Starbucks Spirited PR Gamble

A Big Mac along with a glass of chardonnay? Who knows? That could be on the way. Starbucks is heading in that direction. The chain will soon be selling beer and wine in select locations. Four to six stores in the Southern California area will offer alcoholic beverages by the end of this year, as will some stores in Atlanta and Chicago

The chain began testing its new spirited approach in Seattle in 2010. Starbucks now offers beers for $5 and wines by the glass for $7 to $9 in five locations in that city and one in Portland, Oregon.

The questions are: what will this move do to the Starbucks brand? And how will customers have to change their habits in order for it to pay off? Currently the chain makes most of its daily sales by 2 p.m., which explains the foray into the spirit business. On the other hand around 75% of Starbucks customers are there for take out. That won't work in the beer and wine business. These customers will have to say and enjoy their beverages in-house. And what about the kids and teens that have made Starbucks one of their staples. Will mom and dad be happy sending their kids to a beer and wine establishment?

If this were Europe, there would be no issue. There families are used to going to pubs or cafes where coffee, food and spirits are sold. But, the U.S. isn't France or England and we generally have a different take on where liquor should and shouldn't be served. And what happens when a Starbucks barista has to 86 someone? What will be the protocol for that?

Starbucks has built an amazing worldwide brand. It has regularly changed its menu offering different types of drinks and food items, but a jump into the world of beer and wine is a big one. Adding a new pastry, sandwich or fruit drink does not risk compromising the chain's brand, but offering a happy hour where sprits flow freely will challenge the way many of its customers view the company.

Only time will tell if this gamble will pay off. Because it directly impacts their brand recognition, it could either turn out to be a PR miscue or a public relations homerun. Chances are it will land somewhere in the middle. Since they are only experimenting with a handful of stores, if the publicity effect is extremely negative, they can quickly shut the program down. But if the reaction is simply lukewarm, or only somewhat negative, they will most likely give the news stores a fair shot and launch a media relations campaign extolling the virtues of this new approach. If it works, it could become a one stop shop for buying one's stimulants in the morning and depressants in the evening. The next big question could be, how are they going to get people to leave?

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012

I'm Anthony Mora, President and CEO of Anthony Mora Communications, Inc. and author of Spin to Win. We specialize in public relations, image development, media training and Transformational Marketing,

SEO Press Release Tips

Business Wire, Marketwire, PrimeNewswire, PR Newswire, and PRWeb: these are the main paid wire services that American companies use. On any given day a couple of thousand press releases are sent out in the U.S. by those wire services. So, how can you separate yourself from the pack? How can your PR efforts and press releases be noticed in such a throng? It's not easy, but it's possible.

It's no longer enough to concern yourself with interesting the traditional media with your releases. Yes, you need to create press releases that meet the needs of the traditional media, but you also need to maximize the use of search engine optimization (SEO). Why do you need to concern yourself with SEO? Will it help you land a story in the New York Times or an interview on the Today show? Most likely not. But it can help in other ways. For example, when someone is searching online for a company that offers your type of product or service, are you the one they're going to find? Where do you show up when it comes to a Google search?

That's where search engine optimization comes in. SEO's primary function is to help you rank in Google and Yahoo News and for your keywords. And this is generally accomplished by knowing your keywords, and creating anchor backlinks for your blog or website.

Anchor text is the hyperlinked text on a web page. They are the highlighted words you click on when you click a link. It offers readers information about the nature of the page you're linking to. For example, this is my Public Relations Firm's website linked to a keyword. More importantly anchor text communicates with search engines. In essence it tells search engines what the page is about. It's incredibly important to use in your press releases; used effectively it can boost your rankings and particularly your Google rankings.

Your first step is to learn your primary and secondary keywords. Your press releases should reflect the keywords used on your website. You want your releases to work for you by driving search engines to your site. Don't make the mistake of only using your keywords on your homepage. Make a concerted effort to have a minimum of one of the keyword links in your press releases lead to a page on your site other than your homepage.

Focus on the first 200 to 250 words of your release. These initial words set the tone not only for the release itself but for your overall search results. You want to choose those words carefully and you want them to be targeted.

In most of my articles about press releases, my main focus is on the content; on telling a strong story with a compelling narrative. Those are points you always have to keep in mind and my follow up article on SEO press releases will cover that in more depth, but here the focus is on making sure that your releases not only are interesting but that they also are SEO friendly. A few points to keep in mind are to make sure your headline contains your primary keyword and that you pepper the release itself with three target keywords. Also, never forget to include at least one URL in the release. You never know, your release might be republished without anchor text and by including your URL you'll assure that the reader can find you.

SEO is an ever changing field and one I don't think anyone fully masters. So keep experimenting and keep writing new releases with SEO in mind, but also remember, when all is said and done, it comes down to telling a compelling story. Don't get so lost in the SEO game that you forget the basics.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012

Anthony Mora, President and CEO of Anthony Mora Communications, Inc. and author of several books including the definitive PR book, Spin to Win. My firm specializes in public relations, image development, media training and Transformational Marketing, We have placed clients in a wide range of media outlets including Time, Newsweek, USA Today, Oprah, People, WSJ, and CNN.  Contact us to learn why effective public relations is the most important tool in the internet age. At AMC, Inc., we help companies reach prospective clients, establish successful brands, grow their business and establish themselves as the experts in their field. Contact us at:

PR Tips For Conducting Business Globally

These mistakes may be innocent enough, but can carry substantial, financial repercussions and unintended brand erosion. Understanding cultural differences from both a business POV and a social POV is paramount to succeeding in global waters. If you are new to the challenge of pursuing business in foreign territories please be aware, the American way, is not the only way and in some cases can be shunned.

Example: An American executive who relocated to London for a Branding position was a novice to British culture. He was a bright, head strong, opinionated American who multi-tasked constantly, had a get-it done work ethic and would happily stay up all night to complete a project. However, he was not being received well. He quickly learned from a personal branding, likeability and efficiency perspective, it was incumbent that he rehabbed his professional personality. To fit in, he needed to adjust to the locale if he wanted to be welcomed by his British colleagues. He started with simple measures, lowering his speaking voice by several octaves. He then got in sync with the speed and efficiency of his colleagues. He refrained from making any comments on the British Aristocracy. Lastly, he became much less overtly assertive. He happened to be a quick leaner, therefore his challenges were measurably overcome in a short period and it made a substantial difference. He was still American, but he was no longer the stereotypical, over-the-top, unintentionally offensive American.

This lesson was repeated (although abbreviated) when he conducting branding excursions in Central Eastern Europe, Spain, France, Australia, Germany and other territories. Each country has it's own set of business, cultural and social attributes. It is imperative to develop some cultural sensitivity and personal branding acumen before attempting to launch your brand, sale products, or increase awareness for a brand, product or service in different cultures.

Tips from a PR Expert:

1) Invest in due-diligence. Research the country's cultural history.

2) Research, the company you want to do business with. Understand their past failures and success. What are their goals? What can you offer them?

3) Research the people you will be meeting with. Are they married? Are they single? What was their previous position? How long have they been at that position? This information can serve you well.

4) If you can, determine in advance their perspective on American's.

5) Work hard, but smart. Be careful not to alienate colleagues, or put off superiors.

6) Understand the currency and the exchange rate so you can calculate quickly and efficiently, demonstrating (at some level) your understanding of their global trading system.

7) Research global shipping and customs guidelines for that territory.

8) Become your own Public Relations Consultant and brand yourself as one who is interested and understanding of their social and business culture.

In summary, and most of all, listen, restrain, adjust, assimilate and communicate best practices for that specific international territory. Demonstrating and communicating your understanding and respect for their culture and business methodology is key to success! If they do not connect with you, they will not connect with your brand.

Michele Clayborne is an International Public Relations Consultant with over 15 years of experience and a former Vice President with Fleishman Hillard International Communications. She has lived and worked in London and has conducted branding initiatives all over the world for her clients.

Disadvantage of a Press Release

Yes, you read the title right - it's about "disadvantages" of using this technique that involves spreading the word about the latest happenings in your business. While die-hard fans of press releases might feel offended, it's true that you can go overboard with the idea of using this marketing strategy - and there are some other issues as well. Let's find out how press release distribution can put you in trouble.

· The biggest thing stopping you from reaping maximum benefits of PR articles is the high level of competition for distribution. With such high competition, you will have no guarantee that press release distribution will turn out to be a successful move.

· Another problem is to find newsworthy topics. Opt for the standard, run-of-the-mill topics and your press releases will fail miserably. Creating your news article in such a good quality that they are picked up by online journalists and editors is always a hard nut to crack and makes press release distribution a tad difficult for an average Joe.

· Another disadvantage is that you will have to be consistent with writing and distributing your press releases on associated PR sites, which would take a lot of time.

· Another technical disadvantage is that your target audience may or may not be internet-savvy or like to read PR. That's why you need to evaluate your market first for location, age group, gender, lifestyle, educational background etc before opting for this technique.

· You cannot be too creative with your press releases. It needs to follow a set format - style, number of words, use of graphics etc - to be able to attract online journalists and editors.

· Another annoying thing, is that though they are used to promote your business, they cannot have direct selling or advertising tone. Getting your services promoted in a way that they don't look like promotional ads can be extremely time consuming and excruciating.

· The biggest disadvantage is to find a way to maintain a balanced approach. It's important to distribute your press releases regularly to get a result, but at the same time, it's important to draw a line. To be consistent, people sometimes rely on duplicate content (words and phrases), which instead of offering any benefits winds up being a harmful trick.

You may have noticed that though these are called disadvantages, you don't always have to face them. A right shift in your strategy will definitely turn these cons into pros, and you need to learn that trick to save your time, reap more benefits, and improve your ROI. For instance, if competition is high, lay your full emphasis on creating a killer release. When you choose an appropriate topic, which is interesting and newsworthy, your PR article manages to stand out from the crowd.

Doing this is hard, but never impossible, especially when you can engage a professional press release writer and good press release distribution service. They know all tricks of the trade and mold your article keeping your specific industry in mind. This helps them avoid those disadvantages and fetch you the benefits only. The fact of the matter is that writing and publishing press releases will improve the image and standing of your company, but it will happen only if you find a way to overcome these disadvantages.

Avoid the disadvantages by signing up to

PR and Marketing Brainstorming Tips

Before you launch a PR, social media or marketing campaign, you want to make sure that you've outlined your objectives, reviewed your marketing approaches and thoroughly mined your PR stories. One of the best ways to do this is to set up a marketing brainstorming session. To start, sit down and make a list of objectives that you want to achieve before starting the process. You don't want to limit your ideas, but you do want to define the objectives you're setting out to accomplish. When it comes to brainstorming your PR and marketing strategies, your goal is to come up with a list of the ideas and approaches that will best serve you, including new business concepts, the unique value you offer, important information you offer your clients, and anecdotal stories that illustrate how you work. I also suggest spending some time focusing on how and why you can be presented as an expert in your overall field.

This type of brainstorming is generally best done as a group process. I know that if you're working on a start up, chances are you're wearing several hats, but if you have others on your team, bring them in. For example, set up a marketing- brainstorming session with your PR consultant, or, if you're doing this in-house, meet with members of your staff. If you're a one man, or one woman show, bring together some friends or associates who understand your business. You want people you can bounce ideas off. You want feedback, plus you want shared enthusiasm and energy. Make it fun; make it a game, but one with a purpose.

When you do set up a brainstorming session, allow everyone involved to speak freely. Set up an agenda but let the information flow. Think out of the box. Be creative. Remember you don't have to use all of these ideas but the deeper you drill down, the better the chances of mining some real marketing gold, so let the ideas fly. Let yourself banter about marketing, social media and PR ideas. Even if these are ideas you might never use. You never know, those might actually turn out to lead you to some golden PR nuggets.

Make a marketing list and break it down into marketing, public relations and social media. Now see how many ideas you can place in each list. For example, when it comes to social media, what are some unique Twitter, Facebook or Google+ approaches that you can take? How can you present yourself and most successfully engage with others? In the PR realm what are some different stories that you could pitch to the media? These ideas can be about your product or service, but they also might be about your journey as an entrepreneur, or they might be stories about how you've impacted others. Each one of those stories can speak to a different target audience.

In the second part of the brainstorming tips I'll be focusing primarily on social media and traditional media relations, but the brainstorming basics remain the same, step out of the box, let go of any preconceived ideas and let your creativity soar.

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012

I'm Anthony Mora, President and CEO of Anthony Mora Communications, Inc. and author of Spin to Win. We specialize in Public Relations, Image Development, Media Training, Branding and Marketing.