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I  don't think it's fair to suggest the performance marketing industry is "on the verge of becoming extinct" as the headline of this article suggests. Far from it, actually. If you take a broad, objective look at the whole of the performance marketing industry I think it's clear that it is growing rapidly, innovation is happening in a positive and meaningful manner and the industry is adapting to changing consumer demands and advertisers' more challenging lead generation and customer acquisition needs. Performance-based advertising comprises 66% of all online ad spend in the US, according to the IAB, so it's clear that advertisers see a great need and value in performance marketing. 

And it's not necessarily a bad thing that consumers are setting some of the trends that are impacting performance marketing. In fact, that may be a good thing, as it shows the industry is professionalizing by listening more closely to the consumer and the advertiser, rather than trying to introduce capabilities or services that may not be in the best interest of either group. 

Ultimately, the intense consolidation and steps to professionalize the industry that are currently taking place will be good for performance marketing in the long run. While it may seem to some that this marks the death knell for the industry, we at MediaWhiz believe it marks the beginning of a more professional, accountable and sustainable era for performance marketing. And that will prove to be to the benefit of all. 

Keith Trivitt
Director, Marketing and Communications
MediaWhiz

1 year, 3 months ago on Conversation @ http://performancein.com/news/2013/07/02/ls-performance-marketing-verge-becoming-extinct/

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Well said, Gini, and thank you for this touching tribute. Arthur was a wonderful person, a great mentor and someone I was fortunate to call a close friend. His passing has stunned me, as it has so many others, and the outpouring of love that so many have expressed just goes to show the profoundly positive impact he had on many people's lives and careers. 

He will be dearly missed. 

1 year, 4 months ago on Rest in Peace, Arthur Yann

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The launch by Twitter of its Lead Generation Card represents a major milestone in the evolution of both the microblogging site and performance marketing.

For Twitter, it is a recognition that engagement and social media buzz are great but the days of advertisers being able to live solely off of that as justification for investing in social media campaigns are quickly coming to a close. As Twitter said in announcing the new direct marketing offering, the key goal for many marketers “boils down to one more theme: generating leads and ultimately driving purchases.” My MediaWhiz colleagues and I couldn’t agree more.

For performance marketers, Twitter’s Lead Generation Cards should become a useful tool in their performance social marketing campaigns. Performance marketers have longed argued for more lead-gen-specific capabilities within social platforms. As we wrote recently, Facebook’s recent development of CPA bidding for direct marketing advertisers is an important step toward making that social network a more performance-marketing-friendly advertising platform.

Keith Trivitt
Director, Marketing and Communications
MediaWhiz

1 year, 4 months ago on Conversation @ http://performancein.com/news/2013/05/28/what-does-twitters-lead-generation-card-mean-industry/

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Gini, so glad you are bringing attention to this crucial issue. We’d like to recommend for additional reading some materials we provided six months ago, based on formal comments we submitted to the FTC (http://bit.ly/wOCUUS) regarding its proposed revisions to the “Dot Com Disclosure” guidelines.

 

As we noted in those comments, and in a follow-up panel, hosted by WOMMA, we spoke on with Rich Cleland, assistant director of the FTC’s Division of Advertising, there are several key points we believe that PR professionals and marketers should keep in mind when engaging in online marketing and communications activities:

 

- Disclosure of relationships, motivation, compensation and other pertinent factors should be the basis of all forms of marketing and communications, including emerging practices like social media and online contests.

 

- Clarity of brand disclosures is paramount. Companies should be transparent in their communications and marketing. Businesses should aid in the decision-making process for consumers, rather than adding to the confusion that can accompany online purchasing decisions.

 

- The proliferation of character and text limitations by social networks requires the FTC to examine whether the inclusion of brand disclosures is necessary or practical at every point of social media communications and marketing. Clarity is needed from the FTC regarding how brands can reasonably provide disclosures within character-limited social networks.

 

- The FTC Guides on the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials contain parallel regulations and guidance concerning online marketing and communications and should be incorporated, in whole or in parts, within the FTC’s revised “Dot Com Disclosures” guidelines.

 

-The FTC should hold a public workshop on these issues to obtain the full input from all stakeholders.

 

We’re currently engaged in a series of discussions with the FTC regarding its proposed guidelines and the effect those may have on PR professionals. Certainly, the more PR pros that are involved in this important discussion the better.

 

Keith Trivitt

Associate Director, Public Relations

PRSA

 

2 years, 7 months ago on FTC Dot Com Disclosures Are Now Required

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@thornley While I appreciate your point that the organizations representing the PR industry should take steps to speak out against ethical transgressions, the fact is that PRSA already does this quite frequently. As my colleague Arthur Yann notes in a comment below (http://fyre.it/Q1e), PRSA annually hosts an Ethics Awareness Month in which we help educate and inform the profession and the business community about the role and value of ethics in public relations.

 

We have spoken out on a number of ethics issues in the past year. In 2011, for example, we issued an update to our Code of Ethics in which we made clear our belief that it is unethical not to provide some type of compensation to interns, whether monetary or college credit.  We made that point in a published New York Times letter to the editor (http://bit.ly/x6KCkD) where more than just PR professionals could see that PRSA and the PR industry are serious about ethics.

 

These efforts complemented and extended the impact of PRSA’s advocacy efforts, through which PRSA used a series of ethical transgressions on the part of the profession as teachable moments to demonstrate what constitutes ethical practice (and what doesn’t), and reinforce the importance of ethical communications practices. To my knowledge, PRSA was the ONLY "governing body" to comment publicly on the Burson-Marstellar/Facebook situation (http://ow.ly/9EhHn, http://ow.ly/9EhKQ, http://ow.ly/9EhOb and http://ow.ly/9EhQh). We also had a response to The Guardian article that @ginidietrich references published (http://ow.ly/9EhT2).

 

While there is always more that we can do, I think PRSA has made clear through these efforts that we will call out the bad actors in the profession if and when it is warranted, along with advocating for PR’s role and value to society and business.

 

Keith Trivitt

Associate Director

PRSA

2 years, 7 months ago on Call for Regulation In the PR Industry

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@si_francis

Agreed. The notion of regulating any industry is not something to be taken lightly. It would mean dramatic changes within the PR industry. It’s also not a notion we should be throwing about unless those who raise the issue are serious about facing the consequences of full government regulation: increased costs of doing business, licensing, oversight for even the tiniest of mistakes. Not to mention the crippling of innovation that has led to significant growth in the profession over the past decade.

 

There is no doubt that the PR industry as a whole must step up and do more to practice in an ethical and responsible manner. And as many have written in these comments, one way in which that can be done is through more frequent action by global bodies, such as PRSA, the Council of Public Relations Firms, CIPR, etc. But as others have pointed out, PRSA is a membership organization, not a trade group. Our 32,000 members all agree to abide by a stringent Code of Ethics, and we speak out frequently whenever we feel the profession has strayed away from those ethical standards.

 

But throwing out the notion that PR should be a regulated industry, especially given our country’s 200-plus-year history of strongly defending freedom of speech rights (which undergird almost everything PR pros do) is not the answer to what ails the profession. The answer, in my opinion, is more personal accountability by each and every professional. We must hold ourselves accountable for our own actions as well as the actions of our peers.

 

That is called self-regulation and it is a practice that has worked for decades in many industries that would be several limited by regulation.

 

Keith Trivitt

Associate Director

PRSA

2 years, 7 months ago on Call for Regulation In the PR Industry

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@Anthony_Rodriguez PRSA has a wide range of best practices regarding ethics in the profession. We provides these through a regular series of Professional Standards Advisories (http://ow.ly/9EiEZ), which are updates to the PRSA Code of Ethics.

 

This is on top of our frequent commentary on the issue of ethics in PR. Just last week, we had an op-ed, explaining and defending the ethical standards in PR, published in The Guardian (http://gu.com/p/364cn/tw), which was in direct response to the The Guardian piece that Gini cites at the beginning of this post.

 

Keith Trivitt

Associate Director

PRSA

2 years, 7 months ago on Call for Regulation In the PR Industry

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 @Anthony_Rodriguez PRSA already has a wide range of best practices regarding ethics in the profession. We provides these through a regular series of Professional Standards Advisories (http://ow.ly/9EiEZ), which are updates to the PRSA Code of Ethics.

 

This is on top of our frequent commentary on the issue of ethics in PR. Just last week, we had an op-ed, explaining and defending the ethical standards in PR, published in The Guardian (http://gu.com/p/364cn/tw), which was in direct response to the The Guardian piece that Gini cites at the beginning of this post.

 

Keith Trivitt

Associate Director

PRSA

2 years, 7 months ago on Call for Regulation In the PR Industry

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@ginidietrich From my understanding, yes. I will say that the water district, at least from the reports I have read, has been fairly transparent with its responses. It seems to be a case that it got conned into a service that it thought would produce great results but wasn't properly aware of or informed of what was being done to generate those results.

Buyer beware, it would appear.

2 years, 11 months ago on Coghlan Consulting Group Run By Morons

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Definitely not one of the shining moments for the PR industry, nor for local governments, who either got duped into hiring this fake news service or were too ignorant to understand the many ethical issues this type of dubious work raises.

At PRSA, we have been following this issue closely since the LA Times first broke the story back in September. We wrote about the ethical perils of paying for positive media coverage when the story first broke (http://ow.ly/7BNfv) and Denis Wolcott, a member of PRSA's LA Chapter blogged for us about this latest example of fakery two weeks ago (http://ow.ly/7BMV2).

Let's be very clear: this type of fake news generation on behalf of clients, whether they know about it or not, is absolutely not ethical and not the type of PR anyone should condone. We certainly don't condone it. There are plenty of legitimate tactics to counter negative Web traffic. Misleading the public into thinking they are reading “real” news stories is not one of them.

But I think Mr. Wolcott said it best: disclosure wins, every time. In this case, the LA-area water district had a responsibility to inform the public and its constituents that it was using a firm to produce this type of fake positive news. It failed in that regard, doing not only the public a grave disservice, but also irrepreably harming its reputation in the process.

Keith Trivitt

Associate Director

PRSA

2 years, 11 months ago on Coghlan Consulting Group Run By Morons

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Gini, you rightly note that it is up to all that work in public relations to defend the industry's value, and enhance that value through high-quality work. As you and your readers know, it is something we have been working hard on for several years now at PRSA through our "Business Case for Public Relations" initiative (http://ow.ly/7gwaO), but also through general advocacy efforts and a more proactive and robust outreach campaign to the business community and others who use and could derive value from public relations' services.

Your point about the industry needing more Fortune 500 PR execs who "really get" the modern age of PR is well taken; however, I think we need to be careful not to overgeneralize this point. I know of many successful and innovative PR pros who are the top PR execs at Fortune 500 companies. People like Gary Sheffer at GE and Bill Margaritis at FedEx, who are considered some of the most successful and digitally-savvy execs in the business. They clearly "get it."

Tthe goal for the industry now should be to ensure a majority of practitioners, whether a young AE or a senior exec "get it" at all levels. That is obviously not easy, but it is something I believe the PR industry is making strides toward changing. And certainly, posts like yours that raise new light on this issue help in that regard.

Keith Trivitt

Associate Director

PRSA

2 years, 11 months ago on What Is Public Relations? We Have a Perception Issue

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How can you consider anything important if you haven't bothered to immerse yourself in it to at least understand its value? I'm not one of those people who thinks every CEO needs to be on Facebook, because they don't, but if you are going to have your company invest a lot of time and resources into creating what amounts to an ego boost for the CEO, at least make am earnest effort at the start to be part of the process. Otherwise, you're just wasting everyone's time.

3 years, 5 months ago on Trouble in the Social Citi

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Justin - I could not agree with your post and sentiment more. Simply spot-on, my friend. Coming from PRSA's perspective (disclosure: I'm the associate director of PR at PRSA), it's always incredibly encouraging to see PR pros such as yourself, and many others, who so fervently believe in PR's value and do what they can to advocate on behalf of the industry and our value.

And I hope PRSA is able to help you - and the entire industry - reap greater value for your work through our national and international advocacy efforts. We do quite a lot on the advocacy front (see here for but a glimpse of our recent advocacy initiatives: http://ow.ly/4vCfs), but as Jeremy Pepper rightly pointed out, we all — individually — "need to always be advocates for our industry and not just take a proactive stance when there’s an attack."

Working together, and working proactively and with a positive mindset about building PR's value to the business community and to serving the public good, we can achieve so much more than the draining negative stuff that tends to dominate headlines and grabs quick SEO attention but adds so little to our industry's knowledge and value.

Having said that, if there's ever anything you think PRSA can or should do on the advocacy front, please feel free to send me a note. @KeithTrivitt or keith.trivitt@prsa.org I'd love to hear great ideas for you and your readers.

Keith Trivitt

Associate Director of PR

PRSA

3 years, 6 months ago on Dear PR pros: Time to take our responsibility more seriously

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@jeffespo @Shonali @ginidietrich @commammo @KeithTrivitt A great conversation going on here, and sorry for jumping in a bit late. Like Mary, I, too, saw the hed for this post and that quickly caught my eye, but I didn't have a chance to comment until now.

So you ask what large industry orgs like PRSA and others can do to help turn the tide of negative attention on PR to shed light on more of the great work and value that PR offers the business community and the public. Well, there's lots of things actually. And as Arthur W. Page noted, reputation is 10 percent what we say, and 90 percent what we do.

As Mary already alluded to, PRSA has its "Business Case for Public Relations" that offers a lot of valuable resources to professionals (http://ow.ly/4vaxy). It's also set up as a one-stop resource for media and business decision makers to better understand the strategic business value of PR.

In terms of doing more to educate the business community about PR’s value and role, there is only so much preaching that can be done before the point becomes dull. That’s why PRSA revamped its national advocacy program late last year (full disclosure: I oversee PRSA’s advocacy initiatives), and implemented a focus on three core areas: the business value of PR, ethics and diversity in the profession.

Frankly, I think some of our early results in terms of better speaking to the business community have paid off in raising PR’s profile as a valuable and absolutely necessary management resource. From op-eds in the Harvard Business Review (http://ow.ly/4cRhu), BusinessWeek (http://ow.ly/4cRit) and Advertising Age (http://ow.ly/4cRji & http://ow.ly/4cRjS) to our advocacy work with the U.S. Senate (http://ow.ly/4cRpb) and the FTC (http://ow.ly/4cRqw) on behalf of the industry and our members, PRSA has routinely spoken out to the broader business community about the significant value of public relations.

But there are also times when we aren't afraid to call out the bad actors in the business. For example, we had a letter to the editor published in March in Jeff's hometown paper, The Boston Globe, re PR and public affairs firms working with the Libyan government to help whitewash its reputation (http://ow.ly/4vc4i). We've also spoken out frequently against firms that come afoul of the FTC's "blogger rules" in an attempt to fleece consumers (http://ow.ly/4vc9n).

But could we do more? Absolutely. And discussions like this and many others in recent weeks have inspired me to rethink how we reach those business leaders, how we communicate PR’s value to them and how we help them better understand the vital role public relations plays in helping businesses grow (not to mention serving the public interest).

So where can we do more? How can PRSA help you as PR pros not only better do your jobs but earn greater respect for the value of your counsel? If you have any ideas, please let me know.

3 years, 6 months ago on What sucks about PR

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Gini, you have hit the nail perfectly with this post. Your client story brought back many old memories for me of my agency days where some clients - though certainly not a majority - would string the agency along for weeks with endless discussions about potential srategies, yet never fully committing to a contract, only to pull out at the last minute and tell us they had everything they need.

The unfortunate aspect of the New York Times blog post you cite is that it had the ability to be really good. It could have given the blog's readers (mostly small business owners) and PR pros some terrific insight into what goes through an SMB owner's head whenever they engage PR firms. Instead, we got what I perceive as a fairly rote response from a disgruntled business owner. I completely undrstand his frustration, as it does sound like expectations, deliverables and general goals simply were not communicated well from either side, and thus, he ended up with a fairly poor experience with PR with two different agencies.

What I can't understand is why he chose (and the New York Times blog editors didn't edit this) to lay blame across the entire PR industry, based solely off two poor experiences. That would be like me saying every restaurant in the Hamptons (where the blogger's restaurant is based) is awful because I didn't like the food at one specific restaurant.

That's simply not the case. And with more than 10,000 PR firms in the U.S. and over 200,000 public relations professionals, it's unfortunate the good work of many got lumped in like this.

3 years, 7 months ago on What Is Wrong with PR?

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Interesting report, Jeff. I was particularly struck by the positive conversation chart, showing the strong positive buzz for Green Bay versus some relatively minor positive buzz for Pittsburgh. I wonder if the "Roethlisberger Effect" (e.g., his multiple incidents of negative and ongoing publicity) had anything to do with this?

Do you have any sense of that from your data?

3 years, 8 months ago on Using Social Media to Pick the Super Bowl Winner

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Excellent thoughts, Clara. I really enjoyed your point that PR professionals "should be cardio exercise for our companies’ hearts." That's a very apt metaphor for the strategic value of public relations to businesses, and one I honestly haven't heard before.

I won't rehash all of the excellent comments that have already been addressed in this post, as well as in Gini's yesterday (which I also commented on [see: http://ht.ly/3BNtB] and addressed some additional perspective from PRSA's point of view), but I will say that it is very encouraging to see professionals, such as you, Gini, Frank Strong, Justin Goldsborough and many others taking such a strong stance against this type of outdated, misinformed and pejorative reporting that attempts to portray the profession in a manner that simply is not accurate.

While PRSA will always advocate on behalf of the value of public relations and PR professionals, it makes the effort that much easier when we have other professionals so passinately defending the value of their work and that of their profession.

One quick thing I would encourage eveyrone who has written a blog post or commented about this article to do: Go to Economist.com, specifically, this article: http://ht.ly/3BNnH and submit your comment to the online version of the original Economist article. The more voices we have rebutting the article and its viewpoint, hopefully, the more success we will have in getting publication's such as The Economist and others to truly understand and respect the business value of PR.

Keith Trivitt
Associate Director of Public Relations
PRSA

3 years, 9 months ago on Old-fashioned thinking from “The Economist”

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@Frank_Strong @ginidietrich Frank - Thanks for your very kind words about PRSA's response to The Economist article. As you noted, we did everything we could to let The Economist, our members, the broader profession and the business community know that the perspective of PR's value portrayed in the article simply is not accurate and was both outdated and insulting to professionals.

It was disappointing to see that our letter to the editor was not printed by The Economist (or even included in their online letters section, which often runs additional letters to the editor), but not all that surprising, given the publication's apparently derisive viewpoint of PR. Your point about The Economist also procuring PR services (which I remember you brought up from a tweet you saw just after this article was printed) is very valid and something I would certainly like to see the publication at least disclose a little more clearly.

Thanks again to you, Gini and many others who have touched on this article and their feeling of disrespect it showed to their profession. As always, we'll continue to advocate on your behalf and on behalf of the business value of PR. It's very encouraging to see others do the same so passionately.

3 years, 9 months ago on The (Wrong) Image of the PR Industry

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@ginidietrich Great point re PR pros demonstrating their business acumen. It's something I absolutely agree with you, and it's a big reason why PRSA created the "Business Case for Public Relations" (http://ht.ly/3B8rn), as you know.

Not sure why you didn't see our various responses to this article. We tweeted about them, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. but alas, it looks like they missed crossing your screen (we try to avoid big e-mail blasts to members of information of this sort). It's tough to gauge how much impact our responses had (though it was nice to see PRNewser pick it up and quote us (http://ht.ly/3B8yc) in its own analysis of the article). At the very least, though, I'm confident that The Economist now understands our perspective and will seek that out more in the future (and that comes from various background discussions I had with editors and reporters there after the article was published).

3 years, 9 months ago on The (Wrong) Image of the PR Industry

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Gini - Thank you for this wonderful post and for standing up for the PR industry so passionately. Like you, I, along with many others at PRSA, were very disappointed with The Economist article (and as an aside, from a few random conversations I had with business and media reporters who also read this article, many felt the same way and did not view PR nearly as derisively as The Economist article tried to portray the current state of affairs).

To quickly address your question of what the PR industry will do to address misperceptions like this, I wanted to give you and your readers a quick rundown of some of the ways PRSA responded to and addressed this article (the large misperception issue):

Immediately following the article's release, we submitted a letter to the letter of The Economist (co-signed by John Paluszek, chair of the Global Alliance) rebutting several of the article's points.

That letter formed the basis of two published responses from PRSA: A blog post (http://ht.ly/3B7eQ) and an op-ed in CommPro.biz (http://ht.ly/3B7ko). We also let it be cleraly known directly to The Economist, via an online comment to the article (http://ht.ly/3B7qP) that the article's perspective was shortsighted, outdated and misinformed. It's unfortunate that rather than presenting a more balanced and compreshensive analysis of where the profession actually is right now, The Economist chose to rely on outdated pejoratives to continue a myth that simply does not exist anymore.

And it's blog posts like this, what Frank Strong wrote, and many others who stand up truth, ethics, the business value of PR and serving the public good that will help to dispel these myths and ensure public relations retains its strategic value.

Keith Trivitt
Associate Director of Public Relations
PRSA

3 years, 9 months ago on The (Wrong) Image of the PR Industry

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Fantastic thoughts, Justin, and thank you for sharing your own personal perspective. I think this point in your first question - "I think it’s important to understand how the company you’re working with sees itself" - is the most profound and important question a PR person should ask any employer, client, politician, etc. they work for. If you're going to representing these people, a company, whatever it may be, and very often, acting as an advocate for their products and services, you better damn well be certain it's a company or client you truly believe and are willing to stand up for. And that means understanding how and why it operates.

Our value to clients, the business community and serving the public good as PR professionals is only as strong as our convictions and belief in the good of our employers and clients. And if you're not asking many of the tough, but important questions, you list above, then IMO, you're not doing your full job as a PR pro.

3 years, 9 months ago on 10 questions I’d ask Etsy’s PR team about issues management

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Terrific resource! Thanks for sharing and taking the time to formulate such smartly-written thoughts and points of focus for those of us who counsel others on media interviews.

3 years, 10 months ago on Media Training: Creating a Pre-Interview Briefing Document [Free Template]

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You make some excellent points regarding the fact that Gap appears to have actually taken some advice from its PR/comms and marketing teams about using the power of the social Web and its vast brand audience and brand affinity to find what it hopes will be a great new logo.

But here's the issue: Gap only disclosed that it is supposedly crowdsourcing this new logo AFTER a huge amount of public outcry, and AFTER it took the company more than 24 hours to respond to numerous media inquiries, including two articles from AdAge into why Gap had been mum (up to that point) about the rebranding effort and the new logo.

I think if we are going to laud praise upon Gap for crowdsourcing this effort, we also need to keep in mind that Gap's intentions for the crowdsourcing efforts don't exactly appear altruistic given how long it took the company to respond to the derision on the Web. While it would be great to say that Gap is forward-thinking with this effort and is using this as a moment in time to show that brands can truly engage the power of their audiences to create a more vibrant and successful company, I just don't see it in this instance.

What I see is Gap having created this logo entirely without any customer feedback (aside from likely focus groups), then putting it out via a soft launch, with little to no explanation for the reasoning behind the rebranding or why the new logo looks the way it does (remember, Gap's old logo is one of the most recognizable brand marks in the world and has millions - if not billions - of dollars tied to it), until they were publicly called out for being so quiet about it.

To me, Gap's seemingly altruistic crowdsourcing efforts, after the fact, speak to a company that has now realized it might have messed up what was its most recognizable and profitable asset, and it's desperately trying to figure out a way to make it work.

I hope I'm wrong because I love Gap and its clothes, but I just don't buy the claim Gap is doing this as a way to include its customers and audience in a social form of rebranding.

@KeithTrivtt

4 years ago on New Gap Logo Deserves Applause

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