Archive for March, 2011


How many ways can you say the same thing to a person?  At first it might come across as informative and interesting so the person listens. After a while it becomes stale and no longer has any immediate relevance and then the person starts ignoring it.  But then there’s a point where the message is now bordering on abusive and then that person because annoyed if not enraged.

We have to understand that a message isn’t guaranteed to hit everyone the first time it’s put out into the world, thus it gets replayed on the same medium and often broadcasted through multiple mediums.  But if you’re an active member of society, at which point should those advertisers realize you’ve heard the message?  Ken Martin and Ivan Todorov put together a nice model of the “Day in the Life Continuum” within their article “How will digital platforms be harness in 2010, and how will they change the way people interact with brands?”  Once you get past the title, the rest of the article is fairly short, but the one figure explains everything you need to know.  People are constantly connected with the media.  Smart phones bring the internet to your hip 24 hours a day. Digital billboards are now able to portray not only one image, but multiple up to date messages.  I drive by two billboards that tell me exactly how long the average wait time at the local emergency room is.  That rarely has any value on me, but it is always interesting to note the days and times when that minute count spikes.  Either way, I notice and I’m sure others notice too.  And while you’re seeing those billboards, you’re sitting in the car listening to the radio.  Then you go home and jump on the computer and have the television on in the background and you’re engaging with everything that can sell you something.  If you only interacted with each once during the day I would be impressed, but I’d be impressed if you only checked your Facebook once per day.

Now imagine if the same message was played on all of those formats.  You wake up and check the morning news and see that commercial.  You check your favorite website and you see that same message.  You get a new message or email on your smart phone.  The digital billboard lights up in bright letters repeating the same damn thing and the radio won’t even give you five minutes to forget about it.  At what point will that message go from hopefully interesting to downright painful?  People are forced to deal with producers screaming and begging all day, everyday.  As the future continues, society is becoming more and more connected.  Not just connected in terms of the amount of people, but also through the amount of time.  It’s a revolution to turn off your phone for a day.  I’m begging the advertisers of the world, don’t make me crazier than I already am.

 

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My latest readings from Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s book, “Trust Agents,” combined with the articles “Untamed Blog” by Kathleen Long et. al. and “Saving Disney” by Sarah Feldner and Rebecca Meisenbach has laid out pretty much everything you need to know about blogs.  Other notable social media were also referenced, but the key piece of analysis was centered on one of the older internet tools, the blog.  The standard concept was to create a format which can be taken as relevant and interesting to those that read it.  There are many things that will make a blog useful and/or entertaining to the reader.  The key is finding the right combination of tactics applied through the use of language meant for the audience.

The tactics can range, but idea about the community that is trying to be established is the core of their intent.  How do we build a central hub for the world to engage about the topics that the blogger presents?  The writer will offer the right words and tone.  The audience must be able to understand the message and be not afraid to interact with both the writer and those that are also willing to engage the writer.  If others are responding to the message, then that messenger must also be willing to reply.  This results in dialogue, the two-way messaging that the internet is all about.  People not only want to be able to read and discuss anything and everything, but they also want to feel as if they’re being heard.  Simple enough.

Now the aforementioned literature focuses on the public relation capabilities of blogs.  Public relations is the bottom line aspect that businesses like to use when viewing the potential of a blog.  Public relations is suppose to equate to dollars at the end of the day, thus a business blog needs to find where that dollar is hiding.  This can also follow for personal blogs, because both are seeking out the same result: more readers.  This can be developed in many ways, and if you wished to know each and every one of those methods, go read these items, but if you want to start with one, just be available.  That relates to the dialogue bit.  People are going to read.  They’re going to comment.  They’re going to ask questions.  Your primary role is to be there to respond.  Update often and be read to engage any kind of audience you can find.  If you can’t find one, then there are plenty of other tricks to learn, but start slow and try to find someone willing to listen and willing to share.  Just think, if they’re willing to engage with you, they’re probably will to tell a friend (or maybe even two).

 

It’s interesting the many different ways we can deal with our consumers.  We can pretend that they’re simply figures in a spreadsheet laying out our generating revenues, or we can realize that there is a fully functioning person on the other end of that number. Groundswell introduced two concepts, which really are nothing more than common sense, but it is a clear picture of how businesses should work with their customer base.

Energizing is simple. Convince the consumers that they should be happy enough about the product and/or service that are willing to spread the good name throughout their network.  Happy customers tell their peers, that trust their opinions, about their happy experiences.  Boom! Third party recommendations (word of mouth) are the most effective marketing.  You trust your friend’s opinions more than you trust the television, or internet, or [insert other media format].  That makes sense. You’ve developed trust your friend for a much longer period of time than any marketer that is being paid to tell you nothing but the good things (anytime is longer than your time with the random marketer). So if you can energize one customer to tell all his friends you’ve just have a great endorsement. Now if only you can convince all your customers to tell all their friends about all the great things your company.

Energizing your customers is good, but also embracing them is great.  Embracing your customers is simple too.  All you have to do is listen to what they have to say, and then do something about it. See how simple that is.  Embracing your customers shows you care. Businesses that listen and respond have a way of energizing people.  If you’ve ever gotten a response from a company, you tell people about it. It’s like getting a response from a celebrity.  It’s completely unexpected, so you share it with everyone around you.

So lessons to learn and incorporate: energize and embrace your consumers.  It makes them feel special, and everyone likes to feel special.

While exploring the world of internet public relations, I was presented with three articles: Abbey Levenshus’s analysis of Obama’s internet campaign, Ric Jensen’s discussion of internet environmental campaigns and transparency, and Rosemary Thackeray’s look into youth advocacy through social networking sites. Each presents an issue and a tool that the internet provides. The question of building upon these points to form a more cohesive look public relations and the internet is highlighted throughout their works as well as a general feel for an industry moving forward.

Levenshus’s views on Obama’s internet campaign provided an understanding about how an audience interacts online.  The internet has always been scene as a new media that gave a new look at two way communication.  User generated content is about dialogue as much as broadcasting, or at least allows for greater two way discussion. Understanding Obama’s internet uses shows another side of how the audience engages.  People were drawn to his content.  People watched Youtube videos and read Facebook articles.  People responded in such a massive volume that it overshadowed all other political campaigns and shined a light on the ways that the internet could be harnessed. Celebrities, ranging from entertainers to athletes to politicians, have managed to make a expansive message sound like a conversation.  Followers from all different realms of social networking are able to interact as if they were singled out for each announcement.  The relationships that are built and maintained can reach unimaginable numbers.

The relationships that are formed are developed from transparency. Transparency is just imagery for trustworthy.  If you can trust a person, you can build an honest relationship. Public relations is about establishing trust in its targeted audience.  Jensen pointed out a new level of deception with the internet.  Much how everyone used to believe “everything on TV” now it finds its hold on the internet in the ways.  Transparency and constant communication gives allows for the internet to build trust, yet at the same time the message can be misleading if not completely deceitful. The internet can challenge the foundation of trust as much as any media tool.

With trust being such a complex concept, it becomes difficult to build certain relationships.  Youth advocacy has always been tricky, whether it is a backyard grassroots campaign or a new media internet one.  Uses a medium that the youth is used to can provide more access to this group, but at the same time motivating them will always remain multifaceted.  The general skepticism will always remain, but the way that we build trust will need to reach a new level of clarity as well as transparency.  Understanding must be the next item for the internet to provide.  You can trust a person while not understanding them, but if you understand them you know why you can trust them.