Meet The (Other) Company That Whiffed On Leveraging Steph Curry for its Marketing

Earlier this year, I had written about how Nike’s seemingly unprepared presentation to retain Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry as a client had cost them to keep the biggest name in sports … as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

Apparently, another company has mis-dribbled an opportunity to capitalize on basically free publicity from the Babyface Assassin himself.

Prior to the start of the NBA Finals, Curry took part in a media session and answered plenty of non-basketball questions (think Media Day during Super Bowl week … but not as ridiculous). During the presser, Curry was talking about how he was chatting with an Uber driver … much to the surprise of reporters, who followed up and asked if he was actually in an Uber.

“Of course,” he said.

This surprised plenty of media folks, who went on to write stories about why we should love the reigning unanimous MVP even more … turns out he’s just like you and me – he takes Uber when he needs to.

Stories from local, national sports and tech outlets filled my timeline. It also became a trending topic on social media. You would think that Uber, in the midst of dealing with some bad publicity as of late (from riders’ experiences with drivers, to untimely surge prices … to being sued by the drivers themselves) could leverage the free plug from Curry and milk the publicity for all it’s worth.

Not so much.

Curry mentioned Uber on June 1. Dozens of articles were posted hours later. Since then, however, the news pretty much died down and the NBA Finals had begun. Not a single shoutout to Curry from Uber on social media (I did find a tweet from Uber from nine days ago that read “Ready to ride, @StephenCurry30?”, but it looks as though that tweet’s been deleted.)

What I did find, though, were other social media posts about Uber’s utter #PRfail to capitalize on the opportunity to profit from Curry’s plug.

“If @Uber doesn’t bank on this ‘Steph Curry takes Uber’ story, it’ll be a fail for their marketing team,” posted one Bay Area sportswriter on Twitter.

One would have thought that after Lyft’s collaboration with Andre Iguodala to prank teammate Festus Ezeli, Uber would have pounced on the opportunity to stay connected with the team’s best player. But, once I realized Uber wasn’t going to do anything about this opportunity, I began asking my colleagues if they saw anything from Uber that I might have missed.

“No,” said one of them. “But when I heard that Steph said he uses Uber, there were so many ideas we could have done if we were their PR agency.”

So I wasn’t the only one who was thinking that. And, apparently, Uber was the only one to NOT chime in on the ‘Steph Curry uses Uber’ conversation. Aside from their tweet – which was eventually deleted.

That’s really too bad, Uber. Who knows how much more positive publicity (and dollars) you could have made during that small window. If the Warriors wind up winning another NBA title, you might want to speak with the City of Oakland on how you can get Uber drivers to be part of the victory parade.

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What PR Can Learn from Nike’s Epic Mishandling of the Steph Curry Pitch

basketballLast Wednesday, ESPN posted a pretty lengthy and detailed account behind Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry’s move away from shoe giant Nike, in order to sign with competitor Under Armour.

Granted, back then nobody (not Nike, not Under Armour … not even us Warriors fans here in the Bay Area) ever had the foresight to see the baby-faced assassin for who he is now – practically the face of the entire NBA whose humility (and long-range jumpers) have replaced bravado and monster dunks.

Still, in 2013 the Warriors were coming off a 47-win season and made it to the Western Conference semifinals. Certainly, Nike should have seen the potential in what Curry had to offer moving forward. But it was evident that “The Swoosh” had other things (and players) in mind when they were making their pitch to retain Curry as a client.

To recap, the pitch was held without Nike’s power broker, who would typically attend these pitches if it were a superstar-caliber athlete. Second, the PowerPoint had another player’s name in it (Kevin Durant), which indicates that the company likely used Durant’s presentation as a template, then sprinkled in anything that would be pertinent to Curry … except his own name, apparently. Then, the nail in the coffin: Nike reps refer to Curry as “Steph-on.” It became obvious that Nike didn’t see Curry as a priority athlete – and they treated him as such.

As a PR agency, we are pitching our experience and services to potential new clients all the time. Our team of administrators, analysts, media strategists and creative minds vet each company and its respective industry so we can provide the thorough assessment of what we believe will lead that company to success with their communications program. What often gets lost in new business pitches is the agency flaunting experience and expertise … when it should be more about what that expertise could do for the client.

I recently caught up with former Warriors player Adonal Foyle, who currently serves as the team’s Community Ambassador. Foyle was also a fellow Nike client during his 13-year career. I started my PR career working as his publicist, but you can say that Foyle and I are more friends now than we are business associates (I even got married at the guy’s house). He was able to give me some insight into what athletes think about when it comes to new business pitches. He was speaking with athletes in mind, but regardless of industry, potential clients are going to be looking for the same fundamental services when they’re looking for representation. So I was listening as if he were a tech CEO.

“Part of what you must do as a company is make sure there’s a personal touch to your pitch and make sure you’re paying attention to detail,” he told me. “If I’m a superstar player, the company is going to be so worried about my needs that they’re going to provide that personal touch. So they’ll go above and beyond the call of duty to take care of their client. For athletes who aren’t superstars, they’re going to care about how your company is going to help build their individual brand.”

This got me thinking. At B&O, the question was recently put forward to our staff: ‘Who would you like to work for?’ Much of the answers included some of the top “cool” tech companies you know: Uber, Airbnb, Fitbit, Slack, etc.

These are companies we all know and see as fun and up-and-coming with a startup mentality. But we also know that the enterprise B2B companies (though not necessarily considered cool) are just as important – if not, more so – to the industry because of the impact these companies make to everyday business processes.

As mentioned earlier, Nike did not hold Steph Curry in the same regard as a LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant. In our line of work, it shouldn’t matter what kind of company we are representing. They should all be treated as star players.

“We are going to ask: ‘Do you truly believe that we, as clients, are going to be represented equally – even though we all don’t bring in the same amount of money?’” Foyle went on to say. “Shouldn’t you believe that professionalism is so important that you should look over a PowerPoint to make sure it doesn’t have someone else’s name on it? If you’re a top-notch company, clients (and potential clients) are going to hold you to that standard. We all want to be treated well. And we all want to know that you took the time to know who we are and what we want. We want to come away from that meeting feeling like you really know us.”

So what did we learn from Nike’s epic f***up in losing Steph Curry as a client? It’s quite simple, really. Regardless of where that client stands at the moment, you should always hold them to a high regard and believe in their full potential. More importantly, do your homework on the client and industry … and make sure you have the right damn PowerPoint deck!

Should We All Scream for Live Stream?

Thinkstock Photos
Thinkstock Photos

It wasn’t that long ago when social media changed the way we looked at PR and marketing.

No, seriously. The very first tweet was sent out in 2006, but for a good half-decade, most were simply tweeting to let everyone know what they were having for lunch. I never fell into that category. Over the past several years, companies have now gotten a firm grasp on how they can leverage social media to engage their different audiences.

Now comes the latest social content evolution: live streaming.

Live streaming apps like Meerkat, Periscope and Hang w/ are now all the rage for sharing content, and are perfect for real-time viewing. People and brands are using these apps to share thoughts, answer questions and connect more personally to their followers, in the moment. But since the concept of live streaming content is still in its infancy, some of us are still trying to decipher how this latest form of sharing can be leveraged.

There are many pros for content marketers using live streaming apps to promote their brand. For starters, it can be used as a live “ask me anything” segment with the company’s CEO or other key figures. Having a prominent brand advocate speak live to the company’s audience makes for great expert commentary and brand transparency (because sometimes blog posts and event tweets can sound robotic when all your content is so carefully edited). It can also be used to stream live company events, announce a promotion or offer a great limited-time deal. A celebrity takeover might also work wonders for the company – imagine if Steph Curry or LeBron James live-streamed a party at the Google campus. This could easily go more viral than your typical 30-second TV spot – and without any media buy required.

Now for the cons. Live streaming means you’re doing it all in one take, meaning if you screw up, you can’t get all Bill O’Reilly and ask for a do-over. Second, some live streaming apps have a built-in forum for followers to comment in real-time. You know what that means? Trolls! Even though trolling has been around longer than email, it can still be a nuisance when the comments are directly attached to your brand’s content. Periscope has tried to control the situation with its follow-only mode, which allows for only your Twitter followers to view your stream and content. But that doesn’t do much good for companies with tons of followers (some trolls, undoubtedly) or that are looking to engage non-followers. If you have an idea on how to keep all trolls off live streaming apps, then the rest of the Internet will be happy to pay you millions of dollars to have them removed from other platforms, too.

Most importantly, understand that there are great risks when live streaming on behalf of your brand. Trolls can be ignored during those “ask me anything” segments, but what about those who begin asking questions about topics you really don’t want to discuss? Just like any live in-studio interview, be prepared for any unforeseen questions that might come your way. It’s up to you if you choose to ignore it, or want to acknowledge it. Regardless of how you want to handle it, remember that everyone’s looking at you, and it’s important to stay composed throughout the recording.

My advice: Though live streaming at our fingertips isn’t necessarily a “thing” just yet, it could be very soon. And if you want to leverage this new technology to push your brand and messaging, be sure to have a fully scoped plan behind your campaign. It’s just like shooting a live, one-take commercial … and the feedback will be instantaneous. So know what you want to say, have the right person in front of the camera and please be safe when filming live.

There’s a Platform for That: Medium vs. LinkedIn

In an ultra-competitive world where companies are constantly battling to be heard, corporate websites and traditional

Credit: nemo, 29822, pixabay
Credit: nemo, 29822, pixabay

marketing platforms alone are no longer enough. But articles in high-readership publications can be tricky to secure as well.

That is why many brands – and for that matter, individuals – are starting to act like a publisher and embrace the brand journalism concept.

But where should you start? LinkedIn and Medium are the two most frequently used by business leaders to publish articles. In fact, everyone from celebrities to corporate CEOs to the White House are using these services.

Which site is a better fit for you and your business? The honest answer is – it depends.

LinkedIn and Medium both allow you to publish content, but that’s where the similarities end. Before you choose one, ask yourself:

Who am I trying to engage?

What do they care about?

What am I trying to accomplish?

How do I want my audience to react?

Feeling like this, right about now? Well, don’t despair. There is a lot of great information out there about how the two platforms compare, including this article that looks at how one CEO fared when he used both platforms for the same post.

Still confused? Well here’s our take on how the two platforms compare on reach, ease of use, design and engagement:

Reach

LinkedIn: As an established platform, people and brands have had a lot of time to build up a network/following on LinkedIn. Any content published on LinkedIn goes directly to its user stream, where it typically appears in the news feeds of the people users share the most connections with — particularly shared connections who are frequently on LinkedIn via their browser or mobile app.

Medium: Since Medium was founded by Twitter’s Evan Williams, it easily integrates with Twitter. This can be a good or bad thing. Good because if you have a large amount of followers on Twitter, you automatically have them on Medium. Bad because if you don’t have a Twitter following – or if you’re not on Twitter to begin with – it’s like adding an extra (and time-consuming) step to building your platform and audience. Like LinkedIn, Medium also sends out weekly updates to your followers, showing them the fresh content for the week, increasing the likelihood of your content getting read.

Ease of Use

LinkedIn: It’s pretty straightforward. Just click on the pencil icon in the status update bar and begin writing (or pasting). The problem comes when you start to consider how to make your content stand out. Because people go on LinkedIn to network with peers, look for jobs and connect with recruiters, it can be easy for your content to get lost in the shuffle.

Medium: It’s hard to imagine how Medium could be a more intuitive platform. It’s got a full WYSIWYG interface, as well as an HTML5 text editor for any word you want to highlight. That’s pretty sweet. Unlike LinkedIn, where the pencil icon is subtle, there’s a huge “new story” button on Medium you click to get started on your content. That button’s almost asking you to “click me and let your thoughts run wild.” 

Design

LinkedIn: If all you want to do is push content … and not worry about how cool it looks, it’s all good. There’s a headline, your headshot and an option to add a photo in the body copy if you’re interested. Not much else.

Medium: Clearly the better platform for your creative juices to flow. You can add hi-res header images, better looking text and annotations for each paragraph is available instead of your typical comments section at the very bottom of the story. With Medium, you feel like the content is yours and for a second, readers might mistaken it for your own website. This makes Medium an awesome platform for longer, more thorough and cutting edge thought leadership pieces. (A long article on LinkedIn just looks like a long article). Need some inspiration? Check out these great posts – Monday NFL Hangover: Super Bowl Edition and Ubuntu 14.10 Running on my MacBook.

Engagement

LinkedIn: More LinkedIn users are turning to mobile apps because they’re on the go. They’re likely to read content if it’s quick and easy (say 500 words) – just the right length to kill time while waiting in line at Chipotle. It’s one thing to reach your audience, it’s another to actually engage with them. One advantage LinkedIn has is that as your network is already familiar with you, users are more likely to share your content (how many times have you seen a post that starts with “Check out this article …”)? Also, most people are on LinkedIn to read stuff — not write stuff. That means it’s easier to find influencer content on their stream while scrolling. LinkedIn continues to send users weekly emails with status updates and recommended posts. Your article will be there too.

Medium: What’s great about Medium is that anyone can use it. What’s bad about Medium is that – well … anyone can use it. It’s a strong vehicle to attract readers and share your stories. At the same time, you’re battling other users who apparently forgot to take English class in college and just spew out rants (usually about sports or politics). After that, there are businesses that are just looking to push marketing materials and press releases. This makes it that much more important to generate thought-provoking content and publish it across social channels, instead of simply posting it and waiting to see who finds it.

So you should pick …

There isn’t necessary a “winner,” but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. No one said you have to pick one platform over the other and instead, this is one of those times when double dipping is perfectly acceptable as long as you keep Google’s duplicate content rules in mind.

So try both. Even The White House is using both. Just prior to President Obama’s State of the Union Address, the White House announced what he was going to talk about on LinkedIn, while posting the entire transcript on Medium (you can also see the amount of views and shares).

This process may take some time (try a couple of months), but over time you’ll see the metrics yourself and formulate your own conclusion on which platform is right for you. If you can’t wait that long and need a recommendation right now – give us a call.