Offshore-Drilling Giant Transocean Launches PR-Agency Review

Transocean, the offshore drilling giant in the throes of a spill-related suit with BP, has begun an informal search for global PR support, a Transocean spokeswoman told Ad Age. She added that that Greg Panagos, the company’s VP and head of communications and investor relations, is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.

She said that his departure is not related to the review, which is procurement-driven and stems from a CEO mandate to “expand into areas we’re not in now.” However, with his departure, the company will look at strengthening its internal capabilities and potentially look at agencies’ investor-relations and global crisis capabilities throughout the process. “Given all we’ve gone through over the last year, we’re looking at Transocean from a worldwide global perspective. We’re in a more unique situation [at this time],” she said, referring in part to the oil spill and a recent lawsuit and countersuit with BP. She added that the company hasn’t committed to hiring another firm and it’s in the earliest stages of the search.

The review won’t impact the Houston-based company’s relationship with agency of record Financial Dynamics, with which it recently renewed its retainer contract. She said that the review actually puts Financial Dynamics, a communications agency owned by FTI Consulting, in the running to expand its current business. The company hired the firm, along with lobbying firm Capitol Hill Consulting Group, early last year, amid congressional inquiries surrounding the role of its Deepwater Horizon rig in the BP oil-spill disaster.

Financial Dynamics, which deferred calls to the client for this story, reported an 11.9% increase in revenue in Q2 2010, in part due to its win. It lost its senior managing director and public-affairs veteran, Debra Cabral, to Porter Novelli late last year and has since hired and promoted a number of people within the group.

At the time of the oil spill, BP’s US CEO Lamar McKay said that Transocean was responsible for the explosion on the rig that killed 11 people onsite and caused the 87-day disaster, prompting President Barack Obama to diminish the finger-pointing to a “ridiculous spectacle.”

In a current lawsuit, BP is asking Transocean for about $40 billion in damages. It’s also seeking damages from other operating partners it was working with during the explosion, such as Cameron International, maker of the faulty blowout preventer, and cement contractor Halliburton. Soon after BP filed the suit, Transocean and Halliburton filed cross-claims against the petroleum company.

The agency review comes at a time when energy and oil companies are more concerned with crisis preparation and corporate communications, as evident in an increase in RFPs across the sector, according to agency executives who specialize in energy and public affairs. Also, Burson-Marsteller recently launched a global energy practice, and Hill & Knowlton appointed Duncan Burns, a senior VP in D.C., as its first global practice director for energy.

Industry experts associate the trend with hot topics such as rising energy demand and gas exploration, as well as recognition of a need for oil companies to implement crisis preparation plans and go beyond B-to-B PR for more public-facing communications strategies.

Time to Shine: 5 Indispensable Ways PR Interns Can Ace Team Brainstorms

Brainstorms are a major component of working on a team in any PR agency. They are the times when team members come together, get their creative juices flowing and generate winning ideas for their clients. Often times it is intimidating for interns to speak up during a brainstorm, especially when they are surrounded by experienced, senior level PR professionals. A common question that interns wonder is “how can I significantly contribute to a team brainstorm?”

To help ease your worries, I have put together 5 helpful tips to combat those feelings of nervousness and allow you to be a shining star:

  1. Research
    It is important to research the topic surrounding the brainstorm prior to walking into the meeting for a couple of reasons. First, you should be knowledgeable about what you will be discussing in the meeting. Second, you should have a mini-brainstorm with yourself in order to crank up your creativity. In addition, bringing your research and sharing it with team members while you are stating an idea provides them with a visual of what you are trying to convey.
  2. Listen
    Although you have already conducted research into the brainstorm topic, it is necessary to listen to what your team members are saying during the meeting. This allows you to learn more about the topic from fellow team members and learn how your ideas will fit in with the direction that the team is going. It also allows you to build off of others’ ideas.
  3. Be Proactive
    In brainstorms, next steps and to-do’s are often called out from multiple team members. The number one way to stand out as an intern is to be proactive. Whether asked to help or not, just volunteer and be the first one in the room to raise your hand to take ownership of tasks.
  4. Respect your team members
    As an intern, you aren’t expected to know everything about PR or the client. Showcase your talents in a respectable manner that shows your willingness to learn, but does not seem obnoxious. Allow your team members to speak and do not talk over them. Brainstorms are a sharing of ideas, not a competition.
  5. Bring something to the table
    The saying, “it is better to have something, than nothing at all” applies in this scenario. One thoroughly researched and creative idea can set you apart. In order to make your mark in a brainstorm, challenge yourself with the notion that the quality of the idea is worth more than the quantity of the ideas.

Show your team that you are a valuable team player. Use brainstorms as a time to shine, don’t let your intimidation outshine you.

Photo credit: stream of consciousness,” Chicago Art Department, used under Creative Commons (CC)  Attribution 2.0 license.

-Alexandra Ebanks, Porter Novelli Atlanta

Marketing Lessons from Drizzy Drake 

Whether you are well versed in hip-hop culture, or if you seldom listen to rap – you may know it is one of the best-selling genres in the U.S., according to the Recording Industry Association of America.  

Hip-hop’s popularity is no coincidence – especially, if you look at it from a marketing communication angle.  

Drake, also known as “Drizzy”, is among the most influential names in hip-hop today. He may not even know it, but the rapper, singer, and Degrassi alum consistently uses proven marketing concepts to his advantage.  

It’s likely you are now thinking, “What could Drake possibly teach me about marketing?” I, an avid Drake fan, will break down the approach which has, conceivably, contributed to making him one of the most significant names in the music industry today. 

Grows fan base by venturing into new waters 

Drake doesn’t limit himself to being a rapper. He has, arguably, propelled himself into mainstream superstardom by dabbling in different fields such as singing, acting, serving as the Global Ambassador to the Toronto Raptors, and now, he adds ESPY’s host to his resume.  

Drake isn’t afraid to take risks, a desirable trait in any industry.  

Effectively targets diverse audiences 

Mass appeal is also one sign of a great marketing strategy. 

Drake’s allure doesn’t only speak to one race, nationality, ethnicity, or gender. If you ever happen to attend one of his concerts, you will find people from all walks of life.  

Drake’s own appeal to emotions also transcends in an allure to women. With lines like, “I never had you, although I would be glad to/I’d probably go and tattoo, your name on my heart,” from 2009’s “Houstatlantavegas,” it’s easy to see why some women love him so much, in my opinion.  

Practices social responsibility  

Some marketing and PR pros may not think that being socially responsible is important to long-term success. We, of course, disagree with this notion.  

Drake disagrees as well.  

Part of being a good person, and a good marketer, involves being a socially conscious person.  

During Drake’s Houston Appreciation Week, the only way fans could get tickets to his next show was to volunteer their time to a variety of charitable causes. No tickets were available for purchase. This not only encouraged volunteerism, it also rallied fan enthusiasm and loyalty in a beneficial way.  

Creates dynamic phrases that stick with consumers  

One phrase Drake is widely known for is “YOLO,” or “You Only Live Once.” He notoriously coined the term in 2011 with “The Motto.” The benefits of your original catch phrase becoming overused clichés can have endless branding possibilities.  

It also doesn’t hurt to have people who you’re not paying essentially advertise your music and brand for you with amateur Photoshop designs and hilariously overly emotional memes.  

Engages audiences and drives consumer loyalty  

One of the more unnoticed marketing strategies Drake applies is really quite genius. While other artists wait until album time rolls around to release new music, Drake will release songs out of the blue.  

Unexpected songs year-round are among one of the reasons Drake remains relevant, as he is always in the forefront of his audience’s minds and ears. Since May 2014, Drake has released “Draft Day,” “2 On,“ and "0 to 100.” Which brings me to my next point… 

Strong content creates a loyal following  

Great songs are akin to great content, from a pubic relations and marketing perspective. In the songs listed above, Drake raps prolific lyrics with a fierce flow. Even if you don’t like Drake because you don’t listen to hip-hop, it would be difficult to argue his tremendous influence in the genre.   

Theoretically, it’s as simple as having great content to be successful.  

All these points are a part of what have made Drake one of the most significant musicians, not only in the rap game, but in all of music.  

It’s worked for Drake, why not for you? 

By Sarah Oyarce,

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