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TODD SMITH'S SPIN CYCLE: Ad spending, PR blunders and a Golden Mic Award

Todd Smith

Todd Smith

Madison Avenue had a very Merry Christmas, and is preparing to pop the cork on a banner 2014 on the advertising front.

Some of the world’s biggest advertising companies are predicting faster than previously expected growth in ad spending in 2014, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal. A portion is from seasonal bumps for major events such as the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but much of the global impact is due to the rapid expansion of mobile advertising.

Among those revising up their recent forecasts are Publicis’s ZenithOptimedia, which predicts ad spending next year will rise 5.3 percent, and Interpublic’s MagnaGlobal, which expects a rise of 6.5 percent next year. WPP’s GroupM revised its estimate downward to 4.6 percent. Deadline and Broadcasting & Cable also have a take on the revised projections.

Total U.S. TV spending will increase to nearly $67 billion in 2014, $68.6 billion in 2015 and $70.2 billion in 2016, according to ZenithOptimedia, a media buying unit of Publicis. Spending on broadcast network TV is expected to rise a slight 1 percent in 2014, thanks to the Olympics and World Cup, the agency said. But in 2015 and 2016, broadcast ad revenue is forecast to decline 3 percent, and then 1 percent, despite the emergence of dynamic ad insertion and other technologies aimed at recapturing delayed and mobile viewing.

Cable TV spending is expected to grow 7 percent in 2014, 6 percent in 2015 and 5 percent in 2016, according to Zenith.

Overall, ad spending forecasts in the U.S. is expected to grow to $161 billion in 2014. That would follow a 1.8 percent gain in 2013 to $156.3 billion.

Top PR Blunders of 2013

As we write the final chapter of 2013, let’s flip to the section for worst PR blunders of the year — and who needs some serious reputation repair as we cruise into 2014.

Here’s a couple of textbook examples of 2013’s PR missteps as ranked by Forbes — from technology start-ups to established retail chains, a variety of companies garnered headlines for blunders that could have been avoided.

Poor Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

When accusations surfaced that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was caught smoking crack, he held a press conference where he bashed reporters for “asking the wrong questions.” He eventually admitted he’d made a mistake, but his lack of humility and defiant attitude in the face of the media caused him to lose face.

In any crisis communications scenario, admitting the problem, and accepting it without blame or excuses, is a solid first step in Reputation Repair 101. Apologizing is another giant leap. After you have communicated these misgivings with sincerity, the next goal should be using social monitoring tools to get an accurate view of how the public and the media are discussing the story. Has the story reached your customers and fans yet? How are they reacting?

Once you have brought the full story into sharp focus, carefully craft and hone the key messages you want to convey to your audience — and which channels are best to deliver that messaging. And, if you hold a press conference, don’t avoid the smoke engulfed elephant in the room!

Remember to be forthright, and make positive moves that will stimulate goodwill and peace on earth.

Healthcare.Gov Was On Life Support From The Beginning

It’s no secret the Affordable Care Act’s online Health Insurance Marketplace was a very sick patient when it was born. When the site went live Oct. 1, pages were freezing and people were unable to enroll. The federal government could have avoided the resulting firestorm of criticism if it had tested and retested its website well before launch.

Whether your company is B-to-B or B-to-C — or you’re the federal government — your website should be a user-friendly experience that advances your brand, informs your audience and strengthens awareness among your various publics. Above all, it should deliver on its promises! Start off by viewing these properties through the eyes of customers, clients and the media, and you’ll avoid such miserable, myriad maladies that have plagued Obamacare’s key health care delivery service.

Golden Mic | Mack Brown, Former

Texas Football Coach

Perhaps the greatest play call of the Mack Brown era — which was stronger than a herd of longhorn cattle racing through the Big 12 — was not the more than four decades and four U.S. presidents he outlasted, or the improbable, incredible national championship victory the University of Texas had over USC. Rather, it was the graceful, high road and genteel exit this legendary football coach displayed after the top tier football program fell on tough times.

Brown was a gentleman on and off the field. When it came time to announce his decision, Brown turned what was a news conference all about him and his tenure/resignation and re-focused the spotlight on the memories of 13 college students, 12 of whom attended a rival school (Texas A&M) and died days before Thanksgiving in 1999, in the aftermath of a traditional bonfire celebration that went deadly bad. Brown, you are a class act in every meaning of the word. And for that, you take this week’s Golden Mic.

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising — and those who don’t. Stay tuned — and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.



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