline’s global, systemwide “Pink Out,” I was surprised and, I have to admit, delighted, when I walked through O’Hare enjoying the creatively decorated ticket counters and gates. My two favorites were a pink bowling alley asking customers to help “Strike Out Cancer” and a photo display of employees’ pets called “Paws for Pink.”

The energy and enthusiasm of American’s employees for the cause was catching. I found myself lingering in the airport and photographing their displays. I joined their efforts to raise $1 million for breast cancer research with a donation of my own. And, as a testament that pink marketing can really make a difference, I attempted to switch my return flight from a competing airline (but, alas, my ticket was nonrefundable).

What pink efforts did you enjoy this October?

Cause Makes the Band a Brand

Originally posted on Mommy Lens.

Just reflecting on last night’s U2 show at New Meadowlands Stadium and what sets this band (brand) apart from others. In a world where everything and everyone seems to have a sponsor, it was great to see that the band whose front man is portrayed as one of the world’s great humanitarians hasn’t sold out.

Of course, the stadium sponsors were hard at work entertaining fans preshow with trivia contests at the Pepsi Max booth and a karaoke stage at the MetLife entrance, but noticeably absent was a corporate sponsor for the tour. Instead, One, Bono’s charitable organization, and Amnesty International were prominently featured throughout.

From placement in the tour program to volunteers canvassing for signatures throughout the parking lots and stadium, it was hard not to get what matters to this band.

One of the most moving moments of the night was a tribute to Burmese prisoners with an electrifying performance of “Walk On” that featured volunteers from Amnesty International circling the 360-degree stage holding simple white candles whose flames flickered in the breeze. It was a truly haunting image and one that reminded everyone in attendance why Bono is so much more than a rock star.