Posts Tagged ‘PR’

Social Media: Advertising Vs. PR

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Most of us working for the media have taken note to the recent activities in the social media space in the last one year. Twitter grew more than 1500% in mid-2009, Facebook has almost caught up with Google in web traffic, while the once-popular social network Bebo is on the verge of shutting down. In the meanwhile, marketers and agencies have been coping to keep up with this fickle, evolving industry. The power of communication has landed in the hands of the consumer, and instead of a traditional business to consumer marketing model, we are now faced with consumer to consumer conversations, pondering what are the best ways to insert our brand in those conversations. In this shifting ecosystem, roles for agencies has changed and the question has surfaced – who will handle the social media marketing for a brand? Is the traditional advertising agency, the digital shop or the PR agency?

Traditional ad agencies are not competing for this business. Most Americans still watch TV and the need for TV advertising will continue. The real competition remains between the digital agencies and the PR shops. During the recession, marketing dollars were reduced and companies scaled back on building fancy websites and expensive online media buys, affecting digital ad agencies’ business.  Social media marketing factors accountability, measurement, monitoring, impacting the Share of Voice – disciplines that online public relations excels in and have been doing so for a while. Brands are realizing that. In industry movements – Starbucks assigned most of it’s social media to their PR agency – Edelman. PR agencies are also welcoming those changes by staffing. To keep up with their client’s creative demands, Edelman’s Digital team bought David Armano on board, a creative advertising veteran, who created large scale web builds for ad agencies such as Digitas and Agency.com. We are going to start seeing these changes more frequently. And specific PR industry hires from the advertising field, brands rewarding their social media businesses to PR agencies are just the beginning of this change that has started to shake things up.

Coming from an digital advertising background myself (in fact – Publicis Modem and Agency.com, as Mr. Armano), I’m nervous that business model is losing to its PR counterparts. If brands need to focus on creating and measuring conversations and effectively execute social media programs – that is not the traditional advertising process. Sure, agencies for decades have been creating mind blowing creative campaigns, building brands, turning commercial jingles into household tunes – but while are approaching a Generation Y era, powered with Web 2.0 and iPhones and GPS mobile applications like Foursquare, the need for communication channels focuses on audience engagement and activation. Finding and recruiting influencers and making them brand evangelists are the true form of viral marketing. Being a digital marketer, everyday I encounter questions from our clients asking newer ideas on reaching their audience in unique and innovative ways, using social media. And in all honesty, I think a PR angle is far better equipped to answer that question than the standard advertising rationale. Communication and interaction will win over one-way messaging in today’s social media strategy.

South by Southwest 2010: The Good, Bad, and Weird

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual meeting of professionals and passionate fans of social media, music and film, began March 12 and concluded this past weekend in Austin, Texas.  In my first year at SXSW and attending on behalf of Nikon, I enjoyed a week full of learning, collaboration and inspiration.  The hype is true.  It’s an excellent opportunity to build strong relationships and create unique brand engagements for your client.

For those unfamiliar with SXSW, the first five days are dedicated to all things “Interactive,” including panels, parties and power-bloggers roaming the halls of the Austin Convention Center discussing what’s next.  The Music and Film portion of the Festival follows and the city swells to more than 30,000 filling the streets of downtown Austin.

This year,  attendees for the Interactive portion doubled with not only bloggers and social media “experts,” but corporate representatives and hundreds of PR, advertising and digital agency representatives, including a team from @mwwgroup.  As Jenna Wortham of the New York Times wrote, “the high concentration of tech savants supplies a rare opportunity for companies to woo the eyes and clicks of early adopters and influential Twitter users and bloggers capable of elevating their sites and services out of obscurity.”

Of course, not all content enlightened attendees.  There was a great deal of noise and panels with intriguing titles that didn’t deliver anything more than what is already covered within Mashable. As AdRants put it, “Some of the content was good. Some of the content was truly terrible.”

Here are a few takeaways from what we learned throughout the 10-day Festival…

#1.  Geeks like to karaoke and party.  A lot.

Interactive included five days of cookouts, kickball and Foursquare matches along with lunchtime happy hours, cocktail hours and after-after-after parties. This might seem like all fun and games, but in practice, it was a Festival of networking and idea generation for brands as large as Microsoft and as small as FoodSpotting, and a great celebration of the important role of technology and entrepreneurism of the past year.

#2. “Just watch American Idol.”

The legendary Smokey Robinson gave the keynote address to the SXSW Music attendees.  He spoke of his award-winning history in the music business and how some of his greatest hits were created by accident.  When asked what advice he would give to rising stars, he paused for a moment and said, “You are not the first to be in showbiz, you will not be the last.  Just watch the crowds at an American Idol audition.”  Knowing always where you’ve come from, what you stand for and appreciating the breaks you’ve been given along the way is key to success, according to Smokey.  It’s advice all businesses and practitioners should follow.

#3. Business in the Bathroom Line.

An incredible thing about SXSW was that everyone was someone worth getting to know.  Everyone had similar interests, passions, and desires to collaborate just waiting for a connection to be made. Everyone had an idea worth pursuing or a friend-of-a-friend you “just need to meet!”  Even standing in the 50-person bathroom queue at Stubb’s BBQ, you might meet the lead singer of a cool band, the CMO of a brilliant startup, or even a filmmaker debuting at SXSW in need of PR representation.  And, just like that, a relationship or a deal can be made.

#4. The Necessity of Official Sponsorships
The usual suspects sponsored the SXSW Festival, including Pepsi Refresh, AOL, Chevy, Miller Lite and more.  Their presence was big, splashy, and ever-present among a sea of Convention Center visitors.  We realized, though, that impact can be made without a step-and-repeat banner and pricey sponsorhips. Nikon (MWW client) partnered with the largest photo and video uploading service for Twitter, called yfrog.  Knowing there was no official aggregator for images and video at SXSW, this service pulled in content using the Twitter hashtags #SXSW and #SXSWpics to form an online gallery.  In addition to public content gathered, Nikon also sponsored several top bloggers, including Chris Brogan, Pop17 and Jeff Pulver, to hit the streets of Austin with their Nikon cameras to capture the scene.  The Nikon Gallery had hundreds of professional photos and thousands of public images.  The openness of social media, and collaborators like yfrog, allowed Nikon to have a unique brand presence without official SXSW sponsorship, although the right official sponsorships can work too.

#5 The Next Big Thing

Our minds are spinning with thoughts of what could be next for Interactive.  Of course, the talk of the town was FourSquare, Gowalla and more location-based social media networking.  The “celebrities” included Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk), iJustine (@iJustine), Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) and many more who will continue to drive the thought leadership in this space. We also heard great buzz for Food Spotting, Twitter’s @Anywhere platform, and countless analytics tools and opinions about ROI.  It remains to be seen what the next “big thing” will be, because the SXSW community is full of early adopters and it takes time to create mainstream adoption, but we’re confident one of the 15,000 brains at SXSW will be responsible.

Austin featured a great cast of characters, living up to its motto “Keep Austin Weird.”  And, we can’t wait to return for the weirdness, creativity and rockin’ music at #SXSW2011.

FTC Guidelines: Implications for Marketers

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

We’ve seen lots of coverage in the past few days around the new FTC guidelines around endorsements, specifically about the impact this will have on blogger and “influencer” relations when it comes to social media and WOM marketing.  The guidelines address a range of potential endorsers, besides bloggers, including:

  • Network Marketers”: the guidelines state that “participants in network marketing programs are also likely to be deemed to have material connection that warrant disclosure.”  So if you are a BuzzAgent or a brand working with a similar program, disclosure and liability guidelines apply as they do to bloggers.
  • Celebrities are considered liable for comments they make in advertisements – but importantly for PR people – also for what they say in editorial content.  So celebrities being paid to talk about a product on a talk show, will be required to disclose their relationship with the brand.
  • Employees: disclosure is required when employees of a company comment publicly about a product or service (the Guidelines use the example of a message board post).  What was previously best practices, seems now to be a requirement, making employee policies and guidelines even more important.

At the end of the day, the guidelines require that endorsers 1) disclose their relationship with marketers and advertisers, and 2) are accountable for the truth and accuracy of their comments.  This presents some basic considerations for us as marketers.  Although disclosure about compensation is certainly not a new issue in the marketing world, there is now an added (financial) incentive to ensure that this is done consistently and ethically.  The basics:

  • Proactive Disclosure: Individuals who receive compensation (money/free product) in exchange for talking about personal experiences need to clearly and consistently disclose their relationship with the marketer (on the web, this should be done each time a new reference is made).  It also means that as a marketer, we are responsible for setting up disclosure expectations for the programs we run – including include the proper way to disclose within the context of a blog as well as in 140 characters, or as part of a YouTube video.
  • Guidelines and Recommendations: Especially with network marketing programs, when “endorsers” don’t necessarily consider themselves marketers, setting up recommended disclosure language and the parameters for reviews and endorsements will be important  (i.e. stick to your personal experiences rather than making broad-generalizations about a product, be honest, etc.).  In the same way, guidelines for employees who are talking about their companies’ products or services will be important too.
  • Monitoring: Part of the guidelines states that “if the advertiser initiated the process that led to these endorsements being made … it potentially is liable for misleading statements made by those consumers.” With that in mind, it is not enough to simply disseminate free product and close your ears (not that this is advisable anyway).  Brands will be responsible for tracking mentions and reviews by these influencers and potentially reaching out to correct or clarify mis-information.

All in all, these are best practices brands should be following anyway – and these guidelines are a step in the right direction.  We’re following along as brands and marketers adopt these new guidelines, and will be tracking new developments as they come.

LOTD: 9/24/09

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

News from DialogueMedia

Interview of How General Motor Handles Social Media

David Meerman Scott interviews Christopher Barger on how GM uses social media.  Barger discusses what tools they use, how they monitor and what their MO is on engaging in social media.  The video is definitely worth watching.


Why Companies are Still Scared of Social Media

BL Ochman discusses the six reasons why companies are still scared of social media.  Among them are: loss of control and employee productivity issues.  BL provides some very good reasons for each.

Alternative Ways of Encouraging PR Embargos

In light of TechCrunch’s refusal to accept embargoed releases, Robert Scoble provides some tips on how to get your message out at the proper time.  Release news at a press conference, on the company blog or even use donation to a charity as leverage in keeping the silence.

Interview of How General Motor Handles Social Media

David Meerman Scott interviews Christopher Barger on how GM uses social media.  Barger discusses what tools they use, how they monitor and what their MO is on engaging in social media.  This is someone who gets it and the video is definitely worth watching.

Why Companies are Still Scared of Social Media

BL Ochman discusses the six reasons why companies are still scared of social media.  Among them are: lose of control and employee productivity issues.  BL provides some very good reasons for each.

Alternative Ways of Encouraging PR Embargos

In light of TechCrunch’s refusal to accept embargoed releases, Robert Scoble provides some tips on how to get your message out at the proper time.  Release news at a press conference, on the company blog or even use donation to a charity as leverage in keeping the silence.

MWW Group Launches D.Advocacy, Industry’s First Social Media Platform for Public Affairs and Government Relations

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

MWW Group Launches D.Advocacy from Joe Becker on Vimeo.