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.

Tweets: Not Fit for PR Pro Consumption

Our team recently had the opportunity to host a few students from the Beth Wood Chapter of PRSSA at Indiana University who somehow mustered the energy to get out of bed early on a Friday morning to slog their way from Bloomington to Indianapolis for an agency tour of Dittoe Public Relations. For those of you who haven’t been to college for a while (or if you’re memory is, let’s just say, hazy), Friday morning promptly follows “Thirsty Thursday;” so we were impressed, nay, honored by their willingness to visit us.

During a pre-tour conversation, we mentioned that an insatiable thirst to consume information—reading national and local media outlets, trade publications, blogs, etc.—was one of the most important, and perhaps most overlooked characteristics of a good PR pro. When we asked these budding PR practitioners what media outlets they consumed regularly, their responses caught me a bit off-guard. Nearly every one of them named Twitter as one of their top sources for media consumption.

Now, before I launch into my rant, I’d like to preface it by noting that like everyone else on the planet, I recognize the power of Twitter and the positive impact it has made on media and society as a whole. It’s also an invaluable tool for PR pros; not only for engaging with reporters, but for engaging with publics. But it should NEVER be considered a top source for consuming media. By anybody. Ever.

Can Twitter break big stories? Yes. It was widely reported that news of Osama bin Laden’s death broke on Twitter and that Whitney Houston’s death hit Twitter 27 minutes before the press. But how many times has Bill Cosby been reported dead on Twitter? After one particularly viral episode of Cosby’s demise (there have been several), TV’s Dr. Huxtable went so far as to call in to “Larry King Live” to echo Mark Twain’s famous sentiments regarding the reports of his death. This is an admittedly silly example of how Twitter “news” is propagated, but it’s a solid representation of Twitter’s validity, or lack of validity as a reliable source of information.

I realize I’m not breaking any new ground by chalking Twitter up as a dubious source of information, and that the vast majority of people know to seek information from other outlets; but knowing and doing are quite different. Today, it’s estimated that you’re likely to spend more than 11 hours consuming information—reading blog posts like this, watching TV, flipping through a magazine, or grazing on your Twitter feed. If you sit in front of a computer screen for most of your day, you’re probably spending even more than 11 hours a day. But if you’re spending the majority of your time on Twitter, you’re not getting the full story.

What does this mean for our PRSSA friends from Bloomington and soon-to-be PR pros everywhere? I’d urge you to take advantage of the staggering amount of information that’s readily available. According to storage company EMC, there is presently 800,000 petabytes (a million gigabytes per petabyte) in the storage universe, and according to the University of California in San Diego, American homes consume nearly 3.6 zettabytes (a million petabytes per zettabyte) of information per day.

Read as much as you can from varying sources. When you enter the PR world, the only way you’re going to be good at what you do is by immersing yourself in your clients’ industries so I can spot trends before they do and recommend strategies that will allow them to stay ahead of the curve. You can’t do that if you’re only consuming information in 140-character nibbles; especially if those few characters are wildly inaccurate. Just ask the aforementioned purveyor of pudding pops.

What do you think? Is Twitter a legitimate source for news? Or is it just a starting point that can tip you off to story so you can investigate further?

Want a New Car? Work in PR? You’ve Got the Tools to Save

A couple of weeks ago I was driving north on Keystone Ave. in Indianapolis when suddenly… rrrrrrRRRRRwwww . The sound came out of nowhere, and it wasn’t too loud. Then—and here’s the worst part—I put my foot down on the pedal to accelerate and the tachometer shot up to over 3,000 RPMs! Before I could react, my car launched into gear and sped up like rocket. Instinctively I put on my hazard lights and pulled over to the side of the road.

After I mentally patted myself on the back for handling a car mechanical issue like Tony Kanaan, reality set in: my car was toast; I needed a new set of wheels.

For me, sitting in a car dealer’s office is about as fun as visiting the dentist. Nevertheless, I found that some important public relations skills translate over to buying a new car. The first is research.

You should determine which vehicle fits your needs and narrow down the targets for further analysis. In this way researching to buy a car is equivalent to the research PR professionals do when they create media lists.  Rather than using Cision to find reporters, dealerships are your search engine to find a vehicle.  Public relations professionals are naturals at the research part of the car buying process.

It’s also important to know the market and determine the best and worst time to buy a car. For example, you’re more likely to save money by buying a car at the end of month when dealers are more desperate to reach their quota than at the beginning of the month. When to buy a car is like pitching a story: there’s a limited window of time to make the most impact. As public relations professionals we know not to pitch to reporters on deadline. Car buyer should also know not to buy a car soon after the new car models are for sale.

While taking a car for a test drive, be sure to inspect the brake pads, tire wear, condition of the engine and note any scratches and dings if you’re looking at a used car. Just like car hunters should research the car, PR professionals should read recent articles from the reporter they intend to pitch.

Public relations is all about effective communication. Pitching is a give-and-take: when the PR professional provides a journalist information, they receive coverage in return.  Moreover, as PR professionals we’re naturally careful with words.

An effective communication tactic is—wait for it— silence. Let the dealer do the talking, after all, they’re the people actively selling you a car. If you wait long enough you may receive a price reduction or an added feature.

The SWAT approach is effective for negotiating a car deal. For example, say you’re looking to spend around $25,000 for a car.

Start: $22,000
Want: $25,000
Accept: $26,000
Terminate negotiation: Anything over $26,000

You can initially offer a price far lower than the Kelly Blue Book value of the car and wait for the counter offer. The moment the dealer feels like the sale is slipping away is when you’re most likely to get the best deal. In a sense, sticking to the prices you have in mind is like staying on message in public relations. Consistency builds recognition and improves understanding, both for a brand and an offer on a car.

Just like PR professionals must research, communicate and negotiate in order to gain coverage for a client, a car buyer researches, communicates and (most importantly) negotiates before buying a purchase. The purchase of a new car is one of the biggest decisions a person can make. But for a client, leaving the company’s brand in the hands of PR professional is just as important.