Sometimes it’s best to leave things at “Sorry.”

Early this year a Wisconsin man, Ronald Ball, opened up a can of Mountain Dew and was sorely disappointed to not have a delicious glowing green beverage, but instead a rather “rancid” one. After further inspection, Mr. Bull discovered that the can in fact had a dead mouse in it! I’ve never been a fan of Mountain Dew myself, but any liking I had for it just went down the drain… and, according to an article from PRNewser, it gets worse.

“After contacting the company, Ball sent the evidence to PepsiCo. Lawyers and experts from the company say that after closer examination, they determined that the mouse would’ve ‘dissolved in the soda’ in the time between bottling and consumption, turning it into a ‘jelly-like substance.'”

I'm gonna go on and skip this "experience."

Why on earth PepsiCo. thought the best way to approach this issue would be to admit their product can dissolve a mouse, I will never know. If I were a mother and read about this, I would never- ever! – let my kids drink Mountain Dew for fear that one day their organs would join the mouse and turn into a (probably bright green) jelly-like substance. Somewhere along the line PepsiCo. officials obviously forgot to consult their PR people before making this announcement.

I think consumers should be informed when something they’re consuming has the ability to dissolve a small rodent, but this was far from the right way, if there is such a thing, to do it. PepsiCo. should have offered an apology and perhaps some rodent-free Mountain Dew to Mr. Ball.


The Pioneer Woman Knows Her Social Media

One thing I really like about my part-time-to-get-me-through-college job is that I get along really well with all of my coworkers. One of my favorites, Sonja, was the first person to introduce me to the blog The Pioneer Woman. Sonja encouraged me to take a look at it because the writer of the blog, Ree Drummond, was not only funny but she had great recipes and lots of photos to go along with each recipe.

Sonja moved away (thank goodness for Facebook!), but I continued to check into the Pioneer Woman every now and then to find new recipes or just stare at pretty food pictures, but she also has tips on gardening, photography, and homeschooling, as well as a couple other less specific “for fun” sections.

I mean really, look at that. Who wouldn't want to visit this blog all the time?

The Pioneer Woman is a good (extreme) example of how social media can be used for public relations, and to gain and expand an audience. Ree started with her blog, and when it acquired followers she created Facebook and Twitter accounts. Through these outlets people are able to share their finds with others and by word of mouth The Pioneer Woman became a well known blog. So well known, in fact, that Ree now even has her own show on the Food Network (also called The Pioneer Woman), and a cookbook coming out on March 13!

Nearly 400,000 people follow The Pioneer Woman on Facebook, and nearly 300,000 on Twitter. As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, interaction is essential to maintaining an audience and Ree constantly replies to fans in addition to starting conversations and posting new content to her blog, Facebook, and Twitter almost daily. If you have never been to this blog I encourage you to at least take a look… there’s so much to find :-)

Extreme Savings… Great PR

At some point in 2008 I started noticing updates on Facebook from a friend in North Carolina all about how much money she had been saving with coupons. As time went by, and she learned more about combining coupons, the total amount saved grew to be unbelievable.

Desirae Young started using coupons in 2007 to stretch each dollar for her family. She now spends just $150 each month on food for her family of 3, and even has a stock room with everything from non-perishable foods to extra laundry detergent and cough syrup. She’s set for pretty much anything, and donates a lot of food and supplies to various people and groups.

Proof of one of Desirae's incredible shopping trips. Amount spent: $0.32, amount saved: $382.35

Desirae acquired a fairly large following of people on Facebook and would occasionally have contests with various prizes- from coupon books to video games- to give away. She has always been great about interacting with her followers and providing them with a lot of valuable information about couponing.

In 2011 she made an appearance on the TLC show “Extreme Couponing.” Her Facebook page now has more than 22,000 followers and she has been featured on her local news, as well as recently being on the show “Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers” (see it here).

Extreme Savings With Diva Desirae has changed quite a bit from when I first saw it in 2008, but is now a treasure trove of links to daily deals and printable coupons, giveaways and freebies. There is a link to “Coupon 101” for people who are beginners. She also has a YouTube channel with explanations to frequent questions and other information about some of her own shopping trips.

Desirae has done a wonderful job of maintaining her own public relations, even with the rapid increase in followers and amount of questions asked each day. She always has a positive attitude and is encouraging to people, reminding them that becoming an “extreme” couponer doesn’t happen over night.

By effectively managing her social media, Desirae is able to help people as well as maintain her reputation as a coupon expert.

McDonald’s could learn from Domino’s.

About two weeks ago McDonald’s launched a Twitter hashtag that had less than favorable results. #McDStories, which they hoped would bring up all kinds of happy, fun memories at McDonald’s instead brought up a number of bad stories. Quoting one tweeter, “the hashtag became a bashtag”. Here are a few:

PRNewser had an article about this ordeal, “McDonald’s Had A ‘Contingency Plan’ For Twitter Promo Gone Awry“. The article explains that McDonald’s knew that having an open-ended campaign could potentially spread stories they didn’t want people hearing about, so the hashtag was promoted for less than 2 hours. The author goes on to complain that rather than just pulling the promotion, McDonald’s should take the opportunity to acknowledge there are numerous issues in their stores that need correction.

Specifically, the author uses Domino’s as an example. In 2009 two employees made a video about all of the nasty things they do to food. Domino’s knew they had to do something to recover and re-branded themselves. They launched a “Making it right” campaign that included a website,, for customers to post photos of the pizza they receive from Domino’s. There are also commercials showing the CEO and others delivering new pizza’s to customers who posted photos of less than desirable pizza.

A statement from Rick Wion, the companies social media director, seems proud that the hashtag was not up longer than it was, and says that because they caught it only 2% of tweets regarding McDonald’s that day included #McDStories. There were still more than 1,600 tweets that were mostly unfavorable. Ignoring stories of rats, broken teeth, and food poisoning will do very little to help the companies public relations- especially the fact that there have been no apologies made to those people.

Twitter can be a highly useful tool for companies, but McDonald’s is only asking for stories instead of interacting with their customers. An apology through Twitter is worth much more than no apology at all, and McDonald’s failed to acknowledge their mistakes in any way besides stopping the promotion of #McDStories.

Pinning is “Nothing But Good”

A short background…

I was introduced to Pinterest about 5 months ago. My brother’s girlfriend had been going on about how fun it was, and shortly after I discovered one of my coworkers was also an addict. It wasn’t long before I heard girls on campus talking about pinning things. One night when I was house sitting and totally bored I decided I’d find out what exactly Pinterest is, and why all these girls were so obsessed with it.

In the sites own words, “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.”

Initially after creating my boards I thought it was really silly, but treated it like Twitter and gave it a shot anyway (note* I still think Twitter is a silly place, but I get it now). I won’t call myself obsessed, but I go on Pinterest at least once a day now, if for no other reason than to see what other people are looking at.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that people, places, recipes, clothing, and all kinds of things were getting an incredible amount of exposure through Pinterest because of how simple it is to click the “repin” button. That said…

Chobani Greek Yogurt might be one of the best things ever. Their slogan, “Nothing but good.” is only wrong in that I would say “great”, or maybe “fantastic”, because every time I have it I’m just so incredibly satisfied and happy. It’s SO good-great-fantastic (go get some). In addition to being delicious I’ve been impressed with Chobani’s social media presence, especially their use of it for public relations. On Facebook and Twitter they’re always quick to respond and interact with people. On occasion people have purchased yogurts that ended up being moldy, and they were always compensated with vouchers and apologized to- often within an hour (or much less) of posting.

I recently discovered Chobani’s official Pinterest page.

Chobani is using Pinterest as a way to interact with the people who already love their yogurt, and to get recipes that use their product out for addicts and newbies to see. The board “Choboniac Creations” is entirely dedicated to showing off recipes that use greek yogurt that have been shared by people who love Chobani. By linking back to the person’s blog, it’s a win-win in that both the blogger and Chobani are getting more attention.

I love Chobani, and I basically love Pinterest. Both are wonderful in their own ways and have definitely contributed to the happiness of thousands of people, myself included, by being a fun little addition to life. Why not combine the two?

Meatless Mondays!

Around the middle of December I started considering whether or not I would like to make resolutions for the new year. I’ve made them in the past, and some I’ve stuck to while others were quickly forgotten. I took it as a sign when, while thinking this thought, I logged in to Twitter and the top post was from Runner’s World and said “Need a Resolution? Here are 7 suggestions”.

I can’t remember the other 6, but suggestion #4 was Meatless Mondays. It had a few sentences explaining that meat is full of saturated fat, and that eliminating meat from your diet even one day out of the week can be beneficial. For many things I have a “Hey, why not?” mentality, so I decided to give it a go. Not only is it healthy, I’ll learn new recipes!

So. The first two Mondays I’ll admit I missed. The first Monday of the year was not only the day of the Rose Bowl (yay, Ducks!) but a day I went and explored some lava caves on Mt. St. Helens. The second Monday was the first day of school. On both of these days I simply forgot.

My companions and I after emerging from the underground "Ape Caves"

My companions and I, after our trek through the underground lava caves.

Rejoicing over the Ducks' Rose Bowl win at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Last week I didn’t eat anything special and realized that if I’m going to not eat meat on Mondays I’ll need to make it fun. I hopped on Pinterest and started searching, and my first recipe is Black Bean Enchiladas (see the original here). The recipe is very simple, took about 40 minutes from start to finish, and is pretty inexpensive! I altered it slightly from the original and this is what I came up with:

1, 15 oz. can black beans
1, 15 oz. can corn
2 cups (ish) cooked brown rice
1, 16 oz bag tri-color bell pepper stips
1 packet enchilada seasoning
2 cups (ish) salsa (I used Emerald Valley)
1.5 cups Mexican cheese
12, 6″ tortillas

9×13 baking dish, oven preheated to 350.

First thing get the rice cooking. I generally do 1 2/3 cups water to 1 cup of rice. While the rice is cooking, rinse and drain your beans and corn, and defrost the peppers however the heck you prefer defrosting things. Mix the beans, corn, peppers, enchilada seasoning, and about 3/4 of a cup of salsa.

You're going to sample this every time you add something new. I mean, if you're like me you will.

When the rice is done mix it in and your filling is ready! I put a little cheese on the tortillas before laying down the filling… who doesn’t like extra cheese? I don’t have a specific amount to say to put in the for the filling, because my tortillas from Trader Joes were not equal sizes… mwerp. But this is what mine looked like:

Don't fill it all the way to the sides or it's going to fall out after you roll it up!

The work station.

I was able to fit 10 in the pan as pictured above, then 2 went along the side and it was a perfect fit. Once they’re all in the pan pour the remaining 1 1/4 cup of salsa on top and spread out with a spoon, then cover with cheese. Throw it in the oven for about 25 minutes and you’re done!

You can't really see the cheesy goodness that's on the inside, but it was definitely a good call.

It kind of blew my mind how delicious this recipe was. It would also be really easy to add meat to this and have it be equally tasty, and next time I’ll probably put some avocado on it. Either way, I’m glad for Meatless Mondays, because who knows how long it would have taken for me to realize there’s a quick and simple enchilada recipe that only dirties 3 dishes and a spoon!

Something squirrely

I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to find out that the girls at Wild Squirrel had super powers. Not only do they make some of the most incredible peanut butter on the earth (really, it’s incredible), they manage their social media like it’s nobody’s business.

I first heard about Wild Squirrel peanut butter about a year and a half ago, then called Flying Squirrel, while reading the University of Oregon’s student newspaper on my bus ride home. In a nutshell, two roommates (Keeley and Erika) started making peanut butter in their apartment and gave it to friends in mason jars. Their friends encouraged them to sell it online, and one day it was featured on the blog Kath Eats Real Food, and things progressed.

Since then, they’ve grown wildly in popularity and can now be found in Market of Choice and New Seasons stores, as well as some independent stores in Oregon. They use Facebook and Twitter as their very own public relations outlet to let followers know when they’ll be sampling at different stores and new locations their peanut butter can be purchased at, as well as to interact with people and offer random peanut and squirrel facts to keep things entertaining.

I have personally tweeted these lovely ladies a couple of times (yes, I’m obsessed with this peanut butter) and they replied to both. Not only do they have an amazing product but they let the people purchasing know how much they appreciate it! They’re on top of answering questions and offering new ways to enjoy their product. Do these students-turned-entrepreneurs have good PR skills? No doubt.

My personal favorites!

I’ve been eating Pretzel Pizazz while writing this, and as you may be able to tell in the photo I’m nearly out of Curious Cocoa-Nut! I’m going to go remedy this situation, and if you have never tried this peanut butter I strongly encourage you to do the same. If you want to know more about Wild Squirrel, click here!