Social media: You’re not notable by your absence

July 1, 2009

Lots of companies, especially smaller ones, are a little freaked out by social media. They might not fully comprehend the purpose. They may feel it is a risky, uncontrollable venture. They may view it as the domain of the young and those with too much time on their hands. They may consider it a potential time-waster, or they may not see the value in devoting money and human resources to it, especially when they can still invest money in the tried and true marketing methods they have employed for years and, in some cases, decades.

It is time for businesses of every size to throw all of these caveats out the window. A lack of participation in social media at this point is akin to a lack of a web site or e-mail. Social media offers a terrific, relatively low-cost opportunity for every sort of business that wants to build stronger, more interactive relationships with its customers and spread the good word about its products and services.

Still, admittedly, social media can be a little overwhelming. Where to start?

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Grandma Short’s Rules of Email: Lessons in Communications

June 26, 2009

My 85-year old grandmother got an email account this week. That’s right! The mother of 11, grandmother of 40+ and great-grandmother of 20+ thought that her new Yahoo account would help her to keep in touch with her large family that  is now spread throughout the United States. She is officially on-line!

While I realize that she is by no means an early-adopter, I do give her credit for reminding me (and my family) of simple email etiquette guidelines that we, the tech-savvy, have lost somewhere within the wonders of the world-wide web. See Grandma Short’s rules below; these can certainly serve as a reminder in our daily communications with colleagues, associates, clients and friends.

Grandma Short’s Rules of Email:

1)      Don’t make me scroll.

If she has to scroll down, rest assured that she will not be reading it. It’s not that she doesn’t care, she has not gotten the hang of scrolling down the page. So, keep messages short and sweet. It does not have to be as brief as 140 characters, but get to the point.

2)      No forwards without explanation.

She does not understand why you have listed everyone’s emails at the top of your message and in such random patterns. If you want her to read it, remove superfluous information that clutters the message. Also, see Rule #1 regarding scrolling.

3)      Write in proper English.

She is not down with the lingo. “How r u?” and “BTW” does not mean anything to her. Gram has always been a stickler for enunciation, so speak and write clearly. (This is a good time to thank you, Gram, for badgering me so often to “enunciate” that I never did pick up that harsh RI accent.)

4)      Send a message, not a list of questions.

While she loves receiving emails, she does not type a response as quickly as we do and this list is highly-frustrating. If you need that many answers, pick up the phone and call. And, see Rule #1 regarding scrolling.

5)      One link and/or attachment only.

She can handle opening an attached photo and clicking on a direct link, but do not forward her to a website that requires her to sign in/up or download information.

6)      Please select a font I can read.

Cursive, really?! She cannot and hence will not read the message. I cannot agree more. (I will, however, save the 22-point font for messages to Gram as that may be a bit of an overkill for younger eyes.)   

7)      And, lastly… Stay in touch.

She appreciates the frequent communication. Though you may not visit as often as she’d like, she still  wants to know what is keeping you so busy. Keep the information and updates flowing… just make sure not to include too much at a given time.  See Rule #1 regarding scrolling.

Happy e-mailing (and 85th birthday), Gram! Watch out, Facebook!

Posted by: Katie | follow me on Twitter

GM’s New Commercial: Hit or Miss?

June 8, 2009

It has been the talk of the nation: the Big Three (GM, Ford and Chrysler) are struggling. And in direct correlation to that, once prominent cities like Detroit are slowing shutting down. With GM’s recent bankruptcy filling and the subsequent plea on the Hill for funding and federal aid, the company has launched a new marketing program designed to uplift consumers and make them believe that they are fighting to bring American made cars back.

GM is putting an interesting spin on their hardships, and even though I personally believe these companies should cease all advertising and concentrate solely on turning their businesses around, I think this new campaign is a step in the right direction.

The new 60-second spot, launched last week tugs at every cliché Americans love to hear: “It’s not about going out of business; it’s about getting down to business”, and “leaner, greener, faster, smarter”. The ad spends several seconds reiterating the concerns that got them into this mess, but somehow spins it to sound positive “we’re not witnessing the end of the American car; we’re witnessing the rebirth of the American car. General Motors needs to start over to get stronger.”

In conjunction with this new commercial, GM has launched a new website and even a new blog, all giving the appearance that the company is trying to air everything out in front of their customers; a way to say, “Let’s do this together”.

It’s strong. It’s powerful. But will it work?

There has already been a lot of chatter around the internet about GM’s new campaign. From what I can tell, it’s about a 50/50 split of support and disproval. That is always going to happen, especially with a company as prominent as GM. But the true question is will it help the brand? I believe that if they can stick to their messaging, they have a shot. It is by far the most truthful ad from any of the Big Three since this whole mess started. But then again truth and advertising don’t always go hand-in-hand. As anyone who has worked in PR and Marketing knows that you don’t necessarily need a good product to market it well (think Crystal Pepsi).

I’m interested to hear what other PR and Marketing professionals have to say about this new campaign. Will it work?

Posted by: Lauren

Cracking the Green Code

April 28, 2009

One of the greatest struggles those of us in the environmental movement face is effectively messaging our positions to reach a wide range of audiences, not just those in the movement.  All too often, the mediums we use to communicate our platforms are ones largely populated by those of us in the community.  The truth is, we don’t need help convincing each other that there is a serious need to change the way we consume and use resources on this planet.  But for those not quite convinced – or those who may express a desire to be more environmentally conscious but whose words may not translate into action – there is a gap.  A “green gap,” if you will, one that exists between the expressed desire to change and the actual behavior exhibited. 

That’s why EcoAlign, a marketing firm, has offered a white paper on using psychology to understand behavior and mind set of different segments of the population called “Cracking the Green Code.” 

The abstract:

This paper has been written by psychologist John Marshall Roberts to help provoke insight and shift thinking regarding the causes and consequences of effective communications in the energy and environmental space. In it, John challenges the depth and sufficiency of existing marketing ideologies and outlines a clear, scientifically validated values-based messaging framework based upon the work of late developmental psychologist Clare W. Graves. This simple, resilient, and highly actionable framework can be easily applied to a variety of marketing and communication contexts, helping environmentally-minded professionals create messages that strategically overcome mental resistance and inspire sustainable behavior change. Several real world examples and applied research results are outlined, along with a list of concrete, short-term opportunities for professionals who wish to apply this framework within their own work-life sphere.

The piece I found most interesting was a very basic and seemingly self-evident one.  The green value proposition isn’t going to work the same on everyone.   In an ideal world, all persons would have the same committment to preserving the environment and take whatever steps necessary to do so.  But this is not an ideal world and we as communicators and marketers in the green space can’t ignore consumer bias and behavior and hope that everyone adopts our viewpoint. 

“Cracking the Green Code” provides a unique framework for looking at communications and marketing – well worth the read!

Posted by: Ashley / follow me on Twitter