Dittoe PR client announces monumental acquisition

Plastic straws.

 

They’re small, convenient, inexpensive and seemingly harmless. Their use has been widespread amongst restaurants, retailers, consumers and businesses alike for several decades. However, this modern-day convenience also comes at a high price.

 

Plastic straws not only contribute to our rising plastic pollution crisis, but they’re unavoidably harmful to the environment, as they’re too lightweight to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter. Shockingly enough, Americans use more than 500 million plastic straws each day.

 

Enter Aardvark Straws.

 

Introduced in 2007 in response to the growing anti-plastic movement, Aardvark Straws offer an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic straws with their durable, FDA-compliant, marine degradable paper straws. They’re produced in more than 200+ customizable designs, making Aardvark Straws ideal for a large range of uses, including restaurants, weddings, holidays and more.

 

However, as the anti-plastic movement grew, so did the anti-plastic straw movement. People became increasingly aware of the dangers of plastic straws. Following the hard work of many activists and organizational groups, others began to take notice. Cities began to ban plastic straws, then major corporations did, too. Some of the world’s biggest brands, such as Starbucks, American Airlines and Hilton, all pledged to remove plastic straws from their companies.

 

As the movement grew, so did Aardvark. As the sole U.S. producer of paper straws, Aardvark was soon selling billions of paper straws to restaurants and establishments all across the globe. Business accelerated quickly, which led Aardvark to start thinking about what was next for the company.

 

With plastic straw bans occurring worldwide and the paper straw market on the rise, Wisconsin-based Hoffmaster Group saw an opportunity to capitalize on the rapidly accelerating demand for alternatives to plastic. Hoffmaster acquired Aardvark in August 2018. They invested in the brand because they believe in paper straws as a product solution and saw Aardvark as a natural extension of Hoffmaster’s premium portfolio of environmentally responsible, disposable tabletop products. Through the acquisition, Hoffmaster hopes to protect the environment and marine life, as well as to ramp up production in order to supply top grade paper straws to the marketplace.

 

As a longstanding client, Dittoe PR jumped on the opportunity to lead media relations efforts for Aardvark’s exciting announcement. We shared the news with local, regional and national media, which resulted in media hits in several major media outlets including Fortune, USA Today, CNNMoney, MarketWatch, Inc. and live TV interviews on CNBC and Fox Business News.

 

In addition to careful research and personalized pitching that led to such great media results, we also assisted with the thorough development of messaging for the acquisition. From messaging documents to customer questions to media interview prep sheets, it’s important when making such a major announcement that all messaging is consistent and accurate.

 

Ultimately, Dittoe PR was able to generate 240 media hits garnering 167,100,363 media impressions and a total publicity value of $1,917,878! We were overjoyed with the outcome of this campaign and are looking forward to continuing to lead Aardvark’s PR initiatives in the future.

Three tips for telling great brand stories through public relations

Everyone has said to someone, “I have a story to tell you.” Our brains are hardwired to tell and listen to interesting stories, not just facts or data.

 

Public relations professionals discuss storytelling all the time and do it every day, yet the term seems to have evolved into a buzzword in our industry. So, how do you define brand storytelling in PR?

 

At Dittoe PR, we are strong believers that every brand, company and founder have a compelling story to share. From advice on bolstering employee engagement to the proper disposal of pharmaceutical waste, every company can and should be an expert within their industry through brand storytelling. With diligent research and an eye for tying in relevant news angles (i.e. newsjacking), we specialize in developing compelling story angles to regularly generate prominent media coverage for our clients.

 

The tips below demonstrate the power of storytelling in PR and what it really means to tell stories on behalf of a brand.

 

The best brand stories are, in fact, stories.

At Dittoe PR, we pitch stories – not companies, products or services. We don’t tell stories that blatantly sell. For example, we recently successfully pitched a story about an Indianapolis father raising awareness and funds to help people, including his daughter, who are suffering from an incurable disease.

 

Storytelling was the most important part of this project. Our goal wasn’t just to land media hits, but to tell an extensive story – written by the perfect reporter – with the goal of reaching readers who will act. While collecting donations was one of the primary goals of the media relations campaign, building awareness about the disease was also a priority the client wouldn’t have been able to achieve without a customized pitch to tell this story. The story landed the front page of The Indianapolis Star, a top 100 newspaper.

 

The best brand stories initiate social change.

Another extraordinary example of successful brand storytelling was Lonely Whale’s Strawless in Seattle campaign.

 

Although the month-long campaign generated nearly 250 stories in the media and an advertising equivalency of close to $3 million, on a social impact level, Strawless in Seattle was ultimately more successful than the team ever imagined. As a result of the campaign, the city of Seattle announced they were banning plastic straws effective July 1, 2018. This summer, we’ve obviously seen a huge domino effect of companies and other cities doing the same.

 

The best brand stories bring real results for clients.

Through media hits, giveaways and influencer stories, PR and social media, storytelling positions Ironworks Hotel Indy as a trendy Indianapolis travel destination. This strategy has significantly boosted the hotel’s social interactions and followers across all platforms. When a local Indianapolis social influencer hosted a giveaway on her Instagram page for an Ironworks giveaway, the hotel gained nearly 400 followers in one day.

 

The metrics gained as a result of PR efforts are the best way to know where our stories are being told well. When PR pros tell compelling client stories to the right reporters at the right publication, their clients reach the right audience. That, in turn, engages with the brand and increases positive brand awareness and/or action.

 

Ready for us to tell your brand’s story? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com, or request a consultation today.

Six ways PR professionals can (and should) ‘think like a journalist’

As a young kid, I felt I was destined to be a journalist. I wrote family newsletters and questionable short stories. I scored the editor-in-chief spot on the high school newspaper staff and eventually made my way to the college newsroom. But my career led me elsewhere, and I’ve spent nearly a decade working on the “dark side” of the media, as some (unfortunately) say.

 

While I may not be reporting or a big-time magazine editor, working with media is one of the primary responsibilities of my job. And, the truth is that media jobs and PR jobs are far more similar than we’re led to believe. From crafting captivating story ideas and writing compelling content to interviewing sources and maintaining a strong social media presence, the core skills of a journalist translate well onto the PR side of tracks (and vice versa).

So, let’s explore how basic journalistic practices apply to public relations.

 

Here are six ways we can “think like journalists” in our day-to-day roles as PR professionals:

 

Avoid selling and start (story)telling.

Journalists are quick to dismiss stories that seem too sales-y, and rightfully so. Similarly, as PR professionals, our first goal is storytelling, not selling. Sure, we need to include facts and figures, the “5 W’s,” and so on; however, these are just the building blocks and baselines to our content.

 

As storytellers, we must paint a picture, stir emotion and change behavior through words. Include extra details that weave in the five senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. How many people were at the event? What did the chef’s award-winning dish really taste like? What sights and sounds overtook the banquet hall at the convention?

 

Help the audience visualize. The best content is rich with details that will hook readers and give them more than just a compilation of facts and quotes.

 

Know what’s newsworthy.

Generally, there are five key elements to newsworthiness: timing, significance, proximity, prominence and human interest. These apply across all kinds of content, not just media stories.

 

Is there a timely element? What does the article do for your audience? Is the topic close enough (geographically or otherwise) to your readers to pique interest? Why should people care? And, how does the story appeal to the audience’s emotions?

 

If you don’t know the answer to any of those questions, you’re not ready to tell the story.

 

Understand your audience.

Who are your customers? Who are your clients? And, who are the ideal readers of the story you’re hoping to tell? Be it a media hit, customer case study, blog post or e-newsletter, you must always know your audience and why they will want to read what you have to say. Spend some time carefully defining who you want to reach and figuring out their interests and behaviors. Then, and only then, can you truly reach them.

 

Research and verify.

All good stories are based on facts, and citing data will build trust with audiences and reporters alike.

From writing a media pitch, a white paper or a thought leadership article to compiling a media list or competitive analysis, research is always the first and most important step.

 

Who are your sources? Is there a study that supports your claim? What is the reporter’s beat? Is the reporter still writing for that outlet? What articles have already been written on the topic?

 

Ask yourself question after question until you’ve exhausted your options. Then, once you’ve compiled the information you need, review it, digest it and verify it. Double-check your facts and vet your sources.

 

We can’t be lazy. Someone will always know.

 

Strategically structure your writing.

There are a lot of facts, but there is only one story. As storytellers, journalists and PR pros must guide our audiences to the story. It’s our job to sift through piles of information and find the true purpose of the story. It’s also our job to tell it.

 

The most common method of writing structure is using the pyramid model. Your most important and most interesting content belongs at the very top of the pyramid. Since we only have mere seconds before our audience moves on, it makes sense to arrange writing from most important to least important, in case the reader jumps ship halfway through.

 

In addition to the order of our writing, PR pros can take another page from a journalist’s book by always thinking about campaigns and content in a broader sense. How can we take this one step further? Does this inspire a graphic or video? How many ways can we repurpose this to create more compelling content and reach more people? The sky can be the limit.

 

Mind the details.

Details matter and not just the details of the story (refer back to “Avoid selling and start (story)telling”). Just as journalists are expected to do, PR professionals are expected to heavily proofread their work. Names, titles, punctuation, dates, capitalization, attributions, AP Style… even formatting matters. It’s our job to be precise and represent not only ourselves well, but our clients well.

 

Journalism and storytelling are as old as mankind, and the basics of both are the same for us PR pros no matter the objective or the audience. By honing some journalism skills, you can craft stories and PR campaigns that resonate with the right people.

 

Can we help tell your story? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com to explore what Dittoe PR could do for you.