Posts Tagged 'corporate communications'

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.

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Public Relations is Tough Stuff (And How You Can Prepare Against Guerilla Tactics & Message Interruption)

gold megaphone

In the myriad daily matters that go along with our PR jobs, it’s easy for pros to forget that the battle to win hearts and minds, and influence behavior, can be tough and brutal stuff. I was reminded of this in late August when Greenpeace managed to hijack Shell’s thunder with a masterful prank. [A series of uncomplimentary banners unfurling at carefully orchestrated moments during one of Shell’s high-profile sponsored events.] The first news stories of the occurrence broke on August 28; some 21 hours later, Shell was reported to be starting a review of its global PR strategy, looking to streamline the roster of agencies on its multimillion dollar account. Related? Who knows? Such reviews are often months in the making; but, it’s a sure bet that the prior incident came up in the discussions.

While I can’t help but be impressed with Greenpeace’s moxie, I also felt a bit of Shell’s inevitable angst. As a PR and event planner, I know how much hard work and painstaking detail is involved in orchestrating a big event. Yet, one has to give it to Greenpeace for being dedicated and clever in its advocacy—determined to deliver its message at the lowest possible cost. Therein resides the PR pro’s dilemma.

cellphone device

An Age of Disruption

Let’s face it, we live in an age ready-made for message interruption and guerilla tactics: With social, mobile, digital media, and beyond, the world has never been more interactive. Ergo, the ability (threat) of having your campaign/message/event hijacked has probably never been greater. So what, if anything, can professional communicators do to plan for the unexpected and minimize possible threats. Here are few ideas we came up. We’d love to hear yours.

1.       Think Like Your Adversary. Don’t think so narrowly as to simply focus only on your message(s). Anticipate adversarial points of view in the environment and prepare relevant counterpoints to them. Today issues and reputation management are as much a part of ongoing PR as anything else.

2.      Brainstorm The Ways Your Message Could Be Hijacked. Be sure to look for unintended consequences: Consider the ways that your message or method of delivery could be appropriated, and build in necessary safeguards. Plan how you will execute those safeguards.

3.       Establish Appropriate Monitoring And Response Mechanisms.  Match your response resources to the anticipated degree of threat. This can be everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. (It never ceases to amaze us, for example, how many organizations encourage live-tweeting from events, then fail to designate someone to monitor the Twitterstream!) Again, think brand journalism, or, coming from our background, online newsrooms and political war rooms.

4.       Rehearsals, Status Checks, Secured Access. Of course, where possible, rehearsals and, increasingly, safety/status checks, diminish the margin for error.

Who knows whether any of these could have prevented the debacle for Shell in its highly contentious, long-running battles with Greenpeace and other environmental groups. Yet, any one of them might just be enough to save your next event.

Don’t forget, experience is its own best teacher: tell us your “war stories.” Talkback with more lessons learned!

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

Communications Professionals: Are you on the Sidelines of the Social Revolution?

Make no mistake about it , the Internet and social media have changed the way that we do business. If you’re still limiting your expertise to the traditional models (print, broadcast, and even outdoor), and sitting on the sidelines of the 21stCentury communications revolution, you may soon find that you’re about as relevant to modern life as Stonehenge.
Adam Bain of Twitter discusses the company’s impact and users’ best practices.

When it comes to technology, I’m usually what’s called a “late adopter.” I will spurn new developments until the old technology expires or I am blessed to win something new. So I’m amazed to actually be on the front lines when it comes to understanding the marketing technique and implications of social media. However, true to my nature, taking this deep dive into social media and marketing, I pursued it in the manner I usually do—first through formal study (various seminars and workshops leading to SEMPO, Google Adwords courses for certifications)—then through intense application.

Fortunate for me, according to social & experiential media maven Shannon Downey, and others, I’m making the right moves at the right time. “Like any good revolution,” Downey says, “social media has fundamentally changed how we communicate in a very short period of time.” Even more, she says we are still at the beginning of massive changes. “With emerging technologies focusing on geo-targeting, augmented reality and near field communication, there are countless evolutionary developments in communication headed our way.” It’s thrilling, she adds.

Shannon ought to know. She’s the owner of Pivotal Production, a digital marketing agency serving such clients as Chiquita, Northwest Community Hospital and  Woman Made Gallery. She’s also a digital trainer, adjunct faculty at DePaul University, and a blogger for Crain’s Enterprise. She says there’s been an unequivocal shift in society and today’s media landscape. She spends a good deal of her time, she says, training professionals on how to get on board: “My favorite expression is “Evolve or Die”. Marketers that see the potential and opportunity for innovation and embrace it are, and will continue, to thrive. Those that don’t will die off. Those decisions are being made right now, consciously and unconsciously.”

For other late adopters who don’t quite “get” social media, here’s something to keep in mind: Social media isn’t just a social network. It’s a huge marketplace–and marketplace of ideas–where you can market yourself to both a targeted market and global market, at the same time.

Given all that, what can you do? Here’s a few quick tips on how you might get started:

1)      Be creative. Beyond the everyday uses (updates, personal messages, news and professional networking), think of how you can participate in the seemingly boundless communications arena of digital and social media.

2)      Find a niche.  Think about what you love, and how it impacts others. That’s usually a good place to start. Then think of a platform to best express your passion. (Think Pinterest!)

3)      Get started.  Take the leap! Now that the seed of the idea has been planted, nurture it and watch it grow.

4)      Be active. Commit time everyday to participate and communicate with your audience (remember, participating means reviewing and responding). Like working any job, branding on social media is a dynamic, everyday activity. This is not the time to rest on your laurels. Discover your brand, then work it, every single day.

One Practitioner’s Review of 2011 Public Relations

What can we learn about public relations from the fractious events of 2011? Here are our thoughts on lessons provided by the mistakes and success of others.

Our 2011 Public Relations “Roses” & “Brickbats”

Brickbats            

Jerry Sandusky & Penn State: The biggest PR mistake would be to take on Sandusky as a client. Even as this case wends its ugly course through the criminal justice system and the courts, we know that there are some practitioners just chomping at the bit at the opportunity to sign up this high-profile client. Yes, we know, we’ve heard it all before. “A PR agent is like a defense attorney–every miscreant deserves one.” If you believe that, then you should be barred from PR practice. PR will never maintain professional legitimacy if every alleged social predator and sociopath is able to find a “spin doctor” to plead his or her cause. In PR, as in society, some acts must be indefensible.

Anthony Weiner: Where do we even begin with a public figure who has admitted to the arrogant, half-witted behavior of former Congressman Anthony Weiner? We can all be glad that Weiner has graciously retreated from public life–at least for now–to mend his life, and especially his family life. Amen, and all good wishes to him. Perhaps after some amount of reflection and time away from public life, PR specialists will flock to represent what some–at least in New York, say is a really talented guy. Until then, goodbye and good riddance.

Let’s Wait & See

Netflix: What happens when you do the right thing the wrong way? Faced with an inevitably changing business model, Netflix  moved, apparently too aggressively, to spin-off its declining, old-school DVD mail-delivery service from its growing, and increasingly profitable, video downstreaming service. What CEO wouldn’t? Alas, the devil is in the details. Tone-deaf implementation–in the form on a sudden announcement about two different services provided by two different companies–led to a consumer revolt worthy of the reformulated Coke debacle. What should have  been good management judgement nearly ruined this once-popular company. Within months its stock value dropped by two-thirds. Ham-handed implementation and almost no regard to the convenience and versatility that loyal customers valued in this company nearly led to its downfall. Can good PR save Netflix? The company has clearly learned some valuable lessons about its customers and how to communicate with them. (For now, they’ve continued their existing business model, emphasizing the more profitable downstreaming in their marketing; income has rebounded.) Bet they’ve gotten a better sense for how to handle inevitable price increases!

A Rose

Starbucks: In a year, and possibly an era, when there aren’t a lot of large-scale good-news stories coming out of corporate America, we give Starbucks a rose for its Create Jobs for USA corporate social responsibility program. (We’ll be taking a closer look at this in our next blog.) For us, this program was a game-changer. It changed the quality of the discourse about corporate, political and civic leadership in America during a period that has been particularly bleak, divisive, and some might say de-moralizing. The program’s tackled some tough and touchy subjects today: unemployment, concentration of wealth, corporate mismanagement and executive accountability, civil discourse and public leadership, yet it’s championed a cause we can all believe in. Thanks, Howard!


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