Kodak missed the point of the PR moment

Kodak Alaris recently posted a press release about its new Kodak Moments marketing scheme. There was a time when Kodak “got” the point of the press release was to convey useful information, not dwell in a marketing-speak rathole. Kodak PR pros were literally the gold standard of the business; with this release, there wasn’t even a press contact person. As a photo trade editor for 25 years, I also had the pleasure of seeing top PR pros from many top companies, like Fujifilm, Canon, Nikon, Polaroid, Minolta, Agfa, Sony, etc., and their agencies. Great people all around. Sadly, there are fewer of them than they used to be.

Sure, things have changed some. Kodak Alaris is a shell of the consumer-imaging company Eastman Kodak Co. was. In fact, most major imaging companies have diversified. Almost all of the long-standing imaging companies have skeletal PR staffs, in part because they are understandably devoting resources to direct communication with customers via social media, blogs, videos, etc. This makes total sense in today’s market, as the number of photo news organizations are dwindling.

The point of press release, however, is to be a starting point for a media conversation. At the very least, it should answer the basic “who, what, where, whys and hows” of the journalistic trade. This Kodak Moments release, however, violates almost all of these junctures.

Let’s dissect this corpse:

1.) Headline: Kodak Moments Launches New Premium Photo-Printing Platform Designed To Help
People More Effortlessly Celebrate The Moments That Matter To Them

What the heck is this? The reason for a headline is to convey what the news is. Is this an announcement of an app? A marketing campaign? A business plan? Plus, it’s way too long. If you have to use 20 words in your headline, it’s time to start over.

2.) Subhead: Company Also Releases “The Kodak Moments Project,” A Collaboration With Magnum
Photographer Martin Parr, Celebrating The Magical Moments In Everyday Life

The confusion only continues. Is Kodak Moments a company now? A marketing plan? A new brand? I don’t know, and you don’t either.

3) Intro paragraphs:

September 21, 2017 – SAN FRANCISCO, CA and ROCHESTER, NY – Kodak Moments today
released its new premium photo-printing platform, designed to help people effortlessly discover,
curate and print the moments that matter the most to them. The platform includes an
e-commerce enabled website, expanded functionality on the Kodak Moments’ app, a newly
curated range of premium photo products and an improved experience on thousands of Kodak
Moments kiosks nationwide.

The new platform is built to address the belief that authentic moments are harder to identify in
culture today. By helping people more easily engage with their memories – both new and old –
the platform’s design draws inspiration from a “Kodak moment,” a phrase so ingrained into the
global lexicon that it was recently entered into the Oxford Dictionary and currently has more
than 450,000 hashtags on Instagram alone.

An estimate by InfoTrends suggests that 1.2 trillion photos will be taken globally in 2017, with
4.7 trillion photos digitally stored. However, as people take more photos than ever and
thousands of photos are buried in digital devices, studies suggest current culture is losing the
ability to memorialize the most important, authentic memories.

Hey, Kodak. Remember these?

Still not clear who “Kodak Moments” is – although the bottom paragraph does say “Kodak Moments is the consumer-facing division of Kodak Alaris, a company born from one of the world’s most iconic brands” – but whatever. Who is going to read that far? The first paragraph lists the components of “platform,” though details are pretty sparse. From a journalist viewpoint, I’d like more information about “ a newly curated range of premium photo products and an improved experience on thousands of Kodak Moments kiosks nationwide.” But this is the only place it’s mentioned.

Typical of novice press release writers, this release suffers from a lack of audience awareness. Who is this for: The industry, who would be interested in e-commerce enabled website and kiosk improvements, or consumer press, who would be interested in the app and products?

The next paragraph goes into the marketing positioning, but actually adds no information. What is an “authentic” moment? And people have difficulty identifying them? How exactly is Kodak Moments solving this problem? And, despite the fact there are no links included to the apps, the improved e-commerce website or even Kodak kiosks, there is a link to online dictionary definition for the phrase “Kodak Moments.” So there’s that! This release was clearly written by marketing dweebs who love hashtags.

The new Kodak Moments page. That is, apparently, an authentic picture. Note, it is not show in printed form, which is what Kodak Alaris sells.

4) The meat of the release is below, with more marketing speak preventing the reader from getting to the actual news. First, there’s a reference to “an independent, commissioned survey” talking about culture, etc. There is no other information substantiating this claim. The point of citing statistics is to support your claims; without a source, there is no value here. Next, there is a quote from a marketing person, which provides no new information.

This release should have been rejected merely on the basis of using “surface” as a verb.

Finally, three paragraphs into this section (and SEVEN paragraphs into the release), we get into the “industry-first” features that will, apparently, increase authenticity. Neither “Made for You” or “Moment Assist” are described very well. Do they help consumers create products? Do they find images? A product guy says this: “The app now leverages our unique image science capabilities and is designed to automatically surface your most important memories from within your camera roll on your phone or device.” This release should have been rejected merely on the basis of using “surface” as a verb.

An independent, commissioned survey showed that 55 percent of Americans believe current
culture is losing its ability to identify what is authentic and meaningful, and 44 percent believe
they’re bad at recognizing the moments in life that matter the most.

“Kodak Moments has always stood for and celebrated the real, authentic moments in life. They
are the memories that we hold closest, the ones that tell a story or remind us of an experience,”
said Nicki Zongrone, President Kodak Moments Division. “We have developed a full consumer
offering that builds on our successful retail photo printing business, designed to give consumers
choice about where and how they print and encapsulate their memories simply and quickly.”

The platform offers two industry-first features to directly address this problem and makes it
easier to rediscover one’s most memorable moments.

Within the Kodak Moments app, Made for You™ searches images buried in mobile device
camera rolls to identify the most meaningful photos, displaying them on Kodak Moments
products. “The app now leverages our unique image science capabilities and is designed to
automatically surface your most important memories from within your camera roll on your phone
or device,” said David Newhoff, VP Product, Kodak Moments Division. “It’s intuitive, simple and
constantly reminds you of your key everyday moments.”

Moments Assistant™ is a Facebook Messenger bot that helps users find important moments
buried in their Facebook albums. It conversationally suggests images to print, in the place
where most keep photos today – Facebook. Kodak Moments plans to offer the bot throughout
launch. For customers who find and share a photo identified by the Moments Assistant ™,
Kodak Moments is offering a free Moments Card that can be mailed anywhere in the continental

5) Finally, there’s a quote from someone who actually explains what the two features do.

Rob Smith, Chief Marketing Officer, Kodak Moments said, “While our competitors simply expand
their product range, we see an opportunity to create a more effortless and rewarding user
experience. Everything we are building is in service of reducing the distance between capturing
a moment and printing it. The Moments Assistant™ and Made For You™ features access your
camera roll to suggest moments we may have forgotten. With as few as three touches on your
phone, you’re able to place those moments into beautiful photo products to share with your
friends, family or yourself.”

6) And… we’re back to marketing. The release prattles on about the “Kodak Moments Project,” which is about celebrating real and authentic moments in peoples’ lives. This is great, except it comes off as completely generic. I’ve seen promos for Google Photos that are as good, and actually are tied back to Google’s services. This campaign, including the video, could have been for any photo app. Literally. All of them try do this. What is missing is what makes Kodak Moments unique and different.

This campaign, including the video, could have been for any photo app. Literally. All of them try do this.

And, like every other marketing-agency driven announcement, Kodak Moments has to do a shoutout to partner agencies, including one of them that apparently developed their Facebook bot. This has little news value outside the San Francisco – New York agency scene. One of the companies mentioned, Noble People, has a website as edgy and as pretentious as you’d expect. Example, this is the picture of the “chief creative strategist:”

Look at me. I’m edgy.

This says. “I am so hip and edgy, I can’t even put down my glass for a picture. But that’s okay. I’m Australian and probably swear a lot.”

To raise awareness of the launch, Kodak Moments is debuting its largest national ad campaign developed with Chapter, a San Francisco-based experience design studio that also developed the Moments Assistant. The campaign was created in collaboration with Martin Parr, the Magnum photographer renowned for capturing the moments that most miss.

The “Kodak Moments Project,” a collaboration between Martin Parr, DMB and Chapter, documents eight groups of people on film and in photographs to capture and celebrate the real, authentic moments in their lives. The films and photographs can be viewed at kodakmoments.com.

“One of the things I find most interesting is just the day to day life that we all live. My job is to find everyday things and demonstrate that it’s much more interesting than we take for granted,” said Martin Parr. “In years to come, I’m looking forward to using these pictures as a real telling point about the times we live in right now.”

The media strategy, developed and executed by New York media agency, Noble People, focuses on surfacing at times and places when memories are being created, relived, and shared.

7) The indicia.

This is where traditionally we learn more about the company issuing the release. In this case, there’s one line. No contact information, no context, no nothing.

About Kodak Moments
Kodak Moments is the consumer-facing division of Kodak Alaris, a company born from one of the world’s most iconic brands.

© 2017 Kodak Alaris Inc.
The Kodak trademark and Kodak trade dress are used under license from Eastman Kodak Company.

8) What’s missing?

Any mention of actual products. Would it have killed Kodak Moments to actually remind everyone they have kiosks in thousands of locations around the country, and maybe list those retailers? Even on the Kodak Moments page, the link, to the kiosks is buried. Or these apps eventually lead to output, which is where Kodak Moments hopes to make money? Plus why not include a link to the actual apps, so people can download them?

These are all very basic mistakes a first-year PR pro would not make. Releases like this are what happens when a company’s marketing function has no clue about the role of the communications function.

That high-pitched whine you hear emanating from Rochester? It’s Charlie Smith spinning in his grave.