The crisis surrounding the massive college admissions scandal has rocked our nation. Following a year-long investigation into a college admissions scam, Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, and other prominent figures were charged with fraud.
Some of the allegations involved helping parents with kids that were likely ineligible for admissions to top-tier schools. Through huge payouts, standardized test scores were rigged, and college coaches and other university insiders received bribes. After the scandal broke, heated discussions ensued on social media with most of the ridiculing directed toward the celebrity parents. However, many have pondered the question: how will these elite universities handle the backlash?
It is tough for companies of any size to anticipate a crisis, but every organization is vulnerable to having them. Allen Marketing Communications, Inc., a boutique travel and lifestyle public relations agency, counsels our clients that a crisis situation could strike at any moment. And, while it may not require a team going into full panic mode, it takes only one poorly handled public relations crisis to ruin an organization’s reputation.
That said, a company can always communicate a crisis to internal and external stakeholders. Not offering an appropriate and timely response can suggest that the company is inept or in some cases, criminally negligent. The outcome could ultimately affect the company’s bottom line.
In my years of working in public relations, it has always been necessary to rely on a crisis communication plan. Some of you may wonder what exactly is a crisis communication plan? Well, it’s a plan that outlines the process that an organization uses to respond to a critical situation that could negatively affect its reputation and profitability. Most importantly, it allows a company to have the first line of responses and plan of action prepared.
Here are a few of my suggestions, when establishing a crisis communication plan.
Anticipate a Crisis
Look at all possible ways a crisis could take form in your line of business or industry. This critical situation could result from a faulty product, embezzlement, social media snafu, a customer’s grievance handled improperly or even worse an incident that caused a fatality.
Assemble a Team
Assemble a crisis communications team comprised of senior officials from your company.
Identify a Spokesperson
Identify a member of your staff as a spokesperson. This person should feel comfortable talking with members of the press while under pressure.
Prepare Holding Statements
These statements are prepared in advance for your organization’s initial response. It buys crucial time for an organization to assess the situation and issue something later in greater detail.
You want to monitor your media mention. While Google alert is free, there are other more efficient tracking systems available.
Have a Digital and Social Strategy in Place
Your social strategy for reaching your stakeholders should encompass social media. Updates should be made regularly to the website’s newsroom.
Understand Your Target Audience
Identify and know your audience and the most effective way to communicate with them.
Update your Contact List
Have an accessible internal stakeholders’ contact list that is updated regularly.
Choose a location to Hold a Press Conference
This might not seem important, but the last thing you want to worry about during a crisis is where to hold a press conference in a room that has functioning electrical outlets.
Hire an Outside Public Relations Agency
If your company is incapable of handling a response of a crisis situation, you may want to consider hiring a boutique travel and lifestyle PR agency. You don’t want the situation to spiral out of control.
It is important for a team to meet and discuss how things could have been done better with the handling of the communication response. Did the company’s message align with its mission or reach its internal and external audience in an effective manner? Did your company’s representative commit to making internal policy changes, and if so, how soon will those changes take effect.
Responding to a critical situation can be stressful for any team, but knowing that the appropriate tools are in place and your team is taking the right steps by reacting accordingly brings much-added value to a company’s reputation.
By Olivia Almagro, consultant, Allen Marketing Communications, Inc.
Generation X, consumers born in the middle of the 1960’s to the middle of 1980’s, have the disposable income to contribute to the recovery of the post COVID-19 travel, food and beverage industries. According to Generational Travel Study 2020, “Gen X have solid purchasing power, as they make up 25 percent of the US population but produce 31 percent of national income.”
Allen Marketing Communications, a boutique New York City travel and lifestyle public relations, encourages savvy marketers to keep Gen Xers are part of their marketing priorities. Although this group is doing double duty raising their elementary to college children while taking care of their parents, Generation X are a resilient consumers having survived many storms in their lifetime.
Here’s what’s trending with Gen Xers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Post COVID-19 Travel
Gen Xers are key candidates for staycations often embarking on road trips with their families during this corona virus epidemic. Prior to the global lockdown, research has shown Gen Xers often indulges in at least three vacations often coinciding with their childrens’ school breaks.
This trend will continue in a post COVID-19 world as Gen Xers focus on the initiatives by destinations, hotels and car rentals to sanitize and disinfect, contactless check in, social distance to keep this group safe. Health and wellness are key inspirations for travel with this population.
“Gen X really care about hotels. Over 25 percent of their vacation budget is spent on the hotel, making it the biggest investment of the trip. Relaxation and quality time with loved ones is incredibly important to this generation, and so they lean towards destinations that are closer to home and have surroundings that are conducive to downtime,” according to the Generational Travel Study 2020.
Once again, if the price is right, then this generation will buy. Special promotions such as “book three nights and get the fourth one free” are very appealing for Gen Xers. Rewards programs are also important with this group building loyal consumers and it will inspire them to redeem their points for their next vacation.
Other amenities such as complimentary Wi-Fi will also inspire Gen Xers to book a stay, as well as help them uncover all the interesting things to do nearby.
Post COVID-19 Food and Beverage Industries
Healthy eating habits are top of mind with Generation X. Prior to the corona virus epidemic, health conscious consumers have been experimenting with vegan burgers, milk alternatives (Almond, oat and pea varieties), and plant-based fish into their diets.
“A newer, more promising direction, which supports the current mood, is to hybridize the categories — an alliance between animal and vegetable protein, with vegetables maintaining their natural integrity,” according to Food Business News.
Gen Xers have been advocates for sustainable foods often purchasing organic dairy products and vegetables at local farmers markets. Organic food consumption will continue in a post COVID-19 world.
Let’s face it. When times are tough, people naturally gravitate to comfort foods and “macaroni and cheese, enchiladas and brownies” have been trending during the lockdown.
The wine and spirits industries have done extremely well with Gen Xers contributing to a double digit sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Having said this, “the sober-curious movement, another leading trend gaining ground months ago, has given way to a rise in classic cocktails, global ciders, wine and beer,” according to Food Business News.
It is really important for savvy marketers to invest in SEO keywords and really optimize an eye catching, easy to navigate website for online searches. Gen Xers will search the internet for travel deals, as well as conduct cost comparisons for different food, beverage and consumer products prior to making purchases either in person or online.
Research shows that”50 percent of Gen Xers are really not influenced by social media.” Despite this fact, Facebook is the social media of choice to reach this demographic group and it is important to have a presence on this platform.
Our travel and lifestyle public relations professionals are here to help savvy marketers reach this influential yet often overlooked demographic group.
By Joanna Allen, chief executive officer, Allen Marketing Communications, Inc.
Are you an aspiring writer who has finally put pen to paper to write your first novel? Did the global coronavirus lockdown provide the necessary escapism for an established writer to create his or her latest masterpiece?
Now that your Pulitzer has been written, are you wondering how to market and promote your book and generate a lifetime of royalties? Allen Marketing Communications, Inc., a boutique travel and lifestyle public relations agency based in New York City, shares tips for introducing a new book and securing loyal fans during this global pandemic.
Media relations is an effective tool to introduce an author and his or her book. In developing our press materials, our lifestyle PR pros always conduct a deep dive with the author to learn the inspiration for creating his or her literary masterpiece. The personal and human touch helps to break through the clutter and stand out in the press.
Our team always identifies an industry trend or survey to make the author’s book timely, topical, and newsworthy for journalists. When you write a non-fiction or fiction book, you become an expert.
We are always striving to connect our clients with a subject from their book that we believe they have a deep understanding of a particular topic. It’s a valuable method we use in pitching to the media.
For example, one author wrote a book on finance, and at the time, it also happened to be Domestic Violence Awareness month. Research shows that most victims don’t leave their abuser because of finance, our client identified five steps on how a person could move forward. During the interview, she was not only able to talk about her role as a finance expert in town, but she was also able to promote her book.
Our personal relationships with books and lifestyle reporters have played an invaluable role in opening the doors for new and established writers. By having a personal connection with various media outlets, we are able to place our clients with front and center media opportunities that some authors may not have with other boutique lifestyle public relations agencies.
Social Media Marketing
Facebook and Instagram are an effective platforms to launch a new book and engage the writer’s followers. Organic posts are always beneficial to keep your followers current and connected about book signings around the country.
It is important to post stunning, high-resolution images, as well as respond in a timely manner to your loyal fans commentary on a post.
If the author’s budget permits, targeted Facebook and Instagram ads can translate to book sales. One of our clients gained a significant number of new followers, and the money spent on advertising was nominal compared to the end results.
Research has shown that avid book lovers will travel to the end of the world to meet his or her favorite author. In fact, the Berlin International Literature Festival, Brooklyn Book Festival, National Black Book Festival, South Florida Book Festival, Harlem Book Fair, Cheltenham Literary Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival bring die-hard literary fans to a destination to meet their favorite author(s).
During this coronavirus epidemic, the literary festival has gone online once again, connecting book lovers with their favorite authors. It is possible the literary festival may evolve to be a hybrid experience – live in-person readings with virtual online sessions – as we embrace life in a post-COVID-19 world.
Our lifestyle public relations professionals are here to help. Give us a call.
By Olivia Almagro, consultant, Allen Marketing Communications, Inc.
“Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are now the nation’s largest living adult generation surpassing Baby Boomers,” according to the U.S. Bureau. As the economy re-opens during COVID-19 pandemic, Millennials, ages 24 to 39, will play an influential role on the road to recovery for the travel, food and beverage industries.
It is no secret that the corona virus has taken its toll on Millennials and other demographic groups as it pertains to employment -- furloughs, layoffs and reduced work hours – forcing them to become frugal spenders during these critical times. Despite this fact, Millennials have been leading the way as it pertains certain trends -- contactless payment and online shopping.
Allen Marketing Communications, a boutique travel and lifestyle public relations agency based in New York City, shares insights about key travel, food and beverage trends with Millennials during this epidemic.
Post COVID-19 Travel
Millennials, along with Generation Z, will play a pivotal role on the road to recovery for the travel industry. Although American travelers are temporarily restricted from entering many countries around the world, research reveals that “Millennials consistently answered that they will be more willing to travel sooner than Gen X and Baby Boomers and are less risk-adverse.” (Source: Fuel COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Study)
If the price is right, then people will buy. During these tough economic times, it is important to have limited time offers and amazing travel deals will inspire Millennials to venture on a socially distanced adventure.
Instagram will continue to serve as “Insta Passport.” Stunning images will play an important role in helping Generation Y to escape for hiking, camping and glamping at a national park or other areas of natural beauty.
Savvy marketers should note that “for distances of driving up to two hours, 66 percent of consumers will be ready to travel within three months of restrictions being lifted, while 36 percent would be willing to travel within one month vs, 31 percent in the one-to-three month window. Staying local and driving up to six hours was just under 50 percent within three months and flying comprised just 22 percent. Those in the greater than $100K bracket would be willing to fly within 12 months at 69 percent vs. 53 percent for the less than $50K and 59 percent for $50K to $100K group.” (Source: Fuel COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Study)
Food and Beverage
Over the last couple of months, health officials have encouraged consumers across the country to incorporate immune boosting foods into our daily diets. Research reveals Millennials have embraced healthier eating habits during this epidemic.
During the lockdown, Generation Y have been perfecting their culinary and baking skills often experimenting with meatless and vegan-inspired recipes. Others have supported local restaurants by ordering take out items – plant-based alternatives, healthy bowls, and whole grains to boost their immunity.
As restaurants re-open and move from 25 to 50 percent capacity, this group of savvy food lovers are creating signature one of a kind meals by mixing and matching different flavors and food items on the menu. A National Restaurant Association report found that “58 percent of millennials were more likely to choose one restaurant over another based on its ability to provide sustainably grown, raised and manufactured foods. 30 percent of millennials eat foods that are certified as organic.”
Although liquor sales have exploded with the corona virus, younger Millennials have stayed sober for the most part to maintain a healthy immune system. Mocktails and zero-proof beverages have done extremely well with this group of savvy consumers.
Social media will also play a key role in inspire the discerning Generation Y food lover to dine at your establishment or try a new beverage.
Although COVID-19 pandemic has forced Millennials and other generations to make many changes in their daily routines, it is worth noting these trends to reach the largest demographic group, stay relevant, top of mind and inspire sales for your brand.
Our travel and lifestyle public relations professionals are here to help. Give us a call.
By Joanna Allen, chief executive officer, Allen Marketing Communications, Inc.