Archive for the 'Journalist' Category


Kmart’s Holiday Ad: Below the Belt or Missed the Boat?

Thanks to Jordan McNamara for contributing this article to The Side Note.

In a 2012 article, Advertising Age discussed Kmart’s shrinking presence in the low-cost retail field ( Annual sales were down, causing Ad Age to suggest the brand had lost relevance with discount shoppers. In the realm of discount stores, Wal-Mart dominates the low-price segment and Target holds the throne for hip, so where does this leave Kmart?

Over the holidays, Kmart and parent company Sears Holdings Corp. ( made a big jingle in the viral world with the release of the holiday “Show Your Joe” commercial.

Show Your Joe

Following last year’s “Ship My Pants” spot and “Big Gas Savings,” all created by agency DraftFCB, this indicates a major brand shift for the retail chain. Kmart’s Facebook page received many complaints from angry viewers, calling the ad “disgusting and not fit for family consumption” and “inappropriate for kids!!!” ( Many customers also accused Kmart of sacrificing family values and decency in exchange for cheap laughs.
Departure from their traditional ‘baby boomer’ demographic in pursuit of younger shoppers may be exactly Kmart’s intention. According to a Forbes article from last February, Kmart is focusing on improving sales within the 18-34 year old group (

However, Time reported humor is not an effective tactic for converting sales ( Although funny spots succeed at being memorable for consumers, they do not distinguish why the brand is better or what problem the product solves. “Ship my Pants” and “Big Gas Savings” have more than 30 million views combined views on YouTube, but Forbes reported 3rd quarter sales for Kmart were still down (

The Joe Boxer commercial may be the perfect example of funny, but ineffective. With more than 17 million views on YouTube, the ad has unquestionably garnered attention. However, the spot highlights only one product line available in Kmart stores rather than the Kmart brand as a whole. Plus, it lacks differentiation—what about these specific boxers make them so great? Why are they better than others? Why should I shop at Kmart for underwear? The ad does not answer any of these questions to make the brand or product relatable to the consumer. Both earlier ads by DraftFCB mentioned above do speak to benefits Kmart offers its customers, but the most effective ads connect with consumers on a deeper, emotional level.

Due to holiday shopping, fourth quarter sales can account for as much as 40 percent of annual sales for retailers ( With that in mind, Kmart needed a stellar season to climb out of the hole after six years of continually declining sales ( Numbers for 2013’s fourth quarter have not been released yet, but if third quarter sales are any indication, this ad will not be enough to sway shoppers away from other discount stores.

Kmart may have some big…er, bells, but that might not have been enough to fulfill this retailer’s Christmas wishes.

Do you shop at Kmart? Tell us what you think of the Joe Boxer ad here. Is your brand in need of an overhaul? The Weise team can identify problem areas and create a strategy to give your brand a boost in our Navigator session. Contact us. 


5 Ways to Get the Media to Pick Up Your Story – Part 1 of 3

Please welcome guest blogger, healthcare communications professional Rachel Brand who will bring The Side Note a series of three blogs for the next three weeks on health care public relations.

Do you want to write more compelling press releases and earn more coverage?

You should. Health care is ripe with dramatic medical rescues, fascinating technology, unsung heroes and stirring ethical debates. But these stories often don’t get told. That’s because pr pros are writing leads like this:


The new health insurance plan, authorized by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is designed to provide coverage to uninsured individuals who have been denied health insurance or been offered only unaffordable options.

Sure, it’s important. But is it interesting? And – will it drive coverage?

1. Lead with the impact

For your next lede, ask yourself out loud, “what does it mean to the man in the green pick-up truck?” You can see him, across the park under the tree, sitting in his rusty forest green truck.

In other words, how does your news benefit, effect or change the lives of real people?

How about:

Thousands of uninsured Americans, desperate for healthcare coverage because they are chronically ill, can now see a doctor thanks to a new federally funded health insurance plan.

But what if your program doesn’t have any direct impact on people, at least not yet? Then…

2. Lead with people

Whether you are promoting a walk to fight cancer, a rally for homelessness, or the appointment of new CEO of your hospital, find a person and tell his or her story. Better, yet, tell the story of an important person in an unusual way.

Typical CEO appointment releases have headlines/first paragraphs like this:


(Anytown, USA) Lawrence Leader, currently the COO of St. Elizabeth’s Regional Hospital, has been appointed CEO of the hospital. He takes over as current CEO Marcy Mercy retires after a long and distinguished career.

But what if you took a half hour to find out Larry’s story?

The results might be:


(Anytown, USA) Larry Leader’s mother, a first-grade schoolteacher in Moline, IL, used to count out coins from her wallet each Saturday morning before grocery shopping. Rarely was there extra to buy candy.

Poor but strong-willed Florence Leader pushed her children to go to college. Larry, the youngest of five, enrolled as an Army medic to pay for it. …

The moral of the story? Writing a compelling press release that leads with the impact or leads with people is a better way to get the media to notice your press release.

(Continued next week)

Rachel Brand is a healthcare communications professional who can teach writing over brown bag lunches at your company. Contact her at rachel (at)


Is Social Media our Industrial Revolution?

Yesterday, I was watching a report about the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  I was surprised to learn that the spill was larger than the Exxon Valdez disaster. I was even more surprised to see how many reporters and analysts were ready to offer opinions on how to clean up the spill, how the U.S. government should be involved and the restitution BP should pay to the American people.  There was instant reaction by bloggers, Twitter and through other types of social media.

I was struck by how social media journalism has become mainstream.  I wasn’t watching objective journalism reporting the events of the day; I was on a roller-coaster of emotion.

The media industry used to be shaped by journalists. Today, enthusiasts, analysts and zealots masquerading as experts join them. Social discussion, opinion and advocacy journalists are filtering the news I see today.  This is a transformative time as we are able to participate in the news and information being disseminated. We are no longer only consumers of information.

Social media has evolved to influence the information we obtain. It is increasingly becoming the preferred method for the acquisition and spread of knowledge among common people.  Is social media our generations’ version of the Industrial Revolution?

In business terms, it is redefining how marketers respond to the marketplace.  It is increasingly important for businesses to have a social media strategy.  Without it, companies are missing important customers, stakeholders and influential opinion makers.  There are conversations taking place about your industry, your company and your market. You need to participate in those conversations to ensure the most accurate information is being disseminated. You need to listen to those conversations to understand consumer perception.

Most importantly, if you are active in social media, your influence in those conversations increases.  This has additional business value:

  • Improved search engine rankings (SEO)
  • More traffic to your company website
  • Ability to quickly respond to crisis situations

Participate in the conversation, by posting a reply to this blog. If you need to improve your social media prominence, contact us at Weise Communications. Check out Weise Communications on Facebook and “Like” it for future updates.


Meeting with the media

At the Wednesday, May 26, Colorado Healthcare Communicators breakfast, Denver-area media members shared tips, tricks and thoughts on how best to communicate with them. Media members at the breakfast included:

  • Justin Jimenez –
  • Misty Montano – CBS 4
  • Tim Ryan – 9News
  • John Romero – Fox 31
  • Daniel Smith – Your Hub
  • Clayton Woullard – Your Hub
  • Natasha Gardner – 5280 Magazine
  • Jill West – Entercom Radio: KOSI, Alice, 99.9, KEZW
  • Amber Johnson – Denver Post’s Mile High Mamas
  • Mike Cote – ColoradoBiz Magazine

Meeting with the mediaThough these exchanges happen on a fairly regular basis with many different organizations, there is always something for attendees to take away. From this meeting, the media panel emphasized that increased workload and multiple platforms are keeping them very busy. With shrinking staff and increasing content to be created (several outlets talked about new newscasts that are being added and increased frequency of newsletters), media need to do their jobs faster and better. To cut through the clutter and get coverage in a crowded space communicators have to understand the media and help them get the content they need when and how they need it.

By crafting a story to a specific media outlet and showing the contact why this story matters, communicators can help the media to cut time reading through information not pertaining to their outlet or audience. Once the media expresses interest in a story, communicators can further assist by telling the story in the same way that the media tells it. If you are trying to get a story covered by:

  • Television – explain the compelling visual images that could accompany the story.
  • Radio – describe how the story translates to sound including what sound bites are available.
  • Print – identify the most important facts and make clear why the readers of that specific publication would be interested.

At the end of the day, trying to get the media to cover a story means you have to think like the person on the other side of that email, phone call, conversation, Facebook message or Tweet. Why do they care and why will this story interest readers, viewers or listeners?


does your franchise have what it takes to be published in Franchise Times?

Getting published

What franchisor wouldn’t like to have their story published in a trade magazine like Franchise Times? Seemingly everyone would like to have their story published but few stories are ever chosen for publication. How can you set your franchise apart and make your story more appealing to an editor?

Franchise Marketing’s Sean Kelley interviewed the managing editor of the Franchise Times, Nancy Weingartner, in March. The interview was primarily focused on answering the question: How can franchisors improve their chances of getting their story published in trade magazines like the Franchise Times?

Three useful tips from the interview:

•    Editors are attracted to companies that are engaged in innovative activities.

•    Ease up. Avoid being pushy in your attempts to create a relationship.

•    When you have a story idea, send a short e-mail with attached background information.

Below I have included one question and answer from the interview. I found Nancy’s response to be very helpful. I hope you enjoy it as well.

“SK:  What’s the best way for a franchise company to “pitch” their story to Franchise Times?  What format and method should they use to submit their information (Email?  Fax?  Mail?)  Should they follow up?  How often?  What can they do to increase their chances of success?

NW:  The best way is to send a short e-mail message with a file attached with background information. Tell us why you’re different or how you’ve solved a problem others could learn from. While a follow-up phone call is good—it puts a real person behind the e-mail—be careful not to bug too much. Sometimes the lead time on stories is immediate, other times it may take a couple of months for an editor to decide to follow up on something. Always be polite and respectful of the editors’ time and acknowledge that you know he or she receives a lot of requests. One thing to definitely not do is to get snippy with editors or demanding. Remember people like doing business with people they like, and that goes for editors, too—we like writing stories about people we like. So be yourself.  Don’t try to force a relationship.  I’ve had people call me every month with an update on their pitch, and, in many cases, I got around to doing the story because they captured my imagination.”

To read the full interview, click here.


best British television commercial

hovis The British television advertising awards (btaa) were recently held in London.  Hovis, a bread manufacturer that has been in business for 122 years, won the award for best television commercial.  The 122 second  ad, called “Go on Lad,” takes you through 122 years of Britain’s history. I really liked this commercial because it did such a great job of telling a story.  My favorite part was when the young lad was running past a window with a radio in it during WWII.  As he was doing so, Winston Churchill could be heard reciting part of his famous speech saying, “we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender.”  It was components like that that made me feel apart of the boy’s journey.

I have posted the video below for your enjoyment.  Click here for a full list of winners. (Courtesy of Brand Republic News.)


Top Five Reasons Journalists Visit Your Web Site

When creating new and improved Web sites for clients, we’re always thinking about the viewer when it comes to usability. One viewer that must always be taken into consideration is the journalist.

Journalists visit Web sites in order to gather information for stories. They are often on deadline and need that information fast. Is your Web site journalist-friendly?

Jakob Nielsen

Jakob Nielsen

Jakob Nielsen, “the guru of Web page usability” according to The New York Times, reviewed PR sections of corporate sites and found that most “fail to support journalists in their quest for the facts, information, and contacts they can use to write stories about companies and their products.”

We took the time to check out the PR sections of some high profile corporations, and unfortunately we got the same results. According to Nielsen, “Journalists repeatedly said that poor website usability could reduce or completely eliminate their press coverage of a company.”

So what are journalists looking for when they visit your site? Nielsen’s findings revealed five things:

1) A PR contact (name and telephone number)

2) Basic facts about the company (spelling of an executive’s name, his/her age, headquarters location, and so on)

3) The company’s spin on events

4) Financial information

5) Images to use as illustrations in stories

This may seem obvious to you, but Nielsen’s studies clearly show that not enough organizations include these five items in an easy to access and read PR section. Luckily, updating your news area shouldn’t take much time or effort and can make a big impact on your PR campaign results.

Do you have any experiences – good or bad – with journalists and Web site usability? Share your story here.

Tomorrow on The Side Note: RGM, a Chicago-based top tiered ad agency specializing in campaigns that push boundaries – and buttons.

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