Hashtag Politics

August 19, 2014

by Kim Taylor

Political campaigns have entered an entire new arena with the addition of social media to a candidate’s campaign.  Campaign advertising on television is now heartily supplemented by Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.  And, nowhere is that more apparent than in our own state governor’s race … in particular, in Charlie Crist’s second attempt at winning the seat.

If you’ve seen at least one of Crist’s ads on TV, you might’ve noticed the catchy #ShadyRick hashtag referring, of course, to his opponent and current governor, Rick Scott.  It caught my eye because it’s the first time I recall seeing a hashtag deliberately used as part of a campaign.

And, while hashtags can often be abused and overused, their intentional use can be very effective.  The incorporation of hashtags into other mediums such as Facebook and Instagram make them even more powerful.

Suppose you’re not really into politics or are unfamiliar with a candidate.  A simple search of Crist’s #ShadyRick hashtag will yield pages and pages of reading material.  An added benefit for the candidate is that popular hashtags often become trending topics garnering a topic even more attention.

Of course, as with all social media, results can’t always be predicted and since the use of hashtags is organic and can be used by anyone, you can expect an outlier or two.  I’m almost certain the #ShadyRick pictured below is not our current governor.  Choose your hashtags wisely.


Anticipating Sales with Social Media

August 5, 2014

by Vianka McConville


Does posting to Facebook or sharing a tweet contribute to the bottom line? Let’s see…

A recent blog post from TrackMaven (a data company for marketing professionals) highlights a statement from J.Crew’s annual S.E.C filing:

“J.Crew customers who engage with us via our social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram) generally spend approximately 2x more than the average J.Crew customer.”

How did J.Crew track data to make such a statement? TrackMaven pointed out that products with direct links to buy online were included in posts, but these posts were not frequent, meaning there is another measure for sales from social media. Does a magical tracking system exist?

The S.E.C. filing goes on to note:

“We believe our success depends in substantial part on our ability to originate and define product and fashion trends as well as to timely anticipate, gauge and react to changing consumer demands.”

J.Crew’s methods in tracking data are not revealed – therefore we might never know if a magical system exists.  However, we are given a hint as the company alludes to mastering the ability to anticipate as a key component to sales. Perhaps the connection between social media and customer spend (at least some part) is that social media can create a great data mine for a much better understanding of what to anticipate, i.e., what product to mass produce for high revenue.

Social media can often be looked at through a lens of “likes” and “retweets,” but perhaps its real value is in the amount of data that it can reveal about current and potential customers.

Want to Avoid Negative Reviews? Provide Better Service.

August 4, 2014

by Dan Ward

Mashable reported on Monday about the Union Street Guest House in Hudson, NY, which threatens to fine guests $500 for negative reviews.

In what will be a surprise to no one except the Union Street Guest House management team, this policy has resulted in an increase in negative reviews, mostly from people who have not stayed there but who believe the policy to be absurd.

Here’s a thought for the Guest House team:  if you’re upset about negative reviews, provide better service.  You might even try listening to what your guests are telling you and making changes to provide a better experience.

The Guest House explains on its website that it is not for everyone, and that its vintage look is sometimes unpopular with guests.  Instead of fining those who don’t like the look, the Guest House should try targeting its message to those who will.

The Ethical Gut-Check

August 1, 2014

by Kerry Martin

Almost every industry or profession has a moral standard to which they adhere.  Doctors have the Hippocratic Oath, lawyers have the Bar Association with its Rules of Professional Conduct and the clergy have a pretty big book.  For public relations practitioners, we have a code of ethics – both developed by the Public Relations Society of America and the Florida Public Relations Association (FPRA).

Yesterday during a breakfast meeting of the Orlando Area chapter of FPRA, Roger Pynn, APR, CPRC, gave the room of PR professionals a pop quiz on their knowledge of the Code of Ethics.  While no one could recite any of the 14 principles from rote memory, in every business scenario he posed to the group, the audience could point out the ethical dilemmas and what lines were crossed.

Throughout the presentation, I saw PR practitioners studiously reviewing the principles of adhering “to the highest standards of accuracy and truth,” dealing “fairly with the public” and exemplifying “high standards of honesty and integrity.”  But what Roger offered the group was perhaps more helpful than any pneumonic memorization device:  a mirror.


Roger’s advice:  If you want to know whether you are doing the right thing, take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror.  That’s the ethics gut-check you really need.

Don’t Repeat Negative Language

July 29, 2014

by Dan Ward

One rule of media training that we stress time and again in our Message Matrix® program is “don’t repeat negative language, even to deny it.”

The reason for that rule was illustrated today by President Obama’s answer to a question about our relationship with Russia. When asked “is this a new Cold War?” after announcing new economic sanctions, Obama responded, “No, it’s not a new Cold War. It’s a very specific issue related to Russia’s unwillingness to let Ukraine seek its own path.”

So what were the immediate headlines and tweets?


When you repeat negative language, you give media the headlines THEY want, rather than headlines that convey a message you want to communicate.

The President had a lot of important things to say today, but many people will only hear two words.

Consistency is Key

July 28, 2014

by Julie Hall

By now, you’ve probably heard the viral recording of a Comcast customer service call that went very badly (to say the least).  Comcast’s senior vice president of customer experience has since issued an apology stating that, “The way in which our representative communicated with them is unacceptable and not consistent with how we train our customer service representatives.”

However, an internal Comcast memo was leaked this week that paints a slightly different picture.  Dave Watson, Comcast’s chief operating officer, wrote that, “The agent on this call did a lot of what we trained him and paid him – and thousands of other Retention agents – to do.”

I’m sure Comcast’s PR team helped craft the memo and most of the message points are on target—that the incident is regretful and not representative of the typical Comcast customer service experience.  But just one poorly worded line in an otherwise well-crafted statement can overwhelm the entire message.

In today’s digital world, you must assume that any communication, even if it’s intended to remain internal, will become public.  Maintaining a consistent message across all communications—internal and external—is an inherent part of any sound communications strategy.  If two of your executives are singing an evenly slightly different tune, your whole message is off key.

What Justin Timberlake Can Teach You About Service

July 24, 2014

by Kim Taylor

Typically headlines like that are written just for the click, but stick with me, this one’s for real.

There’s a song on Justin Timberlake’s latest album that has the perfect amount of beats per minute for a run.  I listen to it nearly every time I go out because I loathe running more than root canals and I find myself almost forgetting about how painful it is when this track comes on.

The chorus gets me every time, though, and instead of thinking about music or running, I end up thinking about what constitutes good client/customer service.  The line, which repeats itself five times per chorus (and is also the title of the song), is simple:  Gimme what I don’t know I want.

Simple, yet so poignant.  Think about every situation where you’ve been wowed … every time you’ve been compelled to write a positive review, or send a tweet of praise, or brag to your friends about the fantastic service you received.

Want to boost your client relationships?  Impress your boss?  Next time, think about giving them something they didn’t even know they wanted.


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