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Great article to read for premiere week!

EMU PRSSA

Now that we’ve said our final goodbyes to summer, we’re met with the arrival of September, a month of new beginnings. Students are beginning their college careers or even starting their professional careers. In addition to these milestones, September has a lighter element to balance out the month: the return of all of our favorite TV shows!

 
Since premiere week is near, it’s the perfect time to think about how TV viewing and engagement has changed with social media. No longer does it matter where you are, a viewing experience can be shared by all. Why is social TV viewing so popular? Social media expert Brian Solis says it’s all about being a part of “a global conversation around the world’s largest water cooler.” Check out some of the social media tools I use to engage in the “global conversation.”

 
#Hashtag TV
Hashtags have almost become just as…

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Mary J. Blige: More and More Drama

This year, Burger King dropped to the third largest hamburger chain behind Wendy’s and of course, McDonald’s. This drop has caused BK to break into a new marketing campaign to recover their lagging sales. As part of their new marketing campaign, they have enlisted celebrities including Jay Leno, Salma Hayek and Sofia Vergara to endorse certain menu items in commercials. The most popular commercial starring David Beckham.

Photo courtesy of theweek.com

Unfortunately, BK seems to have hit a snag in their rebranding trail. In their most recent commercial, BK received some help from the Queen of Hip-Hop/Soul, Mary J. Blige. Considering Mary J. is one of the biggest singers of this generation, that’s not too bad. What is bad, is that BK can make even Mary J.’s loyalist fans turn their backs on her for her singing!

About a week ago, BK released a small clip of the commercial to local TV stations and then posted it on their YouTube channel. In the clip, Mary J. Blige was shown standing on a table singing about the new crispy chicken wrap. The new fried chicken crispy wrap to be exact. Within a few days, the controversy began. Many called the ad racist and stereotypical of the black community.

Fans were hitting up blogs and their social networking accounts to express their disappointment and anger towards Mary J. and the burger chain.  Mary J.’s career was attacked with comments saying how low she’s sunk to get publicity. Other comments questioned her morals in signing on to do a controversial ad such as this one. While Mary J. was getting backlash from fans, BK was taking a hit from fans, customers, critics, advertising experts and everyone else who had an opinion.

Photo courtesy of eurweb.com

Last week, the ad was removed from TV and the Internet. While most say the ad was removed because of the backlash, BK citied “music licensing problems” as the reason. After the video was removed, Mary J. finally released a statement to address the controversy. She had a slightly different view on what happened with the ad:

I agreed to be a part of a fun and creative campaign that was supposed to feature a dream sequence. Unfortunately, that’s not what was happening in that clip, so I understand my fans being upset by what they saw. But, if you’re a Mary fan, you have to know I would never allow an unfinished spot like the one you saw to go out.

OK. BK says their having licensing problems and Mary J. says the spot was unfinished and that she would have never approved it…

So clearly there were some communication issues with the releasing of this ad. You would think BK’s marketing team would make sure everything was settled and approved before releasing a video that connects their brand and a big name artist such as Mary J.

Burger King eventually released a statement the same day and go as follows:

We would like to apologize to Mary J. and all of her fans for airing an ad that was not final. We know how important Mary J. is to her fans, and we are currently in the process of finalizing the commercial. We hope to have the final ad on the air soon.

Connecting to the younger generation seems to be the route for a lot of fast-food chains. We have McDonald’s trying to use Twitter to connect and failing completely, not to mention they also have questionable commercials showing African-Americans singing about chicken nuggets.

These brands need to take a step back and educate themselves. With the help of social media, this generation has the power to damage a brand and its reputation, which shouldn’t be taken lightly. You can’t just jump in and hope you float. Learn how our generation communicates so that you can effectively join the conversation at the right time with the right tools.

For more on the story check out this article on Yahoo!News.

Listen, Learn, Participate, Repeat

Chapter 18 of Brian Solis’ book, Engage!, focused on how brands can use the conversation prism to create the social media map perfect for their brand. He covered a lot of information this chapter so I will only touch on some quick key points.

One of the first things Solis mentions how companies were so focused on profit that they were pushing away their consumers. At that time they hadn’t realized that the long-term value of interacting with their consumers rather than leaving them to an automated machine or outsourced service lines. Solis mentions a survey authored by Jonathan Whitaker that showed directing customers to these services negatively impacted customer satisfaction. Being one of those customers, I agree with these findings. It usually makes the situation more complicated than it needs to be leaving me dissatisfied. The quote below stood out to me:

A happy customer tells several friends and an unhappy customer tells many more.

It’s so true! People are more inclined to tell their friend about how long it took to reach someone at Comcast than to speak about new channels. Solis says that sometimes brands stop seeing the customer’s viewpoint and only see the dollar signs. Taking a customer’s experience into account will give brands the opportunity to connect better with their consumers.

This connection can be strengthened by actually talking to consumers when they have a problem. I think what Solis said about brands bringing information and solutions to the conversation so that the conversation can be on their terms. I also think it was important that Solis said brands should “experience the nature, dynamic, ambience and emotion of the dialogue” instead of just talking to say you talked.

The last part of the goes into the nitty-gritty of the Conversation Prism and how brands can use it to identify where the most important conversations are, when they’re happening and how to gather this information for a presentation for the bosses.

Photo courtesy of briansolis.com

He touches on adaptation as well and how it will help your brand “evolve and increase in relevance, both online and offline.” Overall, the chapter was really informative but a lot to take in and understand upon first reading. I’ll leave you with this simple statement:

In the end, we are measured by our actions, and our words.

Google’s At It Again…

Photo courtesy of prdaily.com

Google is always evolving and as a result, we’re always learning so we can keep up. Well, now Google has created a new feature that may have PR professionals left in the darkness. According to Michael Sebastian’s article, “3 Ways to Prepare for the Changes to Google Search .” Google’s revamped “search results, and the changes will likely affect brands.” Now when users search for certain things, the direct answer will show up on the search results page. The new search method is aimed to keep more people on Google’s page rather than sending them to other pages.

So how can PR professionals and their brands survive the change? Follow the three tips from Nick Papagiannis, director of interactive/search at Cramer-Krasselt, below:

1)      Start monitoring search results more closely. Brands should keep a constant eye on where their brand shows up in the search  results. This is important to monitor because Google’s information may begin to crowd out the official websites of brands.

2)      Consider investing more money in paid searches. Paid searches are the results at the side or top of a Google results page. Papagiannis said companies may want to invest more in this component of their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

3)      Use the changes as an impetus to build a dedicated search team. The best way to monitor these changes is with a dedicated search team. If the new Google results kick out negative information about a client, or push websites further down the page, this team can respond quickly.

While no word has been said about when the changes will take place, at least now you have a starting point.

So what does this say about Google and their ‘neutral search engine’ title? Is it greedy for Google to want just a little more love?

Let me know!

Brands, What Do You Have to Say for Yourself?

Photo courtesy of cleanreputations.com

Chapter 15 of Brian Solis’ book, “Engage!” was pretty interesting. The main focus of the chapter is about distinguishing yourself and the brand you represent, yet being able to bring them together. One of the first things Solis talks about is how your reputation precedes you. At one point he says, “go Google yourself” and view what you see through a stranger’s eyes. What will the results say about you? I think this is a perfect way to see what the social objects you share online say about you. He then went on to say that, “Your actions and words online are indeed extensions to how people perceived and react to the brand you represent.” This is where a lot of brands get into trouble. When your name is associated with a certain brand, your mistakes become the brand’s mistakes, which can really put a brand indirectly in hot water. This is why some brands ask employees to reframe from posting things about their political affiliation, religion, etc. While you may not intentionally say something hurtful to the brand, people will see it that way. I also enjoyed Solis’ concept about social economy and how the relationships we create online serve as the ‘currency’ individuals can invest in their personal portfolios. It’s really an easy and cool way to look at it.

Photo courtesy of demandforce.com

Another great point Solis brought up was crafting a “constant profile that conveys what it is you stand for and the value you bring to the table.” I think this is something brands should definitely pay attention to, especially when there are multiple representatives online. It all relates back to Chapter 12 and the Brand Reflection Cycle. The last point I want to bring up is how you create the foundation of your online reputation by “listening and observing where, how, and why the conversations are taking place.” From there the brand can determine “the tone and nature of the dialogue” and see where they fit in the conversation.

A great line to sum up the chapter is,

With social media comes great responsibility…

Chapter 16 focused on how with enough learning and experimenting, a brand can use social media more effectively. Solis talks about how building a presence online requires “social architecture, engineering, and empathy.” He once again stressed the importance of using these tools to build bridges between the brand and its publics by using channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn for “listening, learning, and participating.”

A statement that really stood out to me was when Solis said, “As social media becomes accepted and practiced industry-wide, change will also stem from outside pressure.” I think we’ve already begun to see this within the last few months with the rejection of SOPA and Susan G. Komen’s reverse decision regarding Planned Parenthood.

One of the last points I want to bring up is one that I think is essential for brands to learn. Solis says, “It’s a matter of “being human” versus “humanizing the story.” He says not to necessary carry your brand as just anyone, but to humanize your brand enough that people can relate and sympathize with it. The brand has to know how to balance distinguishing themselves as a brand while not alienating themselves from their public.

Brands have to remember,

You are the voice, spirit, and mind of the brand and the people and culture that define it.

Both of these chapters had great information for brands and their reputations.

Check out my blog post on the Susan G. Komen crisis and join the conversation!

emupublicrelations

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is not only the nation’s largest breast cancer charity but one of the most well-known and well-loved nonprofit organizations. So what’s got its longtime supporters quitting the race and calling them a disgrace? Read on.

On Tuesday, January 31, 2012, Planned Parenthood broke the news that the Komen Foundation would be cutting their funding to their Planned Parenthood affiliates. The $680,000 in funding being cut would have been used by Parenthood to provide breast cancer screenings for 170,000 low-income women. Komen then revealed that the new policies they were putting in place would not allow them to fund any organizations under investigation. Planned Parenthood, the country’s most prominent sexual and reproductive health care provider, is currently in the middle of an investigation by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-FL regarding government money possibly being spent on abortions.

Background Bit: Last December, rumor spread that Komen and Planned Parenthood were in…

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The Cover Page to Your Brand’s Story

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Since Chapter 12 of “Engage!” focused on companies creating their online identity, I thought Christine Erickson’s article, “20 Facebook Page Cover Photos to Inspire Your Brand,” would be a nice follow-up blog topic. Facebook recently unveiled the new Timeline for brands and companies are wasting no time in implementing new strategies. Now, when a potential consumer goes to a brand’s Facebook, their first impression of the brand is going to be their cover picture, right? Yes, so that means companies now have another opportunity to make a social media impression. Companies have to ask themselves: What do we want to show our page visitors in the first 45 seconds we have their attention? While the timeline cover photo is not the most important thing to a brand’s identity, it can make the difference on whether the viewer is intrigued enough to go further.

These are some of my standouts from the list.

Photo courtesy of Coca-Cola

Photo courtesy of Coldplay

Photo courtesy of Toyota

Photo courtesy of Lexus

Photo courtesy of The New York Times

Photo courtesy of Kate Spade

Photo courtesy of Sports Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty cool pictures, right? Tell me your favorite in the comments.

My message to the brands out there: Get creative and make those 45 seconds count!

 

Who Are They to You?: Businesses Creating Social Media Personas

I really enjoyed Chapter 12 of Brian Solis’ book, “Engage!” This chapter focused on how companies can establish their online personas with their audiences. While reading this chapter, a lot of the questions I had about personas online were answered. Solis mostly spoke from a business’s point of view, but I was able to apply some of the suggestions he gave to my personal life.

When discussing the relationship between businesses and their online personas, Solis said the challenge was “defining and reinforcing the brand personality as it either existed prior to social media and/or how it should display and present to those across the Social Web.” I think this is definitely a good point to bring up. Maintaining an image or brand personality was easier before social media, but now with the new networks, companies have to modify their personality so that it reflects well in social media.

Listed below are the eight essential stages to establishing an online persona, according to Solis:

  • Core Values:  At the beginning, we need to form a common center of gravity to support the orbiting characteristics that support our mission and purpose. The only way for a team to continuously grow is to have a solid foundation to build upon.
  • Brand Pillars: Pillars that establish the principal, central themes that convey our uniqueness and value, fortified through the social objects we develop and distribute.
  • Promise:The pledge that paves the way to brand meaning and direction is the brand promise.

    Photo courtesy of briansolis.com

  • Aspirations: Our aspirations are representative of the stature and mission we seek over time, and it’s constant. You always want to have something to work towards. It keeps you motivated and relevant.
  • Brand Characteristics: Defining the brand characteristics will help us establish the traits we wish to associate with the brand represented through our actions, words, and overall behavior. What do you want people to see or hear when it comes to your brand?
  • Opportunities: It’s a combination of who we are and what we offer today and also the opportunities that emerge that allow us to connect to those seeking solutions we had yet to identify.
  • Culture: The brand team must examine the culture of the company, not only what it is today, but ultimately how it should embody our aspirations so that it is readily identifiable in social media. People need something they can align with, and it is our culture that serves as the magnet to our purpose and aspirations. We are all in this together.
  • Personality:  This final step in the completion of the Brand Reflection Cycle, is to identify and bring to life the personality and character of the brand through conversations, social objects, and stories. If the brand was a person, how would it appear? How would it sound? How would it interact with others? How would others describe it?

He then goes on to talk about companies having multiple personalities. I was actually surprised that he suggested having the personal and professional accounts. A lot the times I hear other professionals saying that you should be able to balance your personal and professional personalities on one account. This makes me feel a little bit better because I do have two accounts for certain social media networks because I have different audiences. Yes, I’m still Cherese on each account, but the topics I discuss with my followers vary and I feel it just keeps things in their own lane.

The example he gave of Zappos was cool. I think it’s great to have multiple employees tweeting on behalf of a company. I think it allows each of the employees to show their individuality as well as be a part of the company’s overall online persona. The main thing, as Solis says, is to make sure everyone is aware of the eight aspects of their brand’s online identity. The only problem I could see with multiple accounts related to the company is that it opens up the door for more opportunities for mistakes and to be attacked.

This had to be one of my favorite chapters.

China to Apple: Pay Up!

Came across an interesting article about the Apple Ipad …Pad?

Photo courtesy of techcrunch.com

So what’s going on:

Apple is currently in a dispute with Chinese company Proview, over the ‘iPad’ trademark. In 2001, Proview trademarked ‘iPad’ in several countries before Apple bought it from them in 2009 for $55,000. Proview is now demanding $2 billion from Apple in compensation.

What the companies have to say:
  • Proview claims that the complete sale of the trademark to Apple was not authorized, but Apple has documentation refuting that claim.
    • Although Apple does have documentation, they still may have made a mistake. There are two Proviews: Proview (Shenzhen) and Proview (Taiwan). It seems that Apple may have bought the trademark from Proview (Taiwan) when Proview (Shenzhen) is the company that actually owns it. If this is the case, then Apple has potentially juiced themselves of billions of dollars.
  • After the case being suspended in China, Proview has moved the case to the California courts.
    • Now they are claiming that Apple approached them as a fake company called IP Application Development Ltd., or IPAD. It is under this name that Apple supposedly applied for the ‘iPad’ trademark to be used as an abbreviation of the company name. If this is true, Apple could lose their rights to sell iPads in China, a huge market for them.
  • Apple is turning the tables and going after Proview for defamation and copy infringement.

This story sheds light on the other crisis Apple is currently facing in China regarding the working conditions of its Foxconn factories in correlation to the string of employee suicides. You can read more about that crisis here.

Proview IPAD (Photo courtesy of allthingsd.com)

My thoughts:

It seems like Proview may be regretting their earlier decision to sell the trademark for a few thousand when it has generated millions for Apple. I mean, I can’t blame them for trying to make up some (well all) of the money they lost but it just looks desperate now that it’s eight years later.

Now, if Apple really did use a fake company name to buy the trademark, then that’s even worse. Apple just beat out Google for the #1 spot of ‘Most Respected Brand,” so something like this would definitely bring some negativity to their title. This could result in losing their China market, which would definitely negatively impact their sales. This just shows that you have to honest from the very beginning because the truth will eventually show its face.

Not to mention the potential that they may have been the ones who made the mistake of buying from the wrong company. As I mentioned above, they’re already facing a crisis in China and it doesn’t seem to be getting them anywhere positive. I guess I’m just surprised that all of sudden Apple is attracting negative publicity.  Has their PR team been slacking all these years and we just haven’t seen it or does China just want to take a big bite out of Apple this year?

Another great question is: will Apple settle or ride it out to the very end?

The Dealio on SMO

Unlike last week, these chapters took me a little while longer to get. In Chapter 10, Solis introduced the topic of social objects and how they have become the connection between us and others. I guess you could say that social objects in any given network are the conversation starters. As a company, it’s important that this is recognized because without interest, there aren’t any opportunities to engage. Therefore, without engagement there are no relationships formed and no new customers gained.

Solis then went on to talk about social media optimization (SMO). This whole section was new to me. I had heard of the SMO, but never really understood it or its purpose. Now I know it basically means using the tools you have to get the most of social media searches. One of the first points Solis brings up is that you aren’t guaranteed a million hits once you upload your content. As he mentioned in an earlier chapter, content is not viral, it’s the people who make it viral. Companies have to find a reason why people would want to share the content they put online or as Gina would say, “So what? Who cares?” Solis specifically describes the concept as this: “We have to integrate digital seduction in the objects we wish to earn attention and notoriety.”  A company wants to give their consumers a reason to ‘favorite’ something so that it shows up in their feed and in turn catches the attention of the consumer’s friends.

Photo Courtesy of hubspot.com

In order to really get the most of social media, companies need to utilize the titles, tags and descriptions of their social objects. I was not aware that these three things that we sometimes pay no attention to, can make such a huge difference. The examples given by Solis of how to really use the three areas, helped me understand how paying attention to key search words and the terminology of your audience can essentially give your content legs.

Chapter 11 talks about the other aspects of SMO. This is where it got a little more confusing for me. I was able to distinguish the difference between synchronizing and aggregating, but it was the application part that lost me a little. My first thought for synchronizing was a company using HootSuite but I wasn’t really sure. Solis does mention that the process of synchronizing and aggregating can be complicated and I agree.

Something I was able to follow along with is the section about defining the journey for the consumer. A company has to know the best destination for their consumer to go so that the interaction and discussion can continue. The company needs to create bridges between their consumers and their social objects. Solis says an important part of that is leading the followers to resolution.

The last thing I found really interesting but not surprising was the fact that 54 percent of companies link back to Twitter instead of Facebook. I can understand this because while Facebook has more users, Twitter is able to reach more people in a shorter time. Smart.

Overall, I thought these two chapters were great content wise. I just think it’s going to take me a bit before I can fully grasp it.

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