Friday, May 15, 2015

Things I’ve Googled this week: “Hot Hamburglar”

By: Ashley Rodriguez

Image credit: TIME
In what is certainly a sign that Millennial women have taken over McDonald’s marketing team, the brand recently introduced a new Hamburglar. A hot Hamburglar. So, add that to the list of things I never thought I’d Google: “Hot Hamburglar.”

Through this clever ambush makeover, McDonald’s has gotten women ages 18-45 to pay attention to the company again. It’s completely irrelevant that McHottie is supposed to be promoting the brand’s new Sirloin Third Pound Burger. The product has taken a backseat to the Hamburglar’s new look, but who really cares anyway?

So why, after 13 years, has the Hamburglar returned in this new form? McDonald’s VP of U.S. Marketing Joel Yashinsky told Mashable:

"We felt it was time to debut a new look for the Hamburglar after he’s been out of the public eye all these years. He’s had some time to grow up a bit and has been busy raising a family in the suburbs and his look has evolved over time."

He’s also lost a significant amount of weight (#ReverseDadBod?) and gotten some killer veneers.

Here’s to hoping every McDonald’s grand opening includes an appearance by the Hot Hamburglar.

Lines. Out. The. Door.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Thumbs Up With Periscope!

By Toby Srebnik

Every once in a while, I stumble upon a new app that fascinates me. About two weeks ago, a friend of mine invited me to an event where my wife and I would live-tweet our experience. He mentioned he was going to broadcast the on-site auction using a new app called Periscope. I was intrigued, so I asked him what does it do? He said it essentially allows you to live-stream from events via your cellphone and receive direct interaction from people who may be watching the event.

Shortly thereafter, I learned more about Periscope. They tout themselves as the best way to share and watch live video broadcasts from your mobile phone. It is presently for iPhone only but is supposed to be coming to Android soon. The whole principle the app is based around is being fascinated by the idea of discovering the world through someone else’s eyes.

I downloaded the app but didn’t really know what I would use it for initially. Then, my wife’s friend invited us to the Surfers for Autism music concert last Friday night. A Tom Petty cover band was playing and they were so good, I wanted to share their sound with my followers. I pressed a button on the app, notified my Twitter followers that I was live, and began broadcasting their version of “Running Down a Dream” to my Periscope followers.

A chat bar opens up during the broadcast where your Periscope followers can make comments and ask questions while you’re broadcasting. Followers can double-tap the screen to send hearts to show they like what they are watching.

What made an impact with me was the follower who wrote via the chat bar that her son has autism and she appreciated me sharing it because he was enjoying the music. Since then, I’ve broadcast a couple of Giancarlo Stanton and Evan Longoria at-bats from the recent Rays-Marlins series and my own son’s at-bats from Little League, which a good friend in Alabama has enjoyed seeing. Likewise, I’ve enjoyed seeing his son’s junior high basketball games through the magic of Periscope.

Sports aside, there is a behind-the-scenes aspect to Periscope that makes me believe it will be the next big thing and will have brands exploring ways to use it. Newscasters are already using it during commercial breaks to show what they do when you see or hear commercials. In addition, they are talking directly to Periscope while B-roll of a story is airing. Interviews are being conducted where the person being interviewed answers questions from the chat module in real time verbally. Reporters are live-streaming press conferences. Families are showcasing fun outdoor activities with their kids.

As a PR agency, we will look to find ways to incorporate Periscope for our own clients’ social media activities.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Making the Case for Wasting Time on the Internet

By Ashley Rodriguez

(Editor's Note: The alternative title for this post was, "Proving to My Husband That I Do Actually Work.")

Ten years ago, wasting time on the Internet was my excuse not to study for my anthropology exam. Today, I don't consider scrolling through my Facebook or Twitter feeds to be "wasting" time as much as spending valuable time seeing what's going on. 

PR can sometimes feel like you need to know a little about everything going on at all times. It's a little bit of a mind explosion. 

I'm the queen of a dozen open browser tabs and was once told by a stranger sitting behind me at a conference that he's never seen someone type and click so fast. True story. I took it as an incredible compliment. One that only someone in PR would get a little emotional about.

To the non-PR pro all those open tabs -- one for Facebook, one for Twitter, one for Google News, etc. -- look like I'm wasting a lot of time on the Internet. But it's pure organized chaos that keeps me chugging along throughout the day, making sure I stay on top of all the news I need, at the very least, to know is happening -- even if I can't have an extensive conversation about it. You never know what story is going to spark an idea for a pitch that could lead to some incredible coverage for a client.

Here's some of the Internet time-wasting I've done over the last 24 hours that actually has helped spur some good ideas.

Restaurant Industry Trends
Social Media Learnings

Career Development 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Social Media 101: Maximizing Your Brand’s Social Matrix

By: Alexis Acosta

I recently attended a South Florida Business Journal Social Media Workshop, and while there was over three hours of viable information that I learned, there were a handful of strategies that stood out to me as crucial when building and maintaining your brand’s presence online.  Social Media is an ever-evolving and necessary marketing tool that, when executed properly, will maximize your brand’s success.

Below are the top five strategies to grasp before you dive into the many realms of social and brand integration.

The magic and pitfalls of Facebook.
Arguably, Facebook is the world’s favorite social network, however, it is no longer the “free-marketing” tool that we used to know and covet. Especially with the most recent upgrade to Facebook’s algorithm, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get a share of your followers Facebook feed without paying a price. Although it is a wonderful tool and a vitally important component to your brand strategy, it is not the be-all and end-all of your social presence.

Completely integrate your online marketing with the building block that is a blog.
If you’re finding that your social networks aren’t producing the kinds of results you’re looking for (e.g. not enough website traffic, leads, likes), start a blog that addresses typical questions that your client might have. Create link-backs and embed keywords in every post. Promote them on all your channels (Facebook, Twitter, website, etc.) This will help with that three-letter acronym that most people don’t understand: SEO.

Your email lists are gold.
If you’re not collecting emails at every chance you get, you’re not maximizing your full potential of online resources. Newsletter sign-ups are great, but give them a reason to give you their email; nothing in life is free.

Get to know Google+ for local businesses.
Find your business. Claim your business. Have your clients review your business. Maps can be one of your greatest tools, as it is one of the first places potential customers go to find you. Like I said before, nothing in life is free. If you’re a cupcake shop, give your customer an extra mini cupcake, just for reviewing you on Google. They’ll probably get their friends to come back for more AND post that cupcake on Instagram.

"A picture is worth a thousand clicks."
It takes a very high level of understanding to “get” your audience. What gets them excited? The only way to truly grasp this is by trial and error. Don’t be afraid to take a slight risk with your posts to find out what resonates with your followers. If it works, keep doing it; if it doesn’t, try something new. 

Good luck and happy socializing!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Well Played, Jobs Report

By: Ashley Rodriguez

The January jobs report exceed pretty much
everyone's expectations.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its much-anticipated January jobs report this morning and it was pretty solid news all around. Here are some highlights:

In other positive economy news, The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the fast casual industry is up 500 percent since 1999 -- more than 10 times the growth seen in fast food. In fact, fast casual now controls five percent of all restaurant traffic. That's good news for our clients -- brands like Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Captain D's -- who all reported strong 2014 growth and are continuing to expand across the country in 2015.

For the sake of a shameless plug:
  • Captain D's and Tropical Smoothie Cafe both reported all-time high AUVs in 2014 and increased same-store sales (4.1 percent and 11.14 percent, respectively).
  • Burger 21 is planning to open 10 restaurants in 2015 -- almost doubling its current size of 15 locations.
  • McAlister's Deli opened 19 restaurants in 2014 and is planning 30 new locations in 2015 in cities like Chicago.
So job growth is strong, wages are up, people are confident and fast casual is killin' it. Happy Friday, all.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Nationwide Just Bummed Out Millions of People

By: Ashley Rodriguez

If you haven't seen Nationwide's "Make Safe Happen" Super Bowl XLIX ad, get ready to be bummed out the rest of the day.

Taken out of the Super Bowl context, I think the ad is great. It addresses an issue no one wants to talk about, which ultimately did exactly what Nationwide wanted it to do -- "start a conversation, not sell insurance." That's according to a statement issued by Nationwide following a national backlash that erupted immediately.

Really, Nationwide's ad is not unlike the "It Can Wait" ads by AT&T that debuted a few years ago. Remember how awful they were to watch? They were dreadful. But AT&T sparked a national dialogue around the dangers of texting and driving.

Had Nationwide's ad run in a different time slot, it probably would have had a different reaction. Shocking -- yes. Depressing -- yes. Controversial -- yes. And maybe there still would have been a backlash. But I don't think it would have been as widespread.

No one wants to be bummed out during the Super Bowl.

I repeat...

No one wants to be bummed out during the Super Bowl.

Way to kill the party, Nationwide. Fire your media buyers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Quasi-Franchising: The Future of Franchising?

By: Ashley Rodriguez

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal suggests what the future holds for the franchise business model.

As millennials get older, we (I'll say "we" because I am one) are increasingly becoming more qualified to be franchisees and -- as it seems is the case with most things millennials touch -- we want to have an influence over how things are run.

And so the idea of "quasi-franchising" is born.

Quasi-franchising, The Wall Street Journal reports, lets entrepreneurs "do want they want, make a business their own, while letting the corporate bosses do what they do best -- handle the behind-the-scenes machinery of the operation that's so tough for a business owner to build from scratch."

It's all the benefits of franchising -- a proven concept, plus the support of the franchisor -- with the personalization I want as a millennial. Sounds good to me.

What are your thoughts? As a franchisor, would you be open to quasi-franchising? As a franchisee, would you buy into the concept? Tell us in the comments!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

For First Time, Advance #SOTU Text Available to Public

By: Ashley Rodriguez

For the first time, the White House released the full text of the State of the Union to the public in advance of the President's address. 
One of nearly a dozen social media graphics available
via the State of the Union address on

Typically embargoed, the State of the Union this time was shared a few minutes (22 minutes to be exact, according to USA Today) ahead of the live broadcast on Medium, a free blogging platform open to the masses. It came complete with Twitter-ready graphics.

So why the break from tradition? Here's what the White House wrote on Medium:

There is a ritual on State of the Union night in Washington. A little before the address, the White House sends out an embargoed copy of the President’s speech to the press (embargoed means that the press can see the speech, but they can’t report on it until a designated time). The reporters then start sending it around town to folks on Capitol Hill to get their reaction, then those people send it to all their friends, and eventually everyone in Washington can read along, but the public remains in the dark.

For the first time, the White House is making the full text of the speech available to citizens around the country online. On Medium, you can follow along with the speech as you watch in real time, view charts and infographics on key areas, tweet favorite lines, and leave notes. By making the text available to the public in advance, the White House is continuing efforts to reach a wide online audience and give people a range of ways to consume the speech.

The New York Times reports the Obama administration put a new spin on its communications strategy for the State of the Union as part of an attempt to bring "a classic old-media event" to new audiences. How well did that strategy work this year? Probably not well, figuring most people probably just stumbled upon it as they were scanning their Twitter feed. (At least I did.) But next year, more will be on the lookout.

Monday, January 12, 2015

House Passes Bi-Partisan 40 Hour Work Week

By: Chad Cohen

Taken directly from the International Franchise Association's Government Relations & Public Policy Update and very important to the franchise industry as a whole.

Last Thursday, the House passed H.R. 30, the Save American Workers Act, with a final vote of 252-172. The bill, which would reform the definition of "full-time employee" in the Affordable Care Act to the industry-standard 40 hours per week, was one of IFA's top legislative priorities. IFA identified the vote on H.R. 30 as one of the year's "Key Votes". The More Time for Full Time Initiative, a coalition of leading business groups started by IFA, played an instrumental role in lobbying Congress to support this legislation. Companion legislation, S. 30, the Forty Hours is Full Time Act, has already been introduced in the Senate with bipartisan support.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Q&A with Aurora Rodriguez, Editor at Where South Florida

By: Lauren Simo

Aurora Rodriguez, Editor of Where South Florida Magazine 

As the newest member to this school of Fish, I was eager to reach out to my close media connections and share with them my new contact information. Enter Aurora Rodriguez. I’ve known Aurora for a few years and have had the pleasure of working with her on a few stories for past clients. One thing has stayed the same throughout the years I’ve collaborated with Aurora: she’s one busy woman. When she’s not serving as editor for Where South Florida magazine, she’s working on the Tampa Bay, Southwest Florida and Gold Coast editions of the magazine. Still not busy enough? Aurora also moonlights as a journalism professor. That’s why I was a little hesitant to ask this super busy pro for one more thing, but thrilled that she took the time to respond! Take a look below to get a glimpse of what makes this modern-day media maven tick.

Do you prefer getting pitches via email, phone or social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook?

My preferred way to get pitches is through email and Facebook. I always have my phone on me and it’s great to stay connected at all times and be able to get back to my contacts in a timely manner. I am a believer in keeping my connections close and I love being responsive at all times. If you don’t hear from me, I am probably under a very tight deadline and will get back to you no matter what.

What’s the most important thing for PR reps to know / understand about your job?

My job is hectic. And I am sure they can understand that well. As Editor for Where South Florida magazine, I also handle the Tampa Bay, SW Florida and Gold Coast regions, meaning I am always working on a publication. Once I am done with one deadline it’s on to the next. Also, we are currently revamping our website, so I love getting pitched fresh travel stories and ideas that can populate the site with fun engaging content.

Aside from being the Editor at Where South Florida - what has been a major accomplishment that you are proud of?

I am so proud of the 2014 Florida Magazine Association Award that we won for our May/June 2013 cover. That was a fun one that we envisioned and shot specifically for that issue. I am also a proud professor at Miami-Dade College and I love my kids. I teach journalism courses, which include reporting and editing. I am also proud of making the decision to move to Miami from Puerto Rico in 2004 to pursue a master’s in mass communications and bilingual journalism. Best decision of my life!

What kind of stories interest you right now? Any specific types of pitches from PR pros you’d like to receive?

Currently I am interested in dining, entertainment, shopping and culture stories for the magazine. I am also interested in pitches for online, such as travel ideas and what travelers can expect from the lovely South Florida area. We really want to make Where Traveler online pop in 2015.

If you weren't a writer, what profession would you want to pursue?

I would be a teacher! Yes, I like talking to people and inspiring others.

We know you’re an avid reader. What’s the one book you could read over and over again?

I am actually an avid YA (Young Adult) book reader and the library is my best friend! Right now I could read Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” over and over…it’s a great and exciting dystopian thriller which has also transitioned into a Hollywood blockbuster in 2014. The second part comes out in March 2015, “Insurgent.” That whole series is great and I highly recommend it at any age.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Viber Announces "Public Chats" and I Don't Get It

By: Ashley Rodriguez

They're here… Viber's Public Chats. One of the many ways to get a little peek into the lives of celebrities and other high-profile personalities (musicians, fashionistas and the like). As of 11/24/14 at 9:15 p.m. EST, Kim Kardashian has yet to join, but it's only a matter of time, I'm sure.

In case you were wondering, yes,
Public Chats are full of selfies.
At first I thought it was a way to contribute to the conversation. Like an actual chat with a celeb. But says, no, users can't participate at the moment. Viber "does plan to enable user comments in the future." OK, so then… how is this not just a mishmash of Twitter and Instagram? How is my following Perez Hilton's ramblings (Exhibit A, at left) different than what I could be getting from any of the other social media platforms he's on?

I don't get it.

I could see it being really cool if average people like me could participate, but I can't. So it's like reading a big group text I'm not invited to and that everyone knows I'm reading, so… yeah.

It will be interesting to monitor this as more personalities and brands join. Right now, the launch partners are Perez Hilton, Tyler Oakley, Next Models, WWF-Malaysia, Paul van Dyk, Copa90 Football and a few others. But until I can feel like I'm not just eavesdropping and actually can contribute, I'm not likely to stick around.