Google’s Project Fi

On Wednesday, Google unveiled its wireless service, called Project Fi, and it’s an appealing offer for smartphone users.

Customers will pay $20 a month for talk and text plus $10 a gigabyte of data (you pay for what you use). That makes the plan between $15 and $20 cheaper per month than many competing offers from the major carriers, making the search giant a viable competitor of Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and other service providers.

Google Project Fi

Google also said it would credit the accounts of customers who don’t use all their data in a given month and default to free Wi-Fi airwaves when available.

Google’s VP of communications products Nick Fox wrote:

Wherever you’re connected to Wi-Fi — whether that’s at home, your favorite coffee shop or your Batcave — you can talk and text like you normally do. If you leave an area of Wi-Fi coverage, your call will seamlessly transition from Wi-Fi to cell networks so your conversation doesn’t skip a beat.

But don’t get too excited because it is invitation-only and you need a Google Nexus 6 to use the service.

Sorry, iPhone users!

#EarthDay2015

Earth Day is an opportunity for brands to spread awareness for important causes and make a difference. And there is an even bigger opportunity for connecting with fans and consumers, because, well, who doesn’t loves the Earth?

This year was quite successful, with more than 570,000 Earth Day-related tweets posted by noon Eastern Time on Wednesday, according to the social network. (WOW!)

Let’s take a look at how some brands demonstrated their pride for the planet on Twitter:

What was your favorite #EarthDay tweet?

Read more, here.

Net Neutrality: What does it mean? How does it impact PR?

Net NeutralityPhoto credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission approved the policy known as net neutrality by a 3-2 vote this week.

The policy ensures “that no one – whether government or corporation – should control free open access to the Internet,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

The topic is dense and can be confusing for even the most tech-savvy of us all. Basically, the FCC proposal is that the Internet will be classified as a public telecommunications utility, meaning the government can regulate it.

This proposal also stipulates that Internet service providers are to be a neutral gateway, instead of handling different types of Internet traffic in different ways and at varying costs—in other words, no fast lanes.

How It Impacts Communicators

  • The government guarantees protection against fast lanes to give consumers access to reliable, fast Internet connection
  • Regulations for service providers indicate that the government is backing communicators against greedy service providers
  • Companies will be forced to prove that all new services comply with the law, impeding the speed and reliability of service providers having to deal with the FCC’s regulations
  • Regulations could challenge investment in new Internet technology and infrastructure
  • If the Internet becomes unreliable, communicators may be forced to ditch social media and real-time, and revisit traditional communications vehicles instead

Reactions: For and Against

The ACLU’s legislative counsel Gabe Rottman says:

“This is a victory for free speech, plain and simple. Americans use the Internet not just to work and play, but to discuss politics and learn about the world around them. The FCC has a critical role to play in protecting citizens’ ability to see what they want and say what they want online, without interference. Title II provides the firmest possible foundation for such protections . . .”

Broadband for America, a group whose members include major Internet service providers is calling for Congress to intervene. Its honorary co-chairs John Sununu and Harold Ford Jr. say:

“The FCC’s decision to impose obsolete telephone-era regulations on the high-speed Internet is one giant step backwards for America’s broadband networks and everyone who depends upon them. These ‘Title II’ rules go far beyond protecting the Open Internet, launching a costly and destructive era of government micromanagement that will discourage private investment in new networks and slow down the breakneck innovation that is the soul of the Internet today.”

A post written by Comcast executive vice president David Cohen reads:

“We fully embrace the open Internet principles that have been laid out by President Obama and Chairman Wheeler and that now have been adopted by the FCC. We just don’t believe statutory provisions designed for the telephone industry and adopted when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president should be stretched to govern the 21stcentury Internet.” 

Verizon issued a statement written in Morse code and titled “FCC’s ‘Throwback Thursday’ Move Imposes 1930s Rules on the Internet.” In a translated version of Verizon’s statement, the company rebuked the FCC for deciding “to change the way the commercial Internet has operated since its creation.”

Netflix said, “The net neutrality debate is about who picks winners and losers online: Internet service providers or consumers. Today, the FCC settled it: Consumers win.”

What are your views on the issue?

#TheDress — Black and Blue vs. White and Gold

If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve undoubtedly seen this dress:

#TheDress

What’s the deal?

The dress first appeared on Tumblr with the caption, “guys please help me – is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can’t agree and we are freaking the f–k out.”

Essentially, some see a black and blue dress, while others see a dress that is white and gold. Some see one combo at one time and later see the other. According to one poll on BuzzFeed, about three-quarters of respondents see white and gold.

Business Insider put the dress to the test on Photoshop, where it could not be susceptible to variations in genetics or eye strength.

Here is what they found:

Photoshop The Dress

Basically, one of the colors falls on the black/gold border and the other falls on the blue/white border.

The Science Behind the Dress: It has to do with the way human eyes have evolved to see color. Wired explains:

“Light enters the eye through the lens—different wavelengths corresponding to different colors . . . Without you having to worry about it, your brain figures out what color light is bouncing off the thing your eyes are looking at, and essentially subtracts that color from the “real” color of the object.”

While the system usually works just fine, this image hits some sort of perceptual border.

“What’s happening here is your visual system is looking at this thing, and you’re trying to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis,” says Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist who studies color and vision at Wellesley College. “So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black.”

So when context varies, so will the visual perception. On a white background, most people will see blue, but on a black background, some might see white. 

One thing is for sure: it can drive a person crazy! Indeed, many were perplexed by the dress, which sparked a viral color debate and  storm of tweets:

The 21-year-old singer, Caitlin McNeill who originally posted the photo told Business Insider, “I thought my followers on Tumblr would maybe have a good reaction, but I never would have considered that Taylor Swift and Mindy Kaling would be tweeting about it.”

Brands got a piece of the dress, too:

What colors do you see?

5 Ad Themes for Super Bowl XLIX

The big game is this Sunday, and that means the most expensive ads on TV are also being released. Like always, we’re seeing a lot of ads slated for the Super Bowl being revealed already.

Let’s take a look at this year’s commercial trends through the ads we are already seeing.

The Celebrity

It wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without celebrity appearances–many of them. So far, we know of numerous advertisements featuring the famous, including a hilarious take by Mindy Kaling for Nationwide, a very on-brand ad by Snickers featuring Danny Trejo, and a shameless, self-promoting Kim Kardashian for T-mobile’s PSA-style spot. Brands, and their ad agencies, will keep celebrities in their playbook year after year, Super Bowl or otherwise. The reason? It works.

The Over-the-Top

Super Bowl commercials have a long history of offending women with sexist themes and subliminal—or not so subliminal—messages. Unfortunately, the trend continues into 2015, with controversy surrounding Charlotte McKinney, featured model in Carl’s Jr, “Au Natural” Super Bowl spot. One person tweeted, “setting feminism back 4 decades,” but for Carl’s Jr., the more controversy the better. The fast-food brand is reaping the benefits as the most talked about ad thus far.

The Sentimental

Look out for the sentimental, because this year brands are really hoping to make that emotional connection. Perhaps the Super Bowl isn’t the appropriate context for such appeals, but some brands would disagree: Toyota will include Paralympic athlete Amy Purdy in an inspiring spot, Budweiser will tell an emotional story of a puppy who learns the true meaning of friendship, and Dove Men+Care will run an ad intended to defy male stereotypes.

The Daddy Bowl

In addition to the Dove Men+Care example just noted, other brands are looking to connect with men this Super Bowl–and in ways that don’t include naked ladies! No, fatherhood is the trend this Super Bowl. Toyota’s “To Be A Dad” spot warms hearts with NFL players DeMarcus Ware, LaWar Arrington, Fred Jackson and Kurt Warner talking about their fathers and what it’s like to be a dad. Nissan’s #withdad advertisement takes a similar approach, featuring narratives of “life’s best moments #withdad.”

The #Hashtag

As in recent years, Advertisers are using hashtags to bring the conversation (and hype) online. According to Marketing Land, hashtags were used in 57 percent of nationally-run Super Bowl ads last year, up from 50% in 2013.

Super Bowl Ad Victoria Secret

Here are just a few:

What other themes are you seeing?

Forget Half of What You’ve Learned. Mastery of Google is Key to Public Relations Succes

Google GIF

via Giphy.com

There is a growing dependence on search for information in the digital world. In fact, 89 percent of consumers use Google and other search engines to find information about products, services, and businesses prior to making purchases. And of those people, 87 percent won’t scan past page one of search results.

Google continues to improve its search engine so that users receive the most relevant content to their searches. Public relations professionals need to recognize the importance of having an SEO strategy and integrating Google Tools, such as Google AdWords and Google Analytics into that strategy.

OVERVIEW

Google AdWords is a pay-per-click marketing service that allows you to create and run ads for your organization. You can bid on the keywords you want to generate your ads appearing in the search engine results page. Google decides which ads are displayed and in which position based on each user’s maximum bid and quality score. Having a high quality score lowers your cost-per-click and leads to more impressions. You can improve your quality score by implementing relevant landing pages and keywords throughout your content.

Say that you work for Lego and want to set up a Google AdWords campaign. While current Lego customers are likely to search for the business by name, prospective customers are more likely to search by topic. So, you want ads to appear when people type in keywords and phrases related to Lego. Words and phrases like toy blocks, educational toys, minifigures, building blocks, and family owned toy company are just a few that come to mind.

It is important that the keywords and phrases describe what the organization actually does. It wouldn’t make sense for a Lego ad to appear for the search term “Star Wars,” for example, even though Star Wars is Lego’s most licensed toy set. It wouldn’t be smart for Lego to limit its brand to just its Star Wars sets. When in doubt, use Google’s Keyword tool to help you find relevant keyword ideas.

AdWords comes equipped with plenty of metrics that help you measure what is working in your campaign and what is not.

Google Adwords dashboard

The service will give you detailed reports on where and how often your ads appear, how many people click on them, which search queries drive the most visitors to your site, which keywords are most effective, and how many AdWords visitors actually order a product or service on your site.

If AdWords helps people get to your site, what happens when they arrive? This is where Google Analytics comes in. Google Analytics allows you to keep track of the unique people that visit your website, exactly when they visit, how they got there, what they do once they’re there, and how they interact with your content. This applies to blogs and other sites, too. By understanding the user interactivity, you can work the content around your users — an incredibly valuable strategy to the commercial success of your organization.

Suppose your marketing / PR campaign isn’t as successful as you’d have liked. Google Analytics will provide a real-time report with information about audience engagement and conversion activity to show you where your campaign is lacking. The service tracks which pages retain users the longest and when there is a spike in traffic, so you can better tailor your content.

Google Analytics Dashboard

Google Analytics shows you exactly which sites and search engines refer visitors to your website, as well as the search terms they used to get there.The platform also tracks what people search within your site. This shows you what exactly it is your buyers are looking for, that way, you can provide your audience with the content they seek and convert one-time users into loyal customers.

In addition, by tracking the type of people who visit your site, where they are from, and how loyal they are to your organization, you can understand the real origins of your traffic and find the best places to invest in new opportunities.

Google Analytics will save you time and money and provide you with valuable information to help reach your goals. It is perhaps the best measurement tool for public relations practitioners and communications professionals. To ignore Google and its powerful tools would be a huge mistake. Instead, you should embrace it, learn it, use it and master it. It is the key to public relations success.
Related Posts:

Uber vs. Lyft

The competition between Uber and Lyft has been rough–I might even say cutthroat–but it hasn’t stopped Boston consumers from using these car-sharing services. So, I asked students at Boston University which they prefer, Uber or Lyft. See their hilarious responses, reasons, and interesting experiences, here.

What side are you on?? Comment here!