Archive for April, 2008

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How to use Twitter for your business (part 2)

April 28, 2008

Twitter as a social media tool is already a force to be reckoned with.  It is spreading throughout the landscape and across several industries.  Of newsworthy and topical applications, the Candidates for the 2008 election have Twitter handles and are amassing followers.  Barack Obama (@BarackObama) has 26,414 followers as compared to Hillary Clinton’s (@hillaryclinton) 3,440. I could not find a Twitter handle for John McCain.  The candidates have a great tool here to get the word out immediately to their supporters, and hopefully spur them into an action on their behalf.

From political stars to rock stars, Twitter is being used to promote events, blog updates, appearances, autograph signings, and so much more.  Henry Rollins (@HenryRollins) has 5,284 followers that he is able to keep updated on his spoken word events as well as musical musings.  Authors are on Twitter. Media outlets are on Twitter (NPR has both their news (@nprnews), and their blog (@nprnewsblog) as Twitter identities online).

As opposed to blasting out an email, or a newsletter, you have a dedicated group of individuals on Twitter, who proactively choose to follow you, so your odds of getting your message to a receptive audience is much greater than if it was an audience that say, just happened to be at the same tradeshow as you, yet they never came to your booth.  Although, you and your sales manager think these are great leads.

You still have to have something useful to say.  You also have to be concise as you have only 140 characters to say it in.  That is why you want to use Twitter to lead your audience to the next step of information dissemination you want to get to them.  These would be things like a landing page on your website, your blog, or your latest press release (AHA! You knew I would get around to the PR part of this).

At Sterling Cross Communications (www.sterlingcrossgroup.com) we are setting up our clients and working with them to amass their own followers on Twitter.  As their followers grow, it allows them to get messages out to their audience.  It can be alerts to check out the latest press release, or to announce deals, discounts, new arrivals, or exclusive opportunities.  From heavy machinery manufacturers who are announcing their tradeshow appearances, booth locations, and keynote speakers appearance, to personal trainers announcing new class offerings, or announcing time or location changes to their class.

The broadcast to an audience on cellphones and online provide the most comprehensive communication tool to their intended audience, yet some of our clients have regulations that must apply to their communications.  This has lead us to develop other SMS (cellphone) based tools for our clients that must comply with regulations such as SEC or HIPAA, or that need the greater security and privacy provided for their small groups.  We’re able to build them a tool to allow them to comply with the regulations that govern their industry.

Although I have just scraped the surface on how businesses are utilizing Twitter for promotion, join me on my next posting to discuss how Twitter is being used for Customer Service.

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How to use Twitter for your business

April 25, 2008

I am a firm believer that not all new media is perfect for every brand as purported by Seth Godin in his latest book, Meatball Sundae.  I am also one that avoids jumping on every new piece of social media or emerging technology.  I firmly believe that besides being “really cool”, I believe that these new tools must impact the bottom line of each business, and at the end of the day, it must make for more sales or a better customer experience.  And of course, it must be something that can help you stand out above the buzz.

 

Twitter is the latest of these tools to spark my interest.  Ok, it has more than sparked my interest, I am becoming borderline obsessed with it.  I wasn’t one of those text happy individuals, as my Gen X buddies and I still preferred to call each other with the cell phone, if we were going to make the effort to take it out of our cool belt holsters.  With Twitter, I have seen the light (or have been brought over to the darkside, depending on your point of view).   If you aren’t familiar with Twitter, you can scroll down to the previous entry, or you can check it out at your nearest search engine, to get up to speed on the basics of what it is.

 

What I want to do is share some of the ways Twitter is being incorporated and utilized by businesses today.  The biggest power of Twitter is that it is a mass broadcast of a short message (140 characters or less) to a dedicated group of “followers” via the two most broad-reaching media formats available today – the internet and cell phones.  If your target audience is on either of these two mediums, then you need to consider using this.

 

With the attention span of your audience dwindling in our micro attention span culture, you need to be less intrusive and more precise in your communications.  Twitter can help do that.  Obviously, since I believe in integrated media, Twitter can’t do it alone.  In combination or partnership with other communication tools, you can enhance communications, sales, and customer experience with the effective incorporation of Twitter. 

 

Considering the fact that you can broadcast to dedicated followers, think of Twitter as the PR announcement for the other messages you want your audience to see.  A Tweet (what they call a Twitter send out) can drive traffic to a blog, announce an event and direct to a registration page, drive traffic to a website, announce sales, new product arrivals, and so much more.

 

Your audience can be as large as you build it, or it can be kept private and small, by invite only, to allow for communications to small groups, such as project teams, sales reps, and work groups.  The fact that Twitter can promote links, and drive views of other web pages, it is in itself, a great tool to increase your organic search as well.

 

As I can go on and on (which I’ve already done so far), I’ll continue this on Monday.  I want to discuss some specific campaigns we at Sterling Cross Communications (www.sterlingcrossgroup.com) are doing with clients, as well as some other notable companies that have embraced Twitter.  If you need more about Twitter right now, check out my cohort’s blog http://www.mediapirate.wordpress.com, where Scott is discussing how his Twitter is integrated with his Facebook page and his blog, and the great results there.

 

Please comment if you have examples of Twitter you want to share, and any questions you may have…

 

Follow me on Twitter:  @MrChristopherL

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To Twitter or Not to Twitter…

April 22, 2008

Do you Tweet? Have you been to Twittearth? Are you showing up on Twurly? I know what you’re thinking, this guy must be Twitter-pated! Nope (or maybe yes), but I am on Twitter. What is it? You’ve probably heard of it, either in conversation or from your text happy kids, but you probably have no idea on what exactly it is, and more importantly, how would I use it in my business?

In a nutshell, Twitter is a microblog (written in less than 140 characters to make it text friendly) which is then pushed out to your followers (a dedicated group of people that have chosen to follow your blog). It was started by the same guy that created Blogger. You can find out more about it, or sign up on Twitter.com. You can then choose to follow other people’s Tweets (many of your favorite bloggers are already on Twitter), or start to build your own following.

Over the next few posts I’ll discuss some strategies that are already in play for using Twitter in PR & Marketing, and I will explain how we are using Twitter at Sterling Cross Communications for ourselves and more importantly, for our clients. Come and join the Twitterati!

You can find me on Twitter at: MrChristopherL.
This video is a great primer to get you started:

from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

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Can your marketing hold water?

April 18, 2008

The bottled/designer/distilled water industry is a 16 billion dollar industry and growing.  It doubled in growth and size since 1993 when it was valued at 8 billion alone for the U.S. market.  According to Fast Company, it is more money than we Americans spent on iPods® or movie tickets in 2007.  It is an amazing testament to the psychology of marketing and consumerism.  We are willing to spend our money on something we can get for free from our own taps, yet we’ll shell out the dough for the convenience of water in a handy carrying container that fits into our cup-holders, purses, and kid’s lunchboxes.  All in spite of the fact that a billion people worldwide have no reliable source of drinking water, and more than 3,000 children a day die from diseases caught from tainted water (but I digress).

 

There is a water war brewing, and it’s primarily being conducted through marketing and advertising.  The bottlers have been nipping at each other’s tailfins for the past almost decade, having their way with filtration systems (such as Brita).  Now the filtration pack is fighting back, playing the “Green” card as a way to differentiate them.  This has pushed the bottlers to fight back by informing and educating how landfill friendly they truly are.

 

It is a battle for perception trying to be won by brand.  “Branding is extremely important for water,” says Chiranjeev Kohil, professor of marketing at California State University at Fullerton – speaking on brandchannel.com. “In a lot of categories, you can duplicate products and get an edge on quality or attributes, but that edge can be shaved off very quickly by competitors. In the water category, there is no technological superiority. The only thing that differentiates one water from the next is the brand.”

 

It is also one of the many products that are being judged on its entire lifecycle.  Water branding attempts to differentiate itself in multiple ways; from the source of the water, the anecdotal legend around it, the label, the social group that consumes it, to the disposal of its packaging, which begs the question – Are we going to have to concern ourselves with the lifecycle of every product in light of this?

 

This is only the beginning.  As markets tighten, and the “greening” of the products proliferates the markets this battle will be fought for several other product categories.  The writing is on the wall for the auto industry, and if bottled water is under siege, how safe are sodas, beers, cleaning products, health & beauty, and anything else that comes in an uncertain package.  Will your marketing hold water?  What do you think?

 

 

 

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Jon Stewart wishes CNN would stop the frenzied coverage of the torch parades

April 11, 2008

from vodpod.com posted with vodpod

So I’ll cap this discussion on the Olympics with this great bit by Jon Stewart on the CNN rabid coverage of the Torch trip through San Francisco….enjoy!

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Will the 2008 Olympics survive the PR “Disaster”? (part 2)

April 8, 2008

Apparently the jury is out on how the protests are going to affect the Olympics this year.  According to Reuters: NBC Universal has sold 75 percent of advertising inventory for its Olympics broadcast and has seen no discomfort from marketers over pro-Tibet protests against China, Chief Executive Jeff Zucker said on Monday.

Zucker told Reuters in an interview that Olympic advertising prices have been “incredibly strong” even amid political tensions and anti-China protests ahead of the August games in Beijing.

“The fact is the Olympics are a sporting event on the world stage,” he said. “It’s not surprising that some would try to use that stage to further their own causes and we understand that, but at the end of the day this is about the event and both the advertisers and our viewers understand that.”

So what is the impact of the negative PR of the torch relay?  Is NBC working on damage and spin control?  Will the mere fact of saying – “don’t worry all is well” mean that everything is well?  I’m not so sure.

Crises communications may be one tactic in this instance, yet I truly believe that the Olympics need to differentiate itself from its host country.  Now by no means am I saying that the IOC is as sanctified of an entity as they believe they are, yet the spirit of the games needs to take some strategic action to separate itself.

The spirit of the games has always been about the personal and team achievements on a global stage in a competition that is supposed to unify countries to support their representative athletes and break down barriers between the nations.  These stories of triumph will need to be told, and the more stories of human achievement will have to come out in order to regain focus on the games instead of the politics.  I don’t mean that we should turn our backs on the stories of the Tibetan people, and I believe that we need to utilize more and greater means of pressure on China to change its ways or it will never truly be seen as a good global citizen, as it had hoped that these games would depict them to be.

When it is all said and done, I am glad I am not the one tasked with solving this PR problem, but boy is it fun to think of ways to make it work…

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Will the 2008 Olympics survive the PR “Disaster”?

April 7, 2008

The major news channels have declared the 2008 Beijing Olympics a PR “Disaster.”  Every nation where the torch has made an appearance on its way to its lighting ceremony this August, it has met with both violent and non-violent protesters.  As I write this, there are police monitoring three individuals scaling the Golden Gate Bridge in California apparently with the intent to hang a banner of protest.

 

In videos of coverage of the parade, the jeers are far outweighing the cheers, the news-media is compiling massive amounts of footage of police and protesters, and Advertisers and Sponsors are nervous.  In light of the adage, that no PR is “bad” PR, can the Olympics survive the next days and months?

 

A PR “expert” (nope, it wasn’t me) went on one of the major cable news network today to try to suggest what steps the Olympics should take to turn this fiasco around.  He purported that the Olympics needed to separate the brand of the Olympics away from the brand of China.  It is an interesting theory and one that seems like a daunting task.  Aren’t the Olympics designed in part to be a showcase of the hosting country?  Isn’t that part of the brand appeal?  If so, can the Olympic brand survive the separation? How can it be done?

 

I would contend that the Olympics themselves have survived political strife in the past, and it still seems to come out “OK” when the dust settles.  The current news stories seem “bigger” and “louder” with the proliferation of the communications technology and social media tools.  Are the issues of Tibet and China any different or a greater atrocity than the events of the past?

 

At the Olympic Games, politics and sports are running mates, once wrote Richard Benedetto in USA Today. He mentioned a few:

 

Germany was not invited to compete in the 1920 Antwerp Games as punishment for its role in World War I. Defeated World War II powers Japan and Germany were banned from the 1948 Olympics in London.

 

In 1936, at the Berlin Olympics, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler proved to be a harbinger of World War II.

 

Japan was denied its chance to host the 1940 Games after it invaded China.

 

The Soviet Union did not compete in the 1948 London Games because it still hadn’t joined the IOC, but the Soviet-bloc countries started to defect to the West, a pattern that continued throughout the Cold War.

 

By 1952, with the Soviets becoming full-fledged members of the Olympics, intense competition between the US and the Soviet Union became a metaphor for the Cold War.

 

By the 1980s, Cold War competition had become so passionate that the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in tit-for-tat boycotts of the Games. US President Jimmy Carter, angered by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, led an international boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980.

 

Not to be upstaged, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev kept his athletes from competing in the US-hosted Los Angeles Games in 1984, saying it was not a retaliatory gesture but a measure taken for the “security” of the Soviet athletes.

 

So it appears that the Olympic tradition has seen its share of political strife and turmoil.  It is after all one of the largest audiences of viewers worldwide, and with the advances in technology, each Olympic Games occurs in a time with more communications tools and technologies than its predecessor. So how can it raise itself above the buzz of the current media frenzy?  Or can it?  I’ll present some ideas tomorrow, but I’d love to hear some of yours…

 

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