Archive for the ‘branding’ Category

Don’t Do This on Twitter, Part Duh

February 1, 2012

(Note: I was going to call this Part Deux, but this one takes The Duh cake.  Mmmmm, cake.)

So my significant other and I went to a local bar/restaurant to watch the 49ers game, she being a San Francisco native.  In the middle of the game they switched bartenders.

Unbelievably, this new fellow ignored us:  he did not ask us if we wanted anything, never refilled our water glasses (!!!) and completely disregarded us for over an hour.   We had never seen, or heard, of anything like this. Rightfully furious, the Sig Oth Tweeted her disappointment, saying:

Bar X then favorited that Tweet.

Yup, you read that right:  this bar decided that her criticism, broadcast to over 100 million active Tweeters, is one of their favorite things.

Wow.  It is not every day that I find myself with a loss of words.  This is one of those days.

What can you do if you get criticized on any social media site?  For starters, here is what you should not do:


(2) DO NOT DELETE THE COMMENT. (Some tools, like Yelp, do not allow you to delete criticism anyway.)  If you can delete the comment and do so, you are sending the message that you do not care. And you are missing an opportunity to improve your brand.

(3) DO NOT IGNORE THE PERSON WHO IS CRITICIZING YOU.  Ignoring the comment implicitly validates the criticism.

What should you do?

Engage that person in a conversation!  For instance, you can reply with, “I am sorry you feel we did not provide 100% customer service.  What can we do to make things right?”  and/or “Please call us so we can talk about this.”

Remember: social media is not really marketing.  Rather, it is a conversation:  a place to listen, manage your reputation, connect with people worldwide about myriad topics and turn criticism into an opportunity to improve your business and enhance your brand.

So if you are facing a social media challenge, don’t ignore it.  While you’re at it, don’t brag about it either.


Here We Go Again — More Hype From Apple

November 15, 2010

Today I discovered that  tomorrow will be a day I will never forget.  Like, ever.  How could I possibly know that I will never forget tomorrow when tomorrow isn’t even today yet?  Because Steve Jobs told me so!

Clearly, Apple has not learned anything about overhyping their stuff:  the iPad was mockingly compared to the Ten Commandments (no, seriously), the iPhone4 turned into an iFail before it was discovered to have problems, er, making phone calls, and so forth.

I can’t believe I have to tell this to an adult, but here it goes.

Dearest Steve Jobs: have you ever read The Boy Who Cried Wolf?  Yes?  Well, re-read it on your iPad or whatever.  You are that boy, and I don’t care about your wolves.   Your announcements do not resonate with me forever, other than in mockery or contempt.  Additionally, I don’t like being told about things I’m supposed to remember by anybody, much less some corporate brand.

I’ve had many experiences which I will never forget.  There was the time I was nearly run over by a giant pig.  (No, seriously.)  I remember the first time I set foot on African soil.  And there are far more personal memories which I will not share on this blog.  Of all my memories, both good and bad, none of them involved Apple or any kind of corporate announcement. Like, ever.

So ease off the rhetoric a little, yeah?  You’re starting to give me a rash.

Morrissey is a Stupid Racist

September 6, 2010

Sometimes I don’t get people.

Morrissey, the front-man from The Smiths, called all Chinese people a “subspecies” because of how some Chinese people treat animals.  This is colossally stupid on several levels.  Let’s break these down, shall we?

  • From a logical standpoint, his statement makes no sense:  by calling Chinese people a subspecies, he is actually being cruel to them, thus undercutting his whole, er, logic.
  • From a human perspective, he has just called attention to the fact that he’s a racist pig.
  • From a nationalistic standpoint, China is not the only country that is cruel to animals.  Do Spanish bullfights make Spaniards a subspecies too?
  • From a business point of view, it’s probably not a great idea to insult 1/6th of the world’s population — and the world’s second largest economy — in one swoop.  This cannot be good for sales.
  • From a communication standpoint, it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and one sentence to undo all that work, especially in this day and age.  Great job doing that.

Granted, I have a special affection for the Chinese people, having studied Mandarin in Shanghai.  In my experience, certainly some people in China are cruel to animals.  But there are just as many, if not more, Chinese people who deplore animal cruelty. (Ahem.)  Also, in my experience, there are plenty of racist and stupid Westerners, such as Morrissey; but that does not mean all Westerners are stupid racists.  See how that works?

So here’s some free, unsolicited advice for Morrissey:  think about what you are saying before you say it.  By smearing an entire nationality, you are making a huge mistake on multiple levels.  Then again, racists have never been known for their intellect, now have they?

Shocking News — Democrats Don’t Communicate Well

August 16, 2010

I’ve been pretty busy lately and had to take a brief hiatus from blogging.  But now I’m back, and evidently I picked a great day to start up again.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” being built a few blocks away from the World Trade Center site.  I’m not going to discuss my position on the building, but rather the Democrats’ painfully inconsistent and incoherent messaging surrounding this hot-button issue.

To make a long story short, President Obama recently stated that he supports the building of the Islamic Community Center (it’s not actually a Mosque, but rather a YMCA-type building) in spite of the fact that a majority don’t want it built there.  Obama took a huge political risk in bucking majority opinion, but that’s not really the issue here.

The issue is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) came out today to voice opposition to the building, demonstrating once again that Democrats are painfully inconsistent with their messaging and their decision-making.

Oh Democrats, Democrats, Democrats.  For once, would you please take a position and stick with it?  I know if you get five Democrats in a room you’ll end up with about 15 different opinions, but when two leaders from the same political party take opposing views on an unpopular issue, that does not help you.  It leaves voters scratching their heads, wondering who — or rather, what — they are voting for.

It’s really not that hard folks:  if you take a principled but unpopular stand about an issue, people will respect you.  If you are divided and don’t stand for something consistently, it tarnishes your brand and confuses people.

So please, please oh pretty please, try to communicate consistently for once.  Just once?  Please?  You’re killing me here!

Friendly Advice for the GOP — Trashing Thurgood Marshall Will Only Hurt Your Brand

July 2, 2010

I’m not a Republican, and I do not play one on TV.  However, I would like to offer some advice to my GOP friends (yes, I am a Democrat who has GOP friends) regarding Supreme Court nominations and how they reflect on your party’s brand.

Never ever trash Thurgood Marshall no matter how right you think you are.

Look, I understand your frustrations.  No really, I do.  You feel as if the country is being taken away from you, and you need to do whatever it takes to bring it back to the way things were, or at least how they oughta be.  And you’re afraid that adding Elena Kagan to the court will add yet another activist judge on the bench that will harm the country even more.

But strictly from a standpoint of good vs. bad communications, don’t smear the legacy of Thurgood Marshall to achieve your goals.  In case you didn’t know, Marshall was rejected from admission from the University of Maryland School of Law because of his race (which, incidentally, has since named their law library after him), won in the landmark Civil Rights case Brown vs. the Board of Education and later became a Supreme Court justice.

Sure trashing him (and Kagan) as an activist judge may go over well with some in your party, but that is no way to build, or rebuild, your brand.  So I’d strongly suggest you stop before you hurt your bramd even further.

BP’s Lame Propaganda Machine

July 1, 2010

The other day, Stephen Colbert ripped into BP’s spin-doctoring regarding their oil spill.  In his typically hilarious yet brilliantly insightful way, Colbert called out BP’s BS when they say things like — and I’m paraphrasing here — golly gee, our unprecedented, catastrophic error is creating jobs by filling local hotel rooms.  See, BP does care!

Like most of you, my stomach literally burns when I think about the destruction BP wrought, and I get especially furious at pictures of the poor, helpless animals flailing in the oil.

But what makes me even madder — if that’s even possible — is BP’s lame attempt to spin their way out of this with clever messaging and finding silver lining in this oil-drenched tragedy which is still ongoing.

How stupid do they think we are?  That’s not a rhetorical question folks — really folks, how friggin’ stupid do they think we are?

Their propaganda offensive is hurting themselves as well as my field.  They are essentially labeling communications professionals to a bunch of well-paid liars who spin stories, deflect blame and try to make chicken shit into chicken salad.

Luckily, we have geniuses like Stephen Colbert (and his writers, of course) to channel this raw fury into humorous yet dead-on observations about BP’s outrageous propaganda campaign.

And if you aren’t as brilliant as Colbert and his entire writing staff, maybe you can direct your energy in, erm, more creative ways, like this guy did.  I’m not even sure what to say about him.

Using the Oil Catastrophe to Promote Vacations – Not a Good Idea

June 22, 2010

This blog post isn’t about BP directly.  Rather, it’s Spirit Airlines‘ attempt to capitalize on the ongoing oil spill by running ads saying, “Check Out the Oil on Our Beaches.”  Their message:  the only oil you will find on the beaches we fly to are on scantily-clad, sunbathing women.  They are calling this their “Best Protection” plan (emphasis definitely theirs) with a green and yellow-colored bottle of “SPF $50 off” lotion to directly capitalize off of BP’s huge, enormous, catastrophic error.

Not too subtle.  And not too smart either.

Let’s forget for a moment how deeply offensive, cynical and sexist this campaign is.  And let’s forget for the moment the immense harm done to the residents of the oil-soaked Gulf Coast and the wildlife – a catastrophe that still hasn’t even been slowed down much less solved, by the way.  And let’s forget that the entire food chain in the Gulf of Mexico, and possibly the entire world, could have been irrevocably harmed.  And let’s forget, again just for a moment, the people who lost their lives on the oil rig during the initial explosion.

This advertisement is a colossally stupid idea for one simple reason:  what if this leak, or heaven forbid a different one, ends up harming one of Spirit Airlines’ destinations?  What will they do then?  >Knock Knock< Hello, Spirit Airlines!  Anybody home?

Okay, now let’s get back to this cynical campaign, the decimated livelihoods, damaged food chains and the terrible loss of life.  I personally believe their brand will, and should, suffer for this callous, insensitive and offensive ad campaign.  Not all publicity is good publicity folks.

Boy, talk about stupid decisions.

Oh my – Men’s Warehouse Meets World War I

June 16, 2010

I came across this very interesting blog post, which is a Brit’s take on a new marketing tactic deployed by Men’s Warehouse.  In a nutshell, Men’s Warehouse has taken their “I guarantee it” brand and threw it in the middle of a World War I trench where people were getting shot at, and at one point carried away dying, while giving some annoying preppie advice on buying clothing at Men’s Warehouse.

No, seriously.

The author of the blog thinks this will sink the Men’s Warehouse brand.  But this is America, where all kinds of stupid stuff works wonders, so I’ll reserve judgment for now.  In any case, the blog post is very insightful and covers a lot of ground.  I’d strongly recommend reading it.

BP Hires Dick Cheney’s Former PR Rep? Really?

June 1, 2010

BP has made many mistakes since the oil spill first started.  Besides, you know, causing the spill.  For instance, they hired a branding firm to change their name in the midst of this spill instead of, you know, fixing the damage they caused.  And they have repeatedly lied to the public and the government instead of, you know, telling us what is going on.

But these decisions seem downright wise and sagelike compared to this whopper.  In a truly mind-boggling move, they hired Anne Womack-Kolton, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s Public Relations person, to handle US media relations.

Forget about the Vice President’s politics for a moment, if you can.  A good media relations professional seeks to improve their clients’ public face.  Hiring someone so closely associated with that overwhelmingly negative brand — not to mention someone who was responsible for the deregulation which led to this catastrophe — cannot help BP’s reputation.  In fact, back in 2001-02 Anne Womack-Kolton defended Cheney’s secret energy task force which advocated for deregulation and is quite possibly responsible for the mess we’re in right now.

I can’t take the stupid.  I just don’t get it.  Someone, please help me.

When Good Communication Isn’t Enough

May 31, 2010

Good communications cannot replace good decisions.

Take Israel’s recent attack on innocent civilians for example.   By all accounts, this was an awful decision made by the Israeli government.  A friend of mine, whose husband is Lebanese, suggested that Israel needs to hire a good PR team to manage this crisis.  With all due respect to my friend, hiring a PR team to manage such crises devalues the profession and is ultimately counter-productive.

By hiring a crack PR team every time something goes wrong, it reinforces the impression that communications professionals are slimy spin-doctors who are paid to lie.  This only serves to undercut the credibility of the offending party as well as the communications profession.  When everyone knows it’s propaganda, who cares what is said?

Don’t get me wrong:  communications can, and indeed should, help enhance any organization’s core value.  And, improved communications can indeed solve many problems.  But good communications should not, indeed cannot, replace good decisions.  And they should not be used to whitewash bad ones.  Indeed, the term PR already has a negative connotation; many people already believe PR professionals spew half-truths at best and outright manipulations at worst.

Both Israel (and BP, whom I have harped on in previous posts) need to make better decisions, thus reducing crises in the first place.