Tag Archives: public relations

The Social Hot Potato

An interesting read this morning from the folks at Genesys (with a hat tip to Media Post).

1 and a half russet potato with sprouts. Slice...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Genesys conducted a study that surveyed more than 798 senior executives worldwide about customer communication and found that the social and mobile channels are not yet aligned with customer service.  Shocking, I know.  Some key points:

  • Fifty eight percent of C-suite Execs see the CEO as responsible for the social media and mobile channels, but only 28 percent of middle managers agree. The disconnect between top-level and mid-ranking executives might be explained by the novelty factor of social media.
  • When it comes to driving the customer conversation, the marketing department, not customer service or the C-suite, is driving the response to new channels with 44 percent of executives saying the marketing department has dominated the dialogue between company and customer.
  • The report also found that 43 percent of companies only began using social media in the last year and only 11 percent of businesses have been using social media to communicate with customers for three years or more.
  • Customer Service has not been a priority with new communications channels. Only 42 percent of organizations use call centers to communicate with customers and just 6 percent see customer support/service as the main purpose of new communication channels.

A few thoughts.  In larger, more mature companies, the CEO is generally someone my age – well over 50.  One might wonder how familiar your stereotypical CEO is with social channels and what sort of daily (much less hourly) use they make of them.  No wonder the middle managers are a little skeptical.  The implied turf war between marketing, PR, and customer service over who is in charge is no surprise.  Nor is it a shock that companies that appoint a single person, instead of a team, to manage all communications were more successful. Thirty-three percent of executives within companies that have appointed a team to manage social media/mobile channels felt that there was a disconnect between teams that touch these channels. In organizations that had appointed a single individual to manage new channels, just 9 percent perceived the same disconnect.

Social media as a communications channel is a huge disruptor.  Those sorts of hot potatoes aren’t welcomed into most corporate environments.  As the study show, the social round peg isn’t fitting into any of the existing square holes.  The companies that are doing well are the ones that have drilled a round place.

Thoughts?

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No Good Deed…

For our Foodie Friday Fun piece I want to look at something Whole Foods announced a month or so ago. On the surface it seems as if it’s very much in keeping with their brand positioning and is something that will make a positive contribution in sustaining the food chain. Why, then, are so many people questioning both their motives and the effectiveness of what they’re doing? A quick examination is useful in raising issues we can all think about as we try to move our businesses forward.

Atlantic cod fisheries have collapsed

Atlantic cod fisheries have collapsed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First the facts.  Whole Foods announced that they will stop selling fish caught from depleted waters or through ecologically damaging methods.  They won’t carry wild-caught seafood that is “red-rated,” a color code that indicates it’s either overfished or caught in a way that harms other species.   This will impact the sale of octopus, gray sole, skate, Atlantic halibut and Atlantic cod caught by trawls, which some say can destroy habitats. Instead, they say they’re going to sell sustainable replacements like cod caught on lines and halibut from the Pacific.  Pretty straightforward, right?  Hopefully by not selling the fish that’s most threatened or whose capture might damage the environment, Whole Foods is marching in step with their brand image and their customers’ mindset.

Except maybe not.  First, for those of us on the east coast, Pacific fish needs to be flown here.  Without having the “is global warming manmade” fight, let’s just assume it’s better to eat locally sourced ingredients for a lot of reasons, the environment and taste among them.  Next, it ignores items such as scallops which are not endangered but are caught using many of the same methods (dredging) that are being excluded.  Third, the list the chain is following is produced by the Blue Ocean Institute and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California which some attack as having their own agenda.  Finally, the more cynical (read that as New England fisherman) commenters question if the whole thing isn’t just a PR stunt to get some good out of the fact that cod and other of the “red-rated” fish will be hard to find and very expensive so to mitigate the lack of availability the chain is just tossing it out completely.

I have no clue which position is right or wrong.  I raise the discussion because it’s a great example of how even what seems to be a company trying to do some good can involve an awful lot of issues to which technology gives a lot of visibility.  What about the fisherman whose livelihoods are affected?  What about other local jobs that support them and the excellent work most local fishing communities are doing to preserve the fishing beds (which obviously they should have started a long time ago or we’d not be having this discussion!)?

We’ll file this one under no good deed goes unpunished, I guess.  It’s all of our jobs to try to do good as we’re doing well.  The trick is to make sure that others see it the same way and if they don’t, that at least you’ve considered their positions and are prepared to discuss your reasoning.

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When Does An Offer Of Help Constitute A Bribe?

I’ve been wrestling with something over the last 24 hours and I’m hoping you all might have some thoughts on the matter.  As I’ve mentioned before, as someone who blogs on a regular basis, I get offers from various folks almost every day.  These offers are interview opportunities, review copies of books, maybe the odd report here or there, and I’m usually happy to hear about them.  It may not seem like it, but coming up with content for the screed can be a challenge!

Bribe Deutsch: Bestechung Suomi: Lahjus Русски...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway, yesterday I received an offer from a publicist to interview an author and/or to get a copy of the author’s new book.  Nothing unusual there.  What followed in the email, however, is what’s giving me pause:

In exchange for your help, we’re also happy to help you in any way we can – from blogging about you, sending traffic your way or even getting you linked into our affiliate program to make you a few bucks.

As an author myself, I’m always looking to grow the readership of this blog (and I hope you tell folks to check it out when you can!), so an offer of traffic or publicity or some cash based on book sales are things which are appealing.  On the surface, this is something that’s just a “you help me out, here is how I can help you” exchange that goes on in business all the time.  So let me explain why I’m troubled.

There’s a statement on the PR firm‘s website which says they always act with honesty and integrity and never compromise the truth. They also stick to “white hat” marketing tactics, never trying anything that could comprise a client’s image or brand.  Very commendable, so why does the above offer feel smarmy?  In my mind, it feels like a bribe – write about our client and we’ll do what we can for you.  Maybe it’s because everything is conditioned on me publicizing their client instead of a “we love your blog, we’re going to publicize it and by the way, you might be interested in this other person with whom we’re working.”  Of course, one had to wonder what happens when 20 or 30 of these offers are accepted – how much linking and writing can they really do?  How many book sales would it take to generate meaningful cash, or even enough for a trip to the movies?

I turned them down, mostly because the author’s expertise doesn’t really match the focus of this blog.  I probably could have found an area of the author’s expertise to fit but there was the other issue of why I was speaking to her in the first place.  While this isn’t the first time I’ve received offers for stuff beyond the interview opportunity or review copy of a book, it is one of the most blatant.  So what do you think?  Am I being too critical or do you think this steps over the ethical line?

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