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.

How to Navigate A PR Crisis In Six Simple Steps

Bad reviews. An executive scandal. International data breach. A product malfunction. These are all examples of a PR crisis that many businesses have had to overcome, and they won’t be the last.

 

In today’s age of social media and innovation, the likelihood of a business facing a PR crisis continues to soar. While no one expects you to be perfect, how you respond can either give you a much-needed image boost or significantly damage your brand, alienating your customer base.

 

When a crisis does arise, use these helpful tips to navigate through the storm:

 

Appoint a response team.

Every business should already have a response team in place before a crisis hits to help ensure the right people are speaking on behalf of the company. This allows the organization to respond faster and speak with one voice, which can be difficult to achieve when multiple people are speaking on the company’s behalf.

 

The response team should be small and include the CEO, the company’s top PR executives and legal counsel. If the company’s PR executive does not have sufficient crisis communication expertise, consider retaining an agency with that specialty.

 

In addition, when a PR crisis occurs, each member of the response team should understand their role and responsibilities to help avoid confusion as well as any cross-over of duties.

 

Brief your team.

Once the strategy has been determined, relay the protocol to all persons who could be approached to speak on the company’s behalf. This means informing all employees, stakeholders, board members, etc., of who is to be speaking with the media and how they can direct any inquiries.

 

Craft your message.

Once the facts about the incident have been gathered, the team should agree on how to frame the response. When it comes to the response, think about the most transparent way to address the situation and what your company has done or will do about it – without placing external blame. In the response, be honest and open with your audience.

 

Once the message is crafted, it needs to be delivered in a timely manner. The sooner you apologize and admit the mistake, the sooner the public will forgive you. A prime example of a crisis being resolved correctly is how Starbucks handled their recent scandal by apologizing in a public statement, taking responsibility for the occurrence and making it clear that it won’t happen again.

 

Identify and address the affected parties.

Once the message has been crafted, identify the people who should know about the situation. This may include employees, stakeholders, business partners, customers and media. Audiences who need to be informed will depend on the context of the situation, but regardless of who’s receiving the message, you should make sure it is sent out in a timely manner.

 

Monitor the situation.

Assessing the brand’s image is especially important following a PR crisis, so keep an eye on inbound and outbound communications to address follow-up questions or concerns.

 

It’s also important to also track what people are saying about a company online. One way to do this is by establishing a monitoring system that quickly uncovers negative trends before they become a bigger problem and migrate to the media.

 

Dittoe PR uses TrendKite to track and monitor media coverage for clients, which allows us to look at the company’s media coverage, share of voice, sentiment, social media amplification, competitors’ coverage and more.

 

Review and learn from the situation.

Once the crisis is over, conduct a post-action review to determine how well your staff and management handled the situation. During the review, discuss what you could have done differently and what changes are necessary to prevent a similar situation.

 

What not to do.

When you come face-to-face with a PR crisis, stay away from these tactics:

 

  • Lashing out: Even if a media outlet or opposing party has said something false about your company, it is never a good idea to respond negatively or blame the complaint for the situation.

 

  • Offering no comment: Not having answers to potential questions is the worst thing you can do during a crisis. If you don’t have enough information to give a solid response, say so and assure that you will issue a statement when you have more details.

 

  • Responding too quickly: Handling a PR crisis is all about timing, so don’t give an answer prematurely before you know all the facts. This may cause you to contradict previous statements later could further damage your reputation.

 

 

  • Dwelling on the situation: A period of bad press is often just a hiccup on your path to success, so don’t let it completely distract you from continuing daily business responsibilities.

 

  • Avoid assembling a plan: Almost all crises can be avoidable with the right planning. Don’t wait until the last minute to assemble a thorough crisis communications plan.