Posts Tagged ‘Public Relations’

CVS’ $2 Billion Marketing Gamble

February 18th, 2014

'Cigarette Packets - Chesterfield, Peter Stuyvesant Extra Mile, Dunhill Superior Mild, Lambert & Butler Special Mild, Dunhill,  Royal Standard, Embassy Number 1 King Size' photo (c) 2011, Sludge G - license: I was amazed to learn about CVS’ $2 billion tobacco gamble. Is it financial gain or financial ruin?

CVS will no longer carry cigarettes and other tobacco products effective October 1, 2014. Analysts have estimated that the loss of revenue will be $1.5 Billion in tobacco products plus $500 million in impulse sales from smokers choosing other tobacco outlets.

Is the Decision Good or Bad?

Let’s take the decision in the proper light of day. $2 Billion represents about 3% of retail pharmacy sales. And retail pharmacy sales are less than 50% of CVS Caremark annual revenue. Call it 1.5% of overall revenue.

  • For all intents and purposes CVS Caremark is a healthcare company. Is selling tobacco is contrary to good health?
  • There is a definite halo effect. The free publicity must be worth tens of millions of dollars.
  • CVS can redesign how the area behind the cash registers appears, especially compared with other pharmacy chains.
  • About 18% of adults now smoke, down drastically over the last 30 years.

On balance, I applaud the CVS move. The Surgeon General has told us since the 1960’s that cigarettes cause cancer. Raising taxes has helped diminish the sale of cigarettes. Could CVS start a trend toward limited availability of cigarettes?

If I was a marketing executive at CVS I would be jumping for joy at the news.  Stay tuned to see how it ends.

The Takeaway

Bold marketing decisions can be nerve wracking. Big risks lead to big rewards.

Those are my thoughts. Over to you. Please comment below.

1. Do you think other pharmacies like Walgreens and Rite Aid will follow suit?

2. Is CVS really improving its corporate image with this change?

3. If you were a CVS executive, would you have made the same decision?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Can a Microsoft Insider Really Be An Innovative CEO?

February 7th, 2014

'Microsoft_logo' photo (c) 2011, jonobacon - license: Microsoft desperately wants to be perceived as innovative again.  Microsoft has declared its innovativeness in newspaper ads.  We have always felt deeds were more important than words.

CEO Search Shows Lack of Innovation

The search for a new CEO at Microsoft has been a bit of a media circus since August of 2013 when Steve Ballmer announced he would step down.  Why?

Mr. Ballmer continued to make major strategic changes to the organization that should have been left to the new CEO.  The purchase of Nokia’s handset business and an entirely new employee evaluation system come to mind as examples.

Many talented Silicon Valley leaders, as well as those in other parts of the world, have passed on the opportunity.  They did not want to change or reverse some of these major strategic decisions when they arrived.  They also feared having the only two CEOs in company history sitting on the Board of Directors passing judgment upon their actions.  Do you think someone like Alan Mulally, the highly successful change agent and CEO at Ford would take on Microsoft? No.  That is why he publicly declined the opportunity

Why Does Microsoft Need to Be More Innovative?

  • Stagnant Share Price:  Split adjusted it is now at its March 2000 level
  • Perception and reality that they are falling behind tech giants like Google and Apple.
  • Insular culture known for big egos and heated arguments.
  • Unhealthy Windows focus that crowds out other ideas.

Good Luck to the New CEO

Satya Nadella was recently announced as the new CEO. He is the ultimate insider, having spent the last 22 years working at Microsoft. We remind him of a comment he made in October 2013, “Relevance comes with innovation and marketplace success.  The marketplace will speak so loudly and so clearly that it will not be ambiguous.”

We also would like to suggest he contact fellow Seattle area CEO Howard Schultz at Starbucks. Schultz reorganized senior management to permit him to step away from some of the day-to-day management.  A Starbucks press release explained the change “Schultz will expand his focus on innovation in coffee, tea and the Starbucks Experience as well as next generation retailing and payments initiatives in the areas of digital, mobile, card, loyalty and e-commerce to position Starbucks for its next wave of global growth.”

The Takeaway

Top management must live and breathe innovation, not just give it lip service.

 Over to you.   What do you think? Please comment below.

  1. Do you feel that an insider can create a new culture and climate of innovation at Microsoft?
  2. What advice would you give the new CEO of Microsoft?
  3. Should Microsoft continue its move into hardware as a way to innovate?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Not Your Father’s Press Release

October 1st, 2013

'Free Press Release Submission and Distribution with integrated Linkbuilding and Directory Listing - For Free.' photo (c) 2010, Heidi Mueller - license: Those of us who have been around a while know the value of Press Releases. There are many reasons to issue them.  If you work with a Publicist they are likely to tell you about Online Press Releases.

Why would I want to put my Press Release Online?

  • build links back to your site
  • build your online brand
  • help position you or your company as experts
  • searchable on news wire services forever
  • the content is indexed by search engines
  • published within hours of submission
  • can embed links, videos, podcasts
  • show pictures in the document javascript and HTML feeds
  • RSS can spread the release for and wide
  • Allows you to include the keywords that you are focusing on

There are many Online Press Release Services available. 

Michael Hartzell, a blogger compiled a list of over 60 press release websites online.

Tips for writing The Online Press Release

  • determine what your key words are
  • use photos, video, etc
  • have a hook in the story to grab attention
  • focus on one message for each release
  • know your audience – speak to them in the right language and tone
  • be relevant – your content should be relevant and timely
  • satisfy customer demand – create content on hot topics for those viewing the Press Release.
  • alt tag all images to make them searchable
  • include a link to your website home page
  • include a link to the product or service page that you talked about in the release
  • include a link to a blog post that is relevant to the topic
  • put key words in the URL string

The Takeaway

Online press releases should be part of your marketing mix. They reach a different and broader audience than your offline press releases.

That is the information. What do you think? Please comment below.

1. Do you use online press releases?

2. How effective have you found them to be?

3. What other advice would you add?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Why Should I Bother with a Press Release?

August 5th, 2013

'WebRTC Announcements Week' photo (c) 2012, Tsahi Levent-Levi - license: Releases must work or else there would not be millions of them each year.  I am reminded of the old saying attributed to John Wannamaker.  “I know advertising works half the time, I just don’t know which half.”

If you are not swayed by my general point about Press Releases working, then consider these benefits of Press Releases.



1.    Search Engine Optimization

Build links back to your site to bring new visitors.  Links help with your credibility as a website.  Thus, the more credibility the higher you arrear in search results.

2.    Provide News on Social Media Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook

We are constantly looking for status updates.  A Press Release is a perfect opportunity to briefly describe the situation and provide a link.

3.    New Content for Your Website

Spiders on search engines like Google and Bing are always looking for new content.  Oblige them by adding the press release to your website.

4.    A Quick Way to Touch a Customer

Send the press release to a customer to keep them current on your firm’s activities.

5.    Send it to Top Prospects

Similar to the idea of keeping customers in the loop it may be even more important to let prospects know your good news.  Prospects are still forming opinions about your firm and whether they should take a leap and partner with you to meet their needs.

6.    Create and Reinforce the Habit of Writing Press Releases

The Takeaway

Press Releases are beneficial.  They have many uses which might just land you a coveted interview or press exposure.

Over to you.  What are your thoughts on these questions?

  1. What other ways to you use Press Releases?
  2. What has been your experience with Press Releases?
  3. What advice would you provide to someone just getting started with Press Releases?Why Should I Bother with a Press Release?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Should Companies Donate Goods and Services For Fundraising?

April 26th, 2011

Sainsbury's local charity of the year nomination cardphoto © 2009 Howard Lake | more info (via: Wylio)
Many businesses are approached multiple times per year to donate products, services or cash to support various causes. Schools, PTOs, non-profits, religious organizations, scouts etc are looking for help from the business community. Civic-minded businesses are interested in helping, but are confused about how to proceed. Companies would like to assist while also creating a positive marketing and branding opportunity.

Here are some guidelines to use in the decision making process.

1. Set a percentage of sales, profits or a fixed amount available to donate to worthy organizations.

2. Determine if you will donate cash, goods, services or a combination thereof.

3. Create a written policy governing your approach.

4. Designate which personnel are authorized to offer donations to organizations.

5. Document what types of organizations with which you will and will not get involved.

6. Draft wording you would like used as attribution for your donation.

7. Create a plan for what organizations you will proactively contact about making donations.

8. Create a plan to generate positive word of mouth and publicity for your contributions to the organizations.

9. Consult with your accountant about your policies, procedures and documentation to ensure the tax deductibility of your donations.

10. Require a written request on organization letterhead to help authenticate the validity of the request.

The Takeaway

Businesses should always be seeking positive marketing and branding opportunities. One great opportunity is through making donations to non-profit and charitable organizations.

Those are the guidelines. Over to you. Please comment below.

1. Do you make charitable contributions?

2. Do you have a written policy?

3. Have you received additional revenue or positive PR from your donations?

If you would like to contact me, you may do so by visiting my LinkedIn page, following me on Twitter,  or e-mailing me at rcberman2 (at) yahoo (dot) com.

© 2009-2018 Rob Berman's Blog All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright