My family travels quite a bit for work and pleasure. This past year has been a particularly busy travel year. While living in and flying often to United hub cities over the past 20 years or so, I became a loyal United flyer pretty early on and our kids have followed suit. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise in 2010 when both of our kids, under the age of 12, made United Premier status. This got me thinking about Kid customer loyalty. Our family can’t be that unique, two traveling parents who take their kids with them a lot. So what does United do uniquely to engender loyalty in a family/household that is 100% loyal? Turns out not much. Sure, the kids collect miles and get free upgrades, just like their parents. But isn’t establishing brand loyalty with kids, preteens in this case, like hitting the jackpot for consumer marketers? The fact that air travel is one of those hard-to-switch categories once you’ve achieved status, makes me wonder why United wouldn’t try to lock in my kids now for life? Would it be so hard to add more kid-friendly CE gadgets to the United miles for gifts options? Or offer them Netflix-like movie usage while in the Red Carpet room?
So what does this have to do with tech PR? The PR profession has always listed ‘customers’ as an obligatory target audience in PR plans, but the truth is we haven’t always had consistent access nor purview with this important audience. With the arrival of technologies like social CRM that invite customers to engage with brands from customer care, innovation and enthusiast perspectives, I’d argue that the PR profession has never been in a better position to help engender brand loyalty. This is a step beyond leveraging social media with customers.
When I think of my family of four traveling over the holidays this year, all of us with Premier and higher status on United, I can’t help but think what a huge lost PR and customer loyalty opportunity that was for United. Not that we were somehow so unique, but more-so that United would want to focus on this Frequent Flyer Family, and do whatever it could to engender and promote it. They knew who was traveling ahead of time, the kids’ ages, and their United status. Why not ask more families like us to blog about it? Check-in as a family at different United Family online locations? Submit a video chronicling what travel is like from a kids’ perspective? Provide service enhancement suggestions? (side note: my kids are way better travelers than a lot of adults I see. They can beat most people’s bin-to-gate time, hands-down.)
So PR peeps, let’s deliver in 2011 on that component of the PR plan that pledges to treat customers like a priority audience. Think beyond the social contest and fan page. Which brands do a good job of engendering loyalty across everyone who lives under the same roof? And United, if you are listening, I am all ears and would love to engage with you as the representative of a very loyal, enthusiastic traveling family.
Recently I gave a talk at SMU (Singapore Management University) on the future of social media and its impact on businesses. Here is a blog post by Michael Netzley on the talk.
In a nutshell, I see 4 key drivers that will shape the way we work: Enterprise 2.0, Mobile, Content and Video, and finally Crowdsourcing. All of them are related in one way or another.
If you think that only 10 years ago we were dealing with Y2K, that Google was just one and a half years old, that we were excited by the first USB flash drive… We can only imagine what’s ahead, in the next 10 years.
Will you be in DC on October 14? If so, don’t miss the opportunity to hear Alec Ross, Senior Advisor for Innovation in the Office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speak about the intersection of U.S. diplomacy, international technology partnerships, and entrepreneurship. Learn about how the State Department is promoting mobile technologies as tools for women’s empowerment and international development. The Department is also involved in “Apps 4 Africa,” a new competition to spur technological innovation in East Africa.
We’re pleased to host Alec at Ogilvy PR’s DC office. Learn more about the event here.
The Progress and Freedom Foundation has closed its doors after a fantastic 17 year run. The PFF was the first think tank to study the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. We’re sorry to see them go and we look forward to working with these great people in future endeavors.
This weekend, I read the newspaper. What I mean by that is I read the physical newspaper, which is something that I have not done regularly in a nearly a decade. While reading, I remembered how skimming through the physical newspaper lends itself to inadvertently reading about different subjects.
For example, in the past, I would read the newspaper’s content by skimming through some stories, skipping some sections and for the most part taking in the entire paper. What could begin with reading a front page story about a national issue could easily lead to a back page story about Somali insurgents, or Central Asian politics.
I traded in this experience, as have many of my generation, for the customized, editor-free approach to reading the news that Google Reader and RSS feeds have enabled. Now, my news feeds are tailored to my interests, political leanings and professional focus. While my Reader and RSS feed give me greater depth of knowledge into the subjects I am interested in, it seems to come at the expense of less knowledge in a wider range of subjects.
With these changes in content delivery in mind, I became very interested in two new products that attempt to address how our news is formatted – Time Inc.’s new line of digital magazines and a new iPad application called Flipboard.
In attempt to reconnect digital readers to the old print layout of magazines, Sports Illustrated (SI) and publisher Time Inc. (magazine publishers in general, for that matter) are taking their layouts and content and, in the words of Peter Kafka, “porting their printed product to digital form, adding some audio and video, as well as selected links to the Web.” (Read more here).
On the other hand, the much-buzzed about Flipboard, (here) assembles your social media content on the iPad in a way that is similar to reading physical publications – by creating an interface that is similar to that of a magazine.
In presenting readers with digital content laid out like a magazine, Time is fighting an uphill battle against news consumption trends, particularly among young customers who didn’t grow up reading in the magazine format. Conversely, the repackaging of social media content into a magazine layout is like stuffing an MP3 player into the body of a turntable and misses the real reason why magazine/print media readers still choose the actual physical copy of publications.
How do you weigh in on this subject? Does Time Inc. have the solution to sagging sales? Will Flipboard speed the traditional media’s demise?
When Apple users were part of a devoted cult, they were willing to put up with the way Apple does business - never admitting problems (until now), keeping its users in the dark about serious bugs even when its own discussion forums are filled with dozens of people struggling to fix the issues. But the iPhone and the resurgence of the Mac have brought in millions of new customers from the world of Microsoft, and they’re not willing to give Steve Jobs a pass when the technology they depend on fails to work right. They’ve seen this movie before — Microsoft Vista — and it doesn’t have a happy ending.
Apple is having serious quality control problems with the iPhone 4 going well beyond the antennae problem that being discussed at the press conference Apple is holding at this moment. There are at least two severe problems with iOS4, the upgraded operating system that runs the iPhone. Most of the millions of existing iPhone 3G and 3Gs customers will update their OS, as they will be prompted to do automatically, and wish they didn’t.
iOS4 is excruciatingly slow on the iPhone 3G, starting with the several seconds it takes to unlock the phone. Switching between apps can be glacial, to the point where I’m less likely to use the app at all. Users are struggling to figure out how to revert to iOS3 while keeping their data intact.
Worse still, people who own both an iPhone and a Mac – i.e., Apple’s best customers – have had their calendars screwed up by a syncing bug between the iPhone’s Calendar app and Mac’s iCal. If you’re a busy person who depends on these applications to keep track of dozens of upcoming appointments and other important tasks and your calendar stops working reliably, that’s a very, very big problem.
Apple, as always, won’t acknowledge the problems, even on its own forums, and customers are very unhappy (see http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2495372 for the calendar problem and http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=11919484&tstart=0 for the slow performance problem).
My suggestion to Apple? Stop thinking that the rules no longer apply to you, and start being more honest with your customers.
When we work to help clients through a communications crisis, we advise them to stop the slow leak of damaging news and come clean. If your product or the behavior of some employees doesn’t meet the company’s standards, your customers and employees need to hear that from you. Then show you’re doing everything you can to fix the problems – and get them fixed. Otherwise each bit of negative news will trigger a new news cycle built on the story line that this is a company in crisis (see Toyota).
Over the past few weeks, I have been fascinated with the story of the Russian spies who were assigned to “Americanize” themselves to get U.S. nuclear secrets. Not stunned by the fact that we actually had “Russian spies” in this country, but more so the technology they were using to attain these secrets and communicate with their Russian counterparts.
In reading an article in NewScientist I was able to learn more about the technology that the spies were using, and actually began to chuckle a bit. Aren’t they supposed to have state of the art gadgets Mission Impossible style? Secret communication techniques that are not easily detectable? I was especially floored when I read they were hiding messages in online images…that is so 1990’s.
Speaking of 1990’s, this story also made me a bit nostalgic for technology that has come and gone. The floppy disk, the printers that used the paper you had to tear the edges off, etc. If I had to pick two things to come back, I would wish the original Sega Genesis game console would make a come back and the Motorola V60i cell phone (my very first).
So this begs the question: What technology do you miss and wish would make a comeback?
Every year San Jose State University sponsors a contest that “challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.” Click here to see this year’s winners. (It’s so worth it.)
Showcasing bad writing - especially in such a light-hearted fashion - is one way of exposing it, educating practitioners and, hopefully, elevating quality. I think it’s time the PR industry inaugurated something similar. So here goes. Readers: I challenge you to come up with opening sentences to the worst press releases you can think of. Post them in the comments section. If we get enough submissions I’ll crown a victor in a week or two. (And let’s keep real brands out of it.)
Here’s a worrying thought: I don’t think much invention or creativity will be required.
Many of us have seen first-hand (or second-hand) the proliferation of Flip Video camcorders being used in our industry. From man-on-the-street interviews to interviews to footage shot at events, conferences and launches - video and visual storytelling has become an integral part of our profession.
I’ve started to compile some tips on how to use ‘Flip Cams and also some of the basic features of the FlipShare software. I’ll be the first to admit the beauty of the FlipShare software (and ‘Flip Cams themselves) are their simplicity — but along with that there are some pitfalls and setbacks. Hopefully this series of videos will help you get the most of your ‘Flip Cam (and the FlipShare editing software if you choose to use it)…while avoiding some of the downsides.
These were all shot using Flip Cams and edited with the FlipShare software – so you’ll see first-hand the capabilities - the audio sound quality, video quality, automatic transitions, etc. that the software builds in for you. Personally I mostly use Adobe Premiere Elements for my editing, but if I’m in need of creating a quick, easy, somewhat raw video - FlipShare makes it very easy to edit, compile and share.
For those of you who’ve read my posts in the past, I’m a big fan of learning and listening…so let me know what you think. Other tips we should/could share?
I attended the Candidates Energy Forum yesterday which featured Colorado gubernatorial candidates Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and former Congressman Scott McInnis.
There certainly was a lot of political rhetoric spoken and the highlighting of resumes and experience. One of the qualifications Mayor Hickenlooper highlighted was his experience running the successful Wynkoop Brewery which is practically an institution on Denver.
He said three things he learned in the restaurant business prepared him for his role and responsibilities as Mayor:
1) Dealing with red tape. He said that restautranteurs must deal with all kinds of local and state regulations, inspections emploee matters and the like. To be successful, one must navigate through these adeptly.
2) Building a team. Building a staff that believes in you is critical.
3) Deadling with a very fickly and critical public. There is no customer that can be as difficult to please as a restaurant patron.
All words of wisdom I thought. I also thought that there are similar parallels with PR professionals. There certainly are key skills that PR professionals can parlay into a political career if they so chose. Aside from pleasing challenging clients and selling ideas to tough reporters, are there others that come to mind? All thoughts and comment welcome.
David Carlson: Social Media and Traditional PR