Archive for the ‘corporate communications’ Category

Social Media Marketing? Not quite

June 23, 2011

The interwebs are chock full of articles about Social Media Marketing.  Indeed, every day it seems I am inundated with articles featuring Five Amazing Tips to Increase your Social Media Presence.

The below infographic illustrates the mindset of many such emails I receive:

Clever, but not quite right

In my opinion, using Social Media to simply talk about yourself misses the point.  What makes Social Media different than, say, a newspaper advertisement, is that Social Media enables you to listen to what people are saying and engage in conversations relevant to you and your potential customers.

So instead of using Social Media to promote your company, treat Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn like huge, interactive phones.  In addition to talking about your business, join groups to speak to potential customers, listen to what they are saying and discuss relevant issues.  In this way, you’ll gain credibility as well as increased sales.

Thoughts on Social Media

January 31, 2011

These days companies are scrambling to understand what social media is and how they are supposed to use it.  The first question many business leaders may ask is, “How can we use social media?”

While logical, that’s not quite right in my opinion.  Instead, the first question should be, “What are my business objectives, and how can social media help me meet those objectives?”

Social media is a tool and can be used in many ways.  The analogy I like to use is a hammer.  A hammer can be used to install a window or break one.  Similarly, social media can be used to get you new clients or ding your reputation.

So the first thing you need to do is understand what you are trying to do:  do you want to recruit better candidates?  Improve your sales and marketing?  Bump up your website on Google search?  Enhance employee communication?  Something else?

Next you’ll need to get your messaging together, which I will discuss in a later post.  Meanwhile feel free to add your comments below about this new and exciting field.

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?

“Just Do the Right Damned Thing”

July 14, 2010

In case you haven’t noticed from my previous blog posts, I strongly encourage people and firms to communicate honestly by getting to the core of what you are trying to accomplish with as few words as possible.  This video captures the kind of honest, straightforward communication I’ve been ranting about, and is probably one of the most compelling things C-Span has ever aired.  The message cuts through all the spin and hits you right in the gut:  People are suffering in the gulf.  Things will likely get worse before they get better.  And people need help.

The young man in this video finishes by saying “Just do the right damned thing.”  Granted, what doing “the right damned thing” means is up for debate; indeed, it is a lot easier to write a song than fix a catastrophe like the ongoing nightmare in the Gulf.   Regardless of what “doing the right thing” actually means, isn’t his passion and heartfelt sincerity refreshing compared to the lies and obfuscation we’ve seen since the spill began?

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.

Mmmmmm, secret food…

June 29, 2010

Okay, I’ll admit it:  I am a junk food junkie.  Very few things give me a greater rush than Taco Tuesdays at Del Taco, except maybe a Wendy’s Frosty.  And I just love the idea of secret menus, especially from a communications perspective (more on that below.)

The author of this blog post has a partial list of establishments which offer secret menu items.  While In n Out Burger lists theirs on their website – hence they are not so secret – other places do not, including Burger King, McDonald’s and Fatburger.  If you want a good sampling of unknown menu items, sit near a Starbucks barista for 10 minutes and try to decode what some people order:  “I’ll have a half-calf 24 degrees bloopity skim light bibitty foam three-quarter bloppity whip ditty boop.”

Somehow, these baristas take their orders without spitting in customer’s faces laughing.

From a communications perspective, I am also a fan of secret menus.  They make customers feel they are part of an undercover society, where a select handful of people have the inside scoop on what’s going on behind the scenes, and only they know the mystical key words that will open a treasure vault filled with extra whipped cream or something.  Secret menus also seem to evoke a sense of childhood wonder and mystery, taking us back to our hidden forts in the back yard where only a password will grant you access.

So yes, I am a sucker for fast food, and I totally dig secret menus.   When you think about it, secret menus are a very clever and challenging marketing tactic:  after all (In n Out burger notwithstanding) how do you market something without marketing it?

Spirit Air’s Offensive Ad Campaign Is My Fault!

June 28, 2010

At long last, Spirit Air suspended their offensive ad campaign which capitalized on the BP oil spill.  Granted the ad went down with a screaming hissy fit, but hey.

Evidently Spirit decided, without my approval, that I didn’t get it.  According to them, this ad campaign was nothing more than a well-intentioned attempt to explain how the beaches they service are not impacted by the oil spill, and my inability to comprehend this is my responsibility.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s what Spirit said in a statement:

“It is unfortunate that some have misunderstood our intention with today’s beach promotion. We are merely addressing the false perception that we have oil on our beaches, and we are encouraging customers to support Florida and our other beach destinations by continuing to travel to these hot vacation spots.”

Ahem.

Yo, Spirit Air, come a little closer.

No, a little closer.

Okay, now lean in.

I have a secret I need to whisper into your ear.

You ready?

Here it goes:

DON’T BLAME ME FOR YOUR SCREW-UPS!!!

I’ve said previously that good communications cannot replace good decision-making.  How lucky we are to have examples of bad decision-making and bad communications – all in one company!  It’s like a learning laboratory for how to not run a business with Spirit Air, no?

Spirit Airlines — Doubling Down on The Stupid

June 23, 2010

Evidently Spirit Airlines has doubled-down on a really stupid idea.

For the uninitiated, Spirit Airlines is attempting to capitalize BP’s oil spill by running ads depicting the beaches they service as full of oil-soaked women, not crude oil gushing from deep beneath the earth’s surface.  Hardy har har.  One disgruntled person wrote to Spirit and got the following response:

Thanks for writing to Spirit Airlines, and for your feedback about our new marketing campaign.It is unfortunate that some have misunderstood our intention with this sale. We are merely addressing the false perception we have oil on the many beaches we service, and we are encouraging customers to support Florida and our other beach destinations by continuing to travel to these vacation hot spots.

Please accept my apology if you find this campaign offensive. It is certainly not our intent to offend our valued customers. We’ve actually received positive feedback from many who appreciate our efforts to stimulate travel to the state.

I’ve forwarded your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.

Again, thank you for your feedback. We look forward to welcoming you aboard!

Shorter Spirit Airlines:  You’re not as funny or clever as we are, and that’s your fault!

If I may get on my soap box for a moment, I’d like you to highlight one point in this response:  “I’ve forwarded your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.”  Oy vey.

Too often, as in this case, communications is not considered to be an integral part of a company’s business strategy, leading to disastrous results like this.  Leaving comms out of the decision-making process is a huge mistake, and yet it is so common.  A company that communicates well has everyone on board, and on the same page, from the very beginning so there would be no need to forward “your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.”  Once more, Corporate America:  Communications decisions are ultimately business decisions and should be treated accordingly.

This ad campaign should have never been green-lighted.  Let’s hope cooler, saner heads prevail and this ad campaign gets squashed.  Sadly for Spirit Air, that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

As a side note, the most commonly used word in their response is “Feedback”.  In fact, they use the word three times in five short paragraphs.  Don’t you think they should emphasize things such as “Concerns” and “Service” instead of something as dry and emotionless as “Feedback”?  Yeesh.

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.