A Logo is Not a Brand

May 12, 2016

by Kim Stangle

A brand is a promise you make to your stakeholders.  It’s delivering on who you say you are as an organization, person or otherwise.  A logo is the identifiable part of that brand, but it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) have much else to do with how you operate or the promises you make.

That said it’s remarkable to me how vocal people are when companies unveil new logos.  When social networking behemoth, Instagram, introduced a new suite of logos for their products yesterday, the Internet revolted.  But, don’t you wonder exactly why they revolted?  The user experience inside the popular app only changed slightly—for the better, if you ask me.  But, still we complain.

While it’s the redesign that spawned a thousand memes, their approach was thoughtful and their execution was deliberate.  For that reason alone, I’m going to refrain from criticism.


Go Beyond the Headline

April 14, 2016

by Dan Ward

The CIO.com headline, “6 ways Twitter can help your business go beyond PR” quickly grabbed my attention.  Maybe I could learn something about how to use Twitter to go beyond traditional PR techniques.

But after reading the article, I think the headline writer may have a mistaken impression of public relations … since each of the “6 ways” already falls within the PR practitioner’s toolbox.

  1. Lead Generation/Customer Acquisition – PR pros use Twitter not only to engage with existing customers, but also to grow an organization’s customer base.  “Reward your Twitter followers with special promotions and flash sales”?  Yep, we do that.
  2. Recruiting – Our agency, and I’m sure many others, often works with clients to manage public relations strategies targeting the best and brightest future employees, and Twitter is one channel often used for recruitment messaging.
  3. Market Research – Anyone who has ever studied public relations knows that in the “RPIE” acronym used to outline PR plans, “R” stands for research.  And it always comes first.  As we say often at Taking Aim, you can’t fire until you first find your target.
  4. Event Marketing – Good advice here from author Jennifer Lonoff Schiff on using Twitter’s advertising features for event promotion, a core practice area for many PR pros.
  5. Customer Service – Yes, indeed, Twitter is a great customer service tool, and increasingly customers see it as a primary tool for communication with a company.  Companies who manage this successfully are those that involve the PR team crafting the customer service message.
  6. Media Relations – Pretty sure media relations does not “go beyond” PR.  It often begins and ends with PR, and I completely agree with the author that Twitter is a tremendous resource.  We often use Twitter not only to research and identify media contacts, but also as the primary communication channel for pitching stories. And reporters increasingly use Twitter to find resources.  Smart PR pros follow reporters who cover their areas of expertise, and regularly monitor their feeds to mine story opportunities.

Looking beyond the headline, the story clearly offers some good suggestions for practitioners to consider for future PR programs.  One hopes we can use such tools to educate headline writers about the work we do.


Curses!

March 2, 2016

by Roger Pynn

The media love a train wreck (see the 2016 Presidential race).  The only thing they seem to love even more is a troubled cruise line (see the tribulations of Carnival and Costa).

And now they have another.

But they also love to give names to sensational stories.  My first recollection of that was Watergate, the break-in by Nixon political operatives to a Washington, D. C., office complex by that name that has since spawned countless “gates,” so named by media before the birth of the hashtag.

One has to wonder when someone will sue a headline writer for defamation.


Don’t Sweep Your Crisis Under the Rug

August 14, 2015

by Heather Keroes

One of my favorite makeup brands is Lime Crime.  Their products are cruelty free and highly pigmented in a rainbow of unique colors.  I’m also a sucker for unicorns on packaging.  But when a friend told me Lime Crime received a warning from the FDA, I immediately stopped using all of their products.  This was no Internet rumor set for debunking on Snopes.  She sent me a link to an FDA letter warning Lime Crime about unsafe ingredients in one of their most popular lipsticks.

Lime Crime claims that the ingredients in question were incorrectly printed on their boxes.  But in any case, until the issue is resolved with the FDA, how can their loyal customers feel comfortable?

Lime Crime has taken a reactive approach to the crisis.  A very active brand on social media, Lime Crime continued to post promos for their makeup for several weeks, as if nothing had happened.  But when you have a vocal fan community of 1.6 million followers on Instagram, nearly 700k on Facebook, and more elsewhere, your strategy can’t be to hide and hope it all blows over.

I’ll give Lime Crime credit.  Earlier this week, they started responding to some of the concerned customer comments on social.  Here’s just a small peek at one of those conversations.

 

Lime Crime

 

The brand’s response hasn’t been enough to quell concerns.  And now, Lime Crime has gone silent on social.  The company prepared a statement on the safety issue, but it can only be accessed through a direct link, which was only shared in reply to several comments on social.

I doubt Lime Crime had a crisis communications plan in place before the FDA incident.  Product safety is an issue that should definitely be on the list for any company in their industry.  Unfortunately, they haven’t addressed the issue in a way that makes consumers think they are taking it seriously instead of, as the brand said, sweeping it under the rug.  In the meantime, my lipsticks will be swept under the rug too.


#PrimeDayFail

July 17, 2015

by Ashley Tinstman

Everyone was talking about it.  There were ads on TV.  The buzz on social media was building.  Amazon Prime Day was coming, and it was going to be bigger than Black Friday—the sale to end all sales.  Consumers excitedly waited for July 15 to arrive, filling up their virtual shopping carts with all the items they expected to go on sale at midnight.  And then …

The deals never came.  Shoppers searched through Amazon’s website looking for the sales they had anticipated.  But as they were looking for tablets, phones and fashion accessories, what they found was much different.  Instead, they came across “exclusive” deals for duct tape, a VHS rewinder, a shoehorn and a bunion regulator.  (Seriously?  I don’t even know what a bunion regulator is.)

And as you can imagine, the social media world exploded.  People likened Prime Day to a giant, mediocre yard sale, and then, the #PrimeDayFail hashtag was born.  The ensuing tweets were as snarky as you might expect:

Tweet 1

Tweet 2

I was laughing so hard reading the #PrimeDayFail tweets that people probably thought I was crying.  But through my laughter, Prime Day also made me pause and think about the value of honest communication. Regardless of the tactic you’re implementing—whether it’s a social media campaign or a massive sale—effective marketing requires upfront and honest communication.

This doesn’t mean that Amazon intentionally tried to dupe people, but as a whole, that’s what consumers perceived.  They felt frustrated, as if Amazon had lured them in to sign up for its $99 per year Prime service, only to turn around and try to sell them dishwasher detergent for 20 percent off.  It felt dishonest for a company that is known for its excellent customer service and loyal customer base.

But for Amazon’s part, they were extremely pleased with their “subpar yard sale,” saying Prime Day was a success with sales surpassing Black Friday 2014.  But if Amazon is evaluating success from multiple angles (as it should be), it might want to take into account the sentiments of its shoppers.

Tweet 3

Amazon Prime Day may be coming back, but I have to wonder, will its customers come back too?

 

 

 


Disconnected Customer Service

June 24, 2015

by Kim Stangle

Social Media has changed so many landscapes.  One major change is how consumers communicate with brands.  And it’s proven to be a difficult landscape to navigate for many.  How quickly, if at all, do you respond to complaints and praise?  When do you take a conversation offline?  Do you respond to everything?  If not, how do you determine what to respond to?

Many advanced brands have seen the value and invested in teams to manage the process.  Laurie Meacham shared Jet Blue’s remarkable customer service strategy at last year’s Social Fresh conference.  One of their key points is collaboration between all team members, not just those in one department or another.

I was reminded of the importance of this connection when our cable modem was zapped by lightning last weekend.  Instinctually, I called the 800 number for our local provider, Brighthouse.  The call was fine, a service call was scheduled and I was on my way to a working modem the next day.  Or so I thought.

When the tech didn’t show up in the service window we agreed to, I again called customer service.  This time, I was met with a less than helpful customer service agent who couldn’t offer much assistance.  In fact, there was an overall sense that it didn’t matter much at all that we’d shelved plans to be available for the service window that they’d scheduled and missed.

Naturally, I took to Twitter.  Within minutes of my tweet, I received a response from @BrighthouseCare.  Not only were they helpful, but they were empathetic and apologetic for the misstep.  Beyond that, they rescheduled the service call for me and asked that I follow up if there were any issues.

How could the service have been so vastly different?  One left me wanting to cut the cable cord immediately, while the other deserves a pat on the back for above and beyond customer service.

Brighthouse, if you’re listening, it’s time to insist that customer service is handled the same across the board.  And, if you need some training tips, look no further than your own social media team.


Too Busy to Socialize

February 25, 2015

by Kim Taylor

I’ll admit, I never thought it would happen.  I didn’t even see it coming.  And, then it hit me.  I haven’t blogged in weeks, I rarely find time to tweet during the day and I even scheduled a Facebook update a week in advance knowing what my upcoming schedule looked like.

I used to shake my head in dismay when people said they “didn’t have time for Twitter.”  I’d argue it only takes a few minutes here and there.  That’s the truth, unless you really want to contribute something valuable to keep your followers engaged and attract new ones.  When I look through the tweet stream at my last 30 tweets, I’m not exactly providing earth-shattering value.  And, no, live-tweeting the Oscars Sunday night doesn’t count.

So, what do you do when you’re too busy to “socialize”?  Am I the only one who feels a twinge of guilt for being absent on social media channels?  Or, is it natural to shelve it when “real work” takes precedence?


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