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November 2008

Public Relations Strategy - Influencer and Social Media Marketing

Public relations strategy is the topic on the "Cover Story" podcast hosted by Brandy Shapiro-Babin is a great way to enhance your understanding of contemporary public relations.  A recent interview with  Michael Smith, whose background includes Edelman and Euro RSCG, includes his role on the Obama Presidential campaign and the tactics used to get out the vote.

Here are some of the tips outlined in the podcast:

Learn Saul Alinsky community organizing tactics: Refute the opposition while still making your case.  Find commonality among a group and build on that.

Develop publics for your campaign and touch people that are big networkers:  Need to create a community base and then move from there.

Big networkers lead to scale:  Appealing to individuals one at a time does not scale.  It's better to target the preacher than the congregation.   It's what Mike Smith learned about creating a community base and moving from there.

Tell the consumer that they matter and their opinion matters:  Message of the day, slogan of the day help to focus the conversation and amplify the message by getting eveyrone on the same page.

Use Twitter, social media to get response:  Create a cause and give people an opportunity to respond and lend voice to the movement.

The voice of the "campaign" needs to be in the voice of the person, not a ghost writer:  The community shoudl be self governing and decide what is correct or wrong. You need to react and respond or else the diaglog is seen as window dressing.

Use web tools to create mass personalization:
  Ask your customers for their story and what they liked and disliked.

On another podcast public relations strategy was discussed as it related to business to business marketing.

The podcast focused  featured Influencer 50 Marketing Director Nick Hayes, who talked about how he uses PR as the foundation for his marketing strategies. 

Nick discussed the role of the Influencer in business markets and how this role has changed.  It was traditionally a jouranlist or business analyst, someone that was paid to comment on the industry.  Public relations strategy was centered around promotion to those journalists and analysts.  While these individuals are important, the breadth of influencer is now segmented out to multiple influencers - up to 21 catagories.  Each should have a specific communciations strategy.  Segments include:

  • Management Consultants

  • Procurement Groups
  • Industry Regulators
  • Online Forums
  • Select Bloggers

An understanding is needed as to where to people go for information and what will drive them to the place where the message is located.  Messages are the start of a conversation that requires a give and take between target and company. 

He urged companies to see sales guys as the people that sell.  Marketing people should be the ones that intiate the relationships that sales people close. 

General Motors Business Strategy - Marketing into the Recession

General Motors business strategy appears a bit odd given the mood of the American public.  Asking for a direct handout makes no sense given that the consumer can vote against the company by not buying a car in retaliation for seeking more of our tax dollars.  So as not to pick on General Motors, I feel the same way about the Ford Business Strategy and Chrysler business strategy.

Now I don't want the car companies to fail nor should we let them fail.  We let Bear Sterns collapse and Lehman fail, and look where that got us.  Experimenting with companies that either directly or indirectly employ millions does not seem like a big idea right now.  Yes I get the capitalism arguments, but we are living in an extraordinary time.

What I'd propose to the government is that instead of giving a handout to the auto companies we would solve the specific problem at hand, helping consumers buy cars.  General Motors can't survive because credit challenged individuals who for argument sake are 50% of the buyers can't get the credit.  You could argue that 50% of those should get credit, but the banks are too nervous to lend  ( I was a day late on a credit card payment and received a phone call after 25 years of perfect payments, so I can only imagine what is going on in the credit markets).

I'd make it easy for American's to buy a car.  I'd prefer to limit it to American cars, but it might work if we opened it up to all cars.  We should directly lend money to individuals that want to buy a car.  Let's start by just making the money available for those customers on the fringe of getting credit.  I"d then calibrate the offer to the number of cars that need to be sold.  If mathematically credit fixes don't work, then offer credit to even lower scores, eliminate the tax on purchases etc.  The bottom line is to put the money into the hands of the taxpayer and allow them to economically benefit.  How about a $2000 tax incentive to buy an American car or a car that was assembled in America.   Add in some type of reassurance from the car companies with warranties on the product and you have a winner.

Next, I'm amazed that General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and the United Auto Workers are not joining forces on a buy American campaign.  Assuming that 20% of Americans that previously bought a foreign car would be motivated by this message in conjunction with government buying incentives, I can't imagine it not working.   The new American cars look great.  They feel different from the European, Korean and Japanese cars many us buy, but they are not bad.  We just need a push to take the risk out of buying one.  With the Obama administration we have all bought into the need for change.  Breaking the foreign car habit could be one of those changes.

It's Time for Boxee

Great post by Fred Wilson on the Union Ventures site regarding Boxee and why their will be significant demand for appliances that can bridge between the television and the internet.  Anyone that has used a Tivo to connect to internet content knows that the internet is faster and more efficient than anything offered over the cable box.  The issue is the interface and the need for a wireless keyboard.

Boxee solves all that and is worth learning about.  As a marketer, anything that links content that is viewed on the television, a device stared at for an average of 6 hours a day by the average American, and advertising messages promises to disrupt the market.

Be sure to signup for the Boxee alpha trial.

Not Every Home Based Business Course is Created Equal

I usually agree with Seth Godin.  He recently commented on the number of "get rich quick schemes" that are coming out of the wood work to tempt the vulnerable to spend money on the latest scheme.  Seth provides the advice that if someone asks for your money, you should walk the other way.  I agree when it comes to "get rich quick" schemes, but  he is too quick to damn all sources of great "start your own business" information.

If someone asks for your money, you should do your due diligence.  It's unfair to paint all of these approaches with a broad brush.  Yes, making money takes time and effort however there are many honest companies that sell invaluable information.  One I particularly like is Sitesell.  For $300 you get a complete set of information and tools on how to start a web based business.  All business is work.  But if you are willing to put in the time, then accelerating your learning curve with purchased information can help.  Isn't that what bookstores are all about.  Then again there is the library.

Why We Search

Gord is running an interesting series on why we like search engines.  In the third of a series of posts he mentions that humans put as little effort into achieving something as possible.  Not in a bad way such as laziness, but as part of a tendency to "take the path of least resistance." 

Harvard professors Paul R. Lawrence and Nitin Nohria, in their book  Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices theorize that humans are driven by four basic drives:

1. The drive to acquire

2. The drive to bond

3. The drive to learn

4.  The drive to defend

Given the combination of "drive to learn" and the easy accessibility of search, it is the "path of least resistance."

Election Day Marketing 2008

Great roundup today by Seth Godin on election marketing and today's Presidential race.  I'd like to add a few thoughts:

1. The Polls are Wrong - Phone polls are inaccurate in the age of the cell phone with a bias against those who use them as the only line.  This will under report young voters.  Obama's numbers are probably higher than we think.

2. All Choice is Compromise - No marketing choice is ever perfect.  Americans want a candidate that stands for lower taxes, yet is socially progressive.  That spends less and provides more.  A candidate that is comfortable and different.  McCain was a great compromise between experience, independent spirit and progressive thinking.  When he brought in Pallin he shifted his perception from independence to dependency.  Americans hate dependency although we are all dependent on others.  I would bet that Americans couldn't accept a perfect candidate since we are all trained to compromise.

3. Community Math Rules - Individuals like to join communities or be part of a tribe (it's the latest marketing speak).  The trick with tribes is that behavior follows a passion bell curve.  The top 5% are passionate, involved, lead and participate.  The bottom 50% are casually passive.  The key to tribes is to grow the size of the tribe to the point where the participation math works your way.  McCain's media blitz in the last 3 days worked to grow his tribe and thereby increase the number of voters that might vote.  It's hard to judge who has the biggest community which is why Carl Rove understood the math down to the County level when Bush was running for President. 

Over the past 12 months Keyword Discovery is showing 68,456 searches for Obama.  In comparison McCain had 16,056 searches.  You do the math.

4. Narrative - Each candidate needed to articulate a point of view using distinct language and methods for getting the message out to the voter.  These narratives needed to be managed across online and offline media.  Obama's facebook type approach broke new ground here.  I wish he was a bit more original than the tried and true "change".  In the worlf of Google ownership of phrases and language rules. 

5. Market to the BAse - Obama and Biden emailedi the opt in permission list every day.  He used direct mail tactics like offers to drive donations - win an all expense paid trip to Chicago on election day  if you donated $5 to the campaign.  Clever yes.  Do I like to be marketed to no.  Do I forgive the tactic.  Yes.

While I'm not going to reveal who I'm going to vote for, I do believe that Obama will win by more than expected.  Errors in polling will work to Obama's favor to given him the victory. The search statistics are startling.

May the best man win.

Jeff (9AM 11/4, 2008)