‘I wish I had breast cancer’ campaign draws flak

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Objectively, pancreatic cancer is one of the worst types of cancer someone can get, with a survival rate of only 3 percent.

But when the United Kingdom charity Pancreatic Cancer Action released an ad campaign depicting patients wishing they had other cancers—all with higher survival rates—representatives from other organizations did not take it well.

In one ad, the words “I wish I had breast cancer” are written in a huge font next to pancreatic cancer patient Kerry Harvey’s somber face.

“While the intention of the campaign is great, the adverts are hugely upsetting and incredibly insensitive and divisive,” Dyleth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, toldCivilSociety last week.

Chris Askew, chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said, “I’ve yet to meet a man or woman with breast cancer who would consider themselves in any way fortunate to have received a diagnosis.”

Writing in The Guardian, Pancreatic Cancer Action Chief Executive Ali Stunt explained that the ad, which the organisation created with the firm Team Darwin, was designed to spark debate.

“With a limited budget, it was vital that the advert would stand out and provoke thought and initiate discussion among members of the public, the media, and influencers,” she wrote. “The decision to run this campaign was not taken lightly, and we carried out a fair amount of research to understand what the likely reaction was going to be.”

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8 reasons why companies don’t succeed at global PR

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1. “Americanitis” 
Some U.S. executives think that having a high profile in the domestic market automatically guarantees a hero’s welcome when they land on foreign shores. After all, why shouldn’t the image they’ve spent years building in the U.S. magically cross the Atlantic and Pacific, conform to local societies, adapt to local market nuances, and reach out to their targeted constituencies?

Unfortunately, such an attitude leads to thinking that the same PR tactics and strategies that work so well in the U.S. can just be tossed over the fence to be used in other countries. We’ve come to call this mentality “Americanitis.”

2. Resources spread too thin 
Companies often find that they don’t have the resources and/or budget to effectively address all the target markets in a given geography.

For example, a company’s European focus might be on the U.K., Germany, France, and Italy. Rather than spread a modest budget across all four markets, it’s better to deploy the budget in one or two countries where you can make a difference.

3. Corporate HQ control 
Often, the early funding for a global PR program comes out of the U.S. coffers. It stands to reason that the U.S. public relations people would want some involvement in the international PR activities and how the money is spent.

When the corporate HQ exercises strict control and approval over every single overseas action, an incredible bureaucracy takes hold and handicaps the global PR effort. Just the simple task of approving a news release can turn into a nightmarish saga as suggestions and tweaks ping-pong between HQ and the country office, eating up everyone’s time.

4. Failure to localize content 
Localizing content goes beyond the translation of materials. Business issues vary from country to country. Yet many companies aren’t willing to put in the time to localize the storytelling for each target country.

The more effort a company puts into shaping the content to the characteristics of a particular market, the stronger the story becomes. There’s a reason McDonald’s sells a burger with a squid-ink-dyed bun in China.

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CSR and Internal Communication … a match made in engagement heaven?

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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can often sit apart from Internal Communication in an organisation’s structure – but would both be better suited as an integrated function, woven throughout the business?

What’s the status of CSR in your organisation today and where is it heading? Furthermore, when you consider the Internal Communication function, do you see CSR integrating or transforming? We spoke to IC and CSR leaders to understand exactly how the IC/CSR relationship is playing out. At the highest level, ensuring CSR integrates itself within the Internal Communication function, and broader business, can in itself lead to driving future company strategy and prevent stagnation of CSR – so which companies are making inroads in this space and how well-positioned is Internal Communication to facilitate it?

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8 pointers for responding to negative coverage

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The way you handle a negative story can make all the difference. Here’s how to respond without fanning the flames of a negative situation:

Do respond. Don’t hide. In many cases, a lack of response will be seen as a validation of the criticisms or, at best, an information vacuum. The sooner the response, the easier it will be to control the situation. Yet a speedy reaction is often difficult. In a high-stakes situation where the facts are unclear, say so, but refute any untruths and pledge to provide supporting information as quickly as possible.

But don’t dignify baseless rumors. One exception to the above is the case of an unsubstantiated rumor, where you risk calling more attention to it by responding. The same is true of an Internet troll. In that case, let the community handle blatant misbehavior, foul language, or abusive comments.

Let your advocates defend you. In that vein, if you have trusted clients or customers willing to comment in your defense, by all means, let them. The essence of reputation is what others say about you in public, so third parties, even those who are not 100 percent objective, are your allies.

Don’t overreact. 
It’s natural to feel emotional or even use defensive language when attacked, particularly if things get personal. When accused of copying a competitor’s intellectual property, a client drafted a lengthy defense on his website that referred to “slander” and “lies.” We ultimately convinced him that the post might raise more questions than it answered, particularly for site visitors with no knowledge of the situation. If you can’t be objective (and it’s hard when it’s your business), seek objective advice.

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10 questions to ask when creating your focus group

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What better way to inform Internal Communication strategy than by talking directly to a selection of internal stakeholders and gathering priceless qualitative feedback? 

1. How many focus groups should I hold?

Unfortunately, there is no magic number. Your goal should simply be to conduct the fewest number of focus groups that will provide the widest range of input – that will use time and money the most wisely.

2. Should I also have a survey?

If you conduct focus groups before a survey, you don’t need to conduct them for each demographic subgroup – the survey will capture that data for you. Just be sure to pick representative groups that will provide insights into a wide range of perspectives to make sure that all the right issues are addressed on the survey.

For focus groups probing issues after a survey, the results can identify subgroups (for example, those with average, negative or positive results) to probe the differences in those groups. However, if the focus group research will stand alone without a companion survey, you may need to conduct more focus groups because you will have no other way of identifying variations by subgroup.

3. How should I schedule the sessions?

Depending on the complexity of the topic and the number of questions, each session should last about one to two hours. Schedule sessions to allow for time in between to review and clean up the notes from each session. Spacing the sessions also helps prevent congestion near the doors as one group is leaving and another is gathering.

Select a room that is private, with a round or rectangular table so all participants can face each other. Provide appropriate beverages and snacks for the time of day. Make sure any visual aids you’ll need are available, such as flipchart pads or overhead projectors. Videotaping or audiotaping is recommended only for consumer focus groups; employees have too much to lose to be candid when they know their comments could be attributed to them individually.

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Corporate newsrooms fail to provide what journalists want, study finds

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What do newsrooms want from PR practitioners these days?

Images. Video. Embed codes to ease video delivery on the media’s websites.

So, what are company and organizational newsrooms doing about that?

Not enough, according to a Proactive Report survey by Sally Falkow, president of PRESSfeed: The Social Newsroom. The survey found that 83 percent of journalists regard images with content as important, but only 38 percent of PR pros add images to news content.

Falkow says many corporate newsrooms are failing to provide content and links that journalists “are looking for, and things they think are important, and things that make their jobs easier for them, and that they would therefore use that content more readily.”

The report adds weight to a sense among many publicists and journalists alike that the PR industry hasn’t done enough to adapt to a new, image- and video-based environment.

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Viewers have come to expect videos, Falkow says. Twitter last fall began displaying images in one’s feed, rather than requiring users to click on individual tweets, boosting the importance of pictures.

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What all good clients have in common

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[Source] Over the past several years, I have had the pleasure of doing PR for many great clients and some that are not so wonderful. One long-term client is a brilliant communicator — she tells me what I need to know before I even know that I need to know it. She is also appreciative and actually asks me if I got my last check. I would walk through fire for her! At the other end of the spectrum, a very demanding client had such wildly unrealistic expectations, it was comical. It wasn’t so funny when I did not get paid in full.

So as I plan my new business strategy for 2014, I’ve put together a list of “best client” common denominators. These are the people we should all strive to work with in the New Year:

  • They respect what we do
  • They are responsive
  • They communicate effectively and keep us up-to-date
  • They see us as partners
  • They speak well of us
  • They pay us on time
  • Their expectations about what PR can do for them are realistic
  • They provide feedback often
  • They don’t undermine your expertise by rewriting your press releases or articles
  • They don’t expect you to work for free
  • They say “thank you.”