Pizza Hut used to be the ubiquitous All American pizza chain. The stores were everywhere, and the food was good enough to sit down and enjoy it. But now the chain has been losing money for seven straight quarters. Even the addition of Wing Street couldn’t salvage sales, and Ronn Torossian says now is the right time for the Hut
to take a long hard look at its current public image.

After all, pizza sure isn’t the issue. They may argue about who has the best, but Americans LOVE pizza. During the same period in which Pizza Hut, which is still America’s largest pizza chain, lost ground, both Papa John’s and Dominos have seen sales increase. That means the issue is one of perception guiding consumer choice. But why?

There may be no hard and fast answers to that question, but it’s one that Pizza Hut needs to answer now. Losing money for nearly two straight years is more than a fluke, it’s a trend. And it’s not a trend based on anything but consumer preference.

Some have said the issue is in changing trends. Pizza consumers are opting more for takeout than eating in. Picking up hot and ready at Little Caesars, or ordering online at primarily takeout chains. While that may be true, eat-in pizza joints are still doing fairly well. Even Cici’s, which caters to a price-conscious demographic, is maintaining against takeout. Besides, takeout pizza is nothing new.

So, could the answer be an image problem with pizza hut? Torossian believes that’s at least part of it. Sometime in the past decade or two, Pizza Hut made a shift toward a more fast food pizza quality but tried to keep the dine-in experience. That split the target demo … and frustrated both. Then, they doubled down with Wing Street, an interesting concept that had consumers wondering if Pizza Hut was trying to be a sports bar without the sports. Bottom line, America’s top pizza chain is suffering from an identity crisis. If they don’t figure out who they are, consumers will do it for them … by finding someplace else to eat.

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No matter where you hang out a shingle or what your area of expertise happens to be, there are several truths all startup entrepreneurs need to know, says Ronn Torossian. Some of these can be learned by experience, but any of them, if ignored, could also doom your enterprise before you even get it off the ground.

Be Better Than You Can Be

Everyone goes into any enterprise with
a general idea of their own capabilities, and, in most cases, limitations. And everyone also believes they will have more ability, more money, and more time in the day. To succeed, you have to be better than that. You have to understand where you can stretch, but you also have to be a better manager of your time and resources than you ever thought possible.

Get The Right Help

Speaking of limitations, you are likely only going to go as far as your team can take you. This is the inherent limitation of any enterprise. Now, we’re not saying people can’t grow. Let’s face it, you either grow and get better, or you wither and die. But, just because someone CAN do something does not mean they SHOULD be doing it. This is one of the toughest lessons any entrepreneur needs to learn. If you are bad at something, bring someone in who is good at it. But, on the flip side, don’t just bring in a bunch of people who you like and try to fit them someplace. It’s great to work with a team you enjoy being around, but it is better to find people who can outperform anyone else at any given task.

Earn That Ivory Tower

You do not need to have the best or look the best to be a success. You need to be focused primarily on the best ways to make money, not accumulating the trappings of success. In the beginning, ALL of your available resources need to be invested in the best ways for you to get – and keep – the money rolling in. A great looking office and posh decor might impress prospects, but it won’t win the ones you need to make it all work. Put the most effort into first deciding EXACTLY what you do, then figure out how to make the most money possible doing that.

Be Flexible, or You Will Break

There is no such thing as a business plan that won’t change, or a marketplace that isn’t always changing. With all these variables, it should be clear that a business person that refuses to grow and change will find it difficult to achieve lasting success. You would THINK it would be clear, but, apparently, it is not. Far too many people expect things to keep going as they “always have” (another misnomer), and, if change does happen, they think they can instantly adapt. Both of these assumptions are business killers.

Assume, But Verify

Speaking of assumption, we’ll close with one of the worst kept dirty little secrets of the business world. You WILL come to a point where assumption is necessary. Sure, it’s better to know, but there will be MANY times in which you will have to make crucial decisions based on the best information you have at the time.

Taken together, these truths may not guarantee success, but leave them undone and you are definitely setting yourself up for failure.


gm-debacleIn report after report, describing the recent issues GM has been working through, the word “debacle” has come up again and again. While most may not be able to precisely describe that term, the term carries with it an ominous “implied meaning” that Ronn Torossian says, is in many ways, worse than a more specific description.

Debacle implies both intent and ineptitude, which in itself creates a problem when trying to craft an effective PR response. Ideally, you want to be able to address a single issue at time, to fire back with positives and counter the negatives. But, when you are facing accusations of being both intentionally negligent and habitually incompetent, the Big Question becomes, “What do you go after first?”. This question becomes even more intensely problematic when you consider that both of these accusations are being leveled simultaneously.

When alleged to have made some mistakes, you can say you are aware of issues within your protocol that created negative outcomes, and that you are addressing these. Then, you can move on, having delivered a rational response to revealed mistakes. Or, if you are dealing with systematic flaws which make you appear inept, one can respond by assuring consumers that these flaws have been addressed in the most comprehensive possible way.

However, if the accusations and allegations are both specific and system-wide, the PR question becomes one of priorities. No matter which you choose, there will be vociferous critics. Therefore, your PR response must be both actively engaged in resolving the first issue while also prepared to manage the negative response from those who believe you should have addressed the other issues first. Ignoring one issue and addressing the other won’t help because it allows someone else to control that aspect of the media conversation.



Spoiler alert! What you are about to read may not answer all of your questions about effective entertainment PR, but it will tackle one of the most pressing challenges entertainment marketing professionals are having to address in today’s Incessant Information Stream media.

It’s no secret that, particularly American, entertainment production companies are struggling to capture and keep the same audience market share that came so easy a few short years ago. Take the latest Transformers movie for example. Sure, it did well in the States, but nowhere near as well as prior installments in the franchise. Some major production houses just flat out sat out of the summer blockbuster season, preferring to release small budget films throughout the year and hoping to score with quantity rather than quality.

Public Relations & Marketing for a Movie

Could it be that Hollywood is finally beginning to feel the sting from streaming media and on demand television? Pick a cable provider and scroll through the on demand titles. You can expect to find one or two “watch while in theaters” opportunities. Even the concept would have been laughable a decade ago. For years companies turned a blind eye as pirates threw up recorded copies of first run movies online. They didn’t see the competition. But, a generation raised on bit torrents and Netflix certainly understands the value of watching what I want, when I want … WHERE I want.

The days of waiting for a film to come out, of camping out on opening night, and theaters sold out days before a release are starting to see a decline as more consumers opt for other entertainment options.

Producers and film PR firms have fired back by offering longer and more frequent trailers, hoping to entice viewers by offering an extended tease. The new TMNT movie has released three different trailers in the span of a month, and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy just dropped a nearly five-minute block of the movie to give fans a taste.

Where once the teaser trailer was a real art form, snippets strung together into a 90-second emotional roller coaster, now companies are just cutting out chunks of film and throwing it up on YouTube.

Is this the studios giving ground to new media, or do they have another plan up their sleeve? What do you think?

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improve-brand-prPublic Relations is For Everyone

One of the key methods of maintaining a successful image for your business or personal pursuits is to have a decent grasp of how Public Relations work. Managing Public Relations is an important facet of several different career fields, because many successful people will at one time or another find themselves in the public eye. This attention can catch some by surprise, therefore it is a good idea for anyone seeking upward mobility to at least learn some PR basics. By following a few simple steps, even those who seem to suffer from perpetual foot-in-mouth syndrome can become a Public Relations maven.

Take Stock of your Public Relations Situation

The first step to improving the public image of a business or individual is to perform a Public Relations Audit. It may sound complicated or even scary, but this audit is basically a list of pros and cons. To complete a PR audit, compile 2 lists: Things which have the potential to help your public image, and things which have the potential to hurt it. After the information has been organized, it can be compared in order to assess your Public Relations Risk Factor. There is no particular scale to follow in regards to how high your risk factor may be. They key is to simply work on decreasing the items which may have a negative impact.

Moderation is Key

Once you have identified potential Public Relations risks, the next step is to work on increasing your general appeal across the board. This is useful for politicians, business owners, and public speakers alike. In general, you want to at least appear to be very “Middle of the Road” in your dealings. Any political poll from the last 50 years of elections will show that moderate candidates do better across the board in elections. Of course candidates who express fervent approval for special interests will gain a great deal of attention and press, but they rarely get elected, why? The answer is simpler than you might think. Human nature tends to lead people to prefer leaders whose behavior can be easily predicted. Being outwardly moderate indicates to those observing that you are more considerate, intelligent and trustworthy.

Who Are You Trying to Impress?

The third basic step to maintaining good Public Relations is to identify your key demographic. This is the group of people you most wish to attract to yourself or your business. Certain demographics will be attracted by certain behaviors and repelled by others. It is useful to learn which issues and features are important to your target demographic and use them to your advantage. Consider the current 18-30 year old urban demographic: This group, more so than any other is attracted to representation. They want to know that you not only want to sell a product or idea to them, but also that you consider their ideas and interests to be a valid contribution to the culture at large, and not simply things to by laughed at and chalked up to youthful silliness. For the current generation this typically involves the integration of technology into your business model. However, the need for representation is not a new facet of this demographic.

In Spike Lee’s 1989 film “Do the Right Thing”, an Italian-American business owner operating in an African-American neighborhood ends up losing his restaurant to vandalism that was the direct result of his refusal to acknowledge that his business’s success is due almost entirely to the Black customers that frequent it. A running theme throughout the film is the idea of escalating events, in that several scenes which nearly became violent (and one that did) could have been avoided by simply acknowledging the value each group represented to the other.

Managed Public Relations = Increased Expectations.

Managing Public Relations can be an incredibly rewarding skill to master. Though traditionally considered to be more a part of political and big business environments, even everyday people are increasingly beginning to realize the benefits of having a few PR tricks up their sleeves. By learning to conduct business in a more organized and image conscious fashion, anyone can increase their personal profitability improve their public image.

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