360DigitalInfluence

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

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.

Jun 27

FlipTips

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?

An iconoclast is someone who destroys religious symbols. The classical example of iconoclasm is a guy named Konon, who you may or may not know as Leo III the Isaurian - further proof that names were more interesting 1200 years ago.

Today we use the term a little more loosely. It’s common to associate the term with business figures who up-end markets; Steve Jobs comes to mind. (Steve I the Appleonian?)

To Gregory Berns, Distinguished Chair of Neuroeconomics at Emory University (a fine institution that made the mistake of granting me a wholly undeserved degree) and author of Iconoclast: a Neuroscientist Reveals how to Think Differently, an iconoclast is “a person who does something that others say can’t be done.”

Setting aside the needless redefinition of the word iconoclast (what’s wrong with innovator?), Berns’ book provides excellent, and well-researched, information on how, and why, people generate iconoclastic (innovative!) ideas. 

In the process, the book also provides some insight, from the perspective of neuroscience, on how to market those ideas.

Summarizing the results of several research studies, Berns shows that dopamine – sometimes thought of as the ‘pleasure chemical’ of the brain – is highly associated with the desire to seek out new experiences.  Individuals with highly active dopamine systems are more likely pursue novel experiences and – here’s the kicker – young people have more active dopamine systems. The bottom line: market new ideas to the under-thirty crowd, they’re more receptive.

But what does this mean if you have to market to people who, like me, wouldn’t survive very long in the world of Logan’s Run? (This is tech blog, if you don’t get that reference you’re in the wrong place. Turn off your com-put-er, call a friend and start making fun of geeks).

Still with us? Good.

If you’re target demographic are grey-hairs, Berns points out that wrapping new ideas in the ‘cloak of familiarity’ can drive a “new idea to be adopted by a large percentage of an older population.” In other words, don’t position a new idea as ‘revolutionary’ to a 50-year old C-suite executive; demonstrate how it fits neatly into the world he or she already understand.

There’s much more to the book and, despite the misuse of the word iconoclast, it’s worth reading. There’s also a fabulous section that details which illegal narcotics to take in order to stimulate iconoclastic thinking. Buy the book for neuroscience, read it for the psychotropics.

Since we’re PR people, we tend to favour words rather than images.

That’s changing thanks to the rise of Social Media and the need to embed rich multimedia in our communications because, in the end, it makes for more effective communications.

However, the idea that images are more powerful than words is an old concept.

I’ll illustrate the old Confucian saying that a picture is worth a thousand words in this post about the changing face of Asia — in this case, specifically China.  Visual storytelling at its best, you could say.

This is a 1990 picture of Lujiazui in Shanghai:

Shanghai in 1990

Shanghai in 1990

Now compare this with the same area in 1996 — a mere six years later than the picture above:

Shanghai in 1996

Shanghai in 1996

Now take a look at Shanghai in 2010:

Shanghai in 2010

Shanghai in 2010

As I said said: a picture does tell a thousand words.  All of this change in a mere 20 years.  Can’t wait for the next 20 years in Asia.  It will be very cool.

(Images sourced from here.)


As a practitioner of green PR and marketing, I spend hours every week walking the fine line between sincere promotion of sustainable corporate ideals and the murky waters of corporate “greenwashing” – the general term to describe the practice of promoting disingenuous information to support the guise of an eco-friendly public image. Accordingly, being accused of greenwashing is a constant concern of mine, apparently for good reason.

In fact, a recent study found that 98 percent of products make claims that are greenwashed. While some may dismiss the label of “greenwashing” as a casualty of green PR and marketing, the damage caused to any organization found guilty of the practice can be severe. Consider just three of the six main greenwashing risks, as outlined by OgilvyEarth’s greenwashing guide:

  • Reputational Damage: Companies that greenwash risk their credibility within their industries and with consumers. Skepticism is a growing trend and ideal in our society, and people don’t hesitate to pick up on and alert others to anything they feel is insincere. Rebounding from a blow to one’s reputation is one of the hardest tasks a company can face.
  • Consumer Alienation: More than 50 percent of climate-savvy consumers believe brands’ sustainability-related claims are embellished or fabricated. With so many other options for eco-friendly products, skeptical buyers will be the first to walk away if they find a reason to believe a company is greenwashing.
  • Leadership Opportunity Cost: There is a $200 billion market in the U.S. for eco-friendly oriented products. Additionally, 38 percent of eco-minded consumers make an effort to purchase goods and services from socially-responsible companies, meaning there is huge potential for failure for businesses that choose to greenwash. But, there is also potential for success among those willing to lead the charge in genuine environmental efforts.

Many organizations, no matter how sincere their reasons for taking on corporate sustainability, run the risk of greenwashing. But to avoid being crowned with this notorious title, be honest about your environmental efforts and communicate your plans for reaching sustainability goals. Celebrate your accomplishments, but don’t embellish them – consumers will see straight through the hype. Take immediate action if concerns arise about your sustainability practices, that way you won’t give anyone a reason to believe you have something to hide. Lastly, always maintain your relationships in the industry and with media – this will only help to fortify your reputation and give you credibility when and where you need it.

Click here to download OgilvyEarth’s From Greenwash To Great: A Guide To Great Green Marketing (without the Greenwash).

In early January I posted a blog on the “Top 10 Priorities for Tech PR Professionals in 2010.” I received quite a few comments on the blog itself as well as through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and email.

I waited a month and now have decided to re-post it with a single additional priority and some minor changes. The most evident is in the title, now “Top 11 Priorities for PR Professionals in 2010.” I left out “tech” because they are relevant to PR pros across practice areas. I added one priority (thanks to Lucy for the important reminder): “Building Communities”, now priority #6.

Here the revised post:

There’s no doubt that 2009 was a year that (further) changed our job as PR professionals. As I’m sure you’ve heard a million times, it’s an all new, ever changing world and we need to learn, move and adapt quickly. But, in concrete terms, what does that mean?

From my point of view (mostly from the agency side) I thought I’d list out the priorities for a tech PR practitioner in 2010. I think they stand for both experienced professionals and people just getting into PR.

One thing is for sure: our job is indeed getting more and more complex, challenging, and fascinating. All three qualities that have kept me in the same business for so many years.

1. Becoming a Content Creator. Technologies and the media environment are making it possible for companies to reach out to their stakeholders directly. PR must lead content creation. Cisco has done that very well for quite some time now, with News@Cisco. IBM is now following with the recent hire of Steve Hamm. I am sure many others will follow. A content strategy is pivotal in any good public relations program.

2. Telling Stories Visually. As PR professionals we need to become better visual storytellers. Read The Back of the Napkin for  inspiration – you can get the new companion workbook to put Roam’s principles into practice on Amazon.

3. Learn how to use multimedia tools. Now that you’ve put Content and Visual Storytelling at the center, learn how to make news using all the multimedia tools available and how to develop and manage an editorial calendar (or hire people who do it well.) We will see more journalists getting in-house to do precisely this. Steve Hamm at IBM won’t be the only one.

4. Get a Room! I mean a media room. Nowadays it is so much easier to have a studio close to your executives or your clients so you can easily shoot video without taking away a lot of their time. This can be very handy in times of crisis where you want a quick response. In this post you can find specific suggestions on my favorite equipment.

5. Become a social media expert (if you are not one already.) Social Media is integrated in everything we do. PR professionals that are not at least proficient in Social Media, are going to be obsolete before the end of the year. So, don’t rely only on “experts”. Become an expert.

6. Building Communities
Once you create great content, whether you are a b2b or a b2c company, and engage your stakeholders in conversations, you have a golden opportunity: “to build a community for users, influencers, advocates, product champions, experts, partners, etc. around your brand, products or services.” per Lucy’s comment in my previous post. I am sure that in 2010 we will start to see more and more community manager job opportunities in the marketplace.

7. Think 360. Talking about integration, don’t stop at social media. Think about all the communication disciplines. Clients and companies face communication or reputation (or both) challenges. Rarely can something be solved by one communication discipline. PR, AR Marketing, IR, HR (Internal Communication), and in some instances Sales and Customer Service needs to work together in a more integrated way than ever before. My good old friend Sue from the UK call it “hybridise”. “PR practitioners must increasingly learn how to bring in elements from traditionally competitive marketing disciplines.”

8. Develop new services and become more efficient. More for less is here to stay. Now that companies have learned (by necessity) to do and demand from their agency partners to get more for less, why would they go back to getting less for more? For agencies that means providing higher-value services and be more efficient in providing traditional support.

9. Identify the right measurement criteria for your needs. If #8 is true (and believe me, it is), ROI is going to be even more important than before. Flexible measurement solutions, that cost less than 10% of the total investment, will become critical for the success of a Corporate Communication department and for the agency.

10. Integrate your customers in your PR planning. As consumers are co-brand managers, really playing a major role in shaping global brands like Google, Apple and Ford, B2B companies need to work closely with their customers so they can become co-brand managers too. What they say, think or write about will affect your reputation and brand building. A hint? It’s not just about developing and pitching case studies.

11. Understand where influence begins and how it works. Too often I hear that PR is going to die (yawn) because social media is changing the media landscape so there is less and less traditional media. The reality is that PR is not only media relations. The big opportunity for PR professionals is to understand the new “influencer” landscape to a greater detail than before. Understand the ecosystem where your company or client belongs to, and how to engage those influencers and the people who influence them. A colleague of mine suggested that I read the “best book on Influence ever written : Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. I’ve just downloaded it on my kindle but since I trust my friend I am sure it’s very good and want it to share it with you sight unseen.

Have a wonderful 2010!

Over the last year, location-based social networks such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Brightkite have exploded among early adopters. It’s no question—with increasing adoption of smart phone usage, location-based social networks are rising in popularity every day.

Recently covered in GigaOM, CNN, Ad Age and The New York Times, Foursquare is currently one of the most buzzed about location-based mobile social networks. Intel and Ogilvy recently used Foursquare to drive traffic to and create buzz around Intel’s offline events and activities at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month.

For CES, Intel created a branded Foursquare page, featuring locations where Intel had activity and tips for Las Vegas visitors. Intel also rewarded check-in’s to key events with branded badges, paired with the chance to win an Intel-powered netbook for all badge recipients.

picture-14

This exclusive collaboration allowed Intel to track and build relationships with online influencers active on Foursquare at CES. With more than 400 cumulative check-in’s to Intel-affiliated locations and events, the collaboration was a breakout success and proved to be an interesting event-based model for brands looking to work with Foursquare.

We interviewed Tristan Walker, head of business development at Foursquare, to learn more about their vision for what’s to come for brands, businesses and Foursquare.

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continue reading

There’s no doubt that 2009 was a year that (further) changed our job as PR professionals. As I’m sure you’ve heard a million times, it’s an all new, ever changing world and we need to learn, move and adapt quickly. But, in concrete terms, what does that mean?

From my point of view (mostly from the agency side) I thought I’d list out the priorities for a tech PR practitioner in 2010. I think they stand for both experienced professionals and people just getting into PR.

One thing is for sure: our job is indeed getting more and more complex, challenging, and fascinating. All three qualities that have kept me in the same business for so many years.

1. Becoming a Content Creator. Technologies and the media environment are making it possible for companies to reach out to their stakeholders directly. PR must lead content creation. Cisco has done that very well for quite some time now, with News@Cisco. IBM is now following with the recent hire of Steve Hamm. I am sure many others will follow. A content strategy is pivotal in any good public relations plan.

2. Telling Stories Visually. As PR professionals we need to become better visual storytellers. Read The Back of the Napkin for  inspiration – you can get the new companion workbook to put Roam’s principles into practice on Amazon.  Perfect way to start the new year!

3. Learn how to use multimedia tools. Now that you’ve put Content and Visual Storytelling at the center, learn how to make news using all the multimedia tools available and how to develop and manage an editorial calendar (or hire people who do it well.) We will see more journalists getting in-house to do precisely this. Steve Hamm at IBM won’t be the only one.

4. Get a Room! I mean a media room. Nowadays it is so much easier to have a studio close to your executives or your clients so you can easily shoot video without taking away a lot of their time. This can be very handy in times of crisis where you want a quick response. In this post you can find specific suggestions on my favorite equipment.

5. Become a social media expert (if you are not one already.) Social Media is integrated in everything we do. PR professionals that are not at least proficient in Social Media, are going to be obsolete before the end of the year. So, don’t rely only on “experts”. Become an expert.

6. Think 360. Talking about integration, don’t stop at social media. Think about all the communication disciplines. Clients and companies face communication or reputation (or both) challenges. Rarely can something be solved by one communication discipline. PR, AR Marketing, IR, HR (Internal Communication), and in some instances Sales and Customer Service needs to work together in a more integrated way than ever before.

7. Develop new services and become more efficient. More for less is here to stay. Now that companies have learned (by necessity) to do and demand from their agency partners to get more for less, why would they go back to getting less for more? For agencies that means providing higher-value services and be more efficient in providing traditional support.

8. Identify the right measurement criteria for your needs. If #7 is true (and believe me, it is), ROI is going to be even more important than before. Flexible measurement solutions, that cost less than 10% of the total investment, will become critical for the success of a Corporate Communication department and for the agency.

9. Integrate your customers in your PR planning. As consumers are co-brand managers, really playing a major role in shaping global brands like Google, Apple and Ford, B2B companies need to work closely with their customers so they can become co-brand managers too. What they say, think or write about will affect your reputation and brand building. A hint? It’s not just about developing and pitching case studies.

10. Understand where influence begins and how it works. Too often I hear that PR is going to die (yawn) because social media is changing the media landscape so there is less and less traditional media. The reality is that PR is not only media relations. The big opportunity for PR professionals is to understand the new “influencer” landscape to a greater detail than before. Understand the ecosystem where your company or client belongs to, and how to engage those influencers and the people who influence them.

My best wishes to a wonderful 2010.

I’ve come across quite a bit of blogger backlash against the PR industry of late, and the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that it’s sometimes really hard to teach an old horse new tricks.

I’ve talked myself hoarse (ok lame pun kinda intended) about how I don’t regard communicating in the digital space as rocket science, but more of an extension of the basics us comms “professionals” should already innately know…just on new platforms. However, a steady chain of #fail examples that have recently been shared with me are now making me rethink what I thunk before.

Fail #1 Spamology

This is when PR people think that blasting everyone and their mother en masse without doing their homework properly is ok. Did I hear you say “blogger list”? While some journalists might still be forgiving of “To-the-editor” pitches mass-sent to 100 BCC email addresses via a wire service (still regularly practiced today by many), for goodness sake, how far do you really think you’re going to get with a one-size-fits-all play these days when there’s so much Google-able information readily available in a split-second search?

Is it really so hard to drop someone a personal note to say “Dear [person's real name], [make reference to reporter's beat/blogger's area of interest and/or a relevant article/post], would you be interested in [give quick summary of what I've got]? I felt it would be of interest to you/your readers because [insert proper reasons here]. Feel free to get in touch if you’d like more information.”

PR101 really.

No reply = no interest (or a crappy/spammy subject line). Learn how to write like a human being.

Fail #2 Communicating isn’t a one-way street

Making sure all those key messages got pushed out from the rostrum may have worked in the oldskool days but now that we’re swimming in a lovely sea of citizen journalists with social media footprints that would put Bigfoot to shame, top-down decrees don’t work so well anymore.

What does your audience want to see/hear? What feedback have they been giving and how have you been answering it (if you’ve bothered to listen at all)? What’s in it for them? Giving a blogger a lame freebie and asking for in-depth “coverage” in return is like giving a journalist a goodie bag and asking for a feature story.

Fail #3 There’s no Cliff’s Notes for being digitally savvy

Sorry Cliff, but there’s no regurgitating theory on this one. Anyone can quote a social media guru but that doesn’t always translate to communication smarts.

Today’s communicator absolutely has to be actively using the new communication platforms out there and participating in conversations with others in the space in order to fully understand how they work and be able to provide solid counsel. And if you’re not, it shows. To sift out the wheat from the chaff, I often ask questions like “so what exactly do you mean by blogger engagement and online community building?”. Just because you build it (a Facebook fan page is all the rage these days), doesn’t mean they’ll come. And who said Facebook was right for the brand anyways?

These days, I’m leaning towards hiring folks who are digital mavens first and schooled in textbook PR second. Why? Because if you’re already active online and have a decent audience, it probably means you’re doing something right in terms of communicating with the people you want to reach. Teaching you how to “angle-shoot”, write a press release or craft an FAQ list sounds like it wouldn’t take much extra.

Granted, good PR folks know how to get at the real story behind the spiel…online or offline…and I work with some of these gems. I just wish there were more all around to bring the meaning of “communicator” back up to where it’s supposed to be.

Could a new social search service with a name synonymous with ‘earth pig‘ have implications for marketing and communications? I think so.

Aardvark let’s you ask questions anonymously and receive answers from individuals in your or your friends’ social networks who may have relevant expertise.  The service is opt-in, anonymous and questions can be asked and received on the Web, through Twitter, email and so on.  There’s a homepage where you set up a profile but the process takes seconds and you never have to go back.

I’ve used Aardvark over the past few weeks and it’s enabled me to tap into distributed expertise – from people several degrees of separation removed from me – quickly and easily. It works so well that I find myself using Aardvark over Google for knowledge discovery.

So what are the implications for marketing and communications? Here are some preliminary ideas:

-       Internal Communications: It’s no secret that large enterprises have a problem with knowledge transfer and it’s no secret that social networking has been suggested as a possible solution.  I think Aardvark is more realistic for connecting employees. Why? Because an Aardvark-like service could be implemented and used so easily.

o    HR managers could log new employees into the system without those employees having to take any action. Job descriptions could be used to set up areas of expertise.

o    Employees would use it because the system can be accessed from virtually any medium.

o    Older employees not comfortable with traditional social networks? That’s fine; they can use the system perfectly well through email.

o    Younger employees more comfortable with a Twitter interface or mobile app? That’s easy to implement too.

-       Customer engagement: Imagine enrolling every new customer/user in an Aardvark-like service when you close the sale.  Customers would immediately be plugged into a network of experts (other customers) with similar challenges or issues and with almost no effort on their part.  Customers could be empowered to ask questions about products as well as issues relevant to their industry, job function etc.  As the broker of the relationship vendors benefit from delivering another value-added service (at minimal cost).  There’s also the potential opportunity for valuable data mining.

-       Thought leadership and expert visibility: This is the one that’s really captured my attention. Currently Aardvark is anonymous and the system routes you to the best resource based on user profiles. What if users had the option of selecting to receive answers from identified experts affiliated with a company, product or service?  How might this work?

o    Users might opt in to direct their questions to qualified and identified experts to obtain answers that require a higher degree of credibility (medical questions for instance)

o    Vendors, of course, would benefit from having a direct channel to promote their expertise and thought leadership.

o    Taking it a step further, users could rate vendor responses. Top rated vendors on a topic would get the first crack at relevant questions, thereby incentivizing them to provide value each time.

Answer sites, social networks and the chaos that is Twitter address each of these ideas/opportunities in their own ways but somehow Aardvark, because of its filtering, its simplicity, and the fact that it eliminates the burden of creating original content for a destination site, seems much more attractive to me. What do you think?

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide