Three Most Memorable PR Moments of 2018

Remember that time IHOP, the pancake ruler of the world, caused a nationwide frenzy by announcing it was changing its name to IHOb, International House of Burgers? Yeah, me too. While it may feel like that happened years ago, it actually took place in 2018.

 

Whether you loved the publicity stunt or hated it, you have to admit it caught your attention and made for good conversation.

 

As we gear up to enter a new year, let’s take a look at three of the most noteworthy marketing and PR moments of 2018.

 

IHOP Fakes a Name Change

While some called it stupid, others called it genius. Either way, the world was captivated at the idea that the 60-year old International House of Pancakes would be known for anything but sweet and delicious breakfast food. The stunt did exactly what it was intended to do: get the world talking about the brand and thinking about it as more than just a go-to breakfast joint.

 

IHOP has served burgers since opening its first location in 1958. However, with casual dining and family dining becoming less popular with the proliferation of restaurant delivery services, the restaurant needed to get more diners coming in its doors for lunch.

 

While the marketing stunt certainly created a ton of buzz this year, it did also create some confusion. Many consumers were left wondering if the company was moving to a burgers-only menu and whether the signature pancakes they loved would continue to be served. There are still online news stories about the IHOb name change—but with no mention that it was all a hoax. The stunt even helped brands like Wendy’s and Waffle House draw some extra attention by generating Twitter wars full of witty banter and friendly trolling.

 

But it seems to have worked…at least for now. The stunt generated millions of social media impressions and extensive media coverage in just about every national consumer outlet. In the weeks following the launch, the pancake chain’s parent company said burger sales quadrupled for a short period. More recently, the company says it has doubled comparable burger sales since before the promotion.

 

Starbucks Racial Sensitivity Training

On a Tuesday afternoon in May, 8,000 Starbucks cafes closed for a four-hour anti-bias training seminar. More than 175,000 baristas participated in the training following an incident in Philadelphia that tested the company’s value of standing firmly against discrimination or racial profiling. The company announced the training soon after two black men were arrested at a store in Philadelphia while waiting for a friend.

 

In a situation where a lot of things went wrong, Starbucks (and its PR team) did a lot of things right. When it comes to preparing our own clients for crisis communications management, the steps that were taken by Starbucks are something that Dittoe PR prides itself on doing as well.

 

The company issued a public apology on Twitter two days following the incident, giving the organization enough time to gather the basic facts. Kevin Johnson, chief executive of Starbucks, then went on to issue a statement in which he articulated empathy and regret to the two men who were innocently at the heart of the controversy. From there, Johnson vowed to fully investigate the facts of the matter and make changes at Starbucks to prevent a similar incident from ever occurring again.

 

While some criticized the lapse in time between Johnson’s public statement and the disheartening incident in Philadelphia, many others praised him for accepting accountability and injecting himself into the conversation.

 

Johnson reiterated that “Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling,” and offered a face-to-face apology to the two men. He promised that company-wide meetings and trainings would take place to underscore Starbucks’ commitment to treating one another with respect and dignity.

 

Starbucks’ executive chairman Howard Schultz went on CBS This Morning to discuss how the company intended to handle the incident by closing 8,000 stores for racial sensitivity training:

“It will cost millions of dollars, but I’ve always viewed this and things like this as not an expense, but an investment in our people and our company. And we’re better than this.”

 

While there’s rarely a “perfect” way to handle crisis communications in an incident of this severity, Starbucks deserves a lot of credit for a great job in crisis management. The company acknowledged the problem, apologized, addressed the intended solution, and most importantly, followed up on the promise they made.

 

Payless’s Unexpected Influencer Campaign

More recently, Payless pulled a PR stunt with a brilliant influencer campaign by opening their high-end alter ego: a luxury shoe store called Palessi. The low-price shoe store sold the same shoes found in Payless shoe stores—but with a major price hike.

 

Social influencers visited the store and spent up to $400 on a pair of shoes in Palessi, which sell for less than $40 at Payless. The influencers, who didn’t have a clue of the stunt, and even commented things like, “Palessi is just such high-quality, high-fashion brand” and “I could definitely wear this shoe to the Met Gala dinner.”

 

Following the campaign and stunt reveal, Payless CMO Sara Couch told Adweek, “The campaign plays off of the enormous discrepancy [in the fashion industry] and aims to remind consumers Payless is still a relevant place to shop for affordable fashion.”

 

Payless’ clever campaign proves PR has power. After this story grabbed headlines and gained millions of social media impressions, everyone was talking about Payless. It’s certainly not every day a low-price shoe store gets national attention.

 

Does your company want to make a big splash in the media in 2019? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to set up a consultation and learn more about our services.

Our Favorite DPR Moments of 2018

The new year is a great time to reset, reflect and set new goals — and that’s exactly what we’re going to do here.

 

From landing our clients in national media outlets and key industry publications to hiring six new full-time team members, Dittoe Public Relations has had an incredible 19th year driving results for our clients and growing our team. Relive our best moments of 2018 below.

 

Securing big media hits

At Dittoe PR, we don’t wait for news to happen. We make news happen. We’re all about securing consistent media coverage for clients in top tier media – national, local, trade and influencer outlets – by proactively brainstorming new story ideas.

 

Here are some of the biggest headlines we secured for our clients this year:

 

Bringing on new accounts, upsells

We pride ourselves on expanding our client roster and client scope with a variety of projects in the media relations, social media, event planning, content marketing and thought leadership spaces.

 

In 2018, Dittoe PR brought on multiple client wins in a variety of industries including Lonely Whale, Hoffmaster, Merchants Capital, Scooch and Massage Heights. Additionally, the company earned increases in scope for Aardvark and Medxcel. PSI, also new client in 2018, recently increased their desired scope of work with our team, as well.

 

Growing our team

Dittoe PR added six new full-time account coordinators and account executives to the team this year, each of whom are bringing exceptional results to clients day in and day out.

 

Shelby Kaiser joined the team in February and brought her experience of managing a sorority’s quarterly publication, assisting with email marketing and overseeing social media for individual chapters. Haley Williams brought her six years of industry experience in branding, storytelling and communication to the team in April.

 

Ashley Shuler (me!), a previous intern who started full time in June as an account coordinator, was promoted to the account executive role in October. Ashlea Alley, another former intern, also joined the team as an account coordinator after after graduating from the University of Indianapolis with a dual focus degree on public relations and journalism.

 

Jillian Thomas brought her eight years of TV reporting and anchoring experience to the team when she joined Dittoe PR in September as an account executive.

 

Kaitlyn Beck, who graduated from the Indiana University Media School with a B.A. in journalism and specializations in public relations and advertising, and Natalie Weber, a previous intern who started full time in October after graduating from Purdue University with a public relations and strategic communication degree, also joined as full-time account coordinators.

 

Developing our skills

Dittoe PR has always held personal and professional growth in high regard. We firmly believe that our premier PR agency can only grow if our people continue to grow, too.

 

This year, Dittoe PR introduced a professional development budget for all employees, and our team members took advantage of those dollars by attending conferences across the nation. Megan Custodio, Ashley Eggert and Greta Snell attended INBOUND 2018 in Boston; Kaiser, Vanessa Staublin and Sophie Maccagnone attended Digital Summit in Dallas; and Mallory Sturgeon and Kasie Pieri attended PR News’ Media Relations Conference in Washington, D.C.

 

Defining our values

This year, we embarked on a six-month journey toward building a stronger company culture through unified personal and professional development with the help of organizational coach, speaker and author, Katara McCarty.

 

After crowdsourcing responses to a select set of questions about Dittoe PR’s culture, the team collectively crafted four core values that we firmly believe in and practice daily to support each other, our clients and Dittoe PR as a system.

 

  • Cultivate Happy: At Dittoe PR, we have fun, work with passion and purpose, and value work-life balance.
  • We’ve Got Your Back: Because our team is always there for each other. Similarly, this value speaks volumes to how we treat our clients, because we’ve got their backs too.
  • Here We Grow: Because we believe we can go farther, together, by investing in our employees through professional development opportunities, mentorship programs, new client opportunities and more.
  • Exceed Expectations: Our team doesn’t just aim to meet client expectations. We strive to exceed them in any way possible.

 

From securing top tier media hits to cultivating our values, we can’t wait to see where 2019 takes us! Want your business on our 2019 list? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to set up a consultation and learn more about our services.