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.
The psychology of referrals: 3 reasons people advocate for brandsPosted by Matt Kucharski on May 8, 2013 at 9:56 AM
If you've seen a recent photo of me, you know that I go through a lot of razor blades - not just for my chin but for my head. So when I read an article about Dollar Shave Club, an e-commerce business that sends a month's worth of really good shaving cartridges for a fraction of the price of what you'd pay at the store, I was all-in. Anyone who shaves every day knows that $7/month for four high-quality cartridges is an incredible deal -so incredible that I was motivated to tell my Facebook friends all about it.
Which is SO not me...
It didn't hurt that the cool people at DSC (that's what I call them now that I'm in "the club") made it really easy for me post with a simple click-and-send, but I'm really not the kind of guy to advocate for brands on social media.
It just so happens that soon after my smoother-than-LeBron-in-the-paint shaving AND buying experience, we had a SMERF team meeting here at Padilla. That's our Social Media Elite Response Force for those of you uninitiated. We got into a great discussion about why people choose to advocate for brands, and the smart folks on the team were able to boil it down to three motivators:
And then there are some that use more than one motivator. The marketers for the Broadway musical Book of Mormon are using Big Door to create a program where you earn rewards for sharing information (the free shit component), and the "street team" members also are the first to receive news about this very popular, hard-to-get-into show and can share it with friends (part validation, part helping others). Our digital creative director Bob Brin calls it "gamification." I call it "too much time on your hands."
So what's this all mean? If one of the goals for your campaign is to drive referrals, you need to understand which of these three motivators comes into play, and develop your content marketing strategy accordingly.
Oh, one last thing. Sharing this post via Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook page will not only help me out, it'll also make you feel really, really good. Sorry, no free shit, though.
Brand Awareness at the Heart of RTMPosted by Dave Folkens on March 14, 2013 at 10:17 AM
Online and digital marketing has been particularly effective in creating new acronyms and catch phrases over the past few years. The best buzz of the moment? RTM or real-time marketing thanks to a quick, creative tweet about a cookie.
When a power outage hit during Super Bowl XLVII, Oreo made a splash with its timely "You can still dunk in the dark" effort that caught on with both consumers and marketers thanks to its rapid-response and creativity. It was a smart move that helped the brand stand-out from a crop of otherwise mostly forgettable ads that averaged $4 million dollars per 30 second spot.
Now, RTM is the latest craze in the digital marketing world with brands all over trying to capture a sense of timeliness. Companies are looking for opportunities to hop into the discussion and appear on top of the moment.
Travelocity was cute and picked up on the masses viewing the Bachelor while brands are looking to jump on trending hashtags with very mixed success.
However, are these bursts of creativity and the ability to get an effort approved rapidly worthy of being placed at the top of the brand pedestal? The answer is no. A singular timely tweet or post does not equal a new breakthrough simply by being quick to respond to an external event.
The reason the Oreo effort was such a success is because the team truly knows its brand. Understanding and cultivating a brand that is differentiated and takes on a real personality is a significant challenge that requires time along with careful strategy along with communication and training to ensure the value of that brand is embedded throughout an organization. Without that widespread adoption, there is significant risk in missing the mark with rapid response or engagement. Brands that have a sense of who they are can succeed in today's digital environment because those that work for companies like Coca-Cola and Oreo (which have done great work well before the Super Bowl) have a clear sense of what qualities are tied to their products and the audience they serve.
At the core of successful real-time marketing you'll find foundational brand values, audience insight, and a commitment to creatively share what the customer wants in a way that is meaningful to them rather than the brand. As companies evaluate how to catch the latest wave, it's important not to overlook the true elements that build a brand and quality reputation driven by strategy versus buzz.
Why You Should Temper Your Tabs and Focus on Your FeedPosted by Michelle (Haschka) Wright on July 11, 2011 at 9:12 AM
Facebook analytics provider PageLeveler recently released some telling stats on how users are interacting with brands on Facebook. Peruse the pages of major brands like Oreo, Skittles and Red Bull - they're all pimping their pages with flashy custom tabs and supercharged page apps. That must be what fans are looking for, right?
Lucky for those of us with marketing budgets that may be a bit more modest, that's not necessarily the case. The larger a page grows, the fewer unique page views per fan it tends to receive. The same goes for news feed impressions per fan; however, the rate of decrease is much faster for unique page views.
In general, people are more likely to interact with a brand's Facebook newsfeed than custom tabs and page applications.
That doesn't mean there's not a place for custom tabs and applications - they can be a great way to attract new followers to your page. But if you have limited resources to spend on managing your Facebook presence, your best bet seems to be focusing on your newsfeed strategy.
Newsfeed strategy is certainly a bit more art than science (though don't forget to study your Facebook Insights and figure out when your audience is most active). But there are a few tactics that we've found particularly effective - both from our experience managing Facebook pages on behalf of various Padilla clients and from observing the behavior of other successful, non-client, brands:
Whether your organization is just starting to dip its toes into the murky Facebook waters or has already developed a more advanced strategy, keep feeding your feed with a variety of relevant, timely content and your fans will surely follow.
Let's phase itPosted by Bob Brin on April 13, 2011 at 3:24 PM
We're talking social media strategy tomorrow at the Minnesota High Tech Association's spring conference (follow @mhta, hash tag #MHTAspring). The social media breakout session entitled "Social Media Strategy: What Phase Are You In and What Can You Phase Out?" will be moderated by Tom Elko from Bring Me the News. Also on the panel are Jeff Achen of GiveMN and Liem Nguyen from Dell Compellent. I'll talk a bit about our view of social media phases: Assess (surveying an organization's social media landscape), Activate (getting the organization ready for social media), Act (putting a plan together) and Amplify (turning up the volume once you've eased into the dialog).
The "What Can You Phase Out?" question comes from a previous panel discussion that I participated in with an audience of 60 CFOs at a Financial Executive International (FEI) event in February. One of the CFOs asked a very CFO-like question: "Okay, I get that we need to start doing social media. But what do we stop doing? What goes away, given that we have limited marketing staff and resources?"
I'll give you a sneak peek at my answer . . . Of course, it depends on what you're doing now and where your strategy takes you. Many organizations have already squeezed their advertising, trade show and other traditional media budgets, so it's hard to say that much more can be squeezed out of those rocks. In fact, traditional and social media fuel each other, often providing a combined effect that is more powerful. We'll see what the others think tomorrow!
Why MySpace is Dead: The Next Five Years of Social MediaPosted by on March 18, 2011 at 8:48 AM
Rest in Peace, MySpace. You will be remembered as starting one of the biggest movements to hit the internet.
In one of The Lead's blog entries from 5 years ago, a Padilla blogger declared, "If I were traditional media, I would be scared of MySpace too." In those 5 years, social media has evolved tremendously. Facebook and Twitter have taken over as the largest influencers in online networks.
In 2006, MySpace was predicted to take over the Web - It didn't.
Why? Two words: Too Limiting. The MySpace crew had the right idea when they founded it in 2005 - people want to send private messages, share photos and post comments for others to see. Facebook, however took this concept to a whole new level. Facebook allows users to share just about anything with their personal network including daily workout routines, a favorite new song, or links to interesting stories or posts.
By the time MySpace had realized they failed with bringing diverse features to their users, Facebook had rocketed into the user-friendly site it is today. MySpace also came around during a time when being online regularly or having Web access through your mobile phone was less popular.
It is the immediacy, mobility, and accessibility of posting content to our social media networks that keeps us all so engaged and attached.
So what's next? We'll see online video popularity expand and companies who aren't social now - will be.
The ability to share content will extend the life of most media. Virtually every company website, press release and blog will display some sort of "Share" button. Traditional media actually benefits here.
Still to come, mobile providers will continue bringing us faster speeds and more advanced devices to access the Web and social media. The use of smart phones is expected to surpass the usage of PC's. Joining Facebook and Twitter via mobile devices will be easier and mobile apps will continue expanding, allowing social media sites to cross features (e.g. foursquare check-ins through Twitter on your phone, etc).
Social media through mobile technology is booming and the key to success in the social media sphere is be interactive and diverse. These are the two things MySpace failed to do.
It has been nice knowing you, MySpace. So long.
"Traditional media is not enough," said Katie Couric. Do you agree?Posted by on December 7, 2010 at 2:40 PM
Watch new media thought leader, Brian Solis' short video interview with Katie Couric, anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, a correspondent for 60 Minutes, and host of "@katiecouric", her new webshow on CBSNews.com. Solis questions Couric about her experience working with new media, such as YouTube and Twitter, to reach and engage with audiences and viewers who want to consume the news and participate in the reporting process on channels other than TV broadcasts.
Couric commentary takeaways - here are a few journalism insights that we thought apply well to public relations' use of social media:
1. Don't expect your friends to be able to watch you on the news.
Takeaway: Your friends, and customers, need to be able to access you (your brand/products), and your information, where they are. Maintaining a strong presence on a company website is essential, but branching out into social networks can make it easier for people to reach you and engage with your brand/products on a more consistent, and sometimes personal, basis.
2. Take the digital learning curve in stride. It's a learning process.
Takeaway: Everyone is a student; the whole industry is experimenting and developing best practices and processes along the way.
3. Being human opens the door to connection and engagement.
Takeaway: Don't be too stiff, and then expect your friends and customers to open up.
4. Solicit questions from Twitter and Facebook followers. You can get too close to a story and miss key questions that should be asked and that your audience want to know.
Takeaway: Engage with your audience in the questions process--not just answers sharing.
For more on this interview series, visit Brian Solis TV.
About: Brian Solis is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing, communications, and publishing. Brian has led interactive and social programs for Fortune 500 companies, notable celebrities, and Web 2.0 startups.
Communications Challenges for Health Care LeadersPosted by Janet Stacey on September 22, 2010 at 9:32 AM
The first few days of October will bring Life Science CEOs together in Phoenix to discuss regulations, reimbursement, commercialization and other challenges facing the industry. I look forward to connecting with many leaders in the medical device, pharmaceutical and biotech fields.
In advance of the event, I was interviewed about issues facing the industry. Listen to the podcast if you'd like to hear our thoughts on social media, crisis management and the impact of regulations.
Do you have other advice you'd offer life science leaders? Share your thoughts.
Millennial Comm-marketers Blaze the Digital Way...Posted by on September 9, 2010 at 5:14 AM
Digital savvy Millennials, when working alongside seasoned colleagues, can help ignite and invigorate how organizations engage with their customers and other people who can impact their success. We are transforming our industry and clients' businesses and redefining customer relationship management and return on investment.
Relationships Remain King in the Digital and Real World
(click image or here for full size invitation)
Cruising Toward Social Media Success with a Customer Advocacy ProgramPosted by Michelle (Haschka) Wright on July 15, 2010 at 10:38 AM
I had the opportunity to sail on the inaugural cruise of the NCL Epic last week with a travel agent friend. (The ship's first sailing is reserved for travel agents and their guests, who all travel free). It's a smart influencer relations and awareness building strategy - wine and dine the people that are going to sell your stuff. Show them first-hand what a wonderful experience they'll be selling their customers.
The fact that people are making the effort to form communities in this way fascinates me, but it also got me thinking about what Norwegian Cruise Line could be doing to engage with these folks and tap into their excitement about the brand. They're basically being handed a plate full of social-media savvy influencers eager to talk about them in a positive light. It doesn't get much better than that!
How would we advise our clients to get started? We'd recommend they tune in via social media monitoring and identify the people talking about NCL. Then they could sponsor the planned tweet-up and create a social media ambassador club (with a cute name, of course ... The Social Skippers, Cruise Crew, NCL Socialites, etc) for attendees to join. While cruising, offer this group some exclusive perks that will encourage them to share information about the ship after they've landed. From there, elevate their experience and help them get social:
What else would you suggest they do?
Photo credit Ell Brown
How LeBron James Twissed* His Fans... And How Businesses Can Do BetterPosted by on July 14, 2010 at 6:26 AM
*An admittedly lame attempt at creating a Twitter term. In case it wasn't clear (which is likely), I was going for "Twitter Dissed."
I'm not much of an NBA fan, so I don't really care which jersey LeBron James will wear next season. But like so many others, I waited anxiously to see what would happen on July 8. Not on ESPN, however. On Twitter.
James created Twitter handle @kingjames just two days before his overhyped much-anticipated "Decision." Though I wasn't watching myself, I'm told that he gained some 300,000 followers in one day. With that sort of momentum, one would think James' PR team would jump on the opportunity to engage the fans who were eagerly looking to be engaged.
Yet on the night of the Decision, no tweets. Just a wasted opportunity.
LeBron James fans did what almost any company wishes their customers would do - they congregated in one place and tuned in to hear what he had to say. And he left them hanging.
And worse yet, he didn't deliver on a promise. Just a few hours before the "Decision," King James tweeted: "Good Morning! It's your chance to ask me a question about my decision, use #lebrondecision to submit and I'll answer them tonight."
Many tweets were posted using the designated hashtag, but King James' camp never responded. His next tweet didn't come until the next day when fans finally received the following: "What's up yall. Just landed in my new home. Thanks to all the fans and Miami organization who greeted me. The Road to History starts now!"
By then, old news.
When fans (or customers, as the case may be) meet you in a social media space, don't leave them hanging. Engage them. They appreciate the feeling that they are somehow part of your decisions and activities. And the interaction can lead to invaluable opportunities to hear what customer think, answer questions, fix problems, and change negative opinions.
Padilla's client, Rockwell Automation, is a great example of successfully executing a new Twitter handle. The company wanted to better reach manufacturers and trade media unable to attend its annual Automation Fair event in 2009 due to tightened travel budgets. Rockwell Automation created a Twitter handle for the event to increase the real-time coverage of the event. In the months before the event, the marketing and public relations team developed a detailed execution plan, and commissioned a team to see it through. By the end of the week-long event, the Twitter handle had 122 followers, and achieved nearly 1,000 click-throughs on posted links.
Some planning and execution tips that helped Rockwell Automation succeed include:
1. Starting early - Create your profile and begin building a following before the event, so that you have a following AT the event. Build interest by giving attendees a peek into what's going to happen at the event. Consider pre-event interviews with speakers. Also, be sure to communicate the event hashtag in the weeks prior, so that everyone knows to use it.
2. Planning a schedule - Many people find it hard enough to Tweet during a regular day at the office, let alone when they need to run across a trade show floor from appointment to appointment. Plan a schedule of what you'd like to Tweet and when. Rockwell Automation's list included things like "9:45 a.m. - Reminder about customer forum start time and location," "10 a.m. - Quotes from customer presentation," and "1 p.m. - Interesting new products showcased in partner booths."
3. Designating a team - Once you have a plan of everything you need to Tweet, you probably will realize there isn't one single person available on site who can schedule enough time to cover it all. Delegate to others as appropriate (but be transparent, i.e., don't pretend to be someone you're not). Rockwell Automation delegated the posting schedule to approved company Tweeters. These individuals were able to ensure all postings were made, as well as monitor Tweets from others that mentioned the company or event and work with approved spokespeople to respond.
Be careful what you (don't) tweetPosted by on July 12, 2010 at 8:52 AM
CNN fired a 20-year veteran of the network last week over a controversial tweet she posted, according to The New York Times.
Read the article for all the details, but the issue started with a tweet posted by the editor, Octavia Nasr:
Critics were quick to point out Ayatollah Fadlallah's writings and preachings inspired the Dawa Party of Iraq and a generation of militants, including the founders of Hezbollah.
CNN responded to the issuing saying the tweet did not meet CNN's editorial standards. Nasr said people were misinterpreting her tweet.
Either way, there were real world consequences that may be a direct result out of Twitter's 140-character limit.
The lesson? Be sure your tweet tells the whole story. And if it can't, be sure the tweet includes a link to a page that unpacks what a 140-character tweet cannot.
Be there or be foursquare - localized marketingPosted by on July 9, 2010 at 6:52 AM
Last week, shortly after I "checked in" at a Minneapolis restaurant (while celebrating my brother's 21st birthday), I received a text from a friend who was at a restaurant just a few blocks away. Announcing my physical whereabouts via foursquare, Twitter and Facebook paid off - not only did I get to see a friend later in the evening, but the restaurant she texted from was running a special: a free drink for everyone who "checked-in" using foursquare. Works for me!
Thanks to GPS technology in our smart phones, location-based social networks have become increasingly popular. Websites such as foursquare, Gowalla, Google Latitude and others make it simple to post your location to the web and even earn rewards (besides badges).
In April, foursquare announced it will allow businesses to claim their venue by clicking here. Why? Much like Twitter's verified accounts, claiming a venue provides the owner with access to venue control features. Providing a business with data surrounding their customers, statistics about people who check in and the opportunity to create special offers, allows for customization to meet the needs of their customers.
So where's the marketing opportunity for businesses?
For services businesses, it's a no-brainer: they can engage with their customers no matter where they are and can target them without significant investments of time or media. If their customers aren't on yet, chances are they will be soon, with an estimated 100,000 new users every week on foursquare. And foursquare's promotional tactics, such as digital punch cards and specials for the "mayor", are paying off.
Customers are discovering that "checking-in" may be just as good for their social life as it is for their wallet.
So, what's next?
Competition, if we're lucky. Other social media companies are rolling out their own versions. Google now shares foursquare tips and check-ins on Google maps, and social media giants Twitter and Facebook recently unveiled location-based features. How could you envision using foursquare in your marketing program to engage your business customers or consumers?
Be More Social than Media: 5 Strategies for Diversifying Social Media MonitoringPosted by Michelle (Haschka) Wright on June 30, 2010 at 2:28 PM
We talk a lot about listening in social media. Why it's important, how to start a listening process, who should be doing the listening, etc. Those are all important questions. But don't forget to ask one more seemingly simple question: What am I listening for? Company and brand mentions, most certainly. But you shouldn't stop there.
1. Industry trends
Look for conversations related to your industry, company growth areas, new products areas or technologies where you're investing.
Seek out discussions related to events where you're presenting or attending.
3. Research results
Keep an eye out for research that's relevant to your company or business unit, especially if it supports the work you're doing.
4. Company content
When you appear in a media article, distribute a news release or complete a case study or white paper, look for related conversations where this content may be of interest
People often turn to social media to answer their questions, however, questions may not mention your brand specifically, instead they'll probably ask a broad question - looking for a new cable provider, any recommendations? What are the latest developments in business intelligence software?
"Social" is the crux of social media, and people want to hear from people. As you broaden the scope of your monitoring program and social media interactions remember that it's important to be approachable, helpful and transparent about your company affiliation.
So, what are you listening for? Do any of these "types" stand out as opportunities? What's missing from your list?
Photo credit totalAldo
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.
Print vs. Electronic - the tradeoffsPosted by on June 18, 2010 at 5:23 AM
Five years ago, a contributor to The Lead said in their post, "news is news, and increasingly, communicated in multiple ways through multiple venues and technologies." As prophetic the author was, many of our clients still place a high value on seeing their message in a print publication, despite the many technology and social media advances.
1. Editors are given more flexibility to expand their content and link to additional resources through their web content and electronic newsletters. They feel this is a great service to their readers.
What do you think? What are the values you place on the electronic word--or printed word? Where is your highest value?
Will It Blend? How to Mix Offline Efforts with Online Customer ServicePosted by Michelle (Haschka) Wright on March 26, 2010 at 9:10 AM
Customer service and social media go together like Facebook and recreational stalking. Okay - maybe it's not that bad, but the web has become an open forum for customer feedback. Why wait for the next available representative when you can complain about your broken internet to a few hundred of your closest friends on Twitter? Is your washing machine on the fritz? Why write a letter to some faceless executive when you can post a rant on your blog to thousands of dedicated readers instead?
It's true. Social media can help solve customer problems. But it doesn't happen automatically.First, companies must be tuned into the social media channels where people are talking about them. They also must have an internal process in place that allows them to be helpful in their response. Only then can they can turn a potentially negative situation or dissatisfied customers into allies.
We're finding that when it comes to customer service via social media, thoughtful often means taking the conversation offline.
Padilla monitors hundreds of conversations for our clients daily. We see the good ... and the not-so-good. The trick is deciding when someone is just looking to pick a fight and when there's a real opportunity to win over a customer.
When it comes to effective customer service, the same rules of engagement apply whether you're solving customer problems from a call center, in person or from a laptop. The question you need to keep top of mind is this: Can anything be done to remedy this situation?
Recently, one of our clients had a great opportunity to test the waters when a customer posted a lengthy rant entitled "Why Does [Manufacturing Company] Hate Its Customers?" on his blog. The customer aired his frustration over not being able to access the company's online support database.
We flagged the post and recommended our client respond by posting a comment with the name of someone the customer could contact for direct help (in the spirit of Twitter feed @comcastcares). Our client (the ever customer-service minded) did us one better. They created a customer service ticket and contacted him directly - via phone - to troubleshoot the problem.
Just as our client was preparing to post a comment to the blog explaining the action taken, the blogger posted an update of his own. He gave the company kudos for listening and explained that they'd helped solve the problem.
The critic became ally. Mission accomplished!
Good customer service goes beyond resolution. Our client called the blogger a few days later to make sure the problem was fully solved. As a result, the blogger posted a lengthy account detailing the great service provided and expressing his appreciation for our client listening and making sure they took care of him.
Still not convinced?
If your customers are online, then using social media for customer service is absolutely a good idea and it's something you should be doing (hint: they are online). However, it's easy to get social media tunnel vision. Sometimes you need to step back and think about what you can do that would be most helpful. Oftentimes that means moving the interaction into "real life."
Are you using social media for customer service? How's it working?
Stop, Collaborate and Listen.Posted by Michelle (Haschka) Wright on February 5, 2010 at 3:22 PM
In the world of social media marketing (and early 90's rappers), it's easy to get caught up in finding more followers, sharing the latest app. and getting more mentions. But all the hype is pretty worthless if you don't remember one simple rule: be helpful. That was the theme of best-selling author and social media guru Chris Brogan's keynote on digital reputation management held at Best Buy's headquarters this week.
Brogan worked his way thorough the social media framework he advocates - listen, connect, and publish - and shared a number of insights along the way (based on content from his book Trust Agents).
I've had a little time to process the event and here are my top 5 insights from Brogan's presentation:
1. Be helpful.
Being helpful isn't about broadcasting. And it isn't about control. It's about listening.
To listen well, you need to listen bigger.Think of listening as a committed long-term relationship. It takes time and effort to keep the magic alive. You have to dive beneath the surface. Get to know what's really going on. Ask all those "getting to know you" questions and then dig deeper. Where do your customers hang out online? Who do they trust? What do they like to do? What do they like about you? What are their biggest challenges? What bugs them?
It's practically impossible to figure out how you can help someone when you haven't been paying attention to the problem. And luckily being helpful doesn't always mean you have to fix the problem.
Make it all about others.
Brogan shared a little rule of thumb: for every time you comment about yourself, make 12 comments about other people. Point someone in the right direction. Give props to a fan. Share a resource. Connect people. It's the little things that make long-lasting and meaningful connections.
If you're going to talk, say something useful.
Gone are the days of organizations relying on traditional media to spread the word about their products and services. Today, thanks to blogging tools, video platforms, photo sharing, etc., companies have the power to tell their own stories in new, unique, and low-cost ways. But just because it's cheap doesn't mean you should do it. Minimally, your stories need to be relevant to your consumers. If you really want to make a splash, you need to take the next step and write something that's actually helpful.
Keep in mind that you can make all the news you want but if you haven't connected with people willing to listen, you'll be talking to an empty room. Companies that have built a tribe of loyal followers have a unique opportunity to tell their own stories.
Make sure your helpers have the right tools for the job.
You wouldn't start building a house without talking to contractors, designers and inspectors and getting the proper permits. Nor should you dive into connecting and creating content via social media without making sure you've convened the right stakeholders and rolled out the proper policies.
Brogan didn't cover this piece, but it's an important one. Identify the people in your organization that will be affected by social media - it's probably people in marketing, public relations, HR, internal communications, IT, and legal (but it could be others like sales and manufacturing, depending on the goals of the program).
Once the group is solidified, bring them together to come up with a policy everyone can live with. For some companies, it's as simple as "don't be stupid." For others, it comes down to adjusting policies that are already in place. Getting the right folks involved and establishing ground rules early on will save headaches down the road.
How are you showing your customers that you're listening? Are you being helpful?
Get your boss on the Twitter highway.Posted by Bob Brin on January 10, 2010 at 5:22 PM
When your boss looks at Twitter, she may see drivel in an indecipherable shorthand akin to gang graffiti. To get her attention, you'll need to show her the dialog she's missing out on. Partners talking to competitors. Analysts talking about the company or products. Maybe people talking about her. Once you've shown her there's a big world out there, give her a crash course in the rules of the road, including your corporate social media guidelines. Then set her up on TweetDeck or some similar dashboard to make it as easy as possible. Here are some suggestions to get your boss rolling.
Circle the neighborhood
Head for the big city
Most execs already have the tools for Twitter: confidence, something to say, great networking skills and common sense. With a little coaching from you, they should be able to see beyond the drivel to what drives business.
In Social Media Monitoring, You Can't Always 'Trust Your Instruments'Posted by on November 25, 2009 at 1:55 PM
We do quite a bit of social media monitoring for clients here at Padilla, using some fancy and some not-so tools in the process. However, one thing I've learned is that you can't always trust your instruments. While monitoring tools like Radian6 and others are great for gaining insight into a particular topic, you can't rely solely on their results. In addition to these tools, you also need to do a bit of hands-on searching. This is where you manually research sites such as LinkedIn (which by the way prohibits access by monitoring tools) to get a deeper dive into the conversations going on. This is especially true for LinkedIn's Q&A section, which we've found to be an untapped well of new business opportunities for ourselves and our clients.
Another instrument included with the major social media monitoring tools is an automated sentiment feature, which provides you with an idea for whether a conversation about you is positive, negative or neutral. However, automating this process is difficult. I sometimes find that a very positive mention is rated as negative - simply due to the fact that a word like "sucks" appears somewhere in the conversation, but not necessarily next to your brand name. The automation certainly helps get you part of the way there. But you need to verify.
Finally, monitoring tools don't provide you with a list of next steps or strategic recommendations based on the data, which is why you're monitoring in the first place. It's great to know what's out there, but even better to know what to do with it. At the end of the day, these tools are an absolutely necessary component for gaining insight into the conversations about you, your company and/or your brand. However, it's equally important to look beyond these tools and do some investigating on your own. The extra time you'll spend will definitely be worth the effort.
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..."
Pitching Via Twitter: WCCO Meet the Journalist Part 3Posted by on October 13, 2009 at 5:22 PM
According to what seems to be every self-proclaimed social media guru in the world, Twitter is the most momentous development since explorer Sir Francis Drake returned from his circumnavigation of the globe and discovered happy hour. Whatever its long-term impact is, Twitter certainly has made a huge difference in the way PR professionals and journalists interact. We asked WCCO reporter Jason DeRusha and WCCO news director Mike Caputa what they think of being pitched stories on Twitter and you can watch part 3 of our WCCO Meet the Journalist series to find out what they said.
And just in case you're in too big a hurry to watch a video that clocks in under three minutes, I'll sum it up -- they're big fans.
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.
Twitter finds a seat on press rowPosted by John Scally on August 26, 2009 at 1:52 PM
As the traditional print media continues to shed reporters, a willing army of bloggers and micro-bloggers is eagerly filling the journalistic void. This week, a major landmark for social media sports reporting occurred when NCAA-member, St. John's University, in NYC, announced that it was credentialing Peter Robert Casey as its first Twitter reporter. As a result, Casey will be granted a spot on press row for the upcoming basketball season. You can follow Casey on Twitter @peter_r_casey. He is currently among the Top 10 most-followed basketball-related users on Twitter and most-followed basketball-related individual who is not a professional basketball player, team or coach.
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.
foursquare: Because Twitter Has No Stinking BadgesPosted by on August 4, 2009 at 9:42 AM
Twitter has gotten the vast majority of social media wonk love in the past year, but another application has caught hold with the cool kids recently -- foursquare. By "cool kids," we of course refer to the same 18-34 year old tech-savvy group with a ridiculous amount of disposable income that jumpstarted the Twitter frenzy. And by "caught hold," we of course mean it has done for them what World of Warcraft has for obsessed shut-ins with social anxiety disorder and adult acne.
foursquare's premise is simple - where Twitter asks "What are you doing" and gives you 140 characters to answer, foursquare asks "where are you," using SMS, the web, and an iPhone specific application to allow users to check in at various places. Billed as an "urban mix-tape," the idea is to help people in the 21 metro areas it's available in find new places to go and things to do, similar foursquare's precursor, Dodgeball. Like Twitter, you follow a set of friends and are kept updated on their movements through the service. In practice, here's how it works:
1. You check in (as shown in the screenshot below)
So far, it's nothing you can't do with a little extra typing in Twitter, right? That's where the insidious nature of the service starts - the points and badges. Yes, the same tactics that keep Boy Scouts going back for just one more clove hitch or sheet knot have caught the attention of hipsters throughout the U.S. You don't just use foursquare, you play it. Every time you check in on foursquare, you get points. And you can compare your points against your friends' on a personalized leaderboard, showing who has scored the most that week. Even more addictive, by accomplishing different feats involving checking in, you can score badges such as:
- The Explorer Badge - 25 check ins to unique venues
While this is only a small sample, the potential for marketers is enormous. First, foursquare allows you to identify the "mayor" of a particular venue - the person who checks in there the most. Many venues are already offering special deals for their respective mayors - from free drinks to discounted tickets and other perks. Partnering with foursquare on special badges associated with events, such as movie premieres, block parties, and other elements is certainly within the realm of possibilities as well. Plus, Twitter has proven that humanizing executives, especially at consumer products companies (Zappos being a great example) ties consumers closer to the brand and enhances loyalty - foursquare can provide an even more intimate window into the lives of company figures, creating tighter associations between a brand and a consumer's identity.
Facebook Launches Vanity URLs - Do you need to grab your brand's name?Posted by on June 10, 2009 at 2:36 PM
By now, your organization probably has one or more Facebook profiles or fan pages. Here's some important news from the site:
Currently, Facebook-profile URLs are long and contain many parameters. For example, John Doe's URL might read:
Beginning Friday, Facebook members (including businesses) will be able to choose a "vanity" URL, providing an easier way to share your profile and allow people (and search engines) to find you. For example, John Doe's new URL might read:
What to Do
If your company has a Facebook profile or fan page, you should take advantage of your own vanity URL - both for branding purposes and to prevent someone else from hijacking your company's name. Facebook has provided businesses the opportunity to do this ahead of the launch. Just fill out this form and someone from the Facebook team should be in touch with you.
A more detailed overview of this topic can be found on the Facebook blog.
Ultimately, unique/custom URLs go beyond Facebook making your Web properties more memorable and findable and giving users an idea of who you are and what you're about. In a cluttered world of over 100 million Web sites, this can be a small differentiator with a big impact.
PR, Social Media and the Multi-Disciplined ApproachPosted by Bob Brin on May 20, 2009 at 8:29 AM
Social media sounds a lot like PR some days:
That's not to say it's just the same. It isn't. But the reason PR is finding a natural transition to social media, is based on evolutionary factors:
What PR doesn't always understand
In the end, what's needed, of course, is a multi-disciplined communications approach. And while PR folks need to leverage the affinity of their skill sets, we can't get lazy and think of sparking conversation as "getting coverage" in the new media or that we've done our job by getting some good hits. The conversation goes on.
Social media and the approachable brandPosted by Bob Brin on February 25, 2009 at 7:59 AM
Social media goes beyond marketing and networking. It's an opportunity to create or amplify an approachable brand. It's all about opening up and letting people in. Show your personality (even your multiple personalities). Expose yourself and let go a little. That means you're vulnerable. And with vulnerability comes mistakes. Those, in turn, become opportunities. What great personality isn't flawed? The approachable brand has a personality that is human, able to show humility and has a sense of humor (even about its own hubris). Recovering from missteps is easier and faster with those components to your personality.
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!
Will Smith's ultimate touchdown dancePosted by Bob Brin on December 15, 2008 at 9:16 AM
Kudos to our buds over at Threevolts who helped Second Harvest with this video in which Will Smith choreographs Bernard Berrian. Berrian then "performed" on his second touchdown in yesterday's Vikings game against Arizona . . . a great social media idea with lots of folks watching to see if the dance got a chance. Touchdown Threevolts!
Burger King's Whopper Virgins world's purest tasteless test?Posted by Bob Brin on December 8, 2008 at 8:43 AM
Crispin Porter & Bogusky, BK's agency, traveled across the globe to remote locations finding indigenous people to participate in a taste test: Whopper vs Big Mac. Participants in the study ('Whopper Virgins') had never seen a hamburger or been exposed to ads from the fast food giants. The whole concept (see Ad Age article) has been stirring up some controversy. Just do a Google Search on Whopper Virgins. Big surprise, given they're testing food that's already under fire on people who haven't been exposed to it, and shouldn't. Next, let's test dog food on Arctic wolves.
I don't know. Maybe it's just an expensive spoof on marketing and social media mania. Then let's not make the joke on people from another culture struggling to pick up a floppy slider. I'd rather see Burger King spend the money on helping those people sustain their culture and live better. I'd bet their target market cares more than they realize.
Check out the full-length viral video.
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.
Sure to be an entertaining conference: MIT's Futures of Entertainment 3Posted by Bob Brin on November 12, 2008 at 11:31 AM
The Blair Witch Project . . . meets As the World Turns . . . meets Academia. This event is sponsored by the MIT Convergence Culture Consortium, and brings together media industries professionals and media studies academics to discuss the current state and ongoing trends in media. Includes panels on how value is counted in the media industries, understanding audiences, social media, the comic book industry, franchising and transmedia, media distribution in a global marketplace, and the intersection of academia and the media industries. Check it out. Happens Nov. 21 and 22, on MIT's campus.
Anytime Fitness gets a mention in blog about doing things at all hoursPosted by Bob Brin on November 7, 2008 at 10:49 AM
Our client Anytime Fitness got a nice mention today in the AOL WalletPop blog in the article "There's nothing you can't do at 3 a.m." that posted today. The AOL news site is written in a hip and trendy style and receives over 105,000 unique visitors per day. It's a good example of tying in to the topic of the day -- people finding ways to make the most of a busy work day/night while tightening the belt and the waist line all at the same time.
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.
How young people get their news shows e-mail still not deadPosted by Bob Brin on May 23, 2008 at 11:26 AM
After I officially declared e-mail not dead in a recent post, I am now seeing evidence supporting my bold claim (previously my research was based on a survey of my own e-mail inbox, some 1600 messages strong). It was only a few years ago that e-mail was called the killer application and then more recently, I've heard social media experts from other firms refer to it in the past tense. From killer to deceased in a few short years.
"Also, the survey found that 16 of the 18 participants got their news through e-mail, a medium which traditional media like newspapers rarely employ."
Then again, is a survey with 18 participants research? Okay, I'm off to delete some e-mails so that the IT department doesn't kill me.
PR and search marketingPosted by Bob Brin on April 9, 2008 at 5:05 AM
I hate to break it to you, but your Web site is not the center of the universe. Google is. I heard a presentation recently in which a Dell representative said that Google's search results page is your new home page. That's where people begin their search on your organization and what happens there is likely to stay etched in their memory.
PR (and I don't mean just publicity) is one of the most important disciplines for influencing what goes on in the search engine marketing space. PR and search marketing go hand-in-hand because your outreach efforts are vital to getting other web sites pointing to your site, as well as generating great content for your site(s). We think of search marketing as a solar system. At the center of our search engine marketing solar system is Google. How warmly this big star shines on you depends primarily on your site's popularity with other credible & popular sites and the volume and quality of content on your own site.
Go where the life forms are. Create presences on directories, Wikipedia, Facebook, etc. In addition to being where the people are, this creates more links back to your site and increases your popularity. Of course, the popularity of those sites reflects upon your popularity.
Get mentioned by the experts. Media properties are search engine magnets. Because of their vast amount of content and subscribers/visitors, you need a strong presence in the online media.
Send out your keyword probes. Use search-optimized press releases that will land on news sites and content aggregators throughout your universe. Place articles on sites looking for expert-written content. Post real commentary on other blogs.
Set up satellites and moons. Build microsites, blogs and even your own social networks. But remember it's not about tricking people or shallow content. Content has to deliver real value.
Thus the need for real, substantive content and communications efforts. Web 2.0 is the age of authenticity. And your success will depend on how well you explore and colonize the search solar system and how effectively you manage your messages and reputation out there.
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!
But All The Cool Kids Are Doing It!Posted by on October 11, 2007 at 5:26 PM
Let’s face it. Sometimes using social media as a marketing tool is not worth a company’s time. If your company is considering implementing a social media strategy, I recommend asking three important questions before doing so:
1.) Is your target audience heavily involved in the social medium you’re looking to use (e.g. MySpace, FaceBook, Digg, Blogs, etc.)? - If your audience doesn’t spend a significant amount of time on the social media scene, it’s probably not worth your time. This may sound a little, “Marketing 101,” but not surprisingly, we see this again and again.
3.) If social media does make sense for your company, do you have the time and resources to keep it up to date? – Companies will often invest in a social media campaign, get it up and running, then leave it alone until it becomes more lonely and depressed than social. Keeping content fresh, interacting with your audience and adding new ideas is what will keep them engaged.
Much like high school, being cool can have its drawbacks too.
New-School MarketingPosted by on August 15, 2007 at 10:48 AM
An article from AdAge published earlier this week discusses a recent trend of marketing executives invading the personal digital-spaces of college kids everywhere through students’ favorite online hangout: Facebook.
What’s interesting is claiming that the Facebook bandwagon among marketers is not about selling stuff for clients, but for “their own communications and networking purposes.” I’ll use a geek-term here for my reply - ”LOL,” because it IS about selling stuff for clients. Any marketer justifying their time on Facebook as “research” backs up my point. What are their research discoveries being used for? My guess -- drum roll -- to sell products.
Agencies know they have to understand the new media world to market to younger generations. It’s ok to dive in, but let’s not kid ourselves by jumping into the deep end - spending hours “pimping our profiles,” when many of us just learned how to swim.
A Social Network for EveryonePosted by on March 8, 2007 at 10:48 AM
Companies are shifting the way they view social networking, according to a recent article published in the New York Times. While MySpace and Facebook still attract millions of visitors each month, the niche community - and more flexible, personalized networks - is a growing trend, especially in B2B. New sites are letting “ordinary people, large companies and even presidential candidates create social Web sites tailored for their own customers, friends, fans and employees.”
Moms visit CafeMom.com and MommyBuzz.com to share photos and find advice; Senator Barack Obama unveiled My.BarackObama.com for supporters of his presidential campaign; Nike created a community for soccer aficionados at Joga.com and boomers are flocking to the 50+ Eons.com.
Still can’t find a group for you? Just stop at Ning and create your own.
Thumbs down on mobile phones aloftPosted by Bob Brin on February 5, 2007 at 9:14 PM
The Minneapolis Star Tribune today mentioned that Northwest Airlines CEO Doug Steenland got a standing ovation at a recent presentation for saying, as a flyer, he's not keen on allowing mobile phone conversation on flights. If Northwest does eventually get phone-whipped into allowing this, I say we bring back the phone booth. Only let's also allow smoking in there so that it stinks as bad as it would to sit between a couple of high-flying users. If you must do mobile communications from your plane seat, use text messaging. That's why we have opposable thumbs.
Social Media Twitch on TwitterPosted by Bob Brin on January 24, 2007 at 12:15 PM
Okay, now we're so obsessed with our social network that we need to tell all our friends what we're up to at every waking or sleeping moment. Twitter takes instant messaging to a desperate level by giving us a way of letting people know what we're doing: "eating a bagel" or "thinking about inertia." It'll keep your posse from having any time to meet other people because they'll be too busy keeping up with you. Like a social GPS, it could be a fun way to let your best buds or fam know your immediate whereabouts and the state of mind. But I doubt others will care.
Anyway, headed into my performance review . . .
Thinking TheaterPosted by Bob Brin on November 15, 2006 at 9:52 AM
Bang! author, Linda Kaplan Thaler says a big bang marketing idea requires theater. Here's a theatrical must read for PR folks -- Ad Age's Bob Garfield gives his analysis* of the hugely viral YouTube video by Dove in which a Plain Jane is made Super Vixen before our eyes in fast forward. Of course, Ogilvy started with a model who was more appropriate for an acne cream commercial than the cover of Vogue. (It's the human equivalent of "Pimp-My-Ride" replacing everything but the engine block.) That's the drama part, combined with a "calling out" to the ad and beauty industry to be more real.
PR meets advertising on a social media stage.
* That link may require an Ad Age subscription.
Pitch 2.0Posted by on August 1, 2006 at 8:53 AM
Add the agency pitch to the lengthy list of user-generated videos on YouTube. Agency.com recently pitched Subway’s interactive business by creating a video of themselves in the pitch process and then posting the video to YouTube.
Is this gratuitous backslapping or a nifty idea?
Don't look for PSB "The Making Of..." pitches on YouTube anytime soon...it's energy best spent generating great ideas for clients and prospects.
PR InsensitivityPosted by on May 15, 2006 at 2:13 PM
Microsoft technical evangelist and blogger Robert Scoble has very publicly told the world about his reflections and relationship with his mother who recently suffered a debilitating stroke. If you’re a reader, you know what he and his family have gone through over the past weeks. So you’ll pardon Scoble if he takes swings at the public relations industry’s cluelessness over blogs and, moreover, people.
Scoble receives pitches on a regular basis from PR folk, and recently he has had to stop accepting the usual swag heaped upon him from the industry. But as his mother became ill, PR people continued to send him pitches, and he lashed out at their insensitivity.
Good show, Robert. If we’re not reading the blog, we don’t understand what you do, what you’re passionate about or what is happening in your life. To pitch you – or anyone else in the blog world or mainstream media – without an inkling of what goes on in your day is disrespectful and makes us look like dolts.
We in the public relations industry would be well-served to read Scoble’s post and realize that, though the demands of our clients can sometimes be overwhelming, we need to stay on top of targeted bloggers, the media – and our game.
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?
Podcast ShmodcastPosted by on April 21, 2006 at 10:04 AM
Good post on podcasting today from Steve Rubel of MicroPersuasion. The question in Rubel’s post is whether podcasting is evolutionary or revolutionary. I’m not sure it’s either. But what makes a podcast different from any MP3 file available for download from Web sites prior to the advent of the iPod and its ilk? Or what makes it different from anything you might hear on the radio, minus occasional profanity?
Most days I download Adam Curry’s “Daily Source Code” podcast and play it on my laptop. The behavior is akin to listening to the radio – after all, he was a DJ, and the former MTV VJ’s podcast sounds like a drive-time radio show. I don’t think I’m listening to a podcast. I think I’m listening to the radio.
The use of audio in electronic format is almost as old as the Web. I’m sure many of us played MP3s with early versions of WinAmp on our computers nearly 10 years ago. The only difference today is that now these MP3s can be portable. So, the question to ask as you consider podcasting is whether portability is a key behavior of your target audience.
Podcasting should not be advocated just because it can be done, or because marketers have a few extra bucks to throw at a podcast. That’s waste and it’s off-strategy. Use audio when it makes sense and can help you achieve your goals. If it’s a podcast, great. If not, that’s OK, too. And if it doesn’t make sense, then consider another way to reach your target audience.
GM understands social mediaPosted by on April 4, 2006 at 4:28 PM
Here’s a company that gets social media: General Motors. OK, “gets” is a pretty strong word. Sure, they had one of the first blogs from Executive Row (self-serving as it is). But now they have a make-your-own TV spot for the Chevy Tahoe, and they’ve subjected the brand and the company to a myriad of anti-General Motors/Chevy/Tahoe commercials.
And they’ve left them out there for all to see.
It’s not “social” if you don’t share with others. GM understands this and is willing to take the hit in the hopes that it is building good will online even if it is using as the subject a vehicle that guzzles gas like a thirsty marathoner guzzles water.
Another key element in this is GM’s willingness to make it a two-way affair. In return for engaging with the brand, Chevy enters users into a contest for trips and a Tahoe.
So, whether you’re an SUV enthusiast, an environmentalist or a budding commercial director, you have a shot at a prize.
There are other seemingly viral promotions out there that are one-way, with a pre-supposition that the reward is interaction with the brand itself. That makes them viral all right…viruses against which consumers should be inoculated.
Marketers must blend their sensibilities regarding consumer behavior and moving product with this new breed of two-way interaction. This space is not your daddy’s free-standing-inserting-shelf-talking-30-second-spotting communications vehicle. It requires engaging the consumer in new ways, taking chances with the brand and stepping in front of the competition. GM may not sell more Tahoes with this, but at the very least, they engaged consumers who will recall the engagement the next time they search for a car. They stepped in front of the competition and made a fair trade with potential customers.
BTW, yes, I made a commercial. View at your own risk.
Share and share alikePosted by on March 14, 2006 at 4:20 PM
The overarching (and overwhelming) theme of this year's SXSW interactive sessions has been content creation and sharing -- something that Corporate America needs to embrace now.
Panel after panel have underscored the idea that the mass of humanity online want to create, recreate and share content. Companies may not even realize the amount and kinds of content they have to share with their customers or consumers. Sharing this content, and letting the end users play with this content, can create a tremendous upside for business. Think Nike and their campaign to let you design and order your own shoes.
Last post from SXSW...I'm off to the airport!
Rethinking the podcastPosted by on March 12, 2006 at 2:20 PM
I must admit that I was one of those guys who thought that podcasting was essentially a fancy way to blah-blah, record that blah-blah in an MP3 format and either put it on your Web site for access or deliver it via RSS. After sitting through a session on podcasting at South by Southwest (SXSW) today, I've changed my view.
The session this morning focused on the whys or why-nots of podcasting an event. Much of what we do as public relations professionals is recommend, create and execute events on behalf of our clients. It's simplistic to think of recording an event -- whether it's a presentation, performance, etc. -- as merely an MP3 file sitting there waiting to be downloaded. That's where my viewpoint was wrong. Duh.
PR pros can take advantage of podcasting in a way that isn't necessarily a banal, two-minute interview or even a self-centered talk show. For example, what if you were a not-for-profit organization and you hosted an event/Webcast designed to persuade a legislature and other key influencers to support a particular issue. And during that Webcast, you found the live Web audience to be small. Instead of simply hoping that people navigate to the site to view the Webcast, what if the session was recorded, converted into an MP3 format and then was pushed to those key influencers by email, or mailed on CD or other media?
There are many technical and content considerations when determining what to record and deliver as a podcast. We need to be aware of issues such as sound engineering, audio redundancy and fair use as we develop our programs. But most importantly, we need to make a solid business case for creating a podcast. Our approach is to be strategic -- how will this help us meet our communications and business objectives? If we can answer that question and provide a solid, strategic foundation for the podcast, the possibiliites will be great and plentiful.
More from SXSW later...
Wal-Mart, Edelman and transparencyPosted by on March 8, 2006 at 3:38 PM
Can we have it both ways in our relationship with bloggers?
Can we, on one hand, reach out to bloggers with our messages and encourage them to spread the word?
On the other hand, can we chide bloggers for sometimes being wanton communicators with no ethical boundaries who can cause irreparable damage to client reputations?
Disclosure: I don’t like Wal-Mart for many reasons. But I find it hard to argue with its approach to reaching out to bloggers via its public relations agency (Edelman). The issue, as reported in The New York Times yesterday, is whether the bloggers who received the pitch and wrote favorably about Wal-Mart were obligated to be transparent – that is, report that they were pitched and/or used content provided to them by Wal-Mart/Edelman. What Wal-Mart and Edelman did was neither wrong nor unethical. What the bloggers did is questionable – if they desire to be considered news gatherers and reporters on the same level as professional journalists.
Whether you think pitching bloggers is good or bad, bloggers bring this issue on themselves. The unwritten rule among bloggers is that you are to be transparent. In a sense, it’s their code of ethics. Professional journalists abide by a more formal code of ethics as set forth by the Society of Professional Journalists. But bloggers are not professional journalists (though some bloggers, this one included, are or have been professional journalists). Bloggers have a responsibility to let their readers know that, while they may take sides on an issue, they were approached by a public relations firm or a corporation if they use information from those sources. In this case, mentioning that they received information from Wal-Mart would have been appropriate.
Bloggers are highly influential and should not be ignored. But as Edelman and Wal-Mart are discovering, you can’t count on your message getting through clearly each time or escaping without scrutiny. It’s the nature of the beast.
In the spirit of revealing source material, following are links to information I used for this entry:
The New York Times: Wal-Mart Blog PR Backfires
Blog measurement baloneyPosted by on February 7, 2006 at 3:57 PM
Steve Rubel at MicroPersuasion today tackled the mess that is blog measurement. Statistics vary widely on the number of blogs, blog readership and the ill-conceived unique visit. We need to understand the problem, or problems as they exist. Rubel says current measurements of traffic data or unique are not good indicators of blog use. True. But we also must go beyond the actual measurements.
If I walked into a client’s office and said “Bill, you had 90,000 unique visits to your blog last month,” where’s the value in that? One could argue that if a target had been set (say 75,000), then 15,000 more unique visits beat the target. Success, right? Not quite.
What was said in those blogs? To whom was it said? What was the substance of comments, if any were submitted? How is this information relevant to the client’s business?
This is the inherent flaw in blog measurement products. To-date, they’re nothing more than window dressing and justification for keeping the meter running or getting a foot in the door. Without contextual interpretation and analysis built into the measurement, there’s no value.
The Public RecordPosted by on February 2, 2006 at 1:45 PM
I think Facebook, My Space and other social networks are wonderful. Communicators need to pay attention to these social networks, because as our youth grow into adults, I am convinced that this is where they will retrieve their news and will continue to share information with friends. We need to be there.
I do have one concern about social networks, and that is that many fine people who either are entering our industry or have been in it for a few years are creating a digital profile of themselves that their employers or prospective employers will see – and they won’t be happy.
Here’s a Facebook excerpt from a recent communications graduate’s profile:
Interests: …dancing around in my underwear and singing at the top of my lungs in an attempt to make [name deleted] laugh her ass off, quesadillas, facebook fantasies, drunken debauchery on the Apple River (I seriously doubt that topless keg stands and making out with [name deleted] was involved in this scenario)….
I’m not passing judgment on this person – casting the first stone would be hypocritical. Many fine party animals have gone on to greatness in this industry. But prior to social networking, employers have never had such a clear window into a prospect’s life. Now, people are unwittingly leaving a digital and permanent trail of their lives online.
BTW, you'll find that I have a profile on Facebook, but if you're going there looking for tales or photos of my college years, forget it. They don't exist (as far as you know).
Who’s your marketer, baby?Posted by on January 24, 2006 at 10:04 AM
There’s been a lot of talk lately about being “transparent” when conducting word-of-mouth campaigns or touting something in a blog. We’re all for it, especially if you’re an advocate being paid to talk about a client’s product or service.
But what about those who simply like something and become your fans (read: successful WOM campaign)? Their valentines come straight from the heart. So, how does the audience tell the difference between what’s done by pros and what’s done by the proletariat? And how does that affect a company’s reputation?
Look at Burger King – images of The King are being traded across the transom in fast order. The King is on the beach. The King is on a horse. The King is…well, you get the picture. Were these uploaded by BK’s ad agency? Loyal customers? Ne’er-do-wells?
The fallout from no transparency is trust. The King makes me laugh (and frightens me, just a little). But each time I consume a viral King message, with no notion of its source, my gut reaction is skepticism, and I drift farther from the Whopper (no cheese, no mayo).
Consumer De-generated MediaPosted by Bob Brin on January 11, 2006 at 9:33 AM
Yes, with today's consumer-generated media, you too can be an author, a critic, an analyst, a hotdog, a weenie. Take Wikipedia, where anyone can not only contribute articles to this online encyclopedia (if, say, you're an expert on pileated woodpeckers), you can even edit other people's stuff.
Imagine the controversy that could erupt should one contributor believe she's more expert than the expert. Better yet, don't imagine. Go to this article on the ancient civilization of Kush which I tripped upon while helping my 6th grader with her homework. The article looks peaceful as a sand dune, but under the "history" tab at the top of the page, you find a not-so-civilized war waging beneath the surface as one user tries to edit the editor (reads chronologically from bottom up).
Consumer "Deeceevoice" attempts to change the content and says:
Stop this false, racialist dichotomy of sub-Saharan and North Africa. Both were the sites of early BLACK African civilizations
No need to bring modern racial divisions into our Ancient history articles.
If you link to Deeceevoice's profile page, you find a warning about the page from none-other than Jimbo Wales, founder of Wikipedia:
I am strongly advising this user to replace this offensive rant with a calm discussion of the issues the page raises. There is absolutely nothing wrong with raising questions about systemic bias and how racism and other hostile ideologies can affect Wikipedia negatively, but this page is not contributing constructively to the debate. Do not disrupt Wikipedia to make a point.
Deeceevoice then volleys with a link to his/her page, which includes [WARNING] swastikas, offensive photos and crude language, which deeceevoice says others injected. (see comments)
Consumer-generated media can definitely give power to the people. Just be prepared to deal with dialogue that degenerates into graffiti and graphic violence.
Hot DishPosted by on December 6, 2005 at 11:19 AM
We Midwesterners know a good hot dish when we see one. We also know a bad hot dish. Wikipedia, the free, online encyclopedia edited by all contributors, is somewhere in between. It’s good because there are nearly 1 million entries on just about any topic you can imagine. It’s also good because of its communal nature – you and I can contribute to the collective knowledge.
But when people take advantage of the collective (or are perceived to take advantage), all hell breaks loose, as it did over the past week with two separate issues.
Adam Curry, yes, that Adam Curry, he of the hair-band lid, vjay background and proclaimed Podfather, entered Wikipedia to edit the entry on podcasting. Immediately, some claimed he edited history. He claims he’s reporting his version of the truth.
A more egregious incident occurred this week when it was suggested in a Wikipedia entry that John Seigenthaler, Sr., former advisor to Robert Kennedy in the early 1960s, was involved in the assassinations of Kennedy and his brother, John F. Kennedy. Seigenthaler repudiated the claim in an op-ed piece in USA Today.
Because of these incidents, Wikipedia is requiring contributors to register, which, of course, won’t stop people from submitting erroneous entries. Wikipedia is based on a common trust among contributors.
I’ll still use Wikipedia. But, like any good journalist, I’ll double-check my information before it’s used.
BTW, as I submit this entry, Seigenthaler is being interviewed on NPR's "Talk of the Nation."