6 Tips for a Successful Media Relations ProgramPosted by Marian Briggs on August 22, 2013 at 2:36 PM
In the era of bloggers and citizen journalists, as well as traditional print and broadcast reporters, the topic of how to work with the media is something every communicator has to revisit frequently. Given that, I recently participated as a panelist in a webinar sponsored by the National Investor Relations Institute that delved into that topic.
The other panelist and I were asked by the moderator to provide our top three tips for a successful media relations program. Here are the suggestions of Cynthia Skoglund, now with Alliance Management and before that with Beckman Coulter:
We all agreed that proactive media relations involve thought leadership, i.e., sharing a company's perspective on an issue or trend, whereas reactive often means an adverse or crisis situation that calls for a different set of tools. The best media relations specialists employ the most appropriate tools for the situation.
2013 NIRI Key TakeawaysPosted by Dave Heinsch on August 8, 2013 at 12:53 PM
Last month was the National Investor Relations Institute annual conference - three days of scintillating discussion on seemingly countless topics and sub-topics - dealing with major disclosure issues, managing activist shareholders, valuation models, running great road shows, and yes, how to work with social media channels. Here is a rundown of key takeaways:
Today, investor relations officers and management teams are at the same disadvantage when it comes to learning which institutional shareholders (the "big fish") have moved in or out their stock. The conference kicked off with this topic. NIRI, NYSE Euronext and the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals recently petitioned the SEC to shorten the deadline for institutional investors to disclose their holdings from the current 45 days after the end of the quarter, to two days. Predictably, many big fish are not big fans of the idea, since they give up some trading advantage. IR pros want to fully engage with their top holders - and it's hard to do that partially blind-folded. Will it happen? I think the imperative for an ever-more transparent market, and modern technology, gives this petition teeth and will ultimately force some change. But time will tell.
Other noteworthy topics:
Monetary policy - Lots of discussion about whether the Fed will be able to eventually wean the U.S. off of its easing without "blowing up" the fixed income sector.
M&A environment - Attendees expect the big, headline deals to be few and far between going forward, but there should be a steady flow of bolt-on deals as sectors further tighten up and consolidate.
Investor targeting - It's been said it's a trader's market today, not an investor's market. That means IR pros, if they really want to optimize their shareholder base, need to force themselves to keep pushing their story to a more desirable group of investors and not let their story get ground under the wheels of algorithmic trading.
Buy-side feedback - With earnings disclosure, keep it simple. All investors really want to know each quarter is this, "Do the results or your view of the sector/economy fundamentally alter your thesis?" Articulate your strategy and the metrics you will use to gauge success and, above all, keep it simple.
Sell-side perspective - Today, it's all about corporate access - analysts serving as a channel to get the buy-side in front of management teams. This plays a huge role on how analysts are compensated. (Hey, isn't that what IR professionals are paid to do?)
Social media - Diving into social media is still a tough sell for many IR pros, who prize predictability and control of information flow over everything. Very much a wait-and-see attitude at the conference, despite the recent SEC pronouncement that opens up the use of social media for disclosure. Case in point, some of the hedge funds that were part of various panel discussions said that social media is where they surf for ideas of stocks to sell short!
Boiling it all down - In these days of ever-increasing communications complexity, the practice of IR is still all about the basic equation for what investors prize the most: predictability - simplicity of message, controlling the flow and integrity of information, and giving the right investors access to the right people.
Forecast for corporate finance activityPosted by Marian Briggs on March 26, 2013 at 12:08 PM
I recently was asked to contribute to an article by IR Magazine on the state of the M&A environment. You can read the full story, but here's a summary of where I see things today:
It's fair to say that investment bankers were glad to say goodbye to a dismal 2012, but they're optimistic about 2013 as nearly one third of the 2012 total came in the final quarter. That's the biggest single-quarter performance since Q3 2008.
With potential for more money coming available as 2013 gains strength, IR pros should once again be ready for M&A activity.
Industry-specific dynamics are driving much of the deal activity, and I expect that to escalate this year. One prime example is reform driving M&A across device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, providers and payers. I also see movement happening in the technology and retail spaces as those industries continue to both innovate and consolidate.
You can't have deal activity without activist shareholders - either those who think the offer is too low or the cash balance is too high. With shareholder activism back in the picture, IROs should take stock (no pun intended) of their company's vulnerabilities. You need to be talking regularly with your large holders and make certain they understand your strategy. And listen carefully if they have governance issues.
A recharged deal environment can bring stress, but also many potential benefits for IROs. This can be the perfect opportunity to revise your investment thesis and refresh your story to the Street.
Social media: Stick with itPosted by on June 28, 2010 at 11:10 AM
Persistence can turn good communications ideas into outstanding public relations initiatives.
Financial industry communicators from across the country gathered at NASDAQ recently to discuss social media at Ragan Communications' Social Media for Financial Communicators Conference. One resounding theme was recurring: The conviction behind your social media plan is what may define it.
Just ask Rhonda Sloan, Associative Director of PR, Web and Online Strategies for American General Life Companies (@americangeneral). After her legal department said "no" to her repeated social media ideas, she spearheaded an effort to create an internal blog using - of all things - Lotus Notes. Its popularity was vital in opening the door for an extremely successful external social media initiative.
Richard Brewer-Hey would agree with the premise. Ebay's chief blogger made his employer the first Fortune 500 company to live-blog financial announcements. He believed in its need, and stuck with it through negative internal feedback, developing a groundbreaking set of social media guidelines for corporate disclosure.
Steve O'Halloran, Media Relations Lead for ING DIRECT USA knows it too. That's why he helps direct a social media team that addresses its customers via Twitter (@INGDIRECT) and Facebook with striking consistency and care.
Whether it's in selling your communications plan up the ladder, or using a social media tool to send important messages to key publics, persistence pays.
Making the Culture Shift to Social Media: A4ward Social Media StrategyPosted by on June 22, 2010 at 3:34 PM
Padilla leaders Bob Brin and Tom Jollie presented a webinar today as a follow up to the launch of our A4ward Social Media Strategy process yesterday. Bob and Tom discussed some background and examples as well as the four stages of our process - including the often-missed "Activation" stage that helps ensure organizations are poised for success.
If you missed the session, a recording of the webinar is available for archived viewing:
The slides are also available via SlideShare:
If you'd like to learn more, please contact any of us at Padilla.
Is your organization laying track for social media or lying on the track?Posted by Bob Brin on June 22, 2010 at 11:26 AM
(Or, a runaway metaphor)
Yesterday we launched our strategic process for social media. We've used it for awhile with clients and it really helps a cross-functional team of communications, marketing, IT, HR and legal folks get on the same train. Mostly it's for the people responsible for communications programs.
Don't Let Tony Hayward Write Your Social Media PolicyPosted by Matt Kucharski on June 21, 2010 at 5:53 AM
Tony Hayward, BP's CEO and up until recently spokesperson for spill response, went from oily water to hot water this past week when he was seen cheering on his yacht at a high-brow race back home in the UK. His latest gaffe is a great example of why companies with traditional corporate communications strategies are having a difficult time getting their arms around social media policies. It seems like a good thing to discuss on the day we're launching Padilla's A4ward social media strategy product.
Every good company needs to have -- or at least discuss -- the nature of their social media policy, and where the lawyers and conservative corporate communications folks get hung up is on this concept of the spokesperson. Most got their experience in an envrionment where you had your three key messages and your handful of trained spokespeople who were the only ones authorized to speak on behalf of the company. As companies introduce social media policies, that concept gets a little fuzzy, and we've seen it be the main point of contention in the review process.
Look at it this way -- there's no policy in BP's manual that says that Tony Hayward couldn't go to a yacht race, but in many people's eyes, this was worse than his "I want my life back" comment to the media and his Joe Friday performance in front of Congress. He may not have been a spokesperson for BP at the time of the race, but he certainly was a representative.
And that's the important point -- your social media policy needs to distinguish between being a spokesperson for the company and being a representative of the company. Spokespeople are authorized to speak on behalf of the company on a wide range of issues from financial performance to market position to response during a crisis. Representatives of the company are those individuals who by the simple act of going about their daily routines reflect positively or negatively on a company's reputation. That includes spending time on social media sites. That doesn't mean you can't mention the company or talk about what you do there -- all it means is that as a representative, when you're online, you're wearing a company golf shirt, so act appropriately.
And if your company is under seige, stay away from yacht races.
It's Great To Be Here!Posted by on May 12, 2010 at 10:54 AM
How many times have you heard that? Well, today, I've heard it 113 times!
Yes, the 113 employee-owners of our firm are sharing all the reasons why they love working at Padilla ... and why we were recognized last night as "THE BEST AGENCY TO WORK FOR" in the country by The Holmes Report. Awards for client work are important, but we are most proud of awards that recognize our people and our culture.
So, aside from recognition from The Holmes Report, here's a summary of what our people think:
"What makes Padilla 'the best place to work?'"
Ownership - We succeed together and we pull together when things aren't at 100%. It's the culture of ownership that keeps people focused on what's right and what's best. Ever notice how the boss ducks out early Friday afternoons at some companies? At Padilla, early weekend escapes aren't reserved for the few. During the summer and over the winter holidays, all employees are invited to take Friday afternoons off if they've already put in their full hours for the week. This perk has been a firm policy for 21 years.
Communication - Our people are committed to being accessible to each other and to our clients. Internally, we all know what's going on through monthly all-company staff meetings to review financial performance, discuss initiatives and celebrate personal, client and firm-wide success.
Hard Work - One account manager said, "It's the people. I like working with really smart people." Maybe "work smart," describes us better ... even though I believe our clients would say we "do it right." I'm not sure it matters whether we work "hard" or "smart," as long as we live up to our brand promise for our clients: Something Unexpected. No Surprises.
Hard Play - Some mornings we arrive to the smell of pancakes cooked up in the third-floor kitchen. On New Year's Eve, there's a champagne toast at the fireplace. On Halloween, we eat a potluck lunch while perusing silent-auction items everyone donates to raise thousands for United Way. We celebrate the annual Twins home opener with a tailgate party. Throughout the year, we volunteer together to rake for seniors, donate books and supplies for school children, and serve nearly 200 other non-profit organizations. Even our children get into the action at our annual kids' holiday party each winter!
Constant Improvement - One of our values is "Keep learning." Through a mentorship program, a writing coach and regular professional (and personal) development, everyone has the opportunity to grow and achieve their full potential. This week's professional development sessions: "Staying Energized in a Draining World," and everything we need to know about life insurance.
Reputation - We devote ourselves to building and protecting our clients' reputations. That's dedicated has contributed to our strong reputation in the local community and the national communications community since our founding in 1961. As one Account Executive said, "Padilla earns the respect it gets, making me proud to work where I do."
Okay ... now on to celebrate finalists for Entrepreneur of the Year with Ernst & Young! (Padilla is a sponsor)Padilla CEO, Lynn Casey accepts SABRE Award - Best Agency to Work For
Beyond Clips, Clicks & HitsPosted by on April 5, 2010 at 9:34 AM
What's the Value of Your Marketing and Communications Investments?
During a challenging economy, every dollar spent on marketing and business communications is open to scrutiny. So measuring the effectiveness and impact of these programs is more important than ever.
Yet even with today's advanced technology and tools, many organizations aren't sure how to determine the value, effects and relative return on their communications efforts.
This presentation offers a fresh perspective on communications measurement including insights on the best strategies, methods and tools to help you calculate the value of your communications investments - and make the most of your marketing spend.
The Webinar is also archived for viewing.
Don't Try So Hard to Fit In When You Were Born To Stand OutPosted by on February 10, 2010 at 7:27 AM
Why do so many companies say, "we're just like [main competitor]," or, "we do the same thing as [industry leader]," when they know there are important differences between their company and the one they're comparing to? While a point of reference can be helpful, it assumes the audience understands the value they could receive from the other company. That's a dangerous assumption ... and one that positions your competitor first and your company second (at least in your audience's mind).
We have a sign hung in our home near a collection of photos of our kids. It's placed in the stairway they take up their rooms so they see the reminder often. The sign offers advice for our kids but this morning it struck me differently as I considered this blog post:
In the spirit of teaching kids, please take out a piece of paper and a pencil....
1. Draw a line down the center of the page from top to bottom.
Take your time; this isn't an easy exercise. Don't make this a one-time event. Just like children grow and change, our companies develop new capabilities and ways to impact our clients' businesses AND new competitors (or those we're compared with) emerge.
How will you introduce your company differently in the future?
Using current events to fuel marketing campaigns.Posted by on January 15, 2010 at 10:07 AM
I'm all about seizing the moment and taking advantage of real life events to help enhance a marketing campaign. Several weeks ago Tiger Woods was the theme many PR firms used to highlight poor crisis communications. For a moment I thought Minneapolis-based Parasole would provide a great example. Before I Tweeted their novel approach, however, I did a little digging.
The back story - Monday afternoon two guys landed their planes on a Minneapolis lake to get lunch. Turns out Minneapolis lakes are illegal to land on, unlike lakes in most other cities. The police met the pilots at their planes after lunch and issued tickets. News reports said they got a burger, but not where they went. I actually gave it a moment's thought to what restaurants are in that area, but that was about it.Current events meet promotional opportunity - Wednesday I received an email from Burger Jones (a Parasole restaurant). The subject was "Burger Jones Honors Naughty Pilots" and offered an opportunity this Saturday to order "The Mile High Club Burger" and make a donation to the defense fund for the pilots. (Each of the two pilots face up to a $1000 fine). Creative, huh? Tweets from Burger Jones (@burgerjones) refer to many ways to get there (bus, car, plane...). I like it. I also like that it creates a way for the restaurant to help the pilots pay for a lunch that ended up being VERY expensive.
If only they'd actually given any donations to help the pilots, it could have been a very cool campaign. Timely, empathetic and a little edgy.
Instead it feels like they're just taking advantage of the pilots, doesn't it? What other campaigns could the restaurant have created? Can you think of other campaigns that successfully leveraged current events?
Story...More Important Than EverPosted by Lynn Casey on November 12, 2009 at 5:05 PM
I'm sharing the next few days with 250+ of the most successful emerging-growth CEOs in the U.S. They're competing for Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year award, of which Padilla is a sponsor, and listening to the likes of Howard Schultz of Starbucks, the head of newly public Rosetta Stone, and a who's who of investment bankers and VCs about what's in store on the growth curve. Their energy and optimism is impressive, especially in light of the economy. So maybe I shouldn't have been surprised to see the two sessions dealing with initial public offerings so well-attended. I was there because investor relations has been a core competency of our firm since we opened our doors more than 40 years ago. Partnering with investment bankers and attorneys to take a handful of companies public was business that we could count on year over year, most notably in the go-go '90s.
Not so today. Money is tight, investors are conservative. We celebrate every new IPO client that we're fortunate to support - not only because we get to flex our expertise muscles, but because we know they'll be economic growth engines for the future. If you can believe some of the best brains in the business that were on stage today, the money is coming back, although it's still very cautious capital. How to get a piece of the smaller public-offering pie? Act like a public company in every way at least two years prior to your target date. Choose your advisors wisely; not by their brand name or how many people they send to a meeting, but whether your gut tells you they'll support you throughout the deal and after it's done. And, whatever else you do, perfect your story. Nearly every panelist emphasized the need to make your company's story simple - really simple - to understand. Concise. Compelling. Crystal clear. And - as any good IR counselor will tell you - for heaven's sakes don't bury the lead! (I will, with a certain amount of bias, submit that this last piece of advice is critical no matter how your company is funding its growth. Even more important if you're turning your employees into brand evangelists or selling products and services in crowded markets.)
Gotta go. Magic Johnson's up next. "Not only is he big," says our emcee, "he THINKS big..."
Client Service - Part One: From the Boss - I'm not the most important person you servePosted by on October 16, 2009 at 11:45 AM
This week our family visited a well-known, 30-plus year old restaurant in the Twin Cities. We anticipated a nice meal, but it didn't end up that way. This isn't a rant about a dining experience, but a reflection on the impact of "the boss" on customer service, unless expectations are set between employer and employee.
To set the stage, another party "took" our reservation though we were seated after some confusion. We ordered wine, it was opened, I tasted and it was poured for the others. My glass was almost forgotten (not a big deal, really). The soup delivered was different from my selection. The main course was not what I ordered. To make amends, the server offered to discount the meal by the $5 difference in main courses - oh, and offered dessert on the house. (They later offered to remove the entire cost of my entree).
When the check was settled, I saw the founder and owner - a prominent restaurateur - thanking the manager for a great meal and heading out the door.
True or not, his gratitude shows me he had a very different experience from me.
So, how do you keep from repeating this situation with your clients? As a manager, be good, be honest and be approachable. If your people fear you or feel like their behavior has to change when you're around, they're focused too much on serving you and not enough on serving your clients. The result impacts your brand and your business: without our clients, we don't have a job.
Here are a couple points from Liz Ryan on the "10 things your manager wants you to know":
For the manager, take a look at the "5 Traits of the New Creative Leader" HBR offered this week as advice to help get the results leaders want.
What suggestions do you have for "Shared Commitments" between managers and those they manage?
The brewing social media turf war: why advertising, marketing, and PR need to learn to play nicely togetherPosted by on September 1, 2009 at 11:23 AM
There's a storm a' comin' - a rumble in backrooms and boardrooms on par with anything the Jets and Sharks might have put together, though not nearly as jaunty. The number one with a bullet rise of social media has created some significant questions as to who should "own" this space, as in this article in The Firm Voice. And while some structure is necessary, the debate here is counterproductive because it asks the wrong question. Rather than asking who should own social media, we should be looking for an answer to "how can we best collaborate to make social media better?"
PR already leads social media and digital communications at 51 percent of companies, according to the latest Digital Readiness Report. And it's true that the nature of social media, especially tools like Twitter, make it a natural fit for public relations pros to lead the way on corporate usage. However, rather than take that as the doorway to exclusive ownership, PR executives need to lead a collaborative effort to leverage these tools in an effective, thoughtful, and responsible way.
Since the public relations function is primarily concerned with reputation and brand identity/awareness - the two primary benefits of social media - it's uniquely suited to take on this role. But to truly leverage social media, like any other tool in the marketing communications toolbox, everyone needs to be able to use it. Locking that tool away in any one discipline's tackle box is a profoundly bad idea. PR should coordinate - making sure the overall plan makes sense and that each discipline and initiative that needs to be is represented in a company's overall social media strategy.
In other words - play nice and share your toys with the other kids.
Ethics resources for your social media policy/guidelinesPosted by Bob Brin on August 21, 2009 at 9:53 AM
Lots of interest these days in developing social media guidelines or policies. (We prefer guidelines.) Here are some great resources on social media ethics:
• Examples! An online database of social media policies from a long list of organizations. Thanks to Jason Falls for a heads up on this one.
• Word of Mouth Marketing Association's Ethics Code
• Social Media Business Council's Disclosure Toolkit
Of course, putting a bunch of rules in place isn't enough. Your organization will need training and to go through the exercise of "what if" situations. You should also consider:
• an assessment of your social media landscape. Who is out there talking about you and your topics (competitors, pundits, reporters, bloggers and . . . employees!)? What are they doing/saying and where are the opportunities to tune in, join in and lead?
• a cultural and structural shift map. How you'll transform the organization and its culture to communicate in the new environment.
• a strategy with measures in place to replace the feet-first jump into social media tactics.
Measuring The ValuePosted by on June 17, 2009 at 12:43 PM
Last week we met with a combined group of finance and marketing executives to discuss the value of financial and marketing communication investments.
Originally inspired by a finance exec asking about the "ROI of Marketing," the discussion during the SlideShare presentation below focused on:
Share your thoughts ...
Best and Worst Brand Names of 2008Posted by Bob Brin on January 15, 2009 at 2:51 PM
Our good friends, the naming wonks at Pollywog, got a nice article published in the this month's issue of Twin Cities Business Magazine "Best and Worst Brand Names of 2008."
Names like Intel® Dual Socket Extreme Desktop Platform, make me think of our spoof for Jim Beam on the worst that could happen if Wrigley Stadium were re-named.
Pitching Bloggers: PR Pro Kicks Butt While Pitching The PoopPosted by Bob Brin on December 19, 2008 at 11:01 AM
There is no better praise than a blogger blogging about your pitch. Blogger Peter Hartlaub, from The Poop (labeled "the Chronicle Baby Blog"), said our own Whitney Mare's pitch "made his day." But read the whole thing and don't miss the comment by a follower who wants Whitney's job. Whitney's approach included a bit o' w(h)it, respect for the blog's topic and style and messaging that is humble, yet transparent. She makes no bones that she's cheering for our client Jim Beam on a parenting site, if only because the mention of Beam's competitor compelled her to enter the discussion. A nice dialog ensues . . . It sounds like more than a few parents out there invoke the spirits when the need arises. Cheers, Whit!
Twitter Means Business - A New Book on How Microblogging Can Help or Hurt Your CompanyPosted by on December 1, 2008 at 3:33 PM
Here's a new book from author Julio Ojeda-Zapata on how Twitter can be a good or bad thing for your business. I heard him on MPR on the way into the office this morning and he made some interesting points. For example, he explained how Twitter allows a company to speak with their audience instead of at them - something I firmly believe is at the heart of social media. Jason Falls, one of our partners with Jim Beam, is also quoted on the book's Web site giving it praise. The first chapter apparently answers many people's long-standing question, "Why should I care?" I'll give it a read and make a post after I'm finished.
If anyone else has read this book, feel free to let me know your thoughts.
Web sites should be multilingual for business scalability, not just Web site usabilityPosted by Bob Brin on December 1, 2008 at 9:27 AM
Having a global presence really means thinking (and speaking) locally. This causes me to add a fourth D to our 3D Web planning process. So now, we must consider dialect in addition to the desired action of our audiences, differentiation and dialog (ways to engage them in a conversation). Dialect is critical even for domestic organizations because most need to communicate to multilingual customer and employee audiences.
But for large organizations, dialect is not only an audience-targeting or usability issue, it quickly becomes a problem (or opportunity) of scale. Many have multiple Web sites, in multiple languages and with thousands of pages. Managing content is one thing. Managing translations of thousands or millions of pages is a really big thing. Thus there are companies like Sajan with translation management systems and an international army of linguists.
The technology makes sure you get the best use out of the linguists' hard work, by providing a database of translations and tools so that you don't have to reinvent the sentence every time you translate. This drives cost out of the system and, perhaps more importantly, allows organizations to enter new markets and roll out products faster. Globalization is really about localization. The company that can get local faster, and in the dialect that their audience understands, will sell more.
I'm a PC, and I'm Still a Nerd.Posted by on September 19, 2008 at 2:59 PM
Microsoft recently launched a new campaign, defending themselves against the "PC stereotype" created by those clever Apple commercials. As part of the campaign, they've created this microsite, which allows you to upload a picture or video of yourself and claim that, "you're a PC."
I'll begin by saying I'm a Mac user, and that I'm really not trying to be biased in my social media observations of this campaign. That said, here are a few things I find interesting:
Blogger outreach and how not to overreachPosted by Bob Brin on August 7, 2008 at 7:55 AM
Social media good-guy Jason Falls passed us this blog entry by Chris Brogan What I Want PR and Marketing Professionals To Know. You may have heard most of it before, but it's a good reminder or something to pass on the client or boss who just wants those hits any way you can get them.
New media: a mile wide and dangerously shallow?Posted by Bob Brin on August 2, 2008 at 2:37 PM
I was in a meeting the other day with few people on social media plans and the brand manager commented that the new landscape was a mile wide and an inch deep. I think that's true if you look at social media as just media. We're facing many, many more "outlets" from blogs to Twitter to Facebook and so on . . . and on. Some have thousands of followers and some six (this blog falling somewhere in between). It's tough when you're a marketer trying to decide where you spend your dollars when you need to include this new stuff along with all of the traditional media like radio and billboards.
Of course, social media is not just another media. It's made up of societies. You can no longer just create a message and broadcast. Each "outlet" is a community. And while you can have communicators discover, monitor and -- to a degree -- immerse themselves in these communities, they can't completely broker the relationship on your behalf.
So where do you invest your dollars and your time? Well, as the media (meaning reporters) realize that much of the real-time dialog is happening in these communities, that's where they hang out to get their ideas and immerse themselves in the dialog or at least listen in. They want to be where the action is. So you too need to go where the societies are, get in and get involved. If you've got nothing to talk about except your products, you're not going to be terribly popular. Diving below the surface is where you find the opportunities.
"Creating Your Own Social Network" Software with Community ServerPosted by Bob Brin on July 15, 2008 at 9:41 AM
We've been kicking the tires on Telligent's Community Server as a social network platform to create a Facebook-like environment for intranets or special communities. We've played around with others in the past and we like that you can get this one affordably and still customize the look for your particular application, for example a B2B network of clients, distributors and business partners. For some clients, when it comes to social networking, we say go where the society is (i.e., Facebook and the like). For others, the community is more tight knit and not interested in their conversations being exposed to everyone. We like that CS is built on .NET, or at least our developers like that, and it appears to now have integration with MS SharePoint 2007, which is great for organizations that can afford it. SharePoint's a great collaboration platform and WSS 3.0 has built-in wiki and blog support. It's more of an information-sharing, structured environment, whereas Community Server is centered on the individual and groups. You can share files, but it's not as structured around the information. Let us know what you use/like.
So, you don't have a green strategyPosted by on May 20, 2008 at 6:58 AM
I have your Green Strategy right here: have a strategy. I don't want to imply that you and your company should invent some nonsensical reason why your product is greener than your competitors'. Nor do I mean that you need a marketing program that touts your eco-friendly commitment to recycling and new employee bike racks.
Instead, you need to have a plan for what you do have in place, as well as comments prepared for internal and external audiences when the question arises. You need to have taken time to develop an answer to, "What's your company doing green these days?" when asked over a Mojito some Saturday evening. Your answer can range from the deliberate steps being taken by your company to reduce emissions to eliminating unnecessary steps in manufacturing or how you've installed a solar-power system to eliminate nighttime electrical use. Or, you can be ready to answer that your processes have been optimized through Lean implementation, and your organization has quarterly senior management meetings to evaluate progress.
Not all companies need to wear the green rose on their lapel, but companies do need to acknowledge the socio-economic climate that is examining every action and reaction. Don't underestimate the suspicion that can arise from apathy or passivity on issues. Get engaged to the level that makes sense for your business, but get engaged.
Is e-mail a dead medium or are graphics making it ghost-like?Posted by Bob Brin on May 2, 2008 at 1:27 PM
I don't really buy that e-mail is a dead communications form. If it is, I spend a good deal of my day in deadsville. As my official representative of the up-and-coming generation, my fourteen-year-old daughter doesn't do a lot of e-mail, but she doesn't have a job, either. The rest of us have to live in e-mail. But while e-mail isn't dead, there are some e-mail marketers doing everything they can to kill it. Take a look at this e-mail I just received, ironically from some guy trying to show off his photography business: Actually, this e-mail doesn't just contain graphics; it's all graphics. One of the best things you can do to get your e-mail read is to, like, use some text. Not type imbedded in graphics, but good old HTML text. Your creative or e-mail marketing folks should be testing your e-mails to make sure that they display some important words when the graphics don't get through, especially when most people have graphics turned off for their e-mail preview. In marketing communications days gone by, we used to say, "Graphics exist to draw the eye to copy." In the case of e-mail, the opposite is true. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but words are still the basic currency of communications.
Newbie guide and analyst relations on TwitterPosted by Bob Brin on March 28, 2008 at 6:12 AM
Twitter looks like it was designed way last century, but can be a useful tool and is gaining ground as a way to connect with analysts, a workgroup or a cluster of blusterers (also called twit knits) (OK I made that up). The idea is you can have a group of followers who want to know what you're doing or thinking at any given moment; kind of like blogging from your mobile phone. (I use it to let my college kids know we're headed to a volleyball game or eating seafood without them.) You can use it to follow an industry pundit or let your team know when you're headed into a meeting. While it may be a great way to connect with your friends, it's not that friendly so here's a useful guide. It's about a year old.
Also, here's an analyst blogging about using Twitter for analyst relations and connecting employees. Like blogging began, there's a lot of drivel out there, but try it out and look for the serious possibilities.
Viral Marketing: Pass it Along, or Pass it By?Posted by on March 27, 2008 at 7:39 AM
We had a great discussion yesterday afternoon during a meeting with our internal SMERF group (no, not those blue characters who live inside mushrooms and sing songs all day.) Padilla's SMERF team represents our Social Media Elite Response Force - a group of younger 'Padillians' who meet monthly to discuss the latest trends in social media and often times bring in guests to gain outside perspectives. Yesterday, we did just that by inviting in a local video producer to share some examples of viral videos they've created and to gain his take on the whole viral video landscape. I think we were all in agreement on a couple of things:
1.) There are common driving forces behind successful viral videos.
On the flip side, even if your video is entertaining or informative, and even short in length, people still may not share it among peers. Why? I think a lot of marketers are still trying to figure that out. In the meantime, if you have a video that you want passed along, look into some of these driving forces and manage your own expectations about its outcome. Then ask yourself if it truly has viral potential, or if you have a TV commercial that you just really want people to watch.
BASF launches B2B blog for turf prosPosted by Bob Brin on March 24, 2008 at 6:07 AM
BASF recently launched its TurfTalk blog (with some help from us). It's a good example of how a B2B blog can help open a dialog with a niche market, in this case, the pros who manage grounds for golf courses and the like. Various experts from the company will chime in, along with occasional industry pundits.
Related, we built the site using Wordpress, and our developers are finding it most friendly. Can I say that on a Movable Type-powered blog? We used lots of available plugins for things like the poll, the graphic icons tied to each category and the little pop-ups with each author's name. We also added Google Analytics to track traffic, FeedBurner and Share This. Share This is a great way to include all the social media sharing features (from e-mail to Facebook to de.licio.us) with one icon instead of the dozen or so icons you'd need to add to each entry. Could even spruce up this blog a bit!
Kistle podcast on communications researchPosted by Bob Brin on October 31, 2007 at 8:41 AM
In this podcast for IABC, our very own research enthusiast David Kistle previews his talk at the IABC/Cision Research & Measurement conference in New York, November 11/14-16. He discusses communications research whys and gives us the short story on a case history he'll share at the conference. David's interview with Shel Holtz is the last half of the podcast so you can just slide the bar on your player to jump to it (not to neglect the first half of the interview about going green).
Creative Articulation Before ArtPosted by Bob Brin on August 29, 2007 at 11:29 AM
Don't count on miracles when it comes to creative. Count on magic. All too often, we hope for miracles when it comes to creative, which is usually a waste of God's time, not to mention the creative staff.
Magic, on the other hand, is completely deliverable. But if you know any magicians, you know that it's all about science, practice and painstaking choreography of the performance. It looks magical because the magician sweats out the details long before the curtain goes up.
So do your research before and after the creative, meaning tapping into those scientific-minded researchers to get clarification on what motivates the audiences and test concepts.
Then, craft a creative brief. This document is every bit as creative a challenge as the copy or the design and should be given as much weight. Use it to articulate the creative vision and what outcomes you're trying to achieve to get the best results from your creative efforts.
Think of the creative brief or blueprint as a creative contract between the creative department, the account staff and the client. All must agree to it and it must be formally approved. It is actually a part of the creative effort and so I hesitate to hand it off to the account staff. Not because they're incapable, but because it should be a shared creation that gets the creative team involved earlier in the process. Ultimately, when the creative brief gets the client excited and they say, "Yes, you nailed it," you've created a work of art before the artwork begins.
Kids These Days...Posted by Matt Kucharski on August 21, 2006 at 6:35 AM
My good friend Leo Bottary at Hill and Knowlton requested postings from different agencies on the issue of recruiting talent for your firm. Here's a link to the posting.
Finding, recruiting and retaining talent is clearly one of the biggest strategic challenges facing the public relations field today -- agency and corporate. What worked for us when we were "kids" just doesn't resonate anymore. Those of us over 35 need to tune into this or consider retiring...
Penguins, breadcrumbs, and oil, oh my!Posted by on August 4, 2006 at 9:38 AM
In what seems to be a "very special episode" of Punk'd, news reports this morning tell the story of a seemingly tongue-in-cheek animated short posted to YouTube that appears to have been created by PR firm DCI.
DCI isn't commenting on their clients or the work they do for their clients. The lampooning of "An Inconvenient Truth" is all but a trail of breadcrumbs leading to the cottage of a particular fossil fuel merchant. But the posting raises ethical questions of disclosing the true source of such items in a public forum on the web -- particularly as more information seekers turn to alternative resources for facts.
As it is, this tactic fell on its face. Could be that someone thought a campaign antithetical to the "Blair Witch Project" publicity efforts would effectively undermine the credibility of a film they disagree with. No doubt the company who commissioned this video wanted to find a new way to communicate their message than just a standard press release, but this video did not meet that need.
I don't think that Jonathan Swift's descendants should feel this even crowds their satire turf. They'd be justified if they felt just a little miffed, though.
Note to self: Mind the MunchkinPosted by on August 4, 2006 at 9:16 AM
We don’t represent the Lollipop Guild, but of the three gentlemen who did in “The Wizard of Oz,” one was on the trade show circuit last month in San Diego signing autographs, according to deadspin.com.
Meanwhile, in Kansas City, the Kansas City Royals had a promotion the same weekend, touting that it had “the last living Munchkin” on the pitcher’s mound to throw out the first pitch before a game. And Major League Baseball mentioned the promotion on its Web site. Imagine the excitement of seeing the last living Munchkin!
Who knows whether it was haste, carelessness or ignorance, but the Royals’ front office – especially the PR team, should have dug a little deeper when booking Mickey Carroll (“Munchkin #2” in the movie). According to publicity information from the San Diego trade show, there are eight living Munchkins.
Publicity-driven events require a tight focus on details. Whether it’s a Munchkin, a spokesperson or another celebrity, double-check and verify the facts, lest you have a house fall on you.
GR8time2IMPosted by on June 23, 2006 at 10:43 AM
If I could do without email, I would. Really. I’d love to ditch Outlook, Yahoo! Mail, Google Mail and all my other email accounts and instant message my day away.
Yesterday, I was out of the office, checking email messages on my Treo. One series of emails eventually became a conversation that took place across two different email platforms. A conversation that could have taken place in 60 seconds took three hours.
Contrast that with an IM conversation I had with a friend who was in the stands in Kaiserslautern, Germany, watching the U.S.-Italy match. We conversed real-time about the game as he sat behind the Italian goal and I sat on the sofa and watched the match.
We are missing a huge opportunity to incorporate IM into our work lives. Imagine my first scenario done through IM. Instead of waiting for a document to clear my client’s server, clear our server and make it to my inbox, my client could have sent me an IM with the file attached, totally secure, but without the wait or the hassle of wrestling with Outlook or Yahoo! Mail.
Through an IM interface, you can webcast, conduct Internet phone calls, attach files (documents, video, audio, etc.) – and do it all through multiple devices. And if you’re still anchored to email, hop onto Google’s GMail where email and IM are integrated.
IM isn’t a complete replacement for email – archiving, sorting and searching messages remains clunky. But now is a good time to get the hang of it, if only to communicate with your kids.
Does public relations have any business in social media?Posted by Bob Brin on April 24, 2006 at 4:54 PM
Jennifer McClure, Executive Director, Society for New Communications Research wrote in Bulldog Reporter last week that not everyone sees the connection between public relations and "blogs, podcasts, vlogs and other emerging forms of media."
Many believe that PR should not be involved at all. However, this wariness may stem from the perception of PR as the “keeper of the message.” PR is not meant to be about creating static messages in a vacuum, and it is not synonymous with media relations. But for too long, this seems to have been the general assumption—not only of clients and management, but also of many in the PR industry.
It's a good article, but it kinda misses the real skill set of PR people.
I would say that what's working against us is not the perception that we're keeper of the message so much as the perception we're keepers of one relationship -- with reporters. One might flip that coin and argue that, even if media relations were all we do, it's a great skill in the new media world. PR professionals understand releasing messages to some very tough third parties -- intelligent, critical, analytical and sometimes biased individuals -- reporters, analysts, etc. We know what it is to carefully craft a message, put a bow on it and deliver it with much fanfare, only to see our sleek new message crash in the daily newspaper. Some may call that a vacuum and it is -- a machine that will strip off any chrome that isn't bolted to the frame of your fantastic rocket. You really don't get too many static messages to fly with reporters or analysts or, now, bloggers. So who do you want on your side in a blog storm?
Dance like nobody's watching?Posted by on March 28, 2006 at 3:21 PM
We learned in news reports today that a NFL committee is considering new restrictions on the end zone celebration known as the “touchdown dance.” Things have gotten out of hand, it seems, in this expression of victory. Few would dispute that some of today’s touchdown dances look like dropped numbers from the latest Michael Flatley extravaganza.
Dance itself has been used to communicate across the years and across the species. Think of a bee’s “pollen dance,” or a toddler’s “potty dance.” Both communicate critical information without using words. A touchdown dance, though? Little more than “nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah.”
Perhaps it’s the understanding of how the nonverbal communication reinforces the verbal. Think of Elvis, and the consternation he caused for the cameramen who were limited in filming this singer from the waist up. Remember Steve Ballmer, putting his all into pepping up his Microsoft posse. Think of that guy across the table, and the little shiver that coursed through you as he leaned over the table, hooked on whatever it was you were saying at the time.
Nonverbals, whether manifested in raised eyebrows, hunched shoulders, or tapping fingers, are powerful weapons -- ones that we maybe even under-utilize in the business world. It’s a shame that we’re damned to spend time and money reminding those professionals on the field to use them discriminately. How could you harness the power of the nonverbal for a boardroom victory?
Greatness Beyond NumbersPosted by on March 7, 2006 at 2:19 PM
Both were considered undersized overachievers, yet through strength of body and character reached the pinnacle of greatness in their respective sports and became Hall of Fame inductees. Both were respected by fans, teammates and opponents alike and became the most beloved sports icons ever within their adopted hometowns. Both wore jersey number 34 and died too young at age 45.
Beyond their common traits and dazzling stats, what made Kirby Puckett and Walter Payton so memorable was their effervescent personalities, their lifelong allegiance to their teams and their desire to perform best under pressure-packed circumstances. Puckett – "Puck" to Minnesota Twins fans – and Payton – "Sweetness" to Chicago Bears followers – made those around them better not just because of their personal accomplishments, but rather by the power of their personalities. And it's the latter that people will remember and appreciate far longer than their individual statistics.
Listen closely to those who mourn Puckett’s loss, and you’ll hear comments similar to those that followed Payton’s death in 1999 – phrases such as "team leader," "ever-present smile" and "infectious exuberance." Not coincidentally, all of these words are inscribed on Puckett's National Baseball Hall of Fame plaque.
You'll also be reminded of Puckett's top team accomplishments – World Series titles for the Twins in 1987 and 1991 – just as Bears fans were reminded of how Payton helped the Bears gain their lone Super Bowl win in 1985.
Occasionally but much less frequently you’ll hear about Puckett's individual statistics – line items like his .318 lifetime batting average and six Gold Gloves. It's not that these aren't important, it's just that in the end, our true value resides not so much in the numbers we’ve achieved, but rather in how we've earned them and how we’ve benefited others.
Given the strong numerical orientation of business and sports and our societal eagerness to crown glory upon those who achieve the best numbers, remember that numbers are still only a solitary means of measure. In business as in sports, those who gain true greatness have also earned the unflinching admiration of their teammates, fans and opponents. For a reminder, just remember the number 34.
Next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs will know their marketing.Posted by Bob Brin on November 10, 2005 at 11:38 AM
First let me get the bragging over with: my daughter was just elected president of her high school’s DECA program (Go Polars!). Of course, she’s got an unfair advantage – her old man. (This is a smiley-free zone.) Anyway, what a great program! DECA is basically regular high school and college curriculum that’s all about marketing, management and entrepreneurship; plus it’s competitive, like mock trial or the debate team. They’re writing and delivering speeches, creating ad campaigns, developing PR plans and pitching products. They take it very seriously. It’s like having your kid in another sport. Okay . . . it’s more like a cult.
Kids these days! Many of the top students are in DECA, even if their aspirations are med school or engineering. They already know that a surgeon or a rocketeer will do even better and go farther if they know how to present and market their stuff. You’ll actually see football jocks co-mingling with chemistry geeks and high-fiving each other. (Someone could get hurt!) For us PR types, it will mean a new generation of communications- and marketing-savvy management.
And they’re not just aiming for that all-inclusive-A. They put their hearts into it. The Minnesota awards event is like a young entrepreneurs rock fest. You’ve never seen so many young adults dressed in suits and dresses cheering for their team members and schools. Makes our local PRSA awards event look pretty tame.
Now, as a word-welder with a single E degree (English), I’m all for liberal arts, but man I wish my high school had DECA when I was there. Parents, if your kids aren’t already there, consider encouraging them to get into the program . . . and then get involved yourselves. Agencies and businesses should consider supporting the local or national programs; it’s a good way to meet tomorrow’s elite. These are kids who know how to compete, think on their feet and work with a hybrid team of schmoozers, geeks and geniuses. Sound like business?
Blogs AttackPosted by on October 28, 2005 at 2:14 PM
Want some spit and fire? Anger the blogerati. That’s what Forbes did today (requires free registration) by proclaiming that “Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective.”
Well, sure, there are those who spew invectives and flat-out baloney. And author Daniel Lyons is right to report that blogs can be a big threat to brands. That’s true. But what really has the greater blog community roiling is the bald-faced dismissal of the entire channel as intellectual arsonists.
Disclaimer: I’m writing in a blog, therefore I’m pro-blog. End of disclaimer.
Lighten up, Daniel. Bashing companies isn’t the exclusive property of bloggers. Before the blog, it was email. Before email, it was Usenet newsgroups. And outside the techno-sphere, you can bash a company in a bunch of ways that will garner attention.
The impact on our industry is that as we work on behalf of our clients, we have to be more diligent in our efforts to stay current on trends and issues impacting them, their competitors, their industry and their key influencers. It shouldn’t matter if the hate mail comes in the mailbox or the inbox.
So let’s not get hung up on channel. Let’s worry about what’s behind the diatribe, and let’s work with our clients to protect their reputations.
What’s Daniel going to think about word-of-mouth?
Creativity is like chiliPosted by Bob Brin on October 13, 2005 at 4:26 PM
A primary benefit of our Lumin collaborative is shared knowledge: whippersnappers like me get to season our thinking with the hickory-cured wisdom of pros like Patrice Tanaka of PT&Co. We just had an online lesson from her on Creativity in Public Relations. In the session, she mentioned holding multiple brainstorm meetings until you come up with that breakthrough idea.
[sound of record needle ripping across vinyl] Multiple brainstorms?
When do we ever get the luxury of multiple brainstorms? Or . . . I mean . . . struggle that much?
. . . And then a Grinch attack . . . my heart grows three sizes this day . . . . Maybe brilliance doesn't happen in one meeting.
Maybe it's like chili. Good the first day, but better the day after, and even better the day after that.
Too often, we expect creativity to happen in a single session. The team gets briefed on the spot and we try to blanch the ideas out of everyone's brains before we lose them to another meeting. And when we're done spanking the last drops out of the coffee pot, we better see some brilliance! More meetings means impending failure and we go back to the drawing (and quartering) board or bring in a fresh team of Thoreau-bred geniuses. And we're betting they're faster!
Somewhere, a VP stews . . .
I like this slow cook approach. Hereafter, our process forever should include:
* Ingredients-gathering (background and research)
[roll guitar music: Texas shuffle]
Or maybe creativity is like beer . . .
Hail The OnionPosted by on October 3, 2005 at 2:00 PM
If you’re a man, you know that shaving your face with a razor is a potential trip to the emergency room (or the plastic surgeon). Every morning. So when Gillette announced in a news release that it was escalating the shaving wars by going to five blades, a little bell rang my head. I knew I’d read that news somewhere before.
Then I remembered: I read it in The Onion. Almost 18 months ago.
Since this is a family-friendly blog, we can’t share the actual headline from the satirical tabloid’s piece “penned” by James M. Kilts Gillette chairman, CEO and president. But it goes something like this:
*!@# Everything, We’re Doing Five Blades
Man, I love The Onion. Now let’s play a little game. Guess which Kilts quote is real, and which is from The Onion:
Quote 1: “It’s the future of shaving.”
Tricky, eh? Both lines ooze corporate-speak. Ah, but it’s the context that reveals the true Kilts, er, corporate communicators.
From The Onion:
Stop. I just had a stroke of genius. Are you ready? Open your mouth, baby birds, cause Mama’s about to drop you one sweet, fat nightcrawler. Here she comes: Put another aloe strip on that *!@#*!, too. That’s right. Five blades, two strips, and make the second one lather. You heard me – the second strip lathers. It’s a whole new way to think about shaving. Don’t question it. Don’t say a word. Just key the music, and call the chorus girls, because we’re on the edge – the razor’s edge – and I feel like dancing.
From the Gillette news release:
“Gillette Fusion is more than just a next generation shaving brand, it’s the future of shaving,” said James M. Kilts, Chairman, President and CEO, The Gillette Company. “Gillette Fusion extends our rich history of innovation. It’s a breakthrough platform that will continue to drive our category leadership.”
(cue yawn) The point of this comparison is to show that sometimes, in the never-ending quest to increase shareholder value, corporate communications loses its creative nerve. “Breakthrough?” “Next generation?” Where’s Harry Frankfurt when you need him?.
At least with words like @!#*!, you know where you stand.
Achtung BabyPosted by Matt Kucharski on October 1, 2005 at 7:32 AM
According to an article in Friday's USA Today, several publishers in Germany have kicked off a four-month, $36 million advertising campaign designed to "lift German spirits." http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2005-09-29-german-pride_x.htm.
What's next? A campaign to increase passion among Swiss? Improve organizational skills in Italians? How about raising the humility level of Americans?
Apparently the campaign includes an emotional (sic) two-minute TV ad featuring celebrities such as Katarina Witt and the theme song from the movie Forrest Gump. Don't know about you, but my mood has improved already.
The campaign is being bootstrapped by publishing giant Bertelsmann and 23 other companies, including newspaper Der Spiegel and broadcaster RTL Germany. The thinking is that, even though this is a country with a jobless rate above 10 percent, economic growth of less than 1 percent per year, and a huge defection of jobs to Eastern Europe, India and China, an ad campaign featuring an Olympic skater from a decade ago and an obscure song from the Baby Boom generation is just the ticket to improve the moods of an inherently cynical German populace. I have several good friends in Germany, and I honestly can't tell when they ARE in a good mood!
Setting aside the fact that this is a wholly unmeasurable campaign in the age of metrics, somebody thought this was a good use of $36 million. If we're really honest with each other, we'll admit that we see companies making dumb decisions like this every day. Rather than address the fundamental business problems facing their organizations -- deficient products, an ill-equipped sales force, poor relationships with suppliers, a focus on profitability to the detriment of long-term sustainability -- these companies will assume that a good ad campaign will smooth over all of those rough edges.
The fundamental truth of marketing -- managing product, price, place and promotion -- doesn't change -- you can't compensate for deficiencies in the first three with the fourth. At least not over the long term.
So if you're expecting a flashy ad campaign to fix all of your business problems, I have only two words for you.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing – New Wrapper on an Old Package?Posted by Matt Kucharski on September 26, 2005 at 11:28 AM
Imagine getting hundreds – or thousands – of passionate, influential young people with good communications skills to buy into your value proposition, study your key messages, go out on your behalf to talk about you to others, and then report back to you on who they talked to and what the feedback was.
Sounds pretty compelling, doesn’t it? That’s what a new breed of companies called word-of-mouth (WOM) marketers is selling.
The fundamentals make sense. After all, the concept of targeting the pioneers, early adopters and influencers in a systematized manner is just good strategy. However, some of these “new” WOM marketing specialists are going as far as implying that expenditures on other forms of communications – advertising, publicity, online, etc. – should be shifted to this new form of “buzz” generation.
A voice of reason in the buzz over buzz marketing (sorry, couldn’t resist) is Anthony Schweizer, business development manager for BzzAgent (www.bzzagent.com). Speaking at the Worldcom Public Relations Group meeting last week, (www.worldcomgroup.com), he acknowledged the need for WOM marketing to be part of the mix, as opposed to a replacement for any current tactic. In fact, the WOM concept is one of the oldest tactics in the book for anyone with experience in grassroots or influencer-based public relations programs.
Whether you think it’s the “next big thing” or just a new wrapper on an old package, WOM marketing ought to be part of many of your communications strategies. To get an overview, check out the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) at www.womma.org.
p.s. – that little example at the start of this posting? I think it’s safe to say it’s the strategy that’s used by pretty much every faith-based organization in existence today…
Down for the CountPosted by on September 23, 2005 at 10:00 AM
Ladies and gentlemen, in this corner, the former news champion of the world, with all the news that’s fit to print, the old…the venerable…The New York Times! (cue boos)
And in this corner, the challenger: shirt un-tucked, hair a mess, Nano in hand…the young…the clever…the Web Savvy! (cue applause)
Brock: Hi, I’m Brock Brockleman and here with me on the mike at ringside is the current news champion of the world, MSNBC.
MSNBC: Yo Brock, it’s great to be here.
Brock: Well, MSNBC, it’s great to have you. Your Web site traffic is always among the tops when disaster strikes, and your network is starting to make gains again. And we can read you on cell phones around the world. Who’d-a thunk it?
MSNBC: Word, Brock. Word.
Brock: Couldn’t have said it better myself. Now, let’s look at the former champ. This week, the Times hid all its columnists online behind a subscription fee of nearly $50 a year. Oh, sure, the rest of the Times is free online. But fifty bucks for a handful of columnists? Are you kidding me?
MSNBC: I’m hip to your kitchen ‘cause I know what you’re cookin’. Can’t believe it myself. But maybe those boys at the Old Gray Lady know what’s up.
Brock: Well, let history be the judge of that. You’re news is all over network television, the Web, cell phones galore, MSN, blah blah blah. You’re nearly ubiquitous.
MSNBC: Hey, that’s one of them $10 words. Back off, man.
Brock: Point well taken, MSNBC. Point well taken. Now, to the challenger. What do you make of this upstart Web Savvy? He’s a rebel, no doubt about that.
MSNBC: You’re whacked, Brock. Savvy gets his news anywhere he can. He’s a man of the people. Do you think this 25-year-old dude wants to read Maureen Dowd? I mean, yeah, she’s got it goin’ on, but seriously? Does she podcast?
Brock: Now, hold on there. You broadcast news on television with NBC’s B-squad. You’ve lagged far behind CNN and your other competitors for years. Aren’t you irrelevant?
MSNBC: Brockizzle shizzle…d’you still measure yourself in spans and cubits? Savvy doesn’t watch me, and I don’t expect him to watch cable news. He’s too busy playing Grand Theft Auto 2, or downloading the latest tunes from Paul Wall, dig?
Brock: Interesting. Very interesting.
Brock: There’s the bell for the first round. The Times shuffles left. But we’re looking at the Web Savvy corner, and he’s not moving – he’s just standing there with his arms down. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it!
MSNBC: No way, man!
Brock: Yes way! The Times closes in and…oh! Savvy reached down to remove his cell phone from his side pants pocket to read the news and whoosh! The Times threw a right and missed! Now Savvy is back up and he’s trying to find his favorite news podcast on his Nano. There, he’s got it. Wait a second…he’s removing his ear buds and is placing them on The Times. The Times goes down! The Times goes down! The referee is on the mat! 10, 9, 8, 7, The Times staggers to his feet, 6, 5, oh no, word comes to The Times that 500 will be laid off, 4, 3, 2, 1, that’s it! He’s out! He’s out! Savvy is your winner!
MSNBC: Wo, like, he never had a chance.
Brock: No MSNBC, he did. But he blew it. And now he will face you for the world championship!
MSNBC: No problemo. We’re home school.
An Open Letter to Michael L. Eskew, Chairman and CEO, UPS, Inc.:Posted by on September 20, 2005 at 12:28 PM
I’m sure you’ve read about Jose Avila, the Arizona resident who built furniture from Federal Express boxes, and how FedEx lawyers are circling him like desert carrion. What a waste! FedEx has missed a tremendous marketing opportunity in ways I will not share since I get paid for that sort of thing.
But for you, I will share, because, in my time, I have used UPS boxes for things other than shipping. Hell, had I known I could build furniture out of your boxes, I would have had a furnished apartment back when, as a recent college graduate, I made $12,000 a year as a reporter at the International Falls Daily Journal.
Fast forward to today. How many other indigent graduates and students are hand-crafting furniture from your shipping boxes? Are you sending UPS lawyers after those people? No, of course not. They use your products (are you listening, FedEx?). So, how do you make this a thing? Find a graduate or student with a room festooned with UPS furniture. Next, build him a web site – very Spartan, something that looks like it was cobbled together in the wee hours. Take pictures. Draft instructions. Send around the Web and make available for all things digital (text messaging, podcasting, ringtones, email, etc.). Then, integrate some guerilla marketing efforts on the ground, add public relations and advertising (online/offline), throw in a contest and bingo! Instant promotion.
I’m available to talk anytime you’re ready, Mr. Eskew. What can we do for Brown?!
Booyah, Booyah and a Cloud of DustPosted by on September 19, 2005 at 10:30 AM
Since Mad Money started airing on CNBC in March, a new market-moving force has emerged: Jim Cramer (and his now infamous “booyah” battle cry). Cramer’s hour-long spastic waltz isn’t news. Forbes, Time Magazine, The LA Times, and countless others have written on him extensively. But the increasingly powerful “Cramer Effect”—which is driven by his nightly picks and pans—is moving shares like nothing or no one we’ve seen since the stock jocks of the 1990s.
Take Plum Creek Timber (NYSE: PCL) for example—a company Cramer took a bullish stance on Tuesday (9/13/05) night. The stock closed at $37.30 on 9/13; it opened the next day $.60 higher (on no news) with crazy-high volume.
The Investor Relation-ization of LearningPosted by Bob Brin on September 18, 2005 at 3:48 PM
In doing some work for the good folks at Capella University, this study by Accenture on high performance learning (2004) was required reading. It underscores the need to lead in training/education, market it and communicate the value of the investment and not just to investors. (Accenture's not a client, but we're open to the idea.)
With the following numbers of unusual size (NUSs)(pronounced "nooses" because you can hang yourself quoting big numbers), it says "companies with high-performance learning organizations returned better revenue and profit growth compared to their competitors and industry peers:
But I was most interested in the marketing/communication analysis . . .
"The ability to market and communicate the value of learning across the enterprise is one of the newest competencies on the radar screen of learning executives, and this is a trend worth watching. The best learning organizations are using a blended marketing model. This includes a range of electronic methods such as e-mail marketing, a learning website and personalized e-mail newsletters, as well as a variety of print methods. One newer vehicle to communicate value is the Learning Annual Report, currently used by 16 percent of the learning organizations in our survey sample. The Learning Annual Report mirrors the company annual report, stating the major goals of the learning organization in business terms and then recapping the significant accomplishments during the year."
Sort of an Investor Relationization of corporate education -- promotion and accounting for the investment.