New BNN show The Disruptors gets positive reaction on Twitter

The Disruptors

Last night was the premiere of BNN’s show The Disruptors, co-hosted by entrepreneur, investor, and former Dragon’s Den cast member Bruce Croxon and financial reporter Amber Kanwar.

The Disruptors looks at current and upcoming technologies that can potentially be the next big thing in the marketplace. The Disruptor is a weekly show and airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Because the show appears on niche business channel BNN, Twitter interaction was modest, but engaged.

The co-hosts regularly plugged the show’s hashtag #thedisruptors, which was tweeted over 50 times during and after the show. However, as of yet, the show does not have it own Twitter account.

The majority of the discussion on Twitter focused around Shopify and Uber.

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How media savvy doctors took the Toronto Star to task on HPV vaccine Gardasil


Newspapers are an important element to a healthy and free society — they’re the vanguards of truth, and credibility is at the heart of that truth.

When newspapers make mistakes in regards to facts, they can have far reaching consequences to society by providing misinformation that can adversely influence people. Sometimes, news organizations need to take extra steps to right a wrong.

On February 5, the Toronto Star unfortunately made such a mistake.

As the link above shows, the outlet retracted an investigative article almost two weeks after its publication, replacing it with an apology from the publisher.

The article, “HPV vaccine Gardasil has a dark side, Star investigation finds”, written by investigative reporters David Bruser and Jesse McLean, upset many people in the medical and scientific community.

Dr. Jen Gunter, who practices medicine in the San Francisco Bay area and is also an author and blogger, wrote a blog post criticizing the Toronto Star’s article, “Toronto Star claims HPV vaccine unsafe. Science says the Toronto Star is wrong.”

The CBC’s radio show, As it Happens, which coincidentally had been covering other anti-vaccination stories at the time, reached out to Dr. Gunter for further clarification.

The story had now become the issue. And the scientific community’s reaction — along with social media, and now broadcast and other print media — started to take the Star to task over the article.

At first the paper stood by their reporters and the story. Columnist Heather Mallick and editor-in-chief Michael Cooke’s support of the story and reaction to the criticism did not help the situation.

But soon the facts and the pressure forced the Toronto Star to rethink its position.

Doctors Juliet Guichon and Rupert Kaul wrote an opinion article in the Toronto Star on February 11, which refuted the original article by Bruser and McLean.

On the same day, Toronto Star publisher John Cruickshank acknowledged the Star’s original story had been in error.

Two days later the Toronto Star’s public editor, Kathy English, supported Cruickshank’s acknowledgment in her own article.

By February 20, the article had been removed from the Star’s website and other TorStar publications and replaced by the note from the editor.

But the potential damage of the original article went beyond the Star’s reputation, or the vaccine Gardasil and drug company Merck.

At first, the article seemed to give credibility to the so-called anti-vaxxer movement, so the stakes were high — especially since the Toronto Star is an extremely influential publication.

The medical and scientific’s community’s reaction, however, was swift. In the end, they potentially averted a serious public health issue created by the media and were able to educate the public while doing so.

The Toronto Star’s initial article and its handling of the story was widely criticized not only on social media, but also in articles from other media outlets around the world including the Huffington Post, VOX and the LA Times.

But in the end, the Toronto Star did the right thing by admitting and correcting its mistake. And because of the media savviness of individuals in the medical community, we live in a slightly safer and more educated world.

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Google doesn’t just dominate the Internet — it dominated April Fools’ Day, too


Ah, April Fools’ Day. The one day of the year companies can promote completely fake information and not be blasted off the face of the Internet.

It’s a can’t-miss recipe for entertainment. And though some April Fools pranks may fall flat, many strike just the right chord with the public. And media outlets, for their part, lap it up.

Brands (and their PR, comms and marketing squads), as well, love the free exposure and buzz generated when an April Fools campaign clicks.

Which is why we used MediaMiser software to analyze the media traction of some of the top April Fools’ Day pranks of 2015, as defined by Mashable’s “ultimate” April Fools’ pranks roundup.


As the chart plainly shows, Google’s marketing folks scored a major PR coup yesterday: the company’s April Fools pranks took four out of the top ten spots in terms of online news share of voice.

Its Google Maps Pac Man, backwards website ( and Google Fiber “Dial-Up Mode” each landed in the top ten (the Pac Man initiative, in particular, chewed up the rest of the competition). Google Inbox’s “Smart Box” picked up some significant mentions as well.

Other noteworthies included Miz Mooz “Selfie Shoes” and Redbox’s “Petbox”, a kiosk for pet entertainment.

Not to be outdone by B2C companies, CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) also got into the act by claiming it had discovered “The Force”.

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SXSW: No one is immune to bad press

Crowds Enjoying Themselves At Outdoor Music Festival
Having celebrated its 29th year this past week, South by Southwest proved again why it’s perhaps the world’s foremost multi-disciplinary festival, where the 2,200 musical acts accounted for only part of the action over the 10 days of its frantic annual existence.

And, as expected for such a renowned and respected event, media coverage was massive. Over the course of the festival itself, 40,000 pieces were published by outlets from around the world. Below is the breakdown by day.


The resounding majority of the coverage was either simply factual or outright positive (“SXSW 2015 gets a sex-charged start”, Crave Online; “At SXSW, stepping back to allow hopeful artists to step up”, New York Times; “SXSW Festival has international impact”, Voice of America), but, as with any event of such magnitude – with thousands of acts, even more personnel, and even more logistical details – certain things are bound to happen which garner bad press. Some of the negative headlines that came out of SXSW 2015:

  • “Why South by Southwest is a huge, exploitative scam”, MSN News
  • “Run the Jewels attacked onstage at SXSW”, Pitchfork
  • “Drunk driver passes SXSW barricade during No Refusal”, KXAN Austin
  • “Rapper Yung Gleesh charged with sexual assault during SXSW”,
  • “SXSW more bust than boom for some local businesses”, KXAN Austin

Seeing as music festival season is just around the corner, what’s a PR manager to do when confronted with negative media attention?

Sarah Shoucri, senior publicist for international music festival POP Montréal, walks us through it.

  • Preempt the negativity by cultivating good and honest and trusting relationships with journalists.

“The most important thing is to have journalists trust you, and the only way for them to trust you is to actually be honest.”

  • Crucial to evaluate negative coverage, but the old PR adage of addressing and responding to all of it, is unnecessary and unproductive.

“Some people hate just to hate, so just let them yak away.”

  • When you do address the bad news, focus on the positives.

After the catastrophe at SXSW last year, when a drunk driver rammed into a group of people, killing four and injuring dozens, the festival responded.“The mayor of Austin, the head of South by Southwest, they were talking about all the proactive things they were doing to help the people that were injured and ensure other people’s safety.”

The takeaway from all this is that no one is immune to bad press — it’s how you react that counts.


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Has PR gone MIA? Majority of reporters unhappy with quality of comms outreach

HasPRgoneMIAAccording to a recent survey, an overwhelming number of journalists and media professionals are unhappy with how they are approached by corporate communications, resulting in working longer hours and increased frustration.

The survey, conducted by content distribution and tracking platform, revealed that journalists are having to work harder and produce more in order to make a living—and that their needs are not being met by most PR professionals or technology solutions.

According to the newly released survey of North American journalists and media professionals, 68% of journalists feel that their job has become more difficult in the last 5 years—which is in stark contrast to the recent technology advancements that were intended to accelerate workflows. Of these new technologies, few have been developed to facilitate mass distribution of content in a way that is easily accessible and centralized for media professionals—resulting in scattered and often inaccessible story-related content.

In spite of these obstacles, survey results show that 52% of journalists are producing at least 5 articles per week, with almost 20% producing over 11 articles per week. Of the articles published, 75% include multimedia content. Of the more than 20 pitches the majority of journalists receive each week, most do not include multimedia content, resulting in journalists spending additional time to track it down themselves.

“There seems to be a major gap between what reporters need, and how corporate communications are providing these needs,” said Salvatore Salpietro, CTO of, in a news release. “There is increasing pressure to gain earned media coverage by corporate communications and public relations teams, yet they are still making the process very difficult for media to access content and put together a story by using things like FTP, email, locked-down websites and manual requests—all of these are enthusiasm-killers.”

Regarding delivery of multimedia content to journalists, the most popular method is still via email, in spite of commonplace restrictions on file size attachments, followed by Dropbox and actual physical mailing of digital media, such as USB keys and hard drives. When gathering and collecting content, 80% of reporters expressed frustration in needing to spend more than 30 minutes doing so. Nonetheless, 80% of journalists feel including photos, infographics or video is very important to creating effective and engaging content.

“If a pitch doesn’t contain graphics I can include with my article, it’s hard for me to take it on. Even better if there is a video. I am under strict deadlines to produce at least 5-7 articles a day, and visual content is always required. Wasting hours sourcing and editing a company’s logo or media content to accompany a post is something I literally cannot afford. When a pitch comes with everything attached, no cumbersome downloads, I want to hug that PR rep. And, I’m more likely to pick up on the next release from them, too,” said Karen Fratti, freelance writer and frequent contributor for Mediabistro and Huffington Post.

This article appeared on on March 17. Original source: PR Newswire; edited by Richard Carufel.

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PR issues: Clients should be graded, too

Excellent Customer Service Evaluation Form

Successful public relations campaigns are a two-way street—for the public relations firm to deliver results, the client must invest adequate time and resources, provide information about their business activities, and make themselves available for content reviews or interviews.

And while clients are constantly—both consciously and unconsciously—grading their agency’s performance, shouldn’t the PR firm likewise gauge their performance as partners?

Let’s review how clients should behave to get A’s.

Client Management Team

Who owns the PR program? Are client-side senior executives involved, or has the relationship been delegated downstream to middle, or junior, management to supervise? Count the number of client executives involved in the PR process, note their rank and level of involvement…then grade.

Client Expectations

Does the client expect a ‘Hail Mary’ publicity touchdown in the first quarter of a campaign? Clients that expect PR firms to deliver day one do not understand that PR is a process that requires a partnership of equals and a solid understanding of the client’s business. Has the client bought into a realistic timetable for implementation? If so, grade up. If the client behaves as if they can outsource their PR without offering much input, grade down.

Defining the Agency’s Role

Is the client clear about the role the PR agency plays or do the goal posts unexpectedly shift and new demands arise mid-game? Without a clear mandate, get it signed off in writing, with appropriate performance milestones; any level of success can be belittled. Does everyone on the client team understand, and buy into, the PR program goals and process or is the agency seen as a hired gun assigned to handle specific project details? Good grades go to clients who champion the PR effort and communicate the process and goals internally.

Collaborative Partner

Too often, the client / agency relationship can become strained, or even adversarial, if the agency becomes starved for content ‘food.’ How well your client partners with your account team provides a convenient gauge of the prospects for success. Does the client maintain the meeting schedule, prepare the necessary background materials when expected, make company executives and specialists available to contribute, give your content the attention it requires, or is the PR firm sitting in the bleachers rather than the C-suite conference room?

The Patience Factor

Expecting instant gratification from your agency is a setup for failure. Even experienced agencies require some learning curve to properly understand your company, product advantages and industry. It is crucial that as the client you invest the time to help the agency understand your business, seasonality and timely issues. If it’s all hurry up and what have you done for me lately… it’s time to fire off a warning flare.

Be Realistic

Not every business announcement warrants headlines. How realistic is the client regarding the publicity potential of basic company news? So they understand the news cycle, scheduling timetables, role of exclusives, etc. Or does the client expect to win five industry awards and garner dozens of glowing reviews this year? Grade accordingly.

Management’s Expectations

Does the client responsible for managing the PR firm merchandise their successes to senior management? Embedding the strategy within the client company’s culture is a crucial intangible. Senior management wants three basic things from their PR agency: Insightful advice, great results and good value. But do they champion the program internally? Review the communications vehicles that promote your work to employees.


It’s easy to gauge how knowledgeable someone is by the questions, “Does the client team listen closely to what account people say?” or “They may not always agree but does the client think through your ideas or knee-jerk decision-making?” Gauge how long it takes to receive responses to your queries, comments and approvals on proposed actions, and reviews of requested materials. Time is money… assign a grade.

Timely Payments

Are agency invoices paid within the agreed-upon timetable or does the cycle keep expanding, requiring numerous follow-ups? How promptly you are paid is a good indication of whether the agency’s star is ascending or…?

A Thank You

And finally, agencies appreciate a “Thank you” for a job well done. The occasional client email to an agency principal letting them know that the team really delivered demonstrates an understanding of the often-nebulous world of public relations and the value PR can deliver. Count the emails and notes to assign a grade.

As the marketplace becomes ever more competitive, the PR agency / client relationship grows in importance as a way of differentiating and elevating one’s market position. Both sides earn the grades they deserve.

Len Stein is the founder of New York-based Visibility PR. This post originally appeared on Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog on March 19, 2015.

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Report: Local TV news dominates U.S. media landscape

It’s a good time to be a local TV producer or reporter, according to a recent report on the state of local news in various cities across the United States.

Interest in local-level and neighbourhood-level news trumped that of national and international fare in all three cities — Denver, CO; Macon, GA; and Sioux City, IA — surveyed by the Pew Research Center in early March.

“In all three cities, nearly nine-in-ten residents follow news about their local area very or somewhat closely, and roughly half follow it very closely,” reads the center’s Local News in the Digital Age report.

Around 27 per cent of Denver residents said they followed international news.

The report is based on findings from public opinion surveys administered in each city.

Interest in News High in All Three Cities

And while local news is the preferred cargo, the survey indicates the delivery method of choice is definitely local television: More than 50 per cent of residents in each city indicated it was their preferred source, reaching nearly 70 per cent in the smaller centres of Macon and Sioux City.

That’s compared to just 23 per cent of Denverites naming a daily newspaper as their preferred source of news (the smaller cities had higher daily newspaper penetration, at between 35 and 40 per cent).

Interestingly (and perhaps slightly concerningly), “other local residents” were a top three news source for respondents in all three cities — climbing to as high as 37 per cent in Macon.

The report also tracked the digital differences between all three cities, with nearly 50 per cent of Denver residents surveyed indicating the Internet is important as a local news source (which, to me, seemed a smallish number until you realize that only 33 per cent of Sioux City residents view the Internet as a good source of local news).

Importance of the Internet as a Source for Local News

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Twitter gives us its best March Madness bracket predictions

When the calendar turns to March, thoughts turn to spring (at least for those of us north of the Equator – I’m not sure what Australians think about), St. Paddy’s Day, and even chocolate eggs.

And for some of us, our thoughts also turn to college basketball.

Every year, the NCAA puts on its national college basketball tournament known as March Madness. And every year, people bet on it. A lot.

According to the American Gaming Association, this year’s tournament will see approximately $9 billion wagered and 70 million brackets filled out. That second number is especially staggering, as it’s higher than the total number of ballots cast for President Obama (66 million) in the 2012 election. (Incidentally, the President fills out his own bracket every year, in a tradition that has come to be known as Barack-etology.)

MediaMiser recently analyzed around 13,000 tweets referencing both “March Madness” and “bracket”, in an attempt to divine who you, the people, would like to see win it all.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority of team mentions were for top-seeded Kentucky (the far-and-away favourite to win it all this year), with around 50 per cent of the share of voice. And of all the tweets for Kentucky, professional golfer Rickie Fowler’s (@RickieFowlerPGA) had the greatest reach at around 880,000:

Of the eight top-ranked teams mentioned in tweets, Duke came closest to Kentucky in terms of mentions with a 17-per-cent share of voice. It’s a strong show of support for the North Carolina school that won it all in 2010, as no other team received more than 100 mentions.

Wisconsin finished with a nine per cent share of voice, followed by Arizona and Villanova with seven and six per cent, respectively (see chart).


Interestingly, Facebook analyzed its own data and found similar trends: from February 15 to March 14, Kentucky and Duke came 1-2 in terms of number of posts and comments. But basketball isn’t the only thing getting its own brackets this month. On March 15, the NHL caused a bit of a stir by posting a bracket of its own:

It was retweeted around 800 times over our two days of monitoring, most notably by George Stroumboulopoulos, who sent it out to his 658,401 followers. That’s some fine marketing work from the National Hockey League.

Delicious food and craft beer also got in on the act:

Sports partisanship can be a nasty business, but no matter who you’re cheering for — or if you’re cheering at all — it’s certainly the case that March Madness gets people talking.

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Apple Watch or iWatch? How brand confusion can stick around

This afternoon, Apple will announce the final details for its first major new product category since the iPad.

Within the month the much-anticipated Apple Watch will hit stores and, depending on who you ask, it could either be Apple’s next big success — or biggest flop since the Newton.

In the run-up to the initial Apple Watch announcement in September, however, most of the tech press assumed the new device would follow Apple’s standard branding practice since Steve Jobs returned to the company. That is, everyone was already calling it the iWatch.

But then Apple announced the Apple Watch, throwing everyone for a loop. As shown below, almost no one guessed (or even mentioned) the “Apple Watch” name before the Sept. 9 event where it was unveiled.


Unfortunately for Apple, the old name stuck around for a while. “iWatch” saw a huge spike the week the announcement was made, but what’s maybe even more interesting is that the term stuck around.

It’s tougher to see on the chart above, but the below visual shows a bit better just how persistent “iWatch” has been: The term accounted for 14 per cent of mentions in December, nearly six months after the original announcement.

And it accounted for 21 per cent of all mentions during the entire time period (including almost all mentions from July and August).


With other Apple products such as Apple Pay seemingly taking on the new style of branding, it’ll be interesting to see how well Apple can transition from the “i” branding it’s done such a good job of pushing for so many years.

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Innovative PR: Vaughn may have Unfinished Business with iStock


Business fulfills each and every one of them

UPDATE: Unfinished Business is Vince Vaughn’s lowest grossing opening release at $4,800,000. It was shown in 2,777 theatres.

On March 2, media outlets across the net showcased satirical stock images featuring Vince Vaughn and the cast of his latest movie, Unfinished Business.

Aside from being absolutely hilarious, these images were particularly compelling because they were available to download for free through partnered website iStock, a division of Getty Images. So far, iStock has over 41,998 views and both iStock and Getty Images collectively have over 458 online news mentions.

With over 1,722 online news articles and counting currently circulating, it’s evident that Unfinished Business has amassed a plethora of earned media — every PR professional’s dream.

But Unfinished Business only has ~3,300 Twitter followers and ~13,100 Facebook likes after 4 days of positive campaign response and just one day before its theatrical release (March 6). So who has really benefited from this PR campaign — Unfinished Business or iStock?

A campaign is as successful as the amount of people it reaches. By now, it’s safe to say a large number of people in the business, public relations, advertising, marketing, communications, and design communities have heard of the film and have been trying to somehow incorporate the stock images into their editorial content.

This furthers the campaign’s earned media reach and staying power, keeping the film both relevant and exciting. The virality of the stock images will keep the film top-of-mind when consumers decide which movie to go see this weekend.

But there’s a catch.

Anyone wanting to use this stock imagery has to first download it from iStock. This is where iStock has the advantage over Unfinished Business: For every download, there must be an iStock account to download from. If someone doesn’t already have an account, they have to create one. Each new account is a lead for iStock , which could result in new business or a new contact for its marketing database.

These new leads can be nurtured to become powerful brand advocates for iStock, which will continue to benefit the stock photo company. This means that iStock can reach new audiences long after Unfinished Business has been released on DVD and iTunes.

But iStock is also an extremely valuable vessel for Unfinished Business’ messaging, considering the stock image company has a considerably higher social media following due to being a widely used, previously established product. This means that upon release, an established audience of more than 90,000 Twitter followers were exposed to Unfinished Business and its PR campaign.

This head start no doubt contributed to the campaign’s virality: The #UnfinishedBusiness hashtag has had over 4,500 twitter mentions.

There has been more talk about the stock images themselves than there has been about the movie: Unfinished Business stock image-related handles and hashtags have so far been mentioned more than the handles and hashtags about the movie itself, though this could change quickly following its release.

Most people will remember Vince Vaughn’s hilarious stock photos, but will they remember they were used to promote his movie? Will this stock photo frenzy convert to massive box office sales? We’ll see after this weekend!

Who will be the real PR winner of this campaign? Unfinished Business or iStock? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

(Data used for this article collected March 5, 2015)

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