There’s no doubt that technology is both the blessing and the curse of modern life – and modern consumer PR. Ronn Torossian says the latest brand to learn this lesson the hard way is Home Depot. The home improvement giant certainly benefits from allowing customers to pay with plastic, as do most retailers. But the company has released a statement saying as many as 56 million payment cards “may have been” compromised due to a “massive cyber breach” of the businesses’ payment network.
That’s a lot of frustrated home improvers. The breach, which now holds the dubious title of “Worse than Target,” has consumers reconsidering the convenience versus risk associated with plastic payments.
According to the report, Home Depot said “customized malware” may have been present on its network as far back as April 2014. They discovered the breach on September 2. Worse, the company had to find out about the breach after industry watchdogs publicized information from banks associated with the network. That set off a firestorm of questions Home Depot was woefully ill equipped to answer. Now, weeks after the fact, the company’s PR team has released its first lengthy statement.
The report did stipulate that only brick and mortar stores were affected. According to the release, no online buyers were put at risk. While Home Depot claims the malware has been removed and is no longer a risk, consumers are still concerned. Now two major US retailers have been successfully infiltrated, so smart money says more will fall sooner rather than later.
These entirely valid concerns should trigger next steps for every major American retailer that accepts credit or debit cards. First, they should step up their protection and detection efforts, not leaving it to outsiders and banks to catch the digital bad guys. Second, the companies need to redouble their communication efforts to assure their customers of the safety of their networks. Details aren’t necessary—the average consumer wouldn’t understand them anyway. But simple and clear reassurances are necessary. Because the next big box store to get hit may trigger plummeting consumer trust that would take years to fully recover.
Walt Disney world is tearing down another classic attraction and replacing it with a fancy new one for a new generation. Which story will they be telling? Well, if you guessed “Frozen,” you’re getting very warm. Ronn Torossian has the story of Disney’s latest PR foray.
Nothing is hotter right now in family entertainment than Frozen. The latest Disney Princess tale has taken the world by storm, and its parent company has taken notice. You can get Frozen everywhere. Google Let It Go and you will find countless people singing the movie’s theme song across the globe. Now Disney is embracing its hottest commodity by replacing one of the more popular attractions at the Epcot park in Orlando.
The “Frozen” ride will replace the Maelstrom at the Norway Pavilion. While the news didn’t sit too well with older park goers who grew up with the somewhat historic Scandinavian theme attraction, Disney understands all too well who it needs to please most.
Sure, as with any change at the world’s most popular theme park, there will be critics who lament the loss of a piece of their childhood. But times – and generations – change, as do their entertainment choices. Given the state of things, it’s difficult to argue with this decision.
Still, critics will argue that Epcot is the most “realistic” of Disney’s many themed parks. It’s rides are cultural as much as they are entertaining. Well, that might be a valid point, but the point of a theme park is experiential entertainment. And there is nothing today’s generation of girls want to experience more than what it would be like to actually travel to Arendelle and meet their favorite Frozen characters.
Disney is already bringing interactive opportunities in the way of meet and greets, shows and musical entertainment. Now fans will be able to literally immerse themselves in the world of Frozen.
The ride is not expected to open until 2016, but Disney can use that time to get their young fans excited and build the anticipation for what will likely be a huge boost for their Epcot location.
The biggest success in the world of streaming entertainment is now poised to expand even further. Netflix, the world’s largest subscription service, will soon be offering its programming in six European nations, including Germany and France. The company established a presence in Canada back in 2010 and followed that up with expansions into Latin America, Scandinavia, Britain, and the Netherlands. But until now, much of Europe has remained untouched. Recently though, the company announced its intention to move into France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The move seems obvious, but the timing may just be now or never.
Netflix must act before its direct competitors Amazon Prime and HBO Go beat them to it. Currently, HBO Go competes with Netflix in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway. Amazon Prime Instant Video is available in Britain and Germany.
But the move comes with several public relations and consumer communication hurdles. Sure, Europeans are comfortable with pay TV, in many cases even more comfortable than Americans. But the regulations across the pond are much different than they are in the U.S.
Netflix will have to format its business within Europe’s rules, developed to make it difficult to challenge domestic media. And when it gets over these hurdles, it will have to maximize its impact by crafting selection libraries that will appeal to the local market.
But Netflix management has already learned some hard lessons about consumer PR. Remember the ill advised attempt to separate the streaming and mailed rental services – and expect customers to pay for both? After massive consumer uproar, Netflix managed a quick course correction. Now, instead of being known for that gaffe, it is known for its standout programming like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.
Time will tell if Netflix can parlay that success into making a cultural – and marketplace – impact in continental Europe. Critics of the move are already saying shows such as House of Cards won’t play well – if at all – in some markets. But that will not prevent the company from creating shows for markets where its American hits can’t succeed.
Do that, and Netflix will have the leverage and market foothold it needs to create a foundation for success in these new markets and beyond.
It’s a question every career oriented professional asks when entering the workforce. And it’s a question every employer needs to have an answer for: How do you get a job that requires experience when you don’t have any experience?
The answer? Realize you may not get the job you want, so go out and get some experience. This little nugget of reality is reason number one you better not skip that college internship.
According to a recent survey, business students who reported having business-related internships were much more likely to get at least one solid job offer upon graduation. Sometimes sooner.
More than 61 percent of those who had done the internship had a job offer in hand by winter of their senior year. Compare that to 28 percent of the group without one. That means doing that internship more than doubles your chances of landing a gig after graduation. And before you think, “yeah, but, for what jobs,” this percentage stayed fairly even across many different industries.
Banking had the highest rate of job offers at 70 percent followed by consulting, technology and retail.
One of the reasons for the internship benefit is obvious. Sure, that college internship gives you the requisite experience so many businesses are looking for in a new hire, but it is much more valuable for a very different reason.
Doing that internship creates relationships where you would not otherwise have them. No matter what field you want to enter (unless it’s academics) you will meet more people in that field while on the job. Relationships are valuable currency in business. They help you get hired, help you move up and help you strike deals you might not otherwise be able to land.
Even if you plan to go out on your own, that internship can still offer you priceless experience and insight into the industry. The real dynamics and logistics. Who the main players are at every level of the industry. Answers to questions you hadn’t even planned on asking. Keep that in mind if you are considering skipping the internship. You might never learn what you should have known.
TiVo just keeps chugging along ahead of the pack. After yet another “better than expected” profit report, many people are asking how this brand keeps its market share. When cable companies are offering their own digital recording and playback services, how can TiVo keep coming out strong?
Well, step one is to partner with the competition. TiVo is doing exactly that. The company currently has agreements with DirecTV and Canadian telecom giant, Cogeco Cable, and is enthusiastically striving to land more partnerships. And that strategy seems to be working. Demand for the set-top boxes continue to be high and subscriptions to the service climbed to 4.8 million last quarter.
But joining the competition is not TiVo’s only effective strategy. It’s also going after a drastically underserved market – people without cable. Recently, TiVo launched a video recorder with an antenna that enables users who don’t have cable or satellite TV to record shows from over-the-air channels and video streaming services for less than $15 per month. As you may imagine, revenue and subscriber lists continues to rise.
Buried beneath all these good decisions and positive results is a single unifying success factor. Messaging. Somehow, TiVo has convinced cable companies they need to work with TiVo instead of against them, while convincing thousands of customers they don’t need cable at all. Sure, that might sound dichotomous, but what it really is, is taking a chunk out of two opposing markets.
So is TiVo the “Great Uniter” or the solution to the nation’s cable TV complaints? It’s far too early to tell. But what we can know is that this brand has found a way to make something that shouldn’t work be very profitable. And the common denominator is how they approach both their competition and their market.
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