PR classics: The non-denial denial

During the Washington Post’s investigation of the Watergate break-in, members of the White House and CREEP would issue what the reporters and editors called non-denial denials. The officials would sometimes berate the Post for its articles but never deny any of the assertions in the article.

The non-denial denial is not as popular today, but it does arise from time to time. It was used to perfection by the PR department at Credit Agricole S.A. in a July 11 article about how the French bank was reining in executive expenses on meals, travel and so on.

The Journal quoted from an internal email that stipulated spending limits and prohibitions. Then, it asked the company for comment and summarized the response this way:

A Crédit Agricole spokeswoman said that, if such an email exists, it wasn’t handled by the bank’s communication team.

There it is: a non-denial denial. The email may exist and the story may be accurate. The PR person does not simply state, “The information is inaccurate” or “There is no email. There are no new policies.”

What’s the best PR policy? A straightforward response. A non-denial denial only confirms the accuracy of the reporting.

Ottolenghi Media guides companies into social commerce arena

Ottolenghi Media

Ottolenghi Media has added social commerce to its media services for businesses, life sciences companies and professionals in northern Palm Beach County and the Research Triangle Park.

“Social media is rapidly evolving into a way to generate new revenue,” says company president Hugo H. Ottolenghi. “Smart companies are cashing in on their online efforts.”

Social commerce is the newest and most dynamic growth area of the Internet today. Sales through social commerce are expected to grow in the United States from $1 billion this year to $14 billion in 2015, according to Booz and Co., a global consulting firm.

“Large numbers of people will choose and buy their products and services using social media,” says Ottolenghi. “Savvy businesses and professionals can gain customers and clients in ways and numbers they could never before.”

Until now, social media were effective in building brand awareness such as “Likes” on Facebook and generating leads through online bargains. Now, businesses and professionals can use social media to generate revenue and build customer loyalty.

“Imagine what would happen if you put your best customers with potential new customers in your store or office,” Ottolenghi says. “With social commerce, that occurs online and sales take place on the spot.”

Social commerce moves individuals and businesses from being fans to customers making repeat purchases, Ottolenghi says. Those customers can also be cross-sold complementary goods and services.

“The dynamics of social commerce are changing the way people making buying decisions,” Ottolenghi said. “In the real world, we ask a friend for a recommendation for a good doctor, lawyer or restaurant. The same is now starting to happen in the online world where the numbers – and the revenue potential – are much, much greater.”

Do promoted Tweets produce more revenue for advertisers?

Twitter works faster and better than any news service. Word gets out and is passed along to millions of people while a reporter is still collecting information. Twitter does much less well at delivering ads because that real-time strength pushes paid messages off screens at a rapid rate.

To address that weakness and move closer to social commerce, Twitter has launched a pilot program to give fixed prominence to Tweeted ads, called Promoted Tweets. Read More

American Express dives into social commerce

American Express has joined the growing social commerce market with its announcement that it will offer deals through Facebook.

USA Today reports that “cardholders who link their account through a special app on AmEx’s Facebook page will receive discounts and special offers based on their listed interests and ‘Likes,’ as well as the interests and ‘Likes’ of their Facebook friends.”

By connecting what friends like with what people buy, American Express joins a growing group of companies that recognize that commerce is going social. People are purchasing goods and services based on what they like and what their friends like.

Whole Foods Market, Outback Steakhouse and Celebrity Cruises are among the 100 or so businesses that have joined the AmEx program, reports USA Today.

“We want to help merchants go social,” Ed Gilligan, vice chairman of American Express, told USA Today.

Has your business gone social? Would it be a good fit for the AmEx program? If you haven’t asked yourself those questions, why not?






Can Yelp do more for your business than Groupon or LivingSocial?

Ottolenghi Media

Of all the online coupon websites, Yelp is making the best use of social media to generate revenue for its listed businesses and for itself.

That’s important to know when your business is solicited to offer a one-day deal by one of the growing number of social commerce websites.

Groupon and LivingSocial have created niches by recruiting businesses to offer discounted products and  services. They extensively market those offers over the Web and TV. Both make it easy for consumers to find local deals.

However, Groupon and LivingSocial are more like digital coupon books than anything else. They lack the social dimension of Yelp, which started as a consumer review site customized to the user’s location. Restaurants write-ups made up the bulk of the early listings.

In the past year, Yelp has solicited businesses to create specials and post them to their Yelp pages. Businesses design their offers and Yelp provides social media marketing tools such as Tweets and Facebook page updates.

By the way, if you haven’t read your Yelp page recently, do so. It could contain outdated or inaccurate information, such as that you are closed.

Yelp rises above Groupon and LivingSocial because customer ratings and comments drive the site traffic. Reviews range from praise (“Great food!”) to critical (“Overpriced drinks.”) to detailed information about products and customer service experiences.

The opinions help prospective customers decide if a coupon deal is right for them.  The fact that Yelp was started for consumers by consumers puts it ahead of the competitors, which solicit sellers, not buyers.


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About Us

Ottolenghi Media in Palm Beach Gardens creates and executes customized media for businesses, life sciences firms and professionals in Palm Beach County and the Research Triange Park. The firm uses online and traditional marketing, public relations, and advertising campaigns to increase revenue and reduce costs.

The firm specializes in social commerce, which takes the most popular online media to a new level that generates revenue and builds client loyalty. The company also produces content for the Web, blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to attract customers.

Every visual and written element is matched to client needs for the highest return on investment. Each medium is regularly evaluated and its use adjusted based on goals and performance.

We also produce an educational blog, PR-Prof, which explains issues in public relations to businesses and professionals.