Timing is key

Posted by Taylor Thomas on June 26, 2015 in Branding

In light of today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling to legalize gay marriage, Ben & Jerry’s renaming of its staple “Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough” ice cream couldn’t have come at a better time.

The Vermont-based ice cream shop, a long-time supporter of LGBT rights, changed the name of the carton to “I dough, I dough” for a limited time, with all the proceeds benefiting the Human Rights Campaign.

When you’re thinking about rebranding a product, do your research. Know what’s going on in the world. Also, be smart in the way you market your product. Not only did Ben & Jerry’s change the name, they also changed the image on the container.



Be real

Posted by Brian Lee on June 12, 2015 in Branding

I was really disheartened earlier this week. A person in the world on PR–I’ll keep him nameless–seemed like a affable guy. I had attended a presentation of his, and I read his book. His theme was “I’m approachable. Call me. Email me.”

However, that was anything but the case. After he sent me some curt responses to my emails (I assumed he was just busy), I tried to chat with him in person on Monday at an event we both attended. After I introduced myself, he said hi and then immediately walked away and started a conversation with someone else.

The situation reminded me of an instructor I had in college. In class, he made tons of jokes, and he was friendly at a party he hosted at his house. But in office hours, he was a real asshole (an opinion I shared with many of his students).

Whether you’re branding an individual (including yourself) or an organization, it does no good to put lipstick on a pig. Doesn’t the public always find out? I think it’s better to be known as a jerk than a liar.



Welcome Emily!

Posted by Brian Lee on June 2, 2015 in Doing business

Say hello to Emily McGuire, Revelation’s intern this summer. The rising junior at UW-Whitewater is an active member of PRSSA. A native of Dodgeville, Wis., Emily previously interned at Lands’ End.



Another ICD-10 delay ultimately hurts patients

Posted by Brian Lee on May 29, 2015 in Branding

Make no mistake. The U.S. healthcare system is broken. In fact, you should be amazed that the care you receive is as good as it is, meaning that it could be even worse, but it should be a lot better.

What I find particularly laughable is the ongoing delays to the deadline for ICD-10 to be adopted officially. ICD-10 is the latest international classification of diseases and health problems. As I’ve discovered in researching this for a client, its mandatory implementation has been delayed before, first six years ago from the original deadline of Oct. 1, 2011 to Oct. 1, 2013, then again to Oct. 1, 2014, and then again to Oct. 1, 2015.

Now comes news of basically another delay. The endless push for delays stems from healthcare and medical trade associations spending money to lobby for more and more delays instead of spending that same money on implementation. Here’s an example from the Texas Medical Association.

“One of the major things that is different this time around is that the big hospitals feel ready and we’ve moved into the reality that any further delay is just costing us money,” UMMC Dr. John Showalter said in an interview with healthcareITnews.com.

Did you know that ICD-9 was published in 1977 (though not adopted in the United States until 1995)? It’s so old that 50,000 existing codes can’t be used, most of the terminology is outdated and no new diseases can be added to it. That means healthcare itself can’t improve without the new codes.

“This freezing of ICD-9 does not allow for improvements in the disease specificity that we need to measure outcomes,” Dr. James Kennedy of FTI consulting told HC Pro.

Hospitals and other healthcare providers, as well as groups like the American Medical Association, need to stop whining and begin the implementation process. Otherwise, we can continue to say goodbye to innovation, cost savings and most importantly, patient safety.




Don Draper’s revelation

Posted by Brian Lee on May 18, 2015 in Marketing, Television

“A new day. New ideas. A new you.”

Those words were spoken to Don Draper as he began to meditate during the closing minutes of the series finale of “Mad Men.” From there, he had an a-ha moment–or as we like to say here, a “revelation”–and subsequently created the famous “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” commercial.

I know that feeling. Although I don’t meditate, I’ve come up with ideas (although none of that scale) while on the elliptical, while reading and while watching “Mad Men” (honest!).

You don’t need to be in an office brainstorming session to come up with the next big idea. In my experience, inspiration can come from anywhere and anytime. Just don’t forget to write it down!




Pay it forward

Posted by Brian Lee on May 12, 2015 in Personal Note

PRSA asked me to submit a blog post about how I have volunteered in the organization. I immediately thought of the mentoring I provide to students. Here’s my article titled, “Pay It Forward: Working With The Next Generation Of PR Practitioners.”



Slogans: Good, Bad and the Ugly

Posted by Taylor Thomas on May 7, 2015 in Marketing

Slogans can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. In this case, the latter: As part of Budweiser’s #UpforWhatever campaign, Bud Light recently released the following slogan on their bottle: “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.”

It didn’t take long before others began pointing out how the slogan could lead to endorsing a rape culture.

Even though Anheuser-Busch apologized for the slogan, discontinued the bottle and stated it would never condone such behavior, it begs the question as to how the slogan even got approved in the first place.

Although the #UpforWhatever campaign is intended to encourage spontaneous fun, this isn’t the first time the #UpforWhatever campaign has come under fire. The company sent a controversial St. Patrick’s Day tweet that some felt played down sexual consent.

It doesn’t matter the size of your company–put serious thought into your slogan. Think outside the box and put yourself in the outsider’s point-of-view. How will your slogan come across?



Six mistakes bar managers make

Posted by Brian Lee on April 30, 2015 in Marketing

After several years of running a dining guide in Madison, Wis., and performing PR/marketing consulting for restaurants and bars, I’ve seen a common set of mistakes that bar managers make.

  1. Not having happy hour and/or drink specials. The increase in customers (who may actually order food, too) will easily make up for the minor discount you offer on drinks.
  2. Constantly changing drink specials. Stick with your specials! You are conditioning customers to expect a certain special–that’s one of the ways you build your base of regulars. One way to make it easier: instead of naming a price ($3.50 rails), just name a discount ($1 off rails). That way you don’t have to keep changing the specials when you inevitably raise your prices. (On another note, don’t call “everyday specials” as “specials,” because if a particular drink is that price every day, then that is the regular price!)
  3. Not accepting credit cards. People buy way more drinks when they start a tab. If you’re worried about people buying one drink with a credit card, set a minimum amount. (I also know some bar managers who prefer a cash-only system to avoid paying taxes. Have fun in jail.)
  4. Not having any web presence. Are you kidding? At least start a Facebook page!
  5. Allowing bartenders too much leeway (only serving regulars, drinking too much, etc.). This has many repercussions, including making the bar unwelcoming to new customers. In other words, this is very bad for business and gives your bar a poor reputation.
  6. Not being aware of area events. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a bar that was understaffed (meaning, unprepared) for people coming in from a nearby event. Similarly, I’ve been to bars that didn’t know a major sporting event was on TV, and again, was understaffed.


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Cabela’s Prepares for Grand Opening of Sun Prairie Store

Posted by Brian Lee on April 22, 2015 in Client news

Cabela’s Prepares for Grand Opening of Sun Prairie Store


SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (April 22, 2015) – Cabela’s will celebrate the grand opening of its new Sun Prairie, Wis., store Thursday, April 30, with a unique ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a weekend-long celebration.

Opening day will kick off with crowd entertainment at 8 a.m. and include giveaways, trivia games, a live performance by country-music artist Tom Jackson and more. An opening ceremony hosted by Cabela’s executives will begin at 9:45 a.m. and conclude with the grand-opening ribbon being cut by an arrow shot from a bow by a local Cabela’s employee.

“Outdoor enthusiasts in and around the greater Madison area have expressed a great deal of excitement about Cabela’s opening this store. Our staff has been working and training hard to ensure every outdoorsmen and women who enters our doors has a great experience,” said Randy Breslow, the store’s general manager. “Cabela’s has a loyal customer base in Wisconsin and we can’t wait for the opportunity to serve those customers and introduce others to the unique Cabela’s experience.”

Cabela’s grand-opening festivities will continue throughout the weekend with giveaways, special guests, family activities and more. On Thursday, the first 500 customers in line, 18 years or older, will a receive gift card valued up to $500. The first 50 customers through the door Friday will receive a Cabela’s utility bag. On Saturday, the first 50 customers will receive a Cabela’s commemorative grand opening cap. And on Sunday, the first 50 customers will receive a Cabela’s tripod stool.

Customers 18 years and older can also enter to win a $1,000 Cabela’s shopping spree sponsored by Pepsi or a new GoPro HERO4 Silver action camera. Special appearances between 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3 will include:

  • Benny Spies, Cabela’s Ambassador and Host of “Gun It” television series
  • Jeff Fuller, Cabela’s Pro Staff and Host of “SportingDog Adventures” television series
  • Tom Nelson, Cabela’s Ambassador and Outdoor Channel television host
  • Mark Millis, Cabela’s Ambassador and Outdoor Channel television host
  • Jim and Donna Teeny, Cabela’s Pro Staff and owners of Jim Teeny Inc.
  • Tim Andrus, Realtree Pro Staff and Host of “Rush Outdoors” television series
  • Babe Winkelman, Host of “Good Fishing” television series (Saturday only)

Additionally, Cabela’s will host a variety of activities for the entire family from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. Activities include:

  • Shoot Like A Girl – Shooting Sports for Women Interactive Trailer
  • Cabela’s – Youth BB-Gun Range
  • Parker Bows – Archery Challenge
  • Do-All Outdoors ¬¬– Pro Boat and Product Demos
  • UW-Madison Fishing Team – Casting Workshop
  • Beretta – Show Truck
  • And more

The 90,000-square-foot store is located at 1350 Cabela Drive in the Prairie Lakes Shopping Center off of Highway 151, Exit 100. It is designed to surround customers in a fun, outdoor-like experience with log construction, stonework, a large mountain replica, aquarium, indoor archery range and dozens of museum-quality wildlife displays. Additionally, it includes a deli, fudge shop, Gun Library and Bargain Cave.

To staff the new store, Cabela’s has employed more than 225 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees, most coming from Sun Prairie and the surrounding area.

Store hours for opening day are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 30. Regular store hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For additional information, call 608-478-4100 or visit www.cabelas.com/sunprairie.





Read the news

Posted by Brian Lee on April 15, 2015 in Public relations

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I read news from at least seven media outlets every day. I cannot tell you how many times it has helped me with clients and prospective clients to be up-to-speed on what’s going on in a cross-section of industries.

Still, I’m stunned how many PR practitioners don’t read the news. It doesn’t count to “read the news” based on what you see in your social media feed, as your connections may only be alerting you to trending topics, not necessarily important topics (push vs. pull).

Plus, anyone who practices media relations should get to know reporters’ names and beats, learn what direction the editorial board leans and get a sense of what types of stories the media outlet is willing to cover.

Don’t have time? That’s an excuse. You can always have the TV or radio on in the morning while you’re getting ready and/or during your commute, and it doesn’t take long to scan headlines while eating your breakfast.


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