Along with our myriad traditional and innovative public relations/communications activations, we're also finding time to report and write on marketing trends. After all, we're former journalists....it's in our blood. Here's a recent piece Elaine wrote for The Drum (US).
Is this the summer of the pop-up store?
By Elaine Underwood
Pop-up retailers may be all the rage this summer
With white-washed retail stores up for grabs, warmer weather and consumers itching to spend, this could be the perfect equation for a flurry of pop-up stores. Here’s why these activations might explode in a good way – or bad.
If you happen down Milwaukee Avenue near Chicago’s Wicker Park, in your favorite mask (or not), you may notice a new addition: Pop Up Grocer. This temporary storefront showcases a bevy of good-for-you products that were, not so long ago, predominantly only available in the digital direct-to-consumer variety. Items include Behave low-sugar gummy bears and OffLimits cereal.
Pop-up retail could be poised to explode as the vaccine rolls out, the summer is nigh, and shuttered storefronts pockmark cities. Especially since 12,200 stores closed in 2020, according to CoStar Group, a commercial real-estate information and analytics advisor.
Lululemon is utilizing empty storefronts, such as one in Escondido, California, not only to sell overstocks and seasonal merchandise but also to alleviate the long lines at established outlets caused by pandemic occupancy guidelines.
The Canadian fashion retailer Aritzia opened a pop-up shop, Super World, blocks from its New York flagship. The brand also opened a pop-up in the Melrose Avenue space once belonging to the famed fashion retailer Fred Segal. The retailer announced it would update concepts periodically.
“Eighty-four percent of US consumers right now say they cannot wait to spend more money on fun, exciting things that will get them out of the house,” says Lisa Gramling, senior vice-president, research innovation and intelligence at experiential advertising agency Momentum Worldwide, part of McCann Worldgroup.
Verizon and LG take it to the streets
Much of the pop-up energy has also moved to the streets. Experiential events are starting to see a revival, with brands staging mobile events and parking-lot installations.
Verizon just took the brakes off a mobile truck tour where consumers can prompt performers inside a glass enclosure to play a video game or stream a program to showcase 5G speeds, which is having a moment with consumers dealing with overtaxed bandwidth. Momentum created the activation.
LG washers and dryers are on a seven-market truck tour, devised by Lupine Creative, where teams are washing consumer’s unwanted clothing to then donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and LGBT+ centers to draw attention to fast-fashion textile waste.
Walmart is currently staging interactive events in its Mother’s May Market. This builds on the pop-up feeling in store parking lots that Walmart has successfully leveraged throughout the pandemic in conjunction with Momentum.
“Guess what, dad, your kids aren’t going to bring home the popsicle stick frames, so this gives dads an opportunity to bring their kids to a socially-distant experience where they can make a craft,” says Momentum’s Gramling.
The more creative the activation the better, as consumers are looking to be entertained. For example, in February Lupine took over a Burbank car wash and turned it into a 1970s showpiece to promote HBO’s show The Lady and the Dale. Consumers drove through the car wash, the ultimate in social distancing. “Lines were around the block, continuously,” said Lupine’s founder and chief executive Kate Wolff. “People are dying to get out and see the world again.”
Sticking a pin in the pop-up
Despite the momentum behind these experiential activations, there are some factors that may take the air out of pop-ups.
Pop Up Grocer founder and chief executive Emily Schildt has been able to run her business, which hops from city to city for one-month stints, through the pandemic as food stores remained an essential business. Still, Schildt reports that landlords in many markets across the US are hesitant to drop rates for short-term leaseholders as they anticipate a long-term lease renaissance come summer.
And then there are fears of virus variants and another unwelcome spike in positive cases. “What we are experiencing in our agency is a lot of wait and see,” says Jim Cusson, president at Theory House, a creative agency specializing in retail innovation. “The early movers are the ones who might break through because they will have less competition.”
The Pop Up Shop Agency creative director Hope Newman notes that some brands are taking a hybrid approach, where their activations combine street-level activations with influencer campaigns, so if Covid-19 mandates should halt consumer activities they can pivot to social media.
“Say we do a pop-up installation in Santa Monica where we go out for the day and have a bunch of cute models playing with our beach balls,” says Newman. “What if something happened, and California governor Gavin Newsome says no one is going out this week? At the same time, we have already planned a virtual tie-in, sending beach balls to influencers who will play with them [and post].”
No matter what the scenario, this promises to be a summer like no other for marketers. Pop Up Grocer’s Schildt, who has followed customary sanitation and social-distancing guidelines throughout the pandemic, is hopeful the momentum will build from lockdown when “basically, there was nothing to do on calendars anymore and people were very grateful to have a safe event to attend.”
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. and CARLSBAD, Calif., Aug 13, 2020 -- Two powerhouses in their respective fields are forming a strategic alliance to help clients drive business using data-driven digital/social marketing and public relations/communications programs.
Social Ally Media, led by Natalie Speers, and Here and Now Public Relations, co-founded by David Migdal, have a combined 40 years of experience in the social media/digital marketing and public relations space. They are now offering new and existing clients in the tech, health and wellness, CPG, and ecommerce industries the ability to increase revenues by partnering with them on the strategic and metric level.
“We both agree that helping clients connect with consumers is integral to the success of any program, and that’s one of the reasons we’re combining forces,” said Speers. “We’re really looking forward to working together and showing clients how powerful their brands can be.”
Speers and Migdal recently worked together on the Pure Flix Digital business in Scottsdale, Ariz. Migdal handled all the communications/media relations for the company, while Speers’ company drove all social media and digital marketing efforts.
Combined, Speers and Migdal supported the streaming video company by driving almost 530,000 trial subscriptions (through organic social and targeted, paid advertising) with a conversion rate of more than 50 percent. They also developed effective homeschool and military outreach programs, created a weekly online video program that had a reach of more than 2.5 million in its first season, and helped drive media coverage in the New York Times, Variety, NBC News and other outlets.
Social Ally Media was founded in Scottsdale by Speers 12 years ago. She is one of the leaders of the social media revolution, and her firm excels in paid advertising, organic social media strategy, planning and execution, graphic design, brand strategy and LinkedIn prospecting.
Speers’ company supports businesses in the entertainment, health and wellness, media and ecommerce industries. She also uses her social media prowess to elevate individual corporate executives, business owners and non-profit organizations.
Migdal’s career spans 20+ years in corporate and consultancy roles, helping companies in the tech and CPG industries by developing and executing results-driven public relations, content creation, and corporate communications programs.
He has supported companies of all sizes; from multinationals (such as Sony, Samsung, Lululemon, Fiji Water, Intel and Duracell) in the US, Asia and Europe to garage-based startups. He is the past chairman of the Consumer Technology Association’s communications committee.
“We were both looking for ways to better serve our existing clients and attract new clients,” said Migdal, “so this strategic alliance makes a lot sense. Besides, we’ve always accomplished big things when we’ve worked together.”
For more information, please contact Natalie Speers at email@example.com or David Migdal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CARLSBAD, Calif. and BASKING RIDGE, N.J., July 28, 2020 -- Two proven leaders in the brand, communications and reputation management space, David Migdal and Perri Richman, are forming a strategic alliance with their companies to help small-to-mid-sized companies increase sales, establish footholds in the B2B space, and elevate their corporate reputations and identities.
Migdal, co-founder of Here and Now Public Relations and Richman, founder of The Brand Promise, and bring a combined 40+ years of experience working in the corporate and consulting space, where they held leadership roles across brand, marketing, public relations and reputation management, corporate social responsibility, and employee engagement.
They are now leveraging their individual expertise and experience to combine forces and provide impactful consultation to small and mid-sized companies.
“Our companies each have its areas of expertise, but when Perri and I talked about what we could provide by forming this alliance, it became a compelling proposition,” said Migdal. “We look forward to providing new and existing clients with a dynamic suite of services starting with firm and leadership branding all the way through to content and public relations execution, leading to meaningful results.”
Migdal’s career spans 20+ years in corporate and consultancy roles, helping companies in the tech and CPG industries by developing and executing innovative public relations, content creation, and corporate communications programs to drive results.
He’s supported companies of all sizes; from multinationals (such as Sony, Samsung, Intel and Duracell) in the U.S., Asia and Europe to garage-based startups. He is the past chairman of the Consumer Technology Association’s communications committee.
Richman is a brand and reputation advisor who partners with individuals and organizations undergoing change and transformation. She applies her science-based approach to helping firms build their brands and deliver upon them through the behavior (time, style, experience, rituals, communications, image and more) of their people. Her approach is predicated on the idea that nearly 50 percent of a firm’s reputation is attributed to its people -- and that their choices, performance and perception must align.
During her 20+ year corporate career, she held progressive corporate communications, brand and marketing, CSR and ESG roles at multinational industrial and technology companies. She also worked at the communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller, supporting Fortune 500 companies in professional services, automotive, financial services, and consumer packaged goods.
For more information, please contact David Migdal at David@hereandnowpr.com or Perri Richman at email@example.com.
Over the past few weeks, it’s becoming increasingly clear that three simple words have fallen out of favor.
“I don’t know.”
Whether it’s related to the pandemic, social unrest, or the markets, no one seems to be able to say that facts may suggest one thing and reality suggests another. They make educated guesses, theorize, and in some cases, make outlandish—even dangerous--predictions.
They can’t simply say: “That’s a great question, but I don’t have an answer for you today. I just don’t know.”
In media circles this makes sense. Heaven forbid a guest or the interviewer is caught off-guard and offers up a less-than-salient response to a question. And with a dearth of science reporters in the media, covering something like a global pandemic is bound to create problems.
But it’s different in public relations/communications. Being transparent about what you don’t know isn’t just an honorable trait, it’s mandatory.
It’s called being professional. Or, more importantly, being human.
We’ve been asked hundreds of times what we think about one program or another or what we think will resonate with a desired audience. When we weren’t certain, we asked for some time to conduct research, collect facts, and report back. Several quick phone calls to pros we trust, a soft audit of a dozen sources or so, or maybe a coffee with a trusted advisor… NOT ONCE was this scenario met with scorn or derision.
Why? Because while we may be respected in our field, we simply don’t know everything. Experience is helpful in creating plans and strategies, but something that worked 2-3 years ago, might not be quite as effective today. Things change; we have to be every bit as agile as the world we operate in.
Christopher Robichaud, senior lecturer in ethics and public policy at Harvard Kennedy School recently told the Harvard Gazette: “Most of us are, at best, experts in a tiny, tiny area. But we don’t navigate the world as if that were true. We navigate the world as if we’re experts about a whole bunch of things that we’re not… A little intellectual humility can go a long way.”
Public relations practitioners are infamous for creating smoke or fostering spin. We sometime have to magnify a small angle of a story to make it resonate. Smoke is another story. But coming off as a know-it-all is the kiss of death. If you can’t be honest, you shouldn’t be practicing PR.
This isn’t a call to arms or a treatise on ethics or moral dilemmas in the world in which we work. That’s not the point. It’s simply a great time to step back and examine our practices.
That much I know.