Archive for the 'Corporate Communications' Category

Speaking Truth To Power: A Hallmark of Public Relations

speak_the_truth1-smart

The following post on becoming a great PR professional by Tor Constantino received wide recognition in the social world when it was first published this January in Entrepreneur. It so impressed us, we shared it on multiple platforms and it has returned to our thinking continually since then. We endorse the premise of it again here. What makes it so memorable for us is the first characteristic Constantino ascribes as a prerequisite for great public relations: a certain fearlessness and willingness to speak truth to power.

That’s been a fundamental precept of the communications advocacy we’ve represented for more than two decades. It’s what we, too, consider one of the hallmarks of the very best in PR. Too often the best-intended PR efforts get shot down when PR pros default to “weasel words” rather than explicate principled positions or fail to present opposing views when they should speak truth to power.Truth

So, with that in mind, we hope that you’ll reflect on these characteristics, aspire to them, own them, and build a flourishing career centered on these practices. In the process, we wish you much fun and many exciting times in a profession that’s worth the pursuit. Nonetheless, along the way, we hope you’ll never forget that the highest level of the PR practice is the willingness and ability to speak truth to power.

To read the article, click here. Enjoy!

Advertisements

Getting “Social”: A Snapshot of CEOs Using Social Media

Our readers no doubt know that we’re a big fan of  CEO-blogging. There’s virtually no reason not to, and there are many, many ways to work around the possible constraints. To make the point about CEOs generating content via blogs and other forms of social media, here’s a relevant reblog from Steve Tappin, Guru and Founder of World Of CEOs, via LinkedIn and his WorldOfCEOs social-mediawebsite.

In this post, Tappin cites [and ranks] the many big execs who are now active on social media [not just blogs] and creating digital content. It’s very insightful and underscores our belief that CEO-posting is relevant and useful in creating an overall company culture, but also in influencing the social climate in which businesses operate.

The graphic below shows a bit of what Tappin and his World of CEOs has found. We’ve copied the top three CEOs listed: Richard Branson, Marissa Mayer and Jeff Klein, but you can view the entire list by following the link at the end.

 

World of CEOS World of CEOs 2 World of CEOs3

Here’s the link to Tappin’s full top 60 list of CEOs using social media:

http://linkd.in/1kiLZK4

And, if you’re interested in more on this topic, below is a link to a nice series of articles from Forbes on corporate marketing on social media. We’ve started with the summary of the 10-part series, from which you can link to each of the 10 articles.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviatemin/2011/08/17/strategy-the-one-do-amidst-the-donts-wrapping-up-the-10-donts-of-corporate-social-media-series/

Check out all of the above, and share this info with your top exec! It’s great for inspiration and as a guide for “how-to.”

Companies and Storytelling: What Could Go Wrong?

art figures

Considering all the recent talk in PR and business circles about organizational storytelling—including our own contributions to the buzz, “Organizational Storytelling and PR”—got me to wondering: What could possibly go wrong?

What, indeed!

Then I happened upon the article, “Companies Telling Stories.” The red flag raised in “Companies Telling Stories” is that companies may use storytelling to create myths and legends, rather than show the unvarnished truth. I came to realize that my subtle thoughts were very real concerns.

As we’ve indicated, we’re proponents of organizational storytelling to help establish brands, disseminate information, and provide a clear differentiation or explanation on issues; however, our endorsement of the time-honored tradition of storytelling for PR clearly presumes that the same standards of ethics, mutuality and transparency that are the hallmark of public relations practice will apply in business storytelling. Short of that, you’ve just got companies spinning yarns to obfuscate, misinform, or worse yet, deceive.

Once upon a time

To become more than just a passing fad or the hyped trend of the moment, to be truly useful and effective, storytelling must become embedded within the culture of the organization. Moreover, the kinds of stories that build and advance a company’s narrative may not be those that can be readily farmed out; rather, they must be sustained, truly characteristic of the values and activities of the organization, and open to scrutiny and reflection. While many authors may contribute to storytelling process, it’s the guided, ethical overall public relations strategy that makes business storytelling most effective.

So, like others in the industry, while we’re enamored with the storytelling process, we recognize that its true value in PR comes from the strong ethical framework that shapes all content into something useable, truthful and relevant to an audience. As well-known digital strategist and entrepreneur Ann Handley says in a recent post: The best content isn’t storytelling. The best content is telling a true story well.

Storytellers2

We’ll be writing more about companies and storytelling, good and bad, in upcoming posts.  Also, please check out our post examining other aspects of business storytelling at:

http://storify.com/PRDoctorChicago/companies-and-storytelling

Starbucks’ Cause Marketing & CSR: Two Views

Starbucks logoGenerally speaking, we like Starbucks corporate style, and we’ve given them a few shoutouts in previous posts for providing a good example in cause-related marketing and corporate social responsibility (CSR). But, like many companies, they haven’t always met our expectations in every area. So, to balance the perspective, we’re reblogging a post that offers potentially another view of Starbucks. This doesn’t mean we’ve changed our view of Starbucks; we still think the company’s miles ahead of most companies in social listening, social marketing, and CSR. But, fair is fair, and we  provide this post to keep you informed to make up your own mind. Let us know what you think.

“It is with interest that I saw with the US Government shut down continuing in Washington D.C. that Starbucks have started a campaign to facilitate change in our Nation’s capital. They are offering a free coffee to anyone who buys their fellowman their favourite drink in one of their stores.

My initial thought was this was good and I was pleased they cared enough about this issue to start this promotion. I considered that this shows their social responsibility by getting involved and trying to help… or are they?”

Read more Starbucks: Real Concern or Just Good Marketing? http://linkd.in/17DigzD

And, in case you haven’t encountered it yet, here’s an AdWeek write-up of Starbucks’ latest campaign.

Reclaiming A Brand: The PR Story of Velcro

Xerox did it. Kleenex did it. Post-its did it. Now Twinkies, among others, are working to do it. The “it” here is reclaiming a brand from potential generic usage and, in the process, losing a valuable business trademark. Now VELCRO is working to do it. We all know what “velcro” is—that incredibly handy fastening device used to seal and unseal everything from shoes, bags, backpacks, briefcases, coats, swimsuits, scuba wear, household devices, and even disposable diapers.

hook and loop

Velcro-style hook and hoop fastener

Well, what many may not be aware is that VELCRO is a company and a brand, not just a fastening material—categorically known as ‘hook and loop’ fasteners. So now, in case you missed the previous rebranding campaigns cited above, here’s another opportunity to watch a global company as it embarks on a rebranding effort  to “snatch back” its singular identity in the public mind. It’s a fascinating public relations and marketing case study, not to be missed.

For starters, here’s a few things to know:

VELCRO kicked off its rebranding initiative in March, 2012 with a public announcement and the unveiling of its Brand website:

http://www.velcro.com/About-Us/Press-and-News/Velcro-Website-Launch.aspx

As the larger campaign unfolds, it is perhaps just now just coming into public awareness, with online advertising and stronger social media presence.

Velcro ad

As we said, this will be a very interesting campaign to watch. See if it changes your own understanding and behavior.

Also, for the fun of it, here’s a list of other companies who’ve had to travel down this same rebranding path, albeit, perhaps not so successfully. Keep in mind, for us it might seem like the game of “Trivial Pursuit”; for these companies, it’s big and serious business!

Note: We’re riding a trend! Shortly after we published this post, we found these  write-ups on similar campaigns underway with Xerox (http://bit.ly/1b4OSsR) and Twinkies (http://bit.ly/18cvGt1), also mentioned in our story. All are worth checking out for the hows & whys and lessons learned.

 

New from the ‘Net: All About Content Marketing, New Ideas, & Brand Journalism

Where would we be without the Internet? I know it’s an obvious statement, but do abstract background @ & internet

you ever ponder the question? Sometimes, usually following some great find online, I think, how would I ever have come across this info if not on the ‘Net? So, in that spirit of sharing, I’m here today to share some especially helpful posts from the Web.

First, if you’re in PR and have been preoccupied with—or in some cases, maybe just vaguely aware of—the terms content marketing and thought leadership, here’s two must-read articles to help you understand these trends that have taken hold in the industry. Yes, there may be a lot of good reads on the topic out there, but I think AdAge’s article, “Solving the Content Creation Conundrum,” is the one that may help get you up to speed most quickly.

Then, once you’ve got a basic understanding of content marketing as a foundation, this MinnPost story will give you some idea of how the dynamics of content marketing are playing out in the industry.

Wait, there’s more … In this digital era, how are you creating and cultivating new ideas?

A timely question, which got us to thinking after reading an article on the same topic, once again in AdAge. So what are you doing to grow good ideas? This article will share not only some nifty new tech products you may never have heard about, but will actually give you a sampling of how the “ideas” people work … you know, the ones who are radically changing your workplace & mine.

And finally, while we’ve leveled some criticisms, we also like to take a look at some of the creative things companies are doing in this new media/new marketing environment. Starbucks is often a frequent target. To that end, here’s the latest on what Starbucks is doing to keep its brand (and its innovative CEO Howard Schultz) in the public mind.

Hope you found something that makes you go, Ah!

More Organizational Storytelling and PR from Ford Motor Company

PRDoctorChicago is all about Communications experiences, insights
and lessons learned from pros.

A few months ago, we wrote about organizational storytelling and kicked off the post with an incredibly forward-thinking quote by Henry Ford on communications and business. Ford Motor Company’s approach to communications and its outreach to customers has been making news again.

The article below by Ashley Zeckman on TopRank Online Marketing Blog serves as a timely update, offering myriad lessons to communicators on such tough topics as marketing, branding, consumer engagement, marketing mix, social media content, etc. Check it out for some “deep” lessons learned …

  Scott Monty on How Ford Empowers Customer Storytelling                        & Lessons Learned

“As marketers we all know that storytelling is an essential part of connecting with prospects and customers. Scott Monty (@scottmonty) and his team at Ford have taken the art of storytelling a step further.

In his moving (yes I said moving) keynote, Scott walked the audience through some of Ford’s most recent and innovative campaigns. In many of these campaigns the story is told not from the perspective of Ford, but from that of the consumer. Below you’ll find more about the stories of these campaigns, the people who told them, and the lessons learned.”

Continue reading … http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/01/scott-monty-customer-storytelling/

Organizational Storytelling and PR

Quotation text: “I do not consider the machines which bear my name simply as machines … I take them as concrete evidence of the working out of a theory of business–a theory that looks toward making the world a better place in which to live.”
-Henry Ford, 1922

We recently attended a Storytellers session during Chicago Ideas Week, which got us thinking about organizations and their stories. Of course, as attendees we walked away with useful information, as well as pearls of wisdom and inspiration about the process of storytelling; but some of the discussion got us to thinking about organizations and their responsibility to tell their story, and to tell it effectively. In most cases that responsibility falls within the purview of public relations and communications professionals.

Yet, too many organizations, profit and nonprofit alike, still view telling their stories and creating their own narrative as a process to be shared only with selected audiences: shareholders, funders, prospects, current supporters or customers, legislative interests or regulators, etc. They fail to realize the broad social interest, at large, in knowing the motivations, history and experiences that drive our nation’s companies, large and small. In a sense, companies have an obligation to tell their stories and lessons learned factually, with authority, and with humanity, for the greater good.

With that in mind, for marketers and communications pros, we gleaned some ideas, insights and trends from Storytellers, which we thought we’d share here:

  •  “Storytelling is giving information, even when people aren’t asking for it,” Arun Chaudhary, Former Official White House Videographer
Storytellers picture board

Picture board of CIW Storytellers Session

  •  “Brands are leaning to purpose … picking stories that will be their narrative,” Susan Credle, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett USA
  •  “Authenticity  is the key to storytelling; letting people be who they are,” Chaudhary
  •   “Good stories follow curiosity and passion … Emotion drives stories,” Rebecca Skloot, Author
  •  “The heart can make anything important,”  Carol Edgarian, Co-founder, Narrative Magazine
  •  “Transparency is a discipline, and not a home run,” Chaudhary

We really hope your company is in the process of perfecting its own story. If you need help, feel free to contact us at MediaWorks:  OrganizationalPR@aol.com.

Six Ways Your C-suite Can Use A Blog

There are becoming fewer reasons why at least one member of a company’s C-suite doesn’t have a blog. Consumers are voting with their fingers that they like to engage with companies online.  Recent studies also show that consumers correlate a company’s accessibility via social media and blogs as an important factor in building trust. And as we all know, trust is the coin of the realm in terms of PR, brand and values marketing, and corporate social responsibility. So why not blog?

While we, at MediaWorks, are fairly new to blogging, we’re not new to PR, so this question of C-suite blogging caught our attention. Using our own experience with C-suite blogging as a baseline, we did some informal research on which CEOs, etc., are blogging and what they’re talking about. From there, we compiled our own checklist of six ways your C-suite can use corporate blogs:

Six Ways Your C-suite Can Use A Blog

1) To Explain Complex Processes Or Operations. CEO blogs from Caterpillar to Zappos have used blogs to simplify uses and intricate processes related to a brand. (Caterpillar has this down to a science; they even have leadership blogs by category, e.g., construction, marine, etc.) These kinds of blogs can help bring understanding and create affinity for the astonishing array of steps, choices and decisions that may be involved in bringing a favorite brand to shelf – from manufacturing processes and supply chain issues to sales and distribution matters.

2) To Give An Insider’s Look. What’s the organization’s point of view on an issue, industry trend or outlook. Marriott uses its CEO’s blog to frequently look at issues from the inside-out. Often, context and perspective can make a big difference in bringing about understanding, good will, or at least benefit of the doubt.

3) To Discuss Or Explain Trends, Policies, Protocols And Company Positions on Issues. People often wonder why companies do what they do. A blog post of this kind can help customers, supporters, suppliers, and employees explain a company’s history, priorities, motivations, and other values-related decision making. The opportunity to read these important dispatches directly from the top, and perhaps comment or query on them, can go along way in positioning a company as open and transparent. If you haven’t already, check out Whole Foods blog.

4) To Show Personality. Blog posts can humanize the company with a distinct face, voice and persona. These posts can create an image or perception of the company leadership as more more “casual” and less “formal”; more accessible, and less distant. It’s the opportunity to present a distinct tone, humor, aura that people can connect with and that has appeal. When possible, this can only be helpful in the range of relationships a company has to manage. Craiglist CEO Chris Newmark has undoubtedly mastered this approach.

5) To Preview Changes. From specific changes in products and brands, to industrywide or social changes that impact the company. Explain, get feedback, tamp down anxiety that usually accompanies such changes, and more than likely help offset rumors and unofficial speculations. Changes in name, logo or nomenclature, structural changes within the organization, seem a natural for these blog posts, as well as mergers and acquisitions, at the appropriate juncture. To this end, Edelman, offers a whole cadre of senior exec blogs on a variety of topics. John Deere, also with multiple blogs by category, frequently uses blogs in this fashion.)

6) To Showcase What Works. In this instance, the blog becomes another platform to spotlight, explain, or amplify recent successes—successful launches, announcements or updates on CSR initiatives, important acknowledgments or recognitions. Starbucks blog provides a good example of this.

So, if you’re still uncertain and straddling the fence on whether your company needs a C-suite blog, however you decide, at least you’ve been given some viable options to consider.

Worth noting: We found this story on a related topic: “Should Your CEO Actively Use Social Media? Here’s How …” Check it out: http://bit.ly/1au1Gtn


Follow prdoctorchicago on WordPress.com

prdoctorchicago

Follow me on Twitter