Tuesday, April 28, 2009

10 Years Later the Cluetrain Manifesto Still has Poignant Message

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the Cluetrain Manifesto. This little book predicted the future we are in now. The Cluetrain Manifesto consists of 95 revolutionary theses. The first is it’s most famous, “Markets are conversations.”

The Cluetrain authors stated: “It’s all about disruption, and the people taking back control of what they pay attention to.”

They call on us in organizations to speak with a “human voice.” #68 speaks to us in particular: “The inflated self-important jargon you sling around – in the press, at your conferences – what's that got to do with us?” People don’t want to hear that you are leveraging your resources to focus on your core competencies striving toward excellence.

I’m not really going to try to summarize the whole manifesto. You can read it online yourself or at least get an overview by reading the 95 theses. Plus you can see how bloggers from around the world are commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Cluetrain Manifesto today.

Much of the Cluetrain Manifesto was a bit frightening to the business world. The authors are quite clear that things are going to be different. And wow, were they right!

Communication has become easier for individuals. And in many ways, it has become more complicated for organizations, particularly in this transition period we are in.

What I find particularly interesting is that many of the ideals presented in the Cluetrain Manifesto are at the core of effective public relations and communications. While we often get a bad rap when our mistakes are so visible and our successes so seamless, PR is a truth-telling business. That means telling truth to customers, employees, reporters and communities. It also means telling truth to our bosses. Figuring out what the truth actually is requires listening. Effective communication requires listening.

Number 78 on the Cluetrain list says: “You want us to pay? We want you to pay attention.” This new world of social media is not about pushing our finely-crafted messages to the masses through in more channels. It’s a tool for listening and responding… to individuals.

So today, let’s applaud the Cluetrain Manifesto authors – Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger – for telling it like it is.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lesson from Domino's: Don't Wait Yourself to Death

As Beth mentions in her post, “The Dark Side of Social Media?” communicators worry that the Domino’s episode will cause more companies to avoid social media. But this kind of crisis can happen whether or not you are using social media. Others are.

But your response can be much more effective and immediate if you are already using social media -- this is if you decide to respond at all.

So what do you do when your company is attacked online? If your organization has a large consumer base or perhaps a strong regional one, like a sports team, then this is really something you need to think about.

A PR representative from Domino’s told Ad Age early in the crisis that they weren’t going to respond publically yet, if at all, because they didn't want to "alert more people to the story." And, of course, by waiting, the Domino’s story became huge. Frankly it was easy to predict after looking at the video that it was going to spread. In three days, there were more than 1 million views of the main video on YouTube (there were multiple versions posted). That’s roughly 1 million people being disgusted by what they saw happening in a Domino’s kitchen.

At about the two-day point, Domino's hosted its video response. Doing its own You Tube video was a smart tactic. And while there were some production issues, the content almost hit the mark. The CEO said “we’re sorry” [check], he said “here’s what we’ve done about this incident” [check], and he said “here’s what we’re doing to keep it from happening again” [almost check]. The problem was the CEO’s focus was on the individual store where the video was shot. But those 1 million viewers were worried about their pizza no matter which Domino’s store it was from and employees were still feeling unheard.

There have been many commentaries offering ideas about how Domino’s should have responded. I’ll just say that a good rule of thumb is to find out where people are talking about you and join in to the conversation. In this case, Twitter was buzzing. There were tons of tweets sending people to the icky video. And there were tons of rumors. If people are talking about your organization negatively on Twitter then you need to be on Twitter answering accusations and dealing with rumors. If they are on Facebook, you need to there. See Beth’s other tips as well.

My lesson for today is don't wait.
• Don’t wait until the bad news hits major news media.
• Don't wait until you have all the facts straight.
• Don't wait until you know who is saying what.
• Don't wait until you have got the permission from legal.
• Don’t wait until you are an expert in social media.

Waiting can bring down your organization.

Participating and responding online can turn bad perceptions into good ones that last.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Dark Side of Social Media?

Domino's nightmare holds lessons for marketers
"It's a PR nightmare scenario: A national fast-food chain has to respond to a video, spreading rapidly online, that shows one of its employees picking his nose and placing the result in the food he's making."

It's not a new story. Businesses and even charities have always had to deal with rumors of mismanagement, non-management, or criminal activity. There's even a saying attributed to Mark Twain, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.” But in the wired world the lie can go around the world twenty times while the truth is trying to turn off the alarm clock.

What does this mean? It doesn't mean "stay out of social media." For one thing, it's obvious - as the news story points out - that "just about anyone with a video camera and a grudge can bring a company to its knees with lightning speed." Keeping your organization off the web won't protect it from malicious or irresponsible posters. It does mean, "stay vigilant." It means, "monitor the Internet for mentions of your company." It means " have a contingency plan in place to reply to this kind of attack." And it means, "get your story out first": if the social media sphere is already used to seeing your presence there, they are more likely to check your web site, your blogs, your Facebook/MySpace/
Twitter page for the accuracy of rumors, and to refute them.

Lessons everyone can learn from Domino's misfortune:

"• Monitor social media. Big companies must actively watch Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social sites to track conversations that involve them. That will help uncover potential crises-in-the-making, says Brian Solis, a new-media specialist and blogger at PR2.0.

"• Respond quickly. Domino's responded within hours. 'They responded as soon as they heard about it, not after the media asked, "What are you going to do?"' says Lynne Doll, president of The Rogers Group, a crisis-management specialist.

"• Respond at the flashpoint. Domino's first responded on consumer affairs blog The Consumerist, whose activist readers helped track down the store and employees who made the video. Then it responded on the Twitter site where talk was mounting. 'Domino's did the right thing by reinstituting the trust where it was lost,' Solis says.

"• Educate workers. It's important that all employees have some media and social-media training, says Ross Mayfield, co-founder of Socialtext, which advises companies on new media.

"• Foster a positive culture. Workers who are content and customers who like your product are far less likely to tear down a company online, PR guru Katie Delahaye Paine says. 'This would be a lot less likely to happen at places like Whole Foods.'

"• Set clear guidelines. Companies must have clear policies about what is allowed during working hours — and what isn't, Doll says. 'It won't prevent everyone from breaking the rules, but at least they'll know what the rules are.'"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Local PR Firm Leaders Discuss Adapting to Tough Times

The San Antonio Express-News ran a front page business story today about the local PR agency business. Reporter William Pack interviewed local PR leaders Al Aguilar, Katie Harvey, Steve Atkins, Ernest Bromley and Tess Coody. He also interviewed Trinity professor J. Charlene Davis.

The story discusses declining budgets and new opportunities that are appearing as a result, as in use of social media.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Resources from Today’s PRSA San Antonio Luncheon

At our luncheon today, we were treated by a presentation by Alan Weinkrantz focusing on "Applying Public Relations Methods for Successful Social Media Initiatives." As he said, his PowerPoint is posted on his blog here: http://alanweinkrantz.typepad.com/

For those of you who were interested in the demo on getting started with Twitter that I lead before the luncheon, here are some links for resources. They are Delicious web pages that contain links to articles and web postings about using Twitter, how-tos, how-not-tos, case studies, Twitter tools, etc. Just click on the tag called Twitter on the right-hand side to filter the list.


If you are already on Twitter, or when you are, follow me at http://twitter.com/clgoodman and follow Alan at http://twitter.com/alanweinkrantz.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Switching from Jott to Reqall

Two months ago, I led a mini-demo session at our PRSA chapter meeting about Jott. It’s a great tool that turns your voice message into text. However, Jott now charges for the service. There are now three paid plans ($3.95 per month, $12.95 per month and $6.95 per minute) and no free ones.

So I promised to look for an alternative.

Enter Debi Pfitzenmaier. She uses Reqall. I’ve tried it out and agree that it’s a great free alternative to Jott. There is also a plan that is $2.99 per month for added features. But even the free one gives you more time to record: 30 seconds a pop.

So I still recommend you use a voice to text service like this to make your life easier. But now I recommend you save money and use Reqall. To see a list of a few other services like this, see “SpinVox Translates Voice-to-Text Service Into A $100 Million Round.”

At Thursday’s luncheon, I’ll lead a mini-demo on getting started with Twitter. We could easily do a half-day session on this tool. But these sessions are only 10 minutes, so this will just focus on getting started. Hope to see you there!