After Congress told Detroit's Big Three CEOs to get back on their private jets and come back with a detailed plan the next time they came asking for a $25 billion loan, it was abundantly clear that GM, Ford and Chrysler had all terribly missed the mark from a PR and communications perspective.
Many times, the ability to remain silent is the best communication strength you could have. When is silence not good?
What could we learn from the masters of English about great communications? Is there a set of rules we could apply?
Apple's apology for the shortcomings of its Maps app demonstrates once again why its branding goes so far beyond what most marketers are willing to consider. Every CMO should take note of the power of acknowledging reality.
We received a reprieve most of the time in colloquial English, but never in written English. Splitting infinitives is not just forgivable; it is, in fact, “a sacred duty.” Especially when not splitting the infinitive clouds the meaning of your communications.
To get a glimpse of what tomorrow's young global managers might be like as leaders, take a look at how today's young people think about communications.
It takes years to build a good reputation, but seconds to damage it beyond repair, as executives at companies from Dell to Domino’s certainly have found out. This was a sentiment echoed by executives at the Senior Corporate Communication Management Conference in New York when discussing social media and corporate reputation and how to embrace the new reality of immediate communications.
When part of my garden fence fell down this week, my dog was delighted, my neighbor exposed, my wife mortified and my impatiens completely flattened. After spending a couple of hours jerry-rigging the crumbling wood back into place, I realized this experience was a convenient if not appropriate metaphor for the challenge marketers face in dealing with social media within their organizations. Like a dog with a bone, consumers are thrilled with the tumbling divide between themselves and the brands they choose to engage with. Unfortunately, big companies do not necessarily share this enthusiasm, treating social media as yet another channel to be managed by an existing department like marketing or corporate communications and, in doing so, limiting the opportunity for a truly new approach.
In 2009 Katie O'Brien was looking for an agency partner to help her launch a major digital effort. The global digital marketing manager at Ben & Jerry's issued a brief to a traditional digital shop and a traditional PR agency, Edelman. The plans they brought back were, in Ms. O'Brien's own words, "night and day." The biggest difference, she said, was that one understood social media better than the other -- and it wasn't the digital agency.
If you had to name the business age we’re entering right now, what would it be? The Age of Meaning, Proof and Authenticity. In the past, you could largely succeed on reputation, image, pedigree, even performance. That’s not enough any more. Now you have to prove substance and sustainability across the board. From having a clear business vision and a structure that can support and advance it, to creating true and needed value.
While Twitter seems to have the market sewn up when it comes to the public sharing of snippets of information, the competition is heating up for offering similar services inside a corporation. Microsoft, for example, is testing OfficeTalk, a microblogging service that's a sort of Twitter for businesses, while Google has been using an inside-the-company version of its Google Buzz feature to allow co-workers to share information with one another.
The global economy has shattered. The fossil fuels that propelled an industrial revolution are running out and the infrastructure built with these energies is barely clinging to life. Worse, more than two centuries of rising carbon emissions now threaten us with catastrophic climate change. If that were not enough, we face a massive loss of social trust in economic and political institutions. Everywhere people are venting their frustration and increasingly taking their anger to the streets. What is happening to our world? The human race is in a twilight zone between a dying civilisation on life support and an emerging one trying to find its legs. Old identities are fracturing while new identities are too fragile to grasp. To understand our situation, we need to step back and ask: what constitutes a fundamental change in the nature of civilisation?
It all began with a coffeepot. A coffeepot that was connected to the Internet (before it was even called the Internet) and which provided information about its status (long before there was Twitter). In 1991, researchers at Cambridge University shared a single coffeepot among several floors. The researchers were frustrated by the fact that they would often climb several flights of stairs, only to find the coffeepot empty. They set up a videocamera that broadcast a still image to their desktops about three times per minute — enough to determine the level of coffee in the glass pot. Several years later, that coffeepot had become one of the first Internet web cam sensations, with millions of hits worldwide. That coffeepot was a proof of concept for today’s networked objects and the Internet of Things.
I spend a great deal of time working within the B2B sector, among other things, and social media is a growing and or pervasive program within a comprehensive, integrated communications and service strategy. In almost every scenario I’ve encountered, executives, marcom and service executives, and brand managers have generally assumed that social and interactive activities and programming were ideally best suited for consumer applications. However, as we recently explored, in Social Media, it’s not just business, it’s business-to-business.
Madison Avenue gave a nod to grim economic realities in this year's crop of ads, but also pitched plenty of escapist fare—both inspired and goofy. The industry was struggling through one of the worst business climates it has seen in decades. Global ad spending plummeted 10%, according to ZenithOptimedia, a media-buying company owned by Publicis Groupe. Cash-strapped advertisers cut the fees they pay their advertising firms, and tens of thousands of ad jobs were lost. Some of the country's largest firms, such as WPP's JWT, were forced to close once-thriving outposts in markets such as Chicago. Well-known agencies such as Cliff Freeman & Partners ("Where's the Beef?") were forced to close shop completely. From reviews of major campaigns and interviews with advertising executives, here are our choices for some of the best and worst marketing maneuvers of 2009.
With Black Friday approaching, there isn't a CMO around who isn't wondering if consumers are going to be in the mood to spend over the holidays. With a sluggish year almost behind us, many are interested in what will make women--who buy 85% of what is sold in the U.S.--open their wallets.
For an Association of National Advertisers that's been trying hard to elevate the role of marketers in business, Walmart Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Quinn delivered a welcome message: Marketing played the central role in a turnaround for what may well be the predominant marketer of the moment. While marketers often get judged -- and even fired -- based on the quality of their communications plans, they're really responsible for setting the direction of their companies, Mr. Quinn contended during an appearance at the ANA annual conference at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Resort here.
If video killed the radio star, wasn't video supposed to obliterate text? It hasn't. Not even close. Who would have thought that 2009 would witness instead the continued resurgence of the written word? The language was sometimes indeterminable, and the conversations often unrepeatable without a blush added to the shrug, but text has proven amazingly resilient as a communications medium. Words "work" on printed pages and mobile phone screens (i.e. cross-platform), find utility for marketing strategies old and new (you can use them to declare, or to converse), and prove convenient and adaptable for users young and old.
The right conversation strategy answers two big questions: What meaningful content will attract sufficient conversations with the right people? And, how will you jump-start conversations and keep them alive? When people are starved for time and already engaged in many conversations, jump-starting new and meaningful conversations is the big challenge of marketing today. Just building a website, writing a blog or posting videos on YouTube doesn't mean sufficient numbers to impact ROI will find them organically, much less take the time and energy to converse with you. By definition a conversation requires others to be present and participate -- otherwise you're talking to yourself. Perhaps therapeutic, but no way to make a living.
Email has had a good run as king of communications. But its reign is over. In its place, a new generation of services is starting to take hold—services like Twitter and Facebook and countless others vying for a piece of the new world. And just as email did more than a decade ago, this shift promises to profoundly rewrite the way we communicate—in ways we can only begin to imagine. We all still use email, of course. But email was better suited to the way we used to use the Internet—logging off and on, checking our messages in bursts. Now, we are always connected, whether we are sitting at a desk or on a mobile phone. The always-on connection, in turn, has created a host of new ways to communicate that are much faster than email, and more fun.
It's certainly not unusual that a stand up comedian like Tim Washer would be producing absurdist viral videos. What is surprising is that the IBM communications executive is doing so for his straight-laced corporate employer. He appeared at a Business Development Institute seminar on corporate social media practices last week. There, he championed the cause of creative absurdity in corporate marketing. And he warned the audience that fear and rigid thinking were the greatest obstacles to their companies' social media success.
The financial markets' collapse and a growing distrust of global leaders both public and private has increased the importance of thinking strategically about communications and its impact on reputation. Government officials, political candidates and all those operating in the public realm are increasingly asking how they can measure with greater certainty the dynamics that drive their communications performance. With upcoming battles in the US on climate change, healthcare, Supreme Court confirmations, financial reform and a new Middle East peace initiative, among others, there is ample opportunity to evaluate communicators’ ability to drive public opinion. The corporate sector has been measuring the impact of communications and reputation for some time, using the results of these analyses to determine how their allocation of resources and themes affect financial outcomes such as stock price, P/E ration, revenues and profits. The earliest iteration of measurement centered on clip counts and evaluations—the most basic tenets of media relations—but has since evolved to include more robust scientific metrics. This is spurred by the diminishing effectiveness of traditional advertising. One recent survey revealed that only 13% of respondents believe advertising claims.
"We're sorry." That's what you say when a large number of your customers are upset with you. AT&T customers have been complaining for months about dropped calls, spotty service, delayed text and voice messages and slow download speeds for the iPhone. So, AT&T released this video on YouTube.
There are more than 300 million of us in the United States, and sometimes it seems like we're all friends on Facebook. But the sad truth is that Americans are lonelier than ever.
We're awash in data. Here's how to make yours matter.
There is a vital lesson buried in the August 19, 2009 Jet Blue announcement that they were suspending sales of the $599.00 "All You Can Jet" promotion they'd debuted only seven days before. Any student of Behavioral Economics could have predicted that an "all you can eat" approach would inspire vastly different behavior than if Jet Blue had charged a lower fixed fee plus $1 per mile. Similarly, over a decade ago when AOL switched to a usage-independent flat price, connection time increased four times more than they anticipated. "All you can eat" is an entirely different price than "very, very cheap."
When consumers make purchase decisions, they're spending anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds - according to surveys and research conducted by consumer behavior experts. Studies show that consumers ignore up to two-thirds of category products when they shop. That kind of statistic points to just how difficult it is to successfully package products. And clearly demonstrates why so many products fail at retail.
There’s been a lot of interesting discussion recently on how to best leverage channels like Twitter to communicate. This post talks about a bit about the co-creation of new social experiences that drive conversation and engagement in innovative ways, with the potential to then communicate the co-creation activity across multiple channels - including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Flickr.
In a way we are all virtual stock holders in Twitter. We all have a vested interest in its success. Facebook is soon to monopolize the social stream to the same extent that Google has done with search. That is not good for anyone, including Facebook. I have had many discussions with people in recent weeks about the face-off between Twitter and Facebook and also about the high probability of Twitter cutting a deal with Google. When I was asked by Erick Schonfeld at the Real Tiime Stream Crunchup (Video) event about my opinion on Twitter giving Google their firehose feed, I responded that they could do that if they don’t plan to sell their company in the future.
There’s a blog post on MobileCrunch regarding a PR firm having their employees/interns put up fake product reviews on behalf of their clients. For the younger folk in the industry, let me make sure it’s clear that these techniques are nothing new. The difference is in today’s world the risks associated with such a move are so much higher, as you are more likely to get caught. For us to simply say “duh, don’t do it” just isn’t enough. The massive shift into self-publishing platforms (aka “the era of social media” – yawn) has radically enabled individuals to expose virtually every “truth” that’s out there.
Sending and receiving at breakneck speed can make life queasy; a manifesto for slow communication.
If the political world has a cliché as tired as marketing's "Nothing kills a bad product like good advertising," it's probably the somewhat related "Governing is not the same as campaigning." Barack Obama and his team of political operatives -- named Marketer of the Year in 2008 -- have learned that even tired clichés have large elements of truth.
Studies like this one by Pear Analytics drive me batty. They concluded that 40.55% of the tweets they coded are pointless babble; 37.55% are conversational; 8.7% have "pass along value"; 5.85% are self-promotional; 3.75% are spam; and ::gasp:: only 3.6% are news. I challenge each and every one of you to record every utterance that comes out of your mouth (and that of everyone you interact with) for an entire day. And then record every facial expression and gesture. You will most likely find what communications scholars found long ago - people are social creatures and a whole lot of what they express is phatic communication.
"I promise." It's a simple statement. One uttered by children trying to convince their parents that they will be good, by husband and wife on their wedding day (and every week on trash day). A promise builds a strong emotional connection between two people. They are simple words, but when spoken from the heart (and delivered on), they form the foundation for meaningful relationships--and consumer experiences.
Marketers want private, direct conversations with consumers and thanks to technology this is easier to do. We are all GPSed, Googled and Facebooked, put in matrices, files, rankings, etc. The digital environment not only collects more and more private data, but it also offers marketing many tools for evaluation and promotion online and offline. But it raises concerns whether privacy needs more protection.
Put down your guard. It’s about people, not logos. These are the two primary tenets of effective social media. In practice, executing on them requires that you communicate with your customers and prospects across a variety of social media outposts, with significant frequency.
Barack Obama’s ubiquitous appearances as professor-in-chief, preacher-in-chief, father-in-chief, may turn out to be the most salient feature of his presidency.
Ask around and you'll find that most marketers believe there is something fundamentally wrong with their media and advertising today. They will complain they are not getting truly media-neutral solutions that are grounded in consumer insights and are ownable by their brands.
Only two companies, Procter & Gamble and Reckitt Benckiser, have figured out how to communicate the importance of brand to the bottom line in their annual reports, according to a survey of these documents from major marketers. The lesson: If marketers want to win the battle for company resources, they must work harder to promote their contribution to the bottom line in annual reports, according to a new global survey by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in the U.K.
How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that's dangerous.
The trouble with so many cause-related campaigns, especially in the last lazy weeks of downbeat summer, is that they're, well ... buzz-killers. (Who wants to contemplate world hunger whilst flipping budget burgers on a backyard staycation?)
Fritz Henderson, CEO of General Motors Co., admitted this morning in a live webcast that the automaker was indeed behind the mysterious, unbranded website whatis230.com, as first reported here last week. The number's significance, Mr. Henderson said, is that the Chevrolet Volt plug-in car due later this year is expected to get city fuel economy of at least 230 miles per gallon, or 25 kilowatt hours per 100 miles.
Twitter has been described many ways. At its best, it has been called a revolutionary political tool and a low-cost marketing machine. At its worst, it has been dubbed a waste of time. Now, two researchers are calling it a hedonimeter, a device that measures happiness.
In the U.S., the average tenure for a CMO is roughly 23 months. In the U.K., it is even shorter. Al Ries states over at AdAge that of all the firms in the Fortune 1000, only 7% of the most highly paid executives have marketing in their job title, and only 15% of those same firms even have a senior level marketing position, such as CMO.
Wikipedia tells us that active listening is an intent to “listen for meaning”. Others suggest that active listening should “focus on who you are listening to, whether in a group or one-on-one, in order to understand what he or she is saying.” These are excellent definitions. But as it relates to customer interactions on the social web, active listening is only one half of the equation.
Far be it from me to lament the ability for anyone to build or publish virtually anything now that the age of the consumer and age of information have intersected so gloriously. We are truly blessed to live in a day when, with a little time and instruction reading, even the tech-tarded can have their own blog or website and publish anything they want. The more adventurous and creative, or all-night code-bender freaks, can build platforms and tools and toss them out there to see if the public bites.
Twitter, the popular microblogging site, was out of service much of the day Thursday as it worked to defend itself against a Web attack, but service appeared to have been restored by late evening. Many of Twitter’s 45 million legitimate visitors were unable to use the service for hours. Analysts characterized the disruption as a denial-of-service attack, in which hackers overwhelm a Web site by sending it a deluge of junk requests, and one suggested the attack might have originated in Russia or Georgia.
The realization of a functional collective conscious is the ultimate outcome of ubiquitous digital communications. Our collective conscious refers to the things we all know, i.e. shared cultural knowledge, beliefs, morals, etc. A functional collective conscious refers to the new wealth of shared knowledge enabled by ubiquitous and instantaneous access to the internet. We are steadily moving towards a reality in which as soon as one person gains a piece of information, every human on Earth gains that piece of information.
Its relatively easy with all the tools and metrics available in today's marketing landscape to find yourself lost in the shuffle. Many marketers lose sight of their goals and find it hard to craft strategies that will actually produce results. Even experienced marketers resort to "wait and see" approaches when trying to jumpstart a campaign and then wonder why they are falling short.
Consider for a moment that the humble Amazon product review can nullify millions of dollars of ad spend, that a search for "best razor" on Google can route around all of Gillette's best efforts to communicate the "best a man can get," and that a "hate Comcast" group on Facebook has the power to drive a consumer straight into the arms of DirectTV.
Meeting radically changing customer expectations is a massive and snowballing challenge for established players in the global communications industry, confirms a new study from the CMO Council and its Customer Experience Board.
From credit card companies increasing penalties for late payments to banks raising interest rates on credit cards, the recession's bad news knows no bounds. But how consumers learn about such developments can determine how they feel about the companies that dictate them.
'Could it be that nothing builds customer loyalty like a little controversy? It sure seems that way sometimes. For example, have you ever noticed that whenever MediaPost's publications run an article with "Twitter" in the headline, reader comments flow like water - from both the Twitteries and the wake-me-when-it's-over crowd?
Marketers are finally beginning to understand that, like any intimate relationship, a dialogue works better than "talking at" someone. When a marketer has a deep understanding of people's habits and needs, it's a pretty intimate thing. Who else knows about the double fudge ice cream buried in the grocery cart under the reduced calorie, low-fat frozen dinners?
Mainstream brands such as Godrej, Shoppers Stop, India Post and CEAT Tyres have undertaken rebranding initiatives to shed their old corporate images and position themselves in a new, more modern light. Some have simply upgraded their logos, while others dug much deeper. Which leads branding enthusiasts to wonder, just what is the difference between an identity refresher and a true rebranding—and when is one, and not the other, needed?
I've been thinking about the integration challenge with social media. Advertising, marketing, and public relations need to work together - and in this environment, they need to put the customer is the driver's seat. I'm sure you'll find reason to build on the analogy or help me rebuild it.
The final panel at Friday's CrunchUp focused on the phenomenon of real-time, featuring a high-profile panel complete with representatives from Google, Microsoft, TweetDeck, TweetMeme, Seesmic, FriendFeed, Stanford University and a pair of venture capitalists. The discussion ranged from the opinion that real time was simply yet another feature, or a revolution in terms of application and Web service development, while the panelists discussed revenue opportunity or how large companies would try and control the data from being shared with competition.
People ask me all the time about the success of McDonalds, HP, Virgin America, and Walmart with new products and services, and their ongoing buzz. For me one key factor is the strength of their marketing leadership and the fact that their CMOs have an active seat at the C-Level table.
New media has already reminded up that PR stands for public relations and not just media relations. This is still something that many organizations are navigating at the moment. Now Google is giving us yet another Wave of innovation and showing us what is possible in the browser.
Most people measure the workday in hours, but for a new crop of employees—interns in charge of their companies' Twitter feeds—the day is measured in tweets. "I try to get in at least 10 posts a day," says Alexa Robinson, 22, who started work as Pizza Hut's first official "twintern" in June. Robinson spends much of the day on the free microblogging service Twitter sending out messages about special promotions, responding to customer complaints, and trolling Twitter for mentions of Pizza Hut.
Customer service is the new marketing because it is grounded in competency, people, and contact - all things that can help you with innovation and relationships and that cannot easily be outsourced. They in turn create the experience your customers have that contributes to your story - that of your company and your brand.
Every now and again, a PR meme appears on the Web – almost to the point where you could set your watch by it. This time around, Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times sparked the conversation with an in-depth article, “Spinning the Web: P.R. in Silicon Valley.” I respect Claire and I believe she wrote an extensive article that chronicles the launch of one particular startup and also featured supporting quotes from those PR professionals who are helping to usher in a new breed of corporate communications. While an exposé makes for an interesting read, PR is undergoing a much more significant renaissance that receives almost zero attention in this article. P.R. in Silicon Valley is far more sophisticated and effective than what’s actually spotlighted in the story and it’s much more potent than most entrepreneurs, investors, and executives realize.
Did you know your best brand asset walks out your door every night? Employees can be your most powerful brand proof points, either reinforcing or breaking your brand’s promise every time they interact with a customer, shareholder or even another employee.
You’re trying to discuss and describe the movement that is social media. Imagine you’re not allowed to say any of the following: You need to join the conversation, It’s about relationships (or people), It’s not about the tools, You need to be listening, Transparency, Authenticity. Can you come up with illustrative ways to describe it’s value without resorting to the lingo and buzzwords we’ve already beat to death?
Have you seen or heard President Barack Obama pitching his stimulus plan lately? If you say no, you are clearly either lying or actually living under a rock.
Facebook has a lot of communication problems. Most recently, changes made to its terms of service sent a ripple through the internet community, leaving users feeling like they had unwillingly ceded ownership of their data to the site. Facebook backtracked almost immediately, but the damage has been done. And as PR glitches continue to arise, the company runs the risk of being viewed as a faceless (ironic, huh?) and untrustworthy entity.