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Archive for the month “March, 2012”

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!

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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.

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