Playing the Trump Card

June 28, 2016

by Dan Ward

Donald Trump’s recent free-fall in the polls holds an important lesson for communicators (beyond the obvious “don’t base your entire messaging platform on insults”).

Trump appears to be falling into a common trap that ensnares many communicators:  believing tools are the same as strategies.  Earlier this month, Trump dismissed the need for extensive fundraising, stating “I just don’t think I need nearly as much money as other people need because I get so much publicity … I get so many interviews, if I want them.”

He did generate a tremendous amount of publicity during the primaries, relying heavily on provocative tweets.  That may work in a primary where candidates speak to “the base,” but a general election campaign requires a comprehensive strategy … relationship-building with key influencers, market segmentation and targeted communication, targeted (and expensive) advertising buys, nuanced position statements, direct outreach, and delegation of authority to teams who can spread a candidate’s message through a solid “ground game.”

The same is true in managing a strategic communication campaign for a client or corporation.  Twitter is not a strategy.  It’s a tool.  Publicity alone is not enough to move the needle and drive consumers, influencers, elected leaders and regulators to action.  We need a ground game, too.

It remains to be seen whether Trump’s decision to bring in new campaign leadership will lead to a more comprehensive, and more successful, campaign.  He has an opportunity given the political weaknesses of his opponent.  But if he continues to focus on those weaknesses in two-minute sound bites and 140-character tweets at the expense of a real strategy, his numbers will continue to fall.


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.


Social Confusion

January 27, 2016

by Roger Pynn

As social media companies struggle to figure out a sustainable business model, this word from Fast Company that Twitter may be treating its “most valuable” users to an ad-free environment adds to the perception that media companies are wandering in search of a “promised land” rather than sticking to their knitting.

How do you explain to me, as an advertiser, that the people you say are really important are off limits to my paid messaging?  Has it struck Jack Dorsey that exposure to those eyeballs is perhaps the most important asset he can sell?

Are online giants like Twitter going the way of newspapers … chasing their tails to attract new members to their tribe and abandoning the most loyal warriors?  Newspapers long ago tossed their print subscribers to the side of the road.  Will Twitter be next?


#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?

 

 

 


The Power of the Right Advocate

June 22, 2015

by Vianka McConville

For years, music artists have cried out against piracy without much change in music streaming services.  Sure, lawsuits with a hefty price tag may have yielded results, but they lacked in sweeping reform.

Then came Taylor Swift.

Swift has singlehandedly pressured music streaming services to change policies that leave the artist out of luck when payday rolls around.  Most recently, Apple bends the knee and will pay royalties to artists during a free trial of Apple Music.  The company took one day to reverse its policy.  No lawsuits needed.

Taylor Swift Twitter

With such power to enact change, Swift has become an effective advocate for artists.  So much so, Mashable’s Seth Fiegerman sends a playful tweet to recruit her for another cause.

Seth Fiegerman

This is a lesson for all of us.  When a passionate person is armed with a well-crafted and heartfelt message, people listen.


It’s Not Delivery. It’s Anonymous. And Wrong.

September 12, 2014

by Dan Ward

Like many PR people, I’ve been monitoring reaction to the @DiGiorno Twitter debacle, in which the person behind the company’s Twitter account made a joke using the #WhyIStayed hashtag without realizing that tag was being used to discuss stories of domestic violence.

Beyond providing a lesson on the need to think before you tweet, as well as the benefits of a sincere apology, the story has shown once again how anonymous message boards are, as Roger Pynn has pointed out, the sewer of the Internet.

Check this comment from “guest” to a PR Daily story:  “PR people have to clean up after clueless and ignorant social media staffers who don’t read and think before they comment … if this guy worked for me, he’d be gone.  No second chances.”

So not only does the anonymous “guest” make the assumption that the poster was some ignorant staffer with no PR background, he advocates the always successful “no failure” business policy.  So, unlike the MythBusters team, those who work for him know that failure is never an option.  I’m sure that leadership style makes his team eager to take risks and try new things.

Then there’s this comment from “Anonymous:”  “The premise that apologies are required is a fallacy of the young and inexperienced and naïve.  What is required is corrective action … firing the person responsible and announcing that.”

I’m neither young, nor inexperienced, nor (I hope) naïve, but I happen to believe quite strongly that apologies ARE required when you screw up.  When you make a mistake, say so, apologize for it and then take corrective action.

But is dismissal really the appropriate corrective action in this case? The poster realized his mistake almost immediately, apologized profusely to all followers, then apologized over and over again to everyone who rightfully called his post stupid, idiotic, moronic and every other word that means just plain dumb.

We’re not in the habit of firing people for making mistakes.  If so, I’d have fired myself a thousand times over the last 20+ years.  This was by all means a whopper of a mistake, one that was easily avoidable. But it wasn’t willful.  It should be an experience from which the poster hopefully will learn, rather than a mistake from which his career will never recover.


Few Words, Big Meaning

April 11, 2014

by Dan Ward

Tim Siedell, one of the funniest people on Twitter (@BadBanana), today offered proof that 140 characters is more than enough to send a powerful message.

“Pretty cool how the Internet allows everyone to have a voice on who should be silenced next.”

Those of us who communicate for a living should strive to put so much meaning into so few words.


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