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James Taylor


One thing we consistently hear from our clients is their desire to tell their company’s story. We’re not talking about making sure every customer knows a company’s history or when it was founded. But rather the story of what they stand for or are trying to accomplish with their product or cause.

If you look around the web, however, it’s easy to see many international, large-budget companies that aren’t doing a good job at it.

Jasmine Henry made a case for why storytelling as a brand matters back in 2014. Among the statistics shared, she included this graphic from a study by Mark Kelley on how brand characters improve Facebook engagement.

Taggs chart Boost in Shares on Facebook Using Brand Characters

Does this mean your company needs a mascot? No. But it does show that your customers will interact more with a story than they would with plain, old information. If you’re still on the fence about this, or wondering if it can be done online, I’ve found five techniques you can use to effectively tell a story on the web. They include one example that uses the technique and one that doesn’t. Can you figure out which is which?

Show, Don’t Tell

Both of these websites are for an app that helps you track your expenses on trips. One shows the story of how you might use the app, while the other just tells about its features. website screenshot

Trail WalletTrail Wallet website screenshot

Show Start to Finish

As a change of pace, here are two websites with opposing viewpoints over an issue: fracking. One tells the story of what fracking is by following the process form start to finish while the other gives information in the form of text. Which one helps you understand its opinion better?

What is website screenshot

Dangers of website screenshot

Make it Interactive

Trying to get the general public to change their habits for cleaner air is a difficult task. Both of these websites take a stab at it. The UCAIR website we created helps people experience the change and see its results without having to sift through information about it. website screenshot

Clean Air website screenshot

Spark Your Customer’s Imagination

On a hotel website, you need to be able to book a place to stay right? Although that’s true, it sounds awfully boring. Compare these two websites that connect you with vacation homes. Which one gives you a greater thirst for adventure? website screenshot

AirBnBAirBnB website screenshot

Use New Technologies

When it comes to this technique, either a website does it or it doesn’t. So I’m just including two examples that use new web technologies. Referencing AirBnB again, they took all of their booking information and turned it into a fun experience using WebGL 3d Technologies.

AirBnB MapAirBnB Map website screenshot

Build With ChromeBuild with Chrome website screenshot

After seeing examples of these five what do you think? Would this strategy increase viewership and share-ability? I’ll let you be the judge. If you’re already on board and need help making one of these strategies a reality, contact Penna Powers today and we’ll help you tell your story on the web.

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Responding to media inquiries is a delicate process, and without preparation and practice it can be a game of life and death. Okay that may be a little dramatic, but rather than make mistakes, let’s take a lesson from some recent highly publicized PR disasters and save ourselves the crisis.

1. Always Think Before You Speak
In a media interview, no matter the format, expect to get a question from left field. Remember, if you don’t know how to respond, stick to your key messages. (Don’t call women fat!)

          2013 Fail/Example: Lululemon founder Chip Wilson and co-founder Shannon Wilson go on Bloomberg Television’s “Street Smart” with Trish Regan. During the interview Regan raises the question, “what’s up with the pants,” as some customers had recently been complaining of sheer pants and peeling logos. After rambling through a lengthy answer, Wilson lands with “some women’s bodies don’t work for [the pants].” To which Regan was quick to follow up with, “so not every woman can wear a Lululemon pant.” (view interview)

          The Cost: Sales drop, Wilson makes a public apology before surrendering chairmanship.

2. Your Tweet Can and Will Be Held Against You
Even when you aren’t in a formal interview setting, things you say in public (such as social media outlets) can and are used by the media.

          2013 Fail/Example: Before Justine Sacco, director of corporate communications for InterActive Corp (IAC), boarded her flight to Africa she tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

          The Cost: Huge controversy erupted while Sacco was mid-flight with no internet access. The hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet quickly began trending and a parody account @LOLJustineSacco appeared. IAC quickly made a statement distancing themselves from Sacco’s tweet. Sacco made a public apology. Sacco was fired.

3. Always Check and Double Check Your Sources
If you are providing a source to the media, make sure the individual/company is exactly what you expect them to be.

          2012 Fail/Example: 60 Minutes aired an interview with Dylan Davies who vividly recounted being at the U.S. consulate during the fatal attack in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012. However, after the story aired, Davies’ tale was put to question. CBS Correspondent Lara Logan initially defends Davies and then blamed him when the story was found to be false.

          The Cost: CBS publicly apologizes, goes into damage control and answers MANY follow up questions from the public and other media outlets. Logan and her producer were asked to take a leave of absence.

4. Never Pass Blame
When you are in the wrong, and the public knows you are in the wrong, you better own up to it with honest confidence. If you make a mistake, you can recover. Sometimes mistakes are opportunities to shine. However, sometimes it’s the last hole in a sinking ship. Be very careful in how you respond, ALWAYS.

           2010 Fail/Example: We all remember the BP oil spill of April 2010. Eleven people were killed and oil leaked from the ocean floor. Initially the company downplayed the spill only to later call it an “environmental catastrophe.” In the difficult process, CEO Tony Hayward told a reporter “we’re sorry for the massive disruption it’s caused to their lives. There’s no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I’d like my life back.”

           The Cost: BP and its CEO were criticized left and right. Even President Obama, in an NBC interview, said Hayward “wouldn’t be working for me after any of those statements.” Six months after the explosion, Hayward “got his life back” when he stepped down as CEO.

5. Limit Off-the-Cuff Jokes
Remember, a joke can be interpreted a million different ways. Be VERY cautious when using humor on record.

          2009 Fail/Example: In November 2009 our nation was in the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. During an interview with the London Times, CEO of Goldman Sachs Lloyd Blankfein answered questions concerning employee compensation. He defended their company’s large staff bonuses, despite the national economic struggle, saying banks serve a social purpose and bankers were just doing “God’s work.” Days later Blankfein clarified that his comment was intended as a joke.

          The Cost: The media and public had a heyday–article after blog, after report after skit–people definitely laughed. Blankfein publicly apologized on behalf of Goldman Sachs, while the company worked to dig out of this self-made hole. (read the WSJ blog or Colbert Report)

So let this be a warning and reminder: Always be ready when media come calling. Have key message documents, media prep sessions and a great deal of common sense.

For media advice or strategic planning, give us a call. OR for another informative read: “The worst advice we’ve ever heard for handling a media interview.”


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Relay Utah is an organization that helps the hard of hearing stay connected with the ones they love. Recently Penna Powers and Relay Utah decided to add a new TV spot to freshen up the existing mix. By showing the smiling faces of loved ones, we were able create a fun and relatable ad that encourages those with hearing loss to apply for a free phone from Relay Utah.


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No, I’m not talking about flowers and chocolates, and I’m not talking about some elaborate marketing scheme. Rather, this short post is meant to provide one simple piece of food for thought. Your customers are going to be inundated with all kinds of marketing gimmicks and goodies this Valentine’s day, so it might not hurt to take a step back and give your followers something a little different: Some appreciation.


There are countless articles on the web that address this same topic, but I think now is an apt time to consider implementing this well-covered strategy. Whether it’s thanking your loyal customers for their continued support or adding in a quick thank you to those who engage with your brand, making sure to show your gratitude will never not be cool.

So this Valentine’s, take a break from the romance and chocolate and give a big thank you to those who keep you in business. And hey, I just want to say thanks for reading this post. I really do appreciate it!

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Now that all of the hustle and bustle from the holidays and new year has settled down, we thought we would take a second to introduce you to the newest additions to the Penna Powers family!

Katie Katie Marble joined us back in October as one of our outreach coordinators for the Zero Fatalities Utah program. When she’s not at work, you may find her doing anything outdoors (biking, boating, skiing, etc.) or reading one of her favorite books, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. If she were stranded on a desert island, the one food she would miss the most would be coffee. Which provides us with the explanation behind her favorite jingle choice, “The best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup!”






Nicholas Giustino is our new social media strategist. If he were to meet any famous person it would be Thomas Jefferson, and he would preferably pull up in a 1971 Plymouth 426 Hemi Barracuda (his dream car). His weekends are best spent on the slopes or camping. And the words he lives by, you ask? “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t Settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” – Steve Jobs


We’ve loved getting to know these two, and both have shown passion and dedication to what they do every day–making them a perfect fit for Penna Powers. We consider ourselves lucky to have them!

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I’m sure, at some point, you’ve seen a celebrity magazine with a “who wore it best” page (don’t be ashamed). It’s the one that shows famous people, side-by-side, modeling the same dress or outfit and discusses how one pulled it off better than the other. This came to mind during the Super Bowl XLIX where I noticed a lot of ads “wearing the same dress.” Here are my picks for who advertised best.

Mobile Gaming – Clash of Clans vs. Game of War
While the Game of War ad transitions the usual attractive women from hot tub to flaming hallway to battlefield, I preferred hearing Liam Neeson’s intense voice swear revenge on his Clash of Clans nemesis, BigBuffyBoy85. It gets funnier when the coffee shop employee tells “LIE-am” that his scone is ready.

Clash of Clans

Game of War


Food-Ordering Apps – Grub Hub vs. Eat24
“Click, click, food” is definitely a clever tagline and, for the prospect of easy food, I immediately downloaded the Grub Hub app. However, Eat24 added funny to Grub Hub’s ridiculousness so I say it wins. Snoop Dogg, who is somehow a medical expert, drops his “bleep-bleeping” approval on the app cure for hangry-ness and his comedian buddy Gilbert Gottfried is thankful.

Grub Hub



Spreading Love – McDonald’s vs. Coca-Cola
While Coca-Cola’s idea to stop hate all over the world sounds great to me, I didn’t find myself with a lump in my throat until the McDonald’s “Pay With Lovin’” spot. Maybe the simple reminder to show loved ones that I care landed closer to home than bright currents of liquid cleansing the world’s telecommunication circuits of anything negative. Can a carbonated beverage do that? I have to ask the same question Anna Kendrick Tweeted during the game, “What are they putting in Coke these days?”




Beautiful Driving – Jeep vs. Kia
Who doesn’t love to see beautiful footage of all the places they want to travel with patriotic music in the background. I could watch that all day but I feel like I’ve seen beautiful footage with patriotic music in the background during every Super Bowl since the beginning of time. The Kia commercial with Pierce Brosnan, on the other hand, adds a more tailored and crisp message to its lovely scenery. Playing on the word “getaway,” it shows that Kia’s version of a getaway car is moving toward relaxation and luxury which can be just as good, if not better than, Brosnan’s typical action adventure.




Inspiring Boldness – Microsoft vs. Toyota
Both commercials were about people with prosthetic legs who are boldly doing great things, and both are inspiring but I can see more of a correlation to boldness with the Microsoft ad about Braylon O’Neill. Braylon’s family actually uses Microsoft technology to analyze his movement. I’m still at a loss for how a practical Toyota Camry could contribute to paralympic, Amy Purdy’s bold lifestyle of running, snowboarding and ballroom dancing. Muhammad Ali bragging in the background didn’t convince me either.




This is just one girl’s opinion. Would you vote differently? Are there any other matchups you would add?

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