Archive for the 'blogs' Category

APCO Study – A case of poor disclosure and premature pronouncements?

In my earlier post, I highlighted a study by APCO Worldwide declaring that PR suits and blogger pros were at odds in their perceptions of how well PR executives were doing in reaching out to bloggers. I asked for a detailed report of the study, and while none surfaced, a fellow blogger–Bill Sledzik, who teaches PR and media ethics at Kent State University–sent me a four-page summary that concluded with five broad pronouncements that APCO termed “consensus points” based on its discussions with bloggers.

But for this specific study, guess how many bloggers did APCO hold discussions with? Well, the population sample size for this study was a grand 102 people (55 PR professionals and 47 bloggers). While I don’t think that the conclusions themselves are anything terrificly new or controversial, delivering industry “best practices” based on a survey of such minute sample size is. APCO does no credit to the marketing research profession. It even did a press release publicizing the study, and ironically enough, a website that aims to “bridge the gap” that it found in the study. Is the company aware of criticisms of its study in blogosphere?

The summary report–quite appropriately entitled “badscience”–that Bill Sledzik sent me is attached. Thanks, Bill.

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Blog Dissonance…

I always enjoy reading Rohit Bhargava’s blog because he consistently delivers insightful, well-considered commentary.  I learn something new each time I visit his blog.

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Using the phenomenon where Scott Adams–the creator of Dilbert–as an illustration, Rohit discusses why it is possible for a brand (I loosely consider the Dilbert franchise a brand) to suffer a reduction in following because of its blog.  This happens when the audience sees a brand and its creator as one entity, but realizes through the creator’s blog (where one tends to express oneself more authentically) that his/her personal persona can speak with quite a different voice from the brand, hence the dissonance.

As Rohit explains, Adams sometimes blogs on his views on politics and social issues, which some of the readers (many of whom are drawn to his blog because they expect to hear the more of Dilbert) do not understand or agree with.  And when some of his audience see that the voice of Dilbert is not always consonant with the voice of Scott Adams, they swear never to return.

There are some useful lessons for marketers here.  Please read Rohit’s full commentary for more insights.  I believe it will be worth your while.

Ogilvy PR’s Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics – In beta

One of my favorite bloggers who writes thoughtfully about the PR and marketing profession is Rohit Bhargava, who leads Ogilvy PR’s interactive marketing practice out of its Washington D.C. office.  PR practitioners and marketers are starting to understand that bloggers can be strategic stakeholders.  But how does one strategically–and ethically–reach out to them? 

As a starting block to help the profession navigate the landscape, Bhargava and his team has drafted a beta version of Ogilvy’s PR Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics.  You’ll find it a good investment of your time to check it out.

SMU PodCamp 2007 – The seeds of a social media movement in Singapore?

While, as organizer Michael Netzley said, the SMU PodCamp 2007 was more a hybrid powwow than an unconference in the purest sense of the word, I think it was an excellent way to get the local social media types–and hopefully a few skeptics–excited about the new vistas that social media can open up to communicators and companies.

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The primary feature speaker was Mitch Joel, president of Quebec-based marketing firm Twist Image.  Mitch did his “Six Pixels of Separation” presentation–essentially making the points that we live in a world that is more connected than ever before and that it is not technology that connects us, it is content.  In fact, he made the point that content is media.

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The afternoon featured local mobile operator StarHub‘s marketing VP sharing a case study of the company’s blogger outreach campaign in the lead-up to the official launch of its Pfingo service.  What I thought was quite fascinating was that some of the bloggers StarHub provided pre-release handsets and information to were journalists of traditional media who also happened to blog (mentioned was Alfred Siew of Straits Times, among others).  Sure, it’d be a scoop for a blogger to be the first to break the news on a pre-release product, but if that blogger also happened to write for a traditional media organization, what would his/her editor think?

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John Kerr, who leads Edelman’s Southeast Asia social media practice also presented some interesting slides on media consumption trends in Asia, as well as its now annual Trust Barometer study.

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The second day was spent mostly with Mitch doing a demo of some of the cool social media sites such as del.icio.us, Linkedin.  I have to say I wasn’t motivated enough to start my own accounts until I saw what they could do through Mitch’s demo.  Now, my del.icio.us account is at http://del.icio.us/sojourneys, and my Linkedin account is at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/4/8a9/910.  I will continue to build on them over the next weeks and months ahead.

Hopefully this podcamp will sow the seeds, creating ripples of change in Singapore when it comes to social media communication.  Kudos, Michael, for putting this together, and till PodCamp 2008!

Leveraging new media to give a branding campaign that extra oomph – J&J’s Aveeno

I came across a fascinating case study that provided a model as to how new media could maximize the mileage of a traditional branding campaign.  When J&J wanted to launch its Aveeno brand into the uber competitive anti-aging arena, its PR consultants at Ogilvy PR knew that relying on traditional media outreach alone would not gain much buzz.  So, it engaged British artist Julian Beever (a.k.a. Pavement Picasso), known for his artistically complex, 3D-like street drawinings, to execute a “Fountain of Youth” in the heart of NYC.  It created a viral video and YouTube posting of Beever at work, and supported it with a Flickr album, blogger outreach, and other digital activities.  Click on the picture for Ogilvy PR’s case study.

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Incidentally, Julian Beever was in Singapore in June 2007.  He was commissioned by Nokia to paint a “hole” in front of the entrance to a major local department store.  Ironically, for a new economy company such as Nokia, it did not seem to ride on new media to give its effort that extra oomph.  Perhaps this is where the marketers here have still a ways to go in harnessing the galvanizing powers of new media.

The Executive Blogger’s Guide to Building a Nest of Blogs, Wikis, and RSS

My friend Walter who often blogs about issues related to marketing and public relations (among other lighter moments of life) sent me this executive blogger’s guide from Ogilvy PR.

It is a sensible, down-to-earth guide drawing lessons from notorious examples of companies that failed to understand the bottom-up, galvanizing, and sometimes investigative culture of blogosphere (the humble bic pen and the almight Kryptonite lock, Mazada’s “crash”) as well as case studies of companies–even juggernauts such as Boeing, GM, and Sun, that have harnessed blogs to build communities around their issues.  Worth checking out (click on the picture below to open or download the PDF).

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Give stakeholders insights into your company personality through corporate blogging

Even though Richard Edelman’s blog entries can be verbose, 6 A.M. is a blog I enjoy.  Other than insights into the public relations profession, the blogs offers a peek into the thinking and personality that founded one of the world’s leading PR firms. 

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In his recent May entries, Richard Edelman reflected on the proceedings of a breakfast meeting of the C40 group of large city majors and the bridging role of PR in private-public partnerships; his take on smoking prevention and cessation programs–where he announced that he is offering to any Edelman staff who quits smoking in the next few months US$500 if they stayed smoke-free six months later; and shared his sense of loss and grief at the passing of a colleague whom he also considered a dear friend.

Edelman’s 6 A.M. blogs offers several lessons, but I will just discuss one here, and that is a corporate blog can be a powerful way of giving stakeholders intimate insights into your company personality that is beneath the varnished corporate website, media releases, and collaterals.  But this also means that any company that is not willing to offer a personal glimpse into its thinking and workings should probably not blog.

Can Singaporean companies do well in this area?  My observation is that for psychosocial reasons that are to lengthy to delve into here, Singaporeans by-and-large are reticent about being the public face of the organizations they work for.  It wasn’t so long ago that even sign-offs to letters responding to public queries in the newspapers made it clear that the spokesperson was speaking on behalf of yet another person (usually a higher-up).  This practice was especially prevalent among government organizations. 

A successful corporate blog is seldom run by a team of anonymous employees churning out prosaic postings on a clockwork schedule.  Rather, it is about building relationships and enaging in an ongoing, multilateral conversation.  It can only work if a company truly cares about offering a personal facet to its public face and can find ardent champions who are empowered to pry aside the corporate veils even if ever so slightly.


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