Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

PRSA’s Corbett: ‘You’d think that companies would learn from history. But they don’t’

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Gerry Corbett has surely seen it all in some forty years of communicating. But social media is what has him worked up these days, and not the way you might think.

Corbett, the immediate past chair of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), sees social not as the end of corporate communication, but as the catalyst for the discipline’s reinvention.  At a joint luncheon of the Cleveland chapters of PRSA and the National Investor Relations Institute, Corbett said that both public relations and investor relations (and for that matter, marketing and employee communications) were properly part of a single activity: communicating with and building relationships between organizations and various stakeholders.

“Investor relations and public relations are likely to merge,” Corbett said, “because both are communicating and advocating for organizations, whether to employees, customers, media, investors or analysts.”

He remarked that only a consolidated communication executive can solve the trouble that ensues when messaging among these many publics becomes inconsistent and disjointed, especially in an age when just about anyone can seize the attention of companies. “With social media, anyone has a podium and can have their way.”

Corbett drove home the point by saying that communicators are the only ones who can properly educate the C-Suite on social media, and that with social media use rising in every aspect of corporate communication, the coordinated approach is the only alternative, as is reporting to the CEO.

The CFO is worried about funding the business, not about messaging, and if the CEO isn’t paying attention, he or she is failing to assert full responsibility as only that position can, he said.  The advent of social media is only the latest innovation that companies may be failing to embrace. “You’d think that companies would learn from history. But they don’t,” Corbett said.

My take

It was a good talk, but the big value for me was the Q and A following. Corbett’s best in dialogue and response, and unlike many sessions where one struggles to get the participants to open their mouths other than to devour the ubiquitous chicken, there were good, strategic questions, including a lulu from Melanie Eyerman of thunder::tech — how do you convince reluctant CEOs who don’t understand social media or its importance?

Corbett offered that building relationships at that level, becoming a Consigliere to leadership, a trusted advisor, even taking the CFO out for drinks, are all valid strategies. I’m not sure about the last one — it’s pretty hard to break past the gatekeepers at that level unless you’re already at the table.

That question intrigues me, though I suppose you do so the same things to sell any idea at the top of the house: figure out the communication style of the leader and present your case in that form; research thoroughly and articulate both benefits and risks, etc.  It’s the research angle (duhhh) that I think is most valid, unless the person you’re trying to convince has categorical short-attention-span disease. I want to explore that concept further, perhaps at a happy hour.

A number of other ideas circled around my weary synapses — place social in the category of issues management (however laughable the idea of managing issues might be in the age of social…) — write a white paper called “making sense of social media” and don’t use any “social media gurus” as sources — focus more on broad communication outcomes than on narrow marketing ones when it comes to social — dig hard for social case studies within specific industries, and don’t use Dell or Comcast unless you’re a) selling online, or b) making a case for communication to take  over customer service.

Definitely worth the luncheon. Besides, I got to hang out with Ann-Marie Halal, Rick Batyko, Laurie Mitchell, Tom O’Konowitz , Dave Meeker, and Jim Roop!

 

Note: I’m having a devil of a time posting images to this blog ever since it changed URLs last year. I’m open to suggestions!

 

 

 

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IABC Heritage conference is Oct. 14-16 – See you there!

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

The international conferences for both PRSA and IABC are epic gatherings. I attended several of them, but found the scale rather overwhelming, especially when trying to network. It seems like everyone is hustling to their next session, and there are few opportunities to connect with the same person across the days. That’s why I’m a big fan of the IABC Heritage Region conference – the scale is smaller and the ability to make personal connections better.

Besides, the quality of speakers is outstanding, the social aspects entertaining and this year’s conference is a mere two hours down the road from me in Pittsburgh. No cross-country flights, no rental cars, no tsuris. I’m a sponsor this year, and will have the honor of introducing a couple of speakers.

If you’ve wanted to shoot the breeze a bit on PR, measurement, internal comms, reputation, influence or anything else, come to the conference and find me. Hope to see you there.

Here are just a few of the sessions I’m looking forward to:

Andy Warhol: Marketing the Man and the Museum

Nicholas Chamber, Curator, Andy Warhol Museum

From Campbell’s soup cans to colorful portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Andy Warhol’s pop art celebrates the artistic expression, celebrity culture and ad-centric focus of the 1960s. As a renowned and often controversial artist, Warhol took the world of marketing to its limits in both his professional and personal life. The Andy Warhol Museum, which is the largest museum in the United State dedicated to a single artist, contains an extensive collection of Warhol’s art and archives. This session will take a closer look at Warhol’s early career in the advertising industry and the museum’s marketing efforts to engage with a diverse international audience about the artist’s life and work.

Best Practices in Engaging and Empowering Colleagues Through Social Media

Heather Young, Senior Manager, Corporate and Colleague Communications, Pfizer, Inc.

At the companies who do it best, no one person or department “owns” social media. Instead, they create advocates of their employees and train and empower them to speak on behalf of the company. This unique approach to social media requires hands on community management, policies that protect the company and its employees and a certain bravery and willingness to  accept risk. The payoff is an authentic, two-way, social media conversation that helps to positively shape and influence a company’s reputation. In this session, learn about these lessons through Pfizer’s Think Science Now program.

Setting Quantifiable Objectives: The Key to Proving PR Value

Mark Weiner, CEO, PRIME Research

In every business case – whether the organization is large or small, for-profit or nonprofit, local or global – there is an objective. But the best objectives in the world aren’t good enough if they can’t be measured. Corporate communicators increasingly are being required to provide proof of real value in the programming they plan and implement. An effective public relations program is rooted in research, which is used to set objectives, develop strategy and design tactics then moves through program execution and evaluation. This session will take attendees through a proven process for setting objectives that are measurable as well as address how to communicate with the C-suite about the process.

The New World of Communication: How Social Media, Games and Behavioral Economics Have Rewritten the Rule Book

Adam Wootton, Director of Social Media and Games, Towers Watson

The session will explore the new tools available for communicators to use to engage their audience with a focus on behavioral economics, social media, games and game mechanics. Participants will learn why these new tools are important, their advantages and disadvantages, and how to talk to senior leaders about them. Easy steps to get started for each will be shown along with firsthand practical examples for use.

 

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The role of scale in social media is oversold

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

The next time I see an article saying that social media measurement is about followers, likes and comments/retweets, I’m going to scream loud enough to raise the dead. These are not business results.

Social media measurement takes place across a three-part continuum — outputs, outtakes (or communication outcomes) and business results. Measurement should cover all three parts, including followers, likes, comments and retweets, but we must not mistake those outputs for real business impact. When we focus on the outputs, we’re extrapolating impact and the potential for impact — not measuring impact itself. When we look at the middle part — outtakes — we get wrapped up in web traffic without closing the loop.

Ask yourself WHY you want followers/fans. What is it we want them to think, feel or do? Measure that! Performance against objectives!  It doesn’t have to be sales/revenue/retention, but it’s mighty helpful if it does. Don’t stop at measuring only the things you have direct control over. Connect the dots. Carry your outputs to business results. Don’t rely on mere correlation — track the different inputs that lead to the objectives you’ve set.

What does the headline of this post have to do with these past 179 words?

Followers have to be influenced by you to feel, think or do something that advances your business objectives. There’s some credible research that suggests there’s a plateau of influence, a point at which influence wanes as the network grows larger.  More on this later, but I implore you — there are no shortcuts to establishing the impact proposition of public relations/communications. I don’t think you’ll find it by counting the number of retweets and likes, however easy that might be.

More info for those of you who might read it:

Katona, Z., Zubcsek, P., & Sarvary, M. (2011). Network effects and personal influences: The diffusion of an online social network. Journal of Marketing Research, 48(3), 425-443. doi:10.1509/jmkr.48.3.425

Kitsak, M., Gallos, L., Havlin, S., Litjeros, F., Muchnik, L., Stanley, H., & Makse, H. (2010, November ). Identifying spreaders in complex networks. Nature Physics, 6. DOI: 10.1038/NPHYS1746 . Retrieved April 8, 2012, from http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1001/1001.5285v2.pdf

Satell, G. (2011, November 6). Exploding the influentials myth [Web log post]. Retrieved April 6, 2012 from http://www.digitaltonto.com/2011/the-tyranny-of-influentials/

http://www.instituteforpr.org/2010/06/the-barcelona-declaration-of-research-principles/

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Are “incented” tweets and likes “deceptive”?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

As the  usual outlets for advertising sometimes appear doomed — see New Orleans’ Times-Picayune, or Dish Network’s latest innovation — what’s an exec in need of a megaphone to do?  Advertising is trying hard to adapt to the continuing media fragmentation, but what if their “innovation” is actually illegal?

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is taking a hard look at companies’ practice of offering incentives in exchange for Facebook “likes” and Twitter tweets. Ad guidelines already require a notice, like “#paid” on purchased tweets, which calls out advertisers who’d prefer to not expose their astroturf roots. So if, as a USA Today story said today, Target gives free samples to people who “like” their page, and Amazon gives $3 video credits in exchange for a tweet, that’s an advert and subject to the law.

This is the squishy underbelly of commercial use of social media, and why I insist that all marketing is communication but not all communication is marketing. If that’s not true, everything is marketing, and who cares if people cannot tell the difference between advertising and truth?

Strength or bliss, it’s still ignorance.

 

 

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Considering the state of online influence

Friday, April 27th, 2012

How do we measure influence?

If you read these humble musings semi-regularly, you know that I’m rather suspicious of most so-called measures of online influence. Too often, it’s black-box, secret sauce, cloak-and-dagger, and one really can’t judge the veracity of the claims.

I don’t want to single any company out, so suffice to say that whatever science is behind those claims, I have been looking for independent, scholarly research that might back it up. Conceptually, I ask myself: “Is online influence different from offline influence? How might we measure it if so? If not?”

This pondering, and the requirement to write a literature review for Dr. Danielle Coombs’s qualitative research class, pushed me into examining research from several different disciplines, including marketing and communication, psychology, sociology, information technology and even the hard sciences. In so doing, I believe I’m building a foundation for my eventual master’s thesis.

I am interested in the influence process as qualitative in nature, rather than strictly quantitative. Predictability isn’t necessarily what I’m striving for (thus guaranteeing I won’t get it published…), but rather trying to understand the process as it is.  You’ve heard the claims — retweets and @replies as evidence of influence (Kaushik’s RTs per 1000 followers), shares and likes on Facebook, etc.  We know that it’s quite variable according to who you are and what industry you’re in, who your audience is, and so forth.

In short, where’s the beef in this influence sandwich?

I’m unsatisfied by publications from research firms and others with a vested interest, which is a huge challenge. I have found so far that there’s not all that much in current scholarship that is directly related to the online space, and much of what there is dates from three to five years ago, an eternity in internet time.

So, stay tuned – I have no intention of abandoning this effort, and to the extent there is interest in what I’ve found so far, I plan to share.

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WSJ: Buzz May Not Matter

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Many of us in the measurement community strive to get people to connect communication activity to business results — outcomes, not outputs.  The reason for this fanaticism got ink in the Wall Street Journal today with a story about how TV shows that got great social media buzz wound up flopping once people actually saw the shows.

This should be no surprise.  Mainstream hype often produces a big opening weekend, but if the film is crappy, the grosses deflate pretty fast.  It makes sense to be the same in SocMed.  Still, I know there are some SocMed consultants in Hollywood right now trying to convince the studios that all that Twitter and Facebook traffic built on the back of a hot trailer will lead to bigger receipts at the box office.

For the right films, that’s probably got some truth. But for everyone?

That’s why we cannot ascribe attaining squishy communication targets as ROI. They aren’t.  If success is Twitter mentions, Facebook fans and other hype, all that stuff had better lead to business results of some description. Outcomes, baby, not outputs.

By the way, how’d you like Green Lantern? Charlie’s Angels (the reboot?) The Playboy Club (on NBC?) They all got terrific buzz…

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I guess I don’t ‘live social’

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

As much as I like fulminating here, and pinging around Twitter, I don’t think I’m all-in on the social media poker pot. When there’s little billing activity and no classwork from either the one I teach or the one I take, I write posts, do Twitter chats, and otherwise try to be a participant.

I’ve met some terrific people through Twitter, enjoy catching up on Facebook and LinkedIn (though my LI activity is woefully small), but I don’t post my status at all hours, don’t use location apps like Foursquare, have barely scratched the possibilities for Google+ and couldn’t tell you if Quora is better than Posterus.

I feel guilty that friends will send emails, “you ok? you’re so quiet!” — but not guilty enough to be up at 10 p.m. playing the social media butterfly. I likes me quiet time, non-electronic. I love hiking in the woods or along the lakeshore. I love playing my guitar and talking to my Esteemed Spouse. I love our friends, face to face discussion, anything featuring food and wine.

Perhaps, after all, I’m analog in a digital world, a mere social media dilettante.

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Group Texts for Internal Comms?

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

An interesting tidbit surfaced in the PRSA newspaper, PRTactics, in June. It’s an Amy Jacques piece on GroupMe, a new smartphone app that got noticed at South By Southwest this year.

GroupMe lets people set up their own private communities, using text messaging. Think of the possibilities within companies — you form a task force to work on a project, and instead of relying on email, you form the group (which gets its own telephone number) and voila! Send a text to the group to initiate a conversation on the fly. No clumsy email thread, no open-to-all Twitter discussion, no sending additional traffic through the organization email servers.

On one hand, it’s a continuation of the trend of making employees responsible for their own communication. On the other, it’s removing another control (that could scare the bejabbers out of your compliance department.)

Composing people into self-directed groups within which they manage their own communication democratizes information. Reaching them on their increasingly sophisticated phones instead of waiting for them to return to their computers seems a likely progression.

The story notes that the social media world is “competitive, hyperactive and continually blossoming into  a place with too much going on — too overwhelming, too public and too sterile.” Mobile isn’t playing third-fiddle to TV and computers — it’s sitting in the first chair in the media symphony.

 

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Social Media Making Inroads Internally

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

A festive #ICChat on 16 June raced through the portfolio of social media tools that @GEHealthcare is putting to use for internal communications, thanks to special guest Ilene Rosen, who manages communication technology for the company.

Rosen (@irosen) notes that as a heavily regulated industry, it might seem that user-generated content and tools that promote unfiltered dialogue would be shunned, but not so. GE healthcare remains extremely cautious about external use of such tools, though Rosen helps the comms team employ them both internally and as appropriate, externally. On the internal side, the company uses Blogs, Wikis and discussion forums effectively.

@irosen               I have a great job @gehealthcare. I help our comms ppl match the right techtools to their comms strategy and offer support/training #icchat

@irosen               My background is primarily in intranets, web production and content management #icchat

Rather than using third-party software, Rosen says GE Healthcare uses custom products>

@irosen               Q1: The majority of our tools are “homegrown” vs off the shelf/enterprise. #icchat

Video is increasing in importance for @GEHealthcare:

@irosen               Q1: An internal video platform will be launching within a few weeks as well #icchat

@csledzik @irosen Was video platform a response to having a lot of video content already? Or in anticipation of having a lot more video? #icchat

@irosen               @CommAMMO We generate many videos in Comms but were just hosting them on a server with no ways to measure them @csledzik #icchat

@irosen               We have been cooking the idea for a few years for the videohub and Corporate GE found a great solution that we are all excited about #icchat

Judy Jones, a first-time participant (Thanks!) asked a really good question:

@redjudy Do you find that IT pushes back on your ideas? And if so do you have a method to address their concerns? #icchat

@irosen               @redjudy we have a good relationship w/ IT and value their input as a partner so if they raise an issue, there is a good reason #icchat

@CommAMMO .@irosen @redjudy Big win for us at Goodyear was building rela w/IT, esp CIO-finding comm ground. Many IT issues are similar 2comms #icchat

Relationship-building has always been a critical skill for internal communicators, but it’s never been more important to partner with IT (and HR) than now.  The tools are more sophisticated and dynamic (how hard was it to read a magazine?) – and being a bridge between the technical and editorial could be a career growth strategy all its own.

@irosen               Part of my job is 2 educate people on the tools and empower them- but need 2b realistic, not everyone is comfortable with technology #icchat

@irosen               Blogging is a good example – It is easy for me to blog, but there are ppl who c all the “bells and whistles” etc and freeze up… #icchat

@irosen               @CommAMMO Every tool that is rolled out, we make sure training is available – sometimes by myself and sometimes outside the team #icchat

@irosen               I also maintain a wiki for basic educational/training/how to tips that I encourage my team members to contribute to #icchat

Why use these tools internally?

@irosen               The ultimate goal we want 2 reach is 2 have the same web experience internally as empl have when they go home &boot up their laptops #icchat

@CommAMMO               .@redjudy @irosen can’t say enough how import it is to match work comm tools w/home expectns. New gen of wrkrs won’t have it othwys #icchat

Darn straight. We’re in competition for share of mind.

If blogs, wikis and discussion groups are working, what isn’t?

@JPChurch:        A2: We’ve tried podcasting, but hasn’t really taken off … not sure why. Time? Too many other options? Need more research. #icchat

@irosen               Q2: hmmm….hard to say but if I had to pick one it would be podcasts. Email is still the killer app (no surprise there) #icchat

@jgombita @CommAMMO I’m making an educated guess here, but my guess is “tagging” photos and videos, etc. #icchat

@Wedge #icchat @jgombita I find more people are getting to grips with tagging on the #intranet and those people evagelise!

@csledzik            @jgombita People don’t understand benefits of metadata — they just get frustrated when they can’t find something. #icchat

What about technology to help employees collaborate?

@irosen               We have an internal collaboration tool that has not really taken off – #icchat

@irosen               Techy companies are going be all over collab platforms while we may not be – and that’s ok #icchat

There’s more in the transcript (thanks to www.searchhash.com) that’s well worth reading.  Find it HERE.

Join us 14 July for another edition of #icchat – and follow @commammo on Twitter for info about our special guest, and the time of day of the chat.

Thanks to all participants — @christyseason @johndeeretara @twistina @domcrincoli @chris_pb @allthingsic @ericakei  — and those quoted above.

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Engagement as an ‘Objective’

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Gotta hit the bullseye (creative commons)

True or False: The point of social media for business is to engage with people.

That statement is being used as a club to pummel the reluctant into the social media world. Remember the glory days of the dawn of the World Wide Web?  Businesses needed Web sites because customers who weren’t on the Web now would be soon… Because people would look up your business on Yahoo! or Alta Vista or AOL to try and learn about you…Because it was so cool to be on the Web!

It took a while to get there, but now the idea that a business could be viable without a website is ludicrous. It may well turn out that way for social media too.  But back to the first sentence — there’s a defensible body of wisdom that says social media for businesses isn’t about direct selling (Southwest Airlines excluded, as well as other online businesses), it’s about engagement.

So how do we know if our audience/stakeholders is/are engaged?

It could be blog comments, Twitter @ replies and RTs, Facebook “likes” or any number of seemingly independent activities. But do those activities really constitute engagement in a meaningful way?

I surmise that there needs to be more independent research to answer that question. As well, I wonder whether engagement really matters to the business, which is the pregnant elephant in the living room in measurement circles. I’m most concerned with what happens as a result of engagement than of engagement itself.

But I am comfortable with the notion of engagement as a goal, a weigh station on the way to a business objective. To use the academic vernacular, it’s likely an outtake — a measurable step on the way to business results — rather than a business result of its own.  Though some folks have averred that those who engage with a brand are more likely to spend and spend more than those who do not, the research is self-serving — it’s coming from firms who have a vested interest.  Open up the methodology in that black box and let’s have the math types run it through a wringer!

In the meantime, go ahead with your plans to engage publics — just be sure that engagement is in service to something that matters to business results.

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