When One Tweet Goes International

Just Add A Kid is a Southern California-based specialty t-shirt manufacturing company with 30 employees. Its offerings include fun kids tee shirts, onesies, baby bibs, long sleeve shirts, and socks for various ages and sizes. In the middle of the afternoon, the CEO calls us in a panic. The New York Daily News just left a message asking for a comment on accusations of racism by the company after a tweet surfaced of a controversial store display. One of the company’s t-shirt designs, which features the body of a monkey holding a banana, was placed on hangers with the face of a black child on them. By the next morning, the story hit all major news networks in the United States, as well as TMZ, the UK Daily Mail, the Associated Press and others.

Within an hour of receiving the call, we went to work, distributing an official statement by Just Add A Kid’s CEO apologizing for what was, and act not of their doing, but no less unacceptable and offensive. The statement also shared the company’s immediate steps to remove the display and take steps to ensure such instances never happen again. We also put similar messages on Just Add A Kid’s social media accounts, automated 800-number greeting and website. Not stopping there, we proceeded to answer every email, voicemail and social media post that came in with the same message. The story died within 48 hours and the company was able to return to normal operations.

Turning A Negative Story Positive

The San Diego NBC Station was producing a news segment centered around issues that a viewer raised to the consumer watchdog team about recent purchases at one of my Jerome’s Furniture’s locations. The individual was to represent a line of similar complaints many of the network’s local stations were getting about a particular product line. All furniture retailers were getting targeted. Every single one of my client’s competitors opted for the more mainstream response by not allowing their executives to be interviewed, preferring to answer only in writing or not at all.

We thought otherwise by seeing the news piece as an opportunity to educate the public on what the product is and what’s required to care for it. At our request and guidance, Jerome’s CEO Brian Woods welcomed NBC San Diego reporter Bob Hansen and his team to one of their showrooms and answered every question posed to him. He also pointed to a 90-second video that the company produced to reach as many customers as possible.

In the process, Jerome’s demonstrated a sincere commitment to not just the person who voiced the complaint, but the community at large. Mr. Hanson made mention of that in his closing comments that the anchors also noted. In short, Jerome’s was able to turn what was going to be a negative news segment into a positive one for them. Visit NBC7’s site to see the entire piece yourself.

Thwarting An Impending Budget Crisis

Balboa Park Cultural Partnership Executive Director Peter Comiskey and several organizations that partner with BPCP needed to quickly generate overwhelming support against the City of San Diego’s proposed 31 percent budget cuts to the arts as a result of an unexpected $47 million shortfall. On short notice, the group organized a rally at City Hall with more than 300 individuals representing approximately 130 arts organizations to raise their voices ahead of a scheduled City of San Diego Commission for the Arts and Culture. However, more was needed to sway the City Council and Mayor to reverse their draconian plans.

Stalwart Communications was called in to secure much-needed press that would help get the general public behind the arts community. With less than a week’s preparation, the agency got to work in formulating the key messages and story pitch. Additionally, Stalwart Communications helped identify the spokespeople for media interviews and started to make one-on-one outreach efforts to reporters and producers ahead of the event.

The result exceeded all expectations. Every San Diego-based news organization; including six television stations, two radio stations, the San Diego Union-Tribune and Voice of San Diego, covered the event. Four of the television outlets aired some of the rally live to its morning viewers, and each one did follow up stories for their midday, afternoon and evening broadcasts. Moreover, many of the news organizations went to the Commission hearing immediately afterward to get the City’s reaction to the large, in-person opposition to their plans.

In response, the City pared back its proposed budget cuts by nearly 90 percent from what was to be 31 percent to 3.5 percent. The press coverage received helped generate the pressure that was required to reduce the burden on the arts.

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