Sword and the Script

Autotweets Are Not Comparable to TV or Radio Ads


autotweets, schedule tweets

Photo credit: Flickr

There’s a debate over autotweets, or scheduled tweets during times of tragedy

This post kicked it off: Guy Kawasaki is too ‘popular’ to stop autotweets during Boston bombings. This post reinforced the point, with kinder language, but with words that bite: A Letter To Those Of You With 1,500 Twitter Followers Or Fewer.

And we’re off.  Knock down.  Drag out.  Online scrap.  It’s not productive.

The point of the post?

While the news about the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon was just being broken, and for several hours afterwards, most companies shut down their promotional efforts on Twitter and other social media.

Most people and organizations rightly came to the conclusion that to continue to hawk their wares while a national tragedy was unfolding (and people were using Twitter to get and exchange news) was a little insensitive, to say the least.

Most brands stopped. And while I generally dislike the term “personal branding” because I believe within a company — that is a team environment — it is divisive  some people have become brands. In a company, this means there’s an inverse correlation between productivity and ego.   Read More…

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Three Observations the Morning After Tragedy


Thinking of Boston.

Thinking of Boston.

by Frank Strong

I first heard about it on Facebook.  A friend had posted this link to The Atlantic. Initially, the article simply had a couple lines of text and a few screenshots of tweets.  The site has since updated it to provide more complete coverage.

Senseless killing. Tragic. Incomprehensible.

My first reaction was: this is terrorism.  The last time we had a terrorist attack we went to war for a decade. In fact, we are still fighting it.  However, it’s worth noting, before 9/11, the predominant form of terrorism was from domestic lunatics, like the duo from Oklahoma City.

As of the time of this writing, no suspects have been identified and officials have simply said, they currently do not know. Read More…

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Crisis Communications as a Prerequisite to Change


Crisis Communications

Two great reads – one on business strategy and the other sage advice on crisis communications.

by Frank Strong

The difference between good companies and great companies may well be the difference between those that avert potential crisis and those that react to a crisis.

It is the difference between being “committed-to-excellence” rather than only demonstrating that commitment only when someone important is watching.

There’s a second problem with reactionary thinking: the company forgoes the ability to choose the space and timing of the crisis.  Like Murphy’s Law, crisis happens when you can least afford it and siphons away resources and wastes valuable time.

Sometimes companies can do a lousy job on crisis communications and survive; Exxon and BP come to mind.  Sometimes companies can do a lousy job with a crisis and sink; Eron and Anderson Consulting for example.   Read More…

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Google Reader and Google’s Opportunity to Win Friends


google reader

Image credit: Lars Fosdal on Google+

by Frank Strong

Google announced it’s shutting down Google Reader. The company cited declining usage of its aggregation service as justification for killing it come July 1, 2013, but the web has exploded with unhappy comments.

There’s a petition to keep Google Reader running.

Maybe the complaints are from a few that shout louder than the majority.  Maybe the complaints are from a few that are influential.   Maybe.  

I’ve seen some pretty smart people react so viscerally to this announcement, that it must be worth hitting the pause button and perhaps putting some fresh paint on the Google Reader shutters.  Read More…

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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…

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Rationalizing the rants that hold PR hostage


Photo credit:  Flickr

Photo credit: Flickr

by Frank Strong

There’s an old saying — if you want to understand someone’s character, watch how they treat the wait staff. Restaurant patrons can be finicky about dining, decor and service, but there’s a gray line between expecting good service and abusing the help.

So too I feel it is becoming with social media — and specifically the trend for explosive, possibly litigious, online rants. “Cyberdisinhibition” was the word eMarketer used to describe the emboldened behavior being observed online as stakeholders, steps removed from the intimacy of interpersonal communication, are more inclined to “lash out” at a company that falls short of perceived satisfactory marks.

Lashing-out in the context of the eMarketer report, is a negative behavior and hopefully, it’s an action of last resort — that is to say a wake up call to an unresponsive, inconsiderate or ill-advised company that has failed to answer reasonable requests to resolve an legitimate issue. Unfortunately, it’s becoming a readily available technique, that’s very easy to use and much harder to resist. Read More…

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PR: getting slammed for taking a stand


Photo:  Gold fish feeding frenzy at the National Arboretum.

Photo: Gold fish feeding frenzy at the National Arboretum.

by Frank Strong

PC Magazine takes Novell to task over it’s blog post on LA’s decision to replace Novell’s GroupWise e-mail product with Google Apps. It’s good example of how new media has changed the landscape of voices.

This post isn’t about products. It’s not about which one is better. It’s not about the benefits or drawbacks of open source software versus proprietary software. Its about PR. It is the chance to take a step back, and consider how things have changed in PR.

In year’s past if company found itself rolled in to a controversial public debate there were in essence three choices: buy a full page advertisement in a major daily newspaper and spell out your case, put the PR department to work or do both. Read More…

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PR framework for negative news



PR framework

by Frank Strong

discussion on LinkedIn that I started about PR strategies for dealing with a difficult blogger has reminded me of the three basic choices in crisis communications a former collogue once espoused.

These concepts were conveyed long before social media or blogs took center stage and are really designed as a framework considering a response to a negative news article — in the traditional sense. However, it is interesting to me, that despite the new vehicle social media provides, these still seem like sound principles. Read More…

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Michael and the media


Photo credit:  Google Search (screenshot)

Photo credit: Google Search (screenshot)

by Frank Strong

Much ado about Michael Phelps. Well, so much for the person as the focus seems to be on his image.

As Fox News wrote, “A photo of Phelps smoking marijuana out of a bong at a party in November has brought his endorsement career to a crossroads, marketing experts say.” Indeed, the image consultants were out in force, even if his sponsors have thus far been supportive

Clearly this is an interesting development to anyone whose responsibility is to manage a pseudo-celebrity’s reputation. It’s quite possible a case study will wind up published in future editions of marketing textbooks. Still, even as a PR practitioner myself, the call for “a serious PR campaign” to remedy Mr. Phelps persona strike me as a bit much.

Clearly smoking dope won’t add value to his image, and there is certainly work to be done given the focus the media has placed on this event. But seriously…a PR campaign? Less PR and more sincerity strike me as a more appropriate approach, though I fully acknowledge the irony of my advice. Read More…

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