Archive for August, 2009

Why Sponsorship Still Matters In These Tough Economic Times

Posted on August 30, 2009. Filed under: Communications Strategy, Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Guest post by: Gail S. Bower | Read her blog

Earlier this year Northern Trust Bank took a public drubbing for proceeding with the second year of its five-year commitment to PGA Golf because it received TARP funds. According to a statement by the bank’s CEO, no public dollars funded the sponsorship, and the fiscally sound bank went forth with a program its leadership clearly values. How to jump-start sponsorship cover imageNorthern Trust participated in TARP at the government’s request, the statement noted, not because it needed the money. (You can read more about the effect this event had on sponsorship in my new guidebook How to Jump-start Your Sponsorship Strategy in Tough Times.)

I respect Northern Trust for honoring its commitment and for stating clearly its position in doing so. Corporate sponsorship is a marketing vehicle that gets results. When properly executed companies of all sizes benefit from incorporating sponsorship and event marketing into their business and marketing strategies.

After that incident other banks actually refused TARP dollars to avoid government and public scrutiny of their business decisions.

But some banks and financial firms were not so forthright. The New York Times reported on various corporations’ “‘stealth spending'” for event marketing. These companies are paying five- and six-figures to entertain clients, sans branding and identification of any kind.

I have a problem with the lack of transparency—with the sneakiness of the whole thing. But I endorse entertaining as a legitimate way to build relationships with clients, employees and vendors.

Take for example, Terry’s El Mariachi Supermarkets a Dallas-based chain of 13 stores that embraces the multi-cultural city it calls home. Terry Yu, the owner, invested $175,000 in a suite at the Dallas Cowboys’ fancy new stadium to reward workers and vendors whose support and loyalty have helped grow his business. He told the Dallas Morning News about what a “great investment” the luxury suite has been for him to provide a perk to staff and suppliers. (One of the first NFL franchises to broadcast in Spanish, the Cowboys have a large fan base among Texas and the Southwest’s Latino population, primarily from Mexico. So, imagine what a great perk this is.)

If entertaining employees and vendors works for Terry Yu, imagine how well it works for larger companies.

As a corporate sponsor, there are only three ways to go in these times:

  1. Discontinue sponsorship and be clear with stakeholders about that decision.
  2. Acknowledge that particular sponsorship investments meet your goals and provide value towards achieving business objectives. Be clear with the public, the media, and politicians about that decision and about why you are involved with sponsorships. Don’t engage in “stealth spending.”
  3. Be bold. Acknowledge that sponsorship works and determine new ways to do it that are not only acceptable for the times but that raise the bar. Champion a cause with strong brand alignment and enlist your clients in a day of service or in a cause marketing campaign to support your charity. (A February study on consumer perceptions on American corporations revealed that corporations that invest in a nonprofit organization or cause will win the favor of those consumers by 41 percent.)

Then shout it from the roof-tops. And build your business at the same time.

For those working with corporate sponsors, be sure your communications, both internally and externally, are supportive of corporate partners. If you uncover anti-corporate sentimentality, bring it to the surface and allow people to discuss it. Educate without being dismissive. Create parameters and policies that the staff, board, and other stakeholders will feel comfortable upholding.

Gail Bower is President of Bower & Co. Consulting LLC, a firm that assists nonprofit organizations and event/festival producers with dramatically raising their visibility, revenue, and impact. To learn more about her new guidebook, which provides a whole chapter on ways to enhance internal and external communications around sponsorship, visit http://www.GailBower.com/jumpstart. Her blog is http://www.SponsorshipStrategist.com.

What do YOU think about this post? Comments welcome.

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How To Create A Winning Corporate Social Media Policy

Posted on August 26, 2009. Filed under: Best practices, Blogs/Blogging, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Nearly every day there’s another research report raving about how corporations are getting into social media. One study — Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risk — dares to be different.referee signaling a touchdown- image by bigstockphoto

Yes, it includes those juicy numbers that gets everyone all exercised about the speed at which social media acceptance is accelerating. But then it pokes under the covers to reveal how deep-down, many executives think social media is risky business.

The biggest fear factors concern how use of social media while on the clock diminishes productivity as well as increases an IT infrastructure’s odds of being hit with computer viruses, and that corporate reputation can be damaged based on what employees post to their personal online accounts.

The report, prepared by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law, notes that the majority of these leery leaders are apt to visit social media sites to suss out what’s being said about their business — by outsiders and staffers alike — or to check out the competition.

Source: Russell Herder/Ethos Law, Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risk, August 2009

Source: Russell Herder/Ethos Law, Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risk, August 2009

Meanwhile, only 13 percent have included social media as part of the organization’s crises communications plans.

All defense and no offense

It’s wise to be concerned about chatter a company is instigating in cyberspace. Monitoring should be ongoing, findings analyzed and replies registered when warranted.

However, to trot out a familiar sports analogy, engaging with social media strictly to see what others are doing is akin to having a defense and no offense. You’re not being proactive and are at risk of enabling the competition to succeed at your expense.

Plus, if a crisis does occur, isn’t it better to know from experience how the game is played rather than sitting on the sidelines and then trying to figure it out under pressure, on the fly?

A better game plan

You can’t play the social media game from a distance. It’s imperative to get involved to advance your goals.

Here’s where the report really shines by spelling out best practices of good corporate social media policy. These include:

Maintain a consistent attitude

Social media guidelines should reflect the general corporate culture. For example, if your credo is all about being flexible and open-minded, then continue that mindset with social media.

Set rules and be sure everyone knows what they are

Because it’s an informal means of communication social media can be an easy if accidental conduit for exposing confidential information. Ensure it’s understood that any existing regulations regarding the disclosure of proprietary information also pertain to social media.

Be clear about when players can wear uniforms

Employees have professional and personal identities. A business may not go so far as to try and regulate the personal part, but it can establish what’s in or out of bounds. If employees makes personal posts that blast a political party should they be allowed to identify their business title and the company they work for? Is it okay for employees to list their work email address when making personal comments on controversial blogs? Good policy addresses potentially contentious issues and defines what’s prohibited.

Focus on performance

Engagement with social media can impact productivity. But a total prohibition of its use during work hours is not only impossible to enforce but also onerous. It’s okay to set restrictions, such as saying employees can only post to personal sites during a lunch break. Whatever the procedure, the focus should be on job performance rather taking a hard line about “company time.”

Be transparent

Companies that spy on employee usage of social media should let it be known that they are doing so. Disciplinary actions that can result as a breach of protocol should be clearly spelled out.

Run a training camp

Guidelines are all well and good, but risks are mitigated and compliance better achieved by clearly stating the rules of the game. Create a comprehensive training plan to let everyone know the playbook.

Get in the game

The best way to succeed with social media is to be a player. Establish a scheme to meet your objectives. Then grab the ball and run with it.

– Deni Kasrel

What type of social media game plan do YOU think a company should have? Comments welcome.

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How To Get Attention By Stating The Obvious

Posted on August 24, 2009. Filed under: Communications Strategy, Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Last week I wrote a post about a study which came to the astonishing conclusion that 40% of the content on Twitter is “pointless babble.”

The report was also picked up by numerous media outlets including Mashable, BBC, and  eMarketer.

Tell Me Something I Don’t Already Know

The survey was conducted by Pear Analytics. Their process was to randomly sample Twitter’s public timeline for a two-week span. They put tweets into six categories that aside from “pointless babble” included  “conversational,” meaning messages that go back and forth between people or attempt to spark conversation (questions or polls), and “pass-along value,” which covers any re-tweet. Items the Pear people qualified as “news” had to come from national mainstream sources, such as CNN and Fox. News on social media and anything published on TechCrunch or Mashable did not make the cut.

There are other specifics, but suffice to say, the whole thing is highly subjective.

Image from cover of Pear Analyics August 2009 survey of Twitter usage My reason for covering this less-than-scientific research was to point out that even if there is a lot of babble on Twitter the platform offers value to businesses.

I didn’t think the actual finding was surprising. Anyone who watches Twitter’s public timeline for maybe 10-15 minutes can come to the same conclusion.

Colleagues made the same observation. Some noted that in the scheme of things most conversations, and messages received via email, are not particularly important. So why pick on Twitter?

Why pay so much attention to a report that states the obvious?

It’s All In How You Say It

For starters, consider the word choice: “pointless babble.” How great is that? It’s not insignificant content or something equally mundane. ‘Tis trash talking the twitosphere.

Naturally, this spurred tweets galore. And it made for a terrific story hook.

Next, look at how Pear conveyed the win, place and show results:

Pear graphic of survey results for Twitter usage (first place pointless babble)

What a fun punchy graphic.

It’s All Very Official

Now take a gander at another image that shows a correlation between the type of tweet and the day of the week it tends to occur:

Pear Analtics chart showing Twitter usage survey results based on time and date of week

It’s good to have graphs and charts with numbers in a report to reinforce the idea that this is real research.

The study includes additional data from other sources. These stats and diagrams make it even more official.

Meantime, Pear plugs the study on its blog, where the post format closely resembles the Mashable web site. This is crafty subliminal schtick.

Masterful Marketing

I don’t have access to Pear Analytics’ financial statements but best guess is it’s a small business enterprise. Hats off to whoever dreamed this study up  — it surely draws attention to the company.

The point about the pointless babble on Twitter states the obvious.

Slick packaging makes it newsworthy.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think about getting attention by stating the obvious? Comments welcome.

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Why Sending A Letter Beats Email

Posted on August 21, 2009. Filed under: Commentary | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Mailing a letter (image from bigstock photo)Today I did something that I’ve not done in a while. I composed a letter, signed it with a pen and put it in a mailbox.

As is the norm anymore my main mode of correspondence is the digital kind. It’s easier to dash off an email and hit send.

I wrote the letter because a friend of mine isn’t really into email. He offered to pass my resume on to an acquaintance who may be able to assist in my job search. So there you go: Paper letter and resume it is.

The process of creating this hard copy dispatch—along with penning a real signature, folding the paper, addressing and sealing the envelope—felt different than the expediency of internet communication. There will be no email trail or online back and forth. Any response will be via real conversation.

How quaint.

This got me thinking about what goes missing when we lose the art of letter writing.

There are libraries with books, boxes and files of letters written by famous people: Mozart, Galileo, Vincent Van Gogh, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Samuel Beckett, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Dickenson and plenty more. Reading the letters of these luminaries sheds light on the person and the times they lived in. A book of email messages can’t have anywhere near the same insight or impact.

And wherefore goes the love letter? A piece of paper to be read, reread, saved and cherished. A love email? Not even close.

A letter on stationary or a note card is something that we touch. It’s personal because we hold it in our hand. That’s a different experience than reading a computer or smart phone screen.

A letter holds more gravitas than email. We’ve all heard the request, “put it in writing.”

The act of writing a letter often leads to more complete and thoughtful correspondence. With email we like to get to the point quick. With texting, even quicker.

It’s funny to think that if you want to stand out from the pack these days sending a paper letter might do the trick. Everyone else is online.

-Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think of the lost art of letter writing? Comments welcome.

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Is Twitter Really Just A Bunch of Babble?

Posted on August 19, 2009. Filed under: Communications Strategy, Social Media, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Is Twitter like a babbling brook?

Is Twitter just an endless stream of babble?

A new study claims that 40 percent of all content on Twitter is “pointless babble.”

This of course instigated much babbling amongst Twitter users.

Separating the good tweets from the chaff

Conducted by Pear Analytics, and based on a two-week watch of the public timeline, the report includes a variety of statistics about Twitter. The researchers admit to being surprised by this particular finding. They speculate that if the study went on for a longer period the results would likely change.

Why not take that extra time? What’s the hurry?

Anyhow, here’s the breakdown (numbers are rounded): The top slot (40 %), belongs to  “pointless babble” — defined by the Pear people as the “I am eating a sandwich now” tweets. A close second (38 %) is “conversational” — these include tweets that go back and forth like instant messages, as well as questions and polls. The remainder of the order is “pass along value” (anything with an RT, 9 %), self-promotion (6%), and both spam and news coming in at roughly 4% .

Competitive Advantage?

Facebook recently acquired FriendFeed and is rumored to be looking to bite into the microblogging pie. Perhaps Facebook can capitalize on this finding by promoting its new platform with a catchy slogan like  “20% less babble than the competing brand.”

Oh right, this is Facebook we’re talking about — that one may not get past the truth in advertising monitors.

Whose babble is it anyway?

Just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure it’s tough to know exactly how to qualify babble. What may be meaningless to Pear Analytics may be worth something to other folks.

And who uses the public timeline as a primary source for viewing tweets? Anyone with a Twitter account chooses who she/he wants to follow. If someone sputters too much mindless prattle, it’s easy enough to un-follow.

Twitter is a super-aggregator of multiple conversations happening at once. It enables users to chat with chums as well as to get drawn into discussions and meet people they might not otherwise become engaged with. Sure there’s lots of noise and nonsense to sort through. Just create a filter and nevermind the rest.

What’s a business to do?

The study may cause some companies to dismiss Twitter for business purposes. But make no mistake, Twitter does provide a value-proposition. It can drive sales (it’s a form of direct marketing), build your brand, supplement customer service, and act as a recruitment tool.

Twitter recently launched a site called Twitter 101 with case studies that show how Dell, Pepsi and eight other companies are benefiting from its platform. Sure the site is self-serving, but if it really does help you see how to use the platform to boost business, what’s the harm?

There are also books on the topic, including Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time and The Twitter Book. Not to mention any number of free articles on the web — so read those if you want an unbiased opinion.

Learn how to work the system

The main thing is, mega millions of people use Twitter. They are looking to see if your company (and your competitors) use it, too. Why disappoint that expectation?

But don’t just run into it without understanding the Twitter ethos. It’s a specific kind of social system.

Create a strategy and develop tactics. Make sure you have the resources to support that plan of action: The platform is free, but you’ll need people to mind your Twitter feed and to come up with worthwhile content.

Look beyond the babble.

Like many things, when it comes to Twitter, it’s really what you do with it that matters.

– Deni Kasrel

Do YOU think that Twitter is just a bunch of babble? Comments welcome.

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Use The Changing Dynamics of Friendship To Your Company’s Advantage

Posted on August 17, 2009. Filed under: Communications Strategy, Marketing and Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , |

According to the American Heritage Dictionary the word friend is defined as “a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.”

Time was, a friend was also someone you’d actually met. You may have first encountered this individual though school, work or a club/association, but the main thing was you had face-to-face experiences together.

Moreover, friendships took time to develop. You got to know one another, discovered things in common, and that helped form the bond.

That is so 1900s. Nowadays, creating a friendship is as simple as clicking a button.

We are becoming a society of cyber pen pals

Toon FriendsToday it’s easy to collect friends and colleagues. Just send an invite through certain social networking platforms and wait for someone to accept. With Twitter you don’t even need to ask; just hit follow and you’re hooked up.

If you can’t think of more people to become acquainted with on your own, no worries, there are systems to help out. Facebook offers “suggestions” of folks you might want to befriend and even shows how many mutual friends you share. LinkedIn presents “people you may know.”

But is someone that you meet strictly online truly a friend?

Not all online connections are true pals. Yet I can attest first-hand that it’s possible to create friendships solely though social networks.

You just need to do friendly things. Send a thoughtful reply when asked to connect that shows you paid attention to a person’s profile. When someone updates her/his profile send a message in response. Send a thank-you to whoever does you the favor of an RT on Twitter. Write chummy comments to Facebook posts. Offer meaningful replies to entries in a discussion group.

Basically you pay attention to and are responsive to a person’s interests and concerns.

Two friendly companies

This same idea can be applied to your business’ social networking activities. The key is, however you engage — be it via a blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. — do so as a human being rather than a stilted corporate suit.

One company that really gets this is Starbucks. The My Starbucks Idea site, where anyone can submit and vote on ideas, includes a blog called Ideas in Action which details how the company is responding to suggestions. Employees, seen smiling in photos, write these items in a chatty tone. Also, Starbucks is responsive to customer complaints and other comments as appear on its Twitter account. Recently, when a guy griped about the toffee nut being left out of his toffee nut latte, a Starbucks employee responded “Please take it back next time, we’ll remake it. Sorry about that.”

Another company that gets friendly is Pepsi. It’s Pepsi Refresh Everything Facebook entries include popular lingo. For instance, a message designed to get people to watch a video on YouTube read: “Hey Watching informercials [sic]…(well, almost. Hehe. Check out minute 1:50-yoga face is totally lol)”

Get real

In each of these instances you sense there’s a person behind the communication. The voice is genuine and likable. Even if it’s actually a product of the marketing department it doesn’t come across that way.

Creating friendships though social networks helps develop customer relationships that build loyalty to your brand and drive sales. Conversing with customers in this way may require rethinking on your company’s part. But it’s doable. After all, a business is comprised of real people — that’s the side you want to present.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think of the changing dynamics of friendship? Comments welcome.

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Does Social Media Make Traditional Media Irrelevant?

Posted on August 14, 2009. Filed under: Commentary, Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Social media is definitely an “It” topic these days.

Rightly so. When Grandma is friending you on Facebook and international events are being relayed to the world via Twitter, it’s clear the reach and impact of social media is getting deeper by the day.

Social media service providers are growing fast in number, as are new jobs titles like social media manager.

newspaper in trash canMeanwhile, print publications are confronted with dwindling readership. Radio listenership is decreasing due to the popularity of podcasts, iTunes and other online sources. Similarly, videos and broadcasts available via the web are chinking into TV territory.

Such events are prompting certain people in the marketing/communications world to wonder if traditional media is becoming irrelevant.

This strikes me as being like throwing the baby out with the bath water. Just because a new media is emerging doesn’t mean an older one is automatically obsolete.

I remember when video came out there was a lot of hoo-ha about how it would ruin the movie industry. Didn’t happen. Likewise cable didn’t kill off network TV.

The emergence of social media does mean that components of older media need to change how they do business. But it does not signify it’s time to bid arrivederci to traditional media.

Yet the topic is bubbling up. Yesterday, I tuned into a webinar sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America titled “Does Traditional Media Still Matter.”

This being a PRSA presentation you know the answer is yes. PR folks still have fat rolodexes and smartphones full of contacts in traditional media and they continue to get considerable measurable returns by working this beat.

Annie Jennings, a media strategist who works with a lot of authors, provided the bulk of the webinar’s case in support of traditional media. Jennings broke down the elements of traditional media into four parts: Radio, TV, print, internet. Of course the internet is really a hybrid that encompasses mainstream media, new media, and web 2.0.

In any event, here are some broad takeaways from what Jennings said about why traditional media still matters. And by the way, I am not suggesting that these thoughts are groundbreaking. Nevertheless, they bear repeating.

It’s huge and well-established
Traditional media has been around for a long time and even if the numbers are dropping it still reaches many millions of people all over the world.

The credibility factor
Being cited by traditional media implies a stamp of approval that suggests a person knows her/his stuff.  It’s a conduit to thought leader status.

Positioning
Being picked up by an outlet with broad reach, like say, the New York Times, one of Neil Cavuto’s business programs, or Oprah, instantly puts you in the national conversation. You’re also associated with a name brand. If the notice comes from lesser players, you’re still edging out the competition— you got on the show or in the article, not them.

A different kind of conversation
This mainly applies to radio, which enables in-depth discussion and conversation. And note, this is real conversation with the host and/or people who call-in, not simply online conversation—so there’s the human factor. Moreover, because people are often alone when they listen to the radio it’s a one-to-one relationship.

Good for circle-back
While Jennings advises against heavily promoting oneself when on radio or TV, you can say, “Visit my web site to sign up for my newsletter.”

Supports social media
Being featured on TV or radio is prime fodder for tweeting and Facebooking.  You can send out a message: “Be sure to catch me on the XYZ show tonight.”

So don’t let the hype around social media cloud reasonable thinking. To twist a Mark Twain quote: The reports of the death of traditional media are greatly exaggerated.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think of this post? Comments welcome.

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Keep Your Blog A No Flog Zone

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Blogs/Blogging | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Many companies are now integrating blogs into their marketing communications mix. But just calling something a blog doesn’t mean it is one.

Or at least not necessarily one that follows best practices for business blogging.

A bleary blog
Exhibit A: The blog for Savings.com, an online discount and coupon service that recently revamped its web site to make it more community oriented.

savings.com coupon blog-screenshotPosts (on this date) include a story about airline bereavement fares; photos from the Savings.com relaunch party; the top 10 best deals for the week of August 10-16 (this list includes discount offers from Frederick’s of Hollywood and Crabtree & Evelyn); a story about how the recession is affecting baseball teams; an article titled “What to Look for in a New Laptop”; and a “Best Store You Never Heard Of” feature.

Here comes the pitch
Many of the posts are highly sales oriented. The one about buying a laptop is a “shopping advice” informational article where highlighted brands are all companies that market through Savings.com. Likewise, “The Best Store You Never Heard Of” piece is a direct pitch for a vendor that lists offers through Savings.com.

A lot of the links within the different posts lead to deals included elsewhere on the site. And yes, it is called the Savings.com Coupons Blog, but it would be more accurate to just say, “Here’s where we promote the heck out of whoever pays us to advertise their discounts.”

And then there’s just a basic standard that the content should add value to the reader, which, sorry to say, the erratically written post on baseball teams having difficulties selling tickets in our troubled economy, fails to meet.

Kindly do not flog the reader
Ladies and gentlemen, this blog comes dangerously close to being a flog. Meaning it’s a fake blog. The “f” refers to the term flack, which is slang for a public relations/PR person. So it’s a flack blog, get it?

The reason it’s not a full on flog is that flogs are deceptive and hide the fact that they’re just a marketing tool in disguise. With the Savings.com blog it’s pretty clear what the deal is (pun intended). Even so, despite a scattering of stories under the category heading “odds and ends” that may not specifically pertain to site merchants, it’s heavily advertorial—that is, ads dressed up as articles.

A better way to go
A corporate blog can include a promotional aspect. But best practice is that it’s not so heavy handed in this regard. Also, if there is any kind of quid pro quo involved between the company that benefits from being mentioned and the one that does the mentioning, this should be disclosed.

In any case, a good business blog offers useful content that helps the reader better understand a product, service or brand. It might also present the company’s (or a particular employee’s) point of view on issues relating to its industry.

The best blogs are geared to creating a meaningful exchange between the writer/company and the reader, to include obtaining opinion and feedback. Better still, there’s a sense of personality to the posts. The main thing is, it’s not firmly slanted toward making a sale. You can use other areas of a web site for that purpose.

OK, repeat after me: A blog is not an advertisement.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think of blogs that flog? Your comments welcome.

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Curious Consequences Of The Twitter Outage

Posted on August 9, 2009. Filed under: Social Media, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Let’s hope everyone has recovered from the recent worldwide calamity that caused millions of people to experience a variety of disturbing symptoms such as twitching fingers, bulging eyes and fits of anxiety.

tweet brd 1.7 inchAll of which occurred as a result of last Thursday’s cyber attack that caused disruptions to a number of online services such as Facebook and LiveJournal, plus a total shut down of Twitter that lasted, gasp, a couple of hours.

Consequences beyond as noted include people having to actually speak to one another in real conversation; productivity surged due to employees concentrating on their jobs moreso than usual; pseudo-profound/deep thought messages (which flourish like kudzu on Twitter ) were ground to a halt; and an unknown number of people are now familiar with the term distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

One Person Really Can Make A Difference
Hard to believe, but the incident was reportedly the result of a coordinated assault targeting one person: A Eurasian economics professor who’s been writing about the conflict between Russia and the republic of Georgia. The hackers conducted a DDoS attack against this professor’s web pages on Twitter, LiveJournal, YouTube and Facebook. The fact that it also happened to wreak havoc well beyond the prof’s pages falls under the category of collateral damage.

Disruption of Business
While I have made light of this cyber crime, for certain companies like StockTwits, which is a Twitter-based information service for investors, the outage represented serious business (or rather non-business).

Of course enterprises that rely so heavily on a single social media platform are scarce. Still, use of social media as a means to regularly communicate with customers, and amongst employees, has skyrocketed in the last couple of years.

Last Thursday’s incident and other less dramatic interruptions that have occurred in the past prove the outsourced services are vulnerable. Moreover, because they’re free, there’s no promise or guarantee of service.

This is not to say the folks that run these platforms don’t give a whit. You can bet all of them want to up the ante on their security systems; it’s in their own best interest.

Lessons Learned
There are lessons to be learned here. One is, if you employ any of the free social media platforms, it’s a good idea to have a back-up crises plan. Just in case.

And two is, for those who believe social media is a fad, consider all the news coverage and the widespread effect of this event. If you think still think social media is faddish, then you’re just plain foolish.

– Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think about the consequences of the Twitter outage? Comments welcome.

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Contrary To Kermit, It Is Easy Being Green

Posted on August 7, 2009. Filed under: Marketing and Public Relations | Tags: , , , , , , , |

On a recent episode of his satiric TV show Stephen Colbert stated that be believed in climate change, “So I can market the new Colbert Report Green. It’s just like the regular Colbert Report, except that we reduce emissions by jumping on the bandwagon.”

Ha, ha. And right on point. Green is red hot as a marketing ploy these days.

bigstockphoto_Package-label-eco-friendly_4847779Clearly Kermit the frog was wrong when he opined “It’s not that easy being green.”

My health club has a sign in the bathroom stating that it’s switching from paper towels to air dryers in the interest of going green. Some restaurants no longer automatically serve water; you have to ask for it. Why? They’re saving environmental resources.

A regional bank is looking out for the earth by promoting home equity loans to be used to install solar panels.

Meanwhile, a vodka maker boasts that it’s “eco-friendly” and “saving the planet one glass at a time,” because “nothing goes to waste” in its distilling process, its bottles are made from recycled glass and the company is doing things around the office to reduce paper usage, like shifting to all electronic invoicing and order placement.

But is the health club really seeking to be a good citizen by going with air dryers? Or maybe that change has to do with the fact that using air dryers may lead to cost savings (paper is more expensive) and reduce maintenance (no need to refill the paper dispensers and there’s less trash to deal with).  Likewise, the vodka maker saves cash by making sure nothing goes to waste and by converting to a digital sales process.

Nothing wrong with that. But if so, then there’s more self-interest than public interest involved here.

Savvy marketing and public relations tactics pick up on trends and address concerns of the consumer. No bones about it; reducing global warming and saving resources matters. If you truly can lay claim to having an environmentally-friendly service or product, now is a good time to crow about it.

But if you’re doing what’s known as greenwashing—that is, you are simply jumping on the bandwagon—then your promotion could come off as dubious in its declaration of do-gooding. In which case it than it may not be worth the green you expend for the marketing campaign.

People will not buy it. In more ways than one.

-Deni Kasrel

What do YOU think about the growth in green marketing? Comments welcome.

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