Sword and the Script

Why companies are more prone to social media crisis

 Why would a business deflect the opportunity to speak to customers?

I got an email today, no two, from vendors.  You know the kind…the emails from no-reply@company.com.

Digital River sent me one today that closes by saying, “This email message was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming email. Please do not reply to this message.”  Likewise, Dominion, who has had social media crisis events previously, wrote “Please do not reply to this message; it is simply a courtesy reminder.”

Companies are full of tactics like this – the endless phone tree mazes of press this number or that number – that customers must navigate in an endeavor to reach a live human being.  It’s a waste of time.  No wonder so many customers turn into social media complainers.

Just yesterday, PR Daily’s Michael Sebastian wrote a post titled, For brands, it’s the Teflon Age of PR disasters.  He begins by saying, “Mini-public-relations crises flare up constantly” – and that’s true, but there’s a cause.  I’m suggesting when companies send emails from no-reply addresses, it’s logical to wager that’s a systemic indication that that company is also going to be prone to online flare ups. Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

Lessons from migrating from Blogger to WordPress

Though a relatively late bloomer to the blogging community, there are several reasons why I blog, one thing that stands out for me in hindsight is how important a decision it is to choose a blogging platform.  For this blog, my personal blog, this blog, I’ve used Blogger since my first post in 2009 but in the past couple weeks I’ve made the leap to WordPress.

Blogger is easy.  It’s simple.  It’ll allow you sound control over your blog’s style, theme and personality.   However, because it’s simple, it misses many of the new innovations a more professional platform offers.

Google simply hasn’t devoted the resources to keep Blogger current since it acquired the company in 2003.  For example, you cannot write custom URLs for your blog posts in Blogger.  It’s a simple feature, incredibly important for SEO, yet it hasn’t been rolled out.

I’ve considered migrating to WordPress for a long time and as I tip-toed to the edge, Google would announced new features that made me think they were turning it around. That made me pause. Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

7 insights from a social media marketing study

The Social Media Examiner is out today with its 4th annual survey of social media marketing; 3,800 marketers answered the survey.  Thanks to Adam Sherk for the tip.

Statistically valid?  Perhaps not, but it’s an impressive number of respondents and provides a solid indication of how things are shaping up.  To that end, some of the outcomes are equally impressive. Several things jumped out at me:

1. Social media remains important to business.  No surprise here that 83% of marketers agreed or strongly agreed that social media was important to business.  What was surprising is that 54% of solo business owners strongly agreed with this statement.  That is small shops, with limited time and resources, see the most opportunity in using social media tools.  Is that because they are low cost, or because they are valuable? Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

Three PR lessons from April’s fools

By virtue of sheer numbers, April Fool’s Day must be growing its marketing spend each year.  It’s got a long way to go to catch up with the monetization of Christmas, which for retailers now starts before Thanksgiving, but the Web was alive last Sunday, April 1st, with the marketing of fools.

Google ran about a dozen such pranks (round up), BMW introduced a driverless running coach, surely you heard about Richard Branson’s trip to the earth’s core, and even the media got in on it when Forbes declared Mitt Romney had exited the race for the Republican nomination. I don’t think Forbes will be getting any exclusives from the Romney camp.

Of all the jokes, gimmicks and playfulness two stood out for me:  PinPal’s social media dating experiment and PR pros on strike.   I’ll skip the latter, because I’ve said all I think I’m going to say about that here for now; if you really want to know what I think about the root of PR’s problem, read this post or this follow-up.  Here’s the skinny on the former:  Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

Smart things: measurement, crisis and bad PR 3.31.12

Back in town.  Back to blogging.  Back on track this week, after a brief hiatus, to a weekly “smart things” post.  Celebrating the new template and migration to WordPress from blogger. There’s still a few bugs to be worked out, but it’s a success in my book.  I plan to do a post next week and share some of the thoughts I have after going through the process.  Hint:  WordPress is way better!

The photo nearby?  That’s a 36k view of the Sinai Canal at the tip of the Red Sea, shot from a Boeing 747 (my freedom bird home) with a little help from Instagram.

Here’s this week’s smart things:

1.  Boiling down measurement.   Einstein is often cited as saying, “Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts.”  That’s the point I take from Denise O’Berry, a long time small business writer, in her post Are You Measuring the Right Thing?  We should measure so we can make decisions; we make decisions so we can improve;  Denise boils it down to a few smart sentences:

You place an ad in the newspaper. One thousand people read the ad. And you consider it a   success even though no one bought your product or service. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

Is Google-bashing useful?

Yesterday Google announced Account Activity a new feature designed to show users data across all their user accounts.  I’d venture to guess this is a response to growing criticism about search giant’s efforts to unify all of its services – an effort that began with Google+.

For example, AllThingsDigitial wrote recently that Google hasn’t explained why users would want a unified online identity.   It strikes me as rather intuitive (although there’s a case for diversification as well), but a week later, Google announces account activity; a step to respond to the critics.  Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

Technology, distracted

Technology.   It makes life both easier and more complicated; it simplifies and streamlines, but it also complicates and adds a line or two on the to-do list.

The irony of technology has become more apparent to me over the last year while serving overseas.  As my closest Twitter Buddies know, I’m a Guardsman, a part-time Soldier, recalled to active duty and spent the last year deployed.  This was my second deployment; my first tour to Iraq ended in 2007; 40% of the members in my unit have been on three deployments.

My first deployment was for war; this deployment was for peace and ironically, the latter has left me with a far more cynical, perhaps isolationist, view of Middle East:  We give and give and give; they hate and hate and hate.  The more we give, the more they hate us for it. War gave me compassion, while “peacekeeping” has chipped away at my empathy and hardened my soul; it’s made me, to my own astonishment, bitter.

I’m home now, with a few weeks off before returning to my day job, my civilian job, as Director of PR for Vocus.  Vocus is an employer, I might add, that is understanding, supportive and patriotic.  They’ve allowed me the freedom and time, which during the months leading up to this past mobilization was substantial, to devote to preparing my unit for deployment. There’s no doubt the company has sacrificed too — something that businesses all across the country do without recognition.  Maybe that’s a story the mainstream media might wake up to one day.

In exchange, I’ve given Vocus everything I’ve got and soon I’ll be ready to give again with a renewed enthusiasm for a company that’s about doubled in size since I left:  I smile when I think about how we’re going to kick ass.  Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

The essence of the PR’s drama

“Art is why I get up in the morning; my definition ends there. You know it doesn’t seem fair, that I’m living for something I can’t even define. And there you are right there, in the mean time.” Ani DiFranco

def·i·ni·tion:  a : a statement expressing the essential nature of something Merriam-Webster

Ask 10 PR professionals to define public relations, you’ll likely get 10 different responses.  Ten different responses can only mean the essence is not known.  If the essence of PR is unknown, then like silence in a crisis, the function and industry will continue to be defined for us.  

There’s an acute problem with the unknown:  It is impossible to present a consistent and cohesive value proposition around a function that we cannot define.  

This is the motivation behind PRSA’s well-intended attempt to tackle the definition of PR. However, the resulting PR definitions have left much to be desired. They are not suitable PR definitions. While there’s several discussions aimed at improving these definitions, I think there’s a subconscious catalyst for how we arrived here:  an aversion to PR’s history and lineage of propaganda.   Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

PRSA’s #PRdefined: please don’t redefine failure

“Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”That’s the old definition. There are three options for a new definition:

“Public relations is the management function of researching, communicating and collaborating with publics to build mutually beneficial relationships.”


“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”


“Public relations is the strategic process of engagement between organizations and publics to achieve mutual understanding and realize goals.”

PRSA has listed these definitions here; notice there’s not a single comment on a post that so far has garnered a mere 25 tweets (currently) according to the counter PRSA has implemented on the site.  Redefining PR?  25 tweets? That alone should be a red flag that something is wrong. Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More

A few more compelling thoughts on influence vs. popularity

Last week Arik Hanson published a guest blog I wrote on the difference between influence and popularity.   The post boils down to these two paragraphs:

Ashton Kutcher, though intensely popular, probably lacks the credibility to pitch expensive Nikon cameras to professional photographers. However, change the context and market segment to the more affordable CoolPix S60, and he’ll likely earn sales because it fits the financial means and photographic experience level of his fan base.

If Nikon wants a lot of clicks, followers and buzz, Kutcher is a great choice no matter what the pitch, but measurable results may vary. However, if Nikon wants to influence buyers to exchange dollars for Nikon’s cameras, motivation, context, timing, and credibility — all factors of influence that tools cannot measure — matter greatly.

In seeking input for the post, had actually reached out to Arik for his thoughts on the topic when he turned the tables on me and asked for a guest post; obviously, I was happy to oblige.  However, several people did provide their input, including Ike Pigott who sent this short, but straight to the point response in the form of a video (which is an Ike specialty, albeit usually from behind the wheel of a parked car). Read More…

Be Sociable, Share!
Read More