Why April Fool’s Jokes Don’t Need To Be Done In Business

Apr 1, 2011 by

You may have seen the earlier post today about HootSuite’s April Fool’s prank re Happy Owls.

Well, later today I received a second email from Ryan at HootSuite.

This one reads a little differently than the first.

The prior email entitled HootSuite Pivot was sent to you in error. It was intended to be sent only to our Board, Investors and Advisors and is highly confidential. Please delete and ignore.

Thanks for using HootSuite, and have a great day!

Ryan
______________________________
Ryan Holmes, CEO
HootSuite – Social Media Dashboard

It will be interesting to see if he is in trouble with his board and investors.

Like we said in the other post.  We tried something like this in college and it didn’t go so well.  When we said the SGA was going to have free beer at their Easter egg hunt in the student paper, the joke took a bad hop.  It all started because we were in photo journalism classes and did the set up of the blow up bunny.   We said they were going to have Budweiser at the hunt.  Some were calling the SGA office asking if they didn’t like Bud, could they bring other beer instead.

We had to put up fliers all over campus saying our bunny joke had taken a bad hop.  Our paper also lost credibility over the matter and we learned not to ever do something like this again.   Bets are, Ryan Holmes will be in the same boat for future April Fool’s.

 

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Guy Kawaskai’s Enchantment A Road Map For Success

Mar 7, 2011 by

Guy Kawasaki, American venture capitalist and ...

Image via Wikipedia

We’ve read several of the former Apple evangelist and business guru Guy Kawasaki’s books through the years.  Usually, they require the addition of an ink pen in order to mark up the brilliant insights and ideas that come from reading them.

This month he has released a tenth book entitled, Enchantment–The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.

At 189 pages, it’s a good read, a good mix of photos, abbreviated notes and bullet points, and and anecdotal references to be, well, enchanting.

Why and What is Enchantment?

We will not play spoiler here on Kawasaki’s perspectives, (that’s what the book is for) but the essence of his writings fall back on some of the most ancient and proven means of doing business or living since the beginning of time–the inclusion of an enchanting story to move others into your corner, to as Kawasaki says, “transform(s) situations and relationships.  It converts hostility into civility.  It reshapes civility into affinity.  It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.”

There are a host of books that play on the themes expressed by Kawasaki: Story, by Robert McKee, The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith, The New Rules of Marketing & Pr by David Meerman Scott, All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin, and the 1999 book, Rules for Revolutionaries, by Mr. Kawasaki himself, but Enchantment takes a reader through the entire process, identifies how to launch it, how to overcome resistance to change, and quite beneficially, “How to use push technology,” like email and Twitter, (Please give us a follow) and “How to use pull technology,” like Websites, blogs, Facebook, (Please like our FB page while you’re here) LinkedIn, (Connect with us here) YouTube (Subscribe to us while you’re here) and cleverly, how to “Think Japanese.” (This goes beyond the Vipers’ song.)

Enchanting Stories We Can Tell

Terry Abbott

Terry Abbott, now the president of Drive West Communications in Houston, is doing quite well on his own in the school public relations business nationwide.  He’s constantly on the road meeting with superintendents and communications departments suggesting ways to stay in the good fight with the local press each day to tell positive and enchanting stories about their respective districts.

We’ve worked with Abbott since June of 1988.  In those days, the Governor’s Press Office in Alabama had just purchased a fax machine.  It was a thermal paper machine and one had to pick up the headset to dial the number and then ask the person on the other line to “Switch me to their fax machine.”  In those days, Abbott, who formerly had been a UPI reporter, understood the need to get news releases, (Not press releases) out to the news media as fast as possible. He called the fax machine, “Our own little wire service.”  And that’s how it was used.  And when an announcement was coming down that say the former U.S. Senator Howell Heflin likely was trying to announce at the same time, we really got into wire service mode because we wanted our release on reporters’ desks first before the senator could get his there.

A few years later after reading in the Birmingham Post-Herald about how the rap singer Ice T had released his album Body Count with the horrid song  “Cop Killer,” our owner made a recommendation to Abbott saying, “We should ask every record store in the state to stop selling this.” The next day, Gov. Guy Hunt made national news for taking a stand and by the end of the day, the big record store chains in Alabama were removing it from their shelves. (We did this two weeks before Vice President Dan Quayle and President George W. Bush jumped in.) By the end of a month’s time, the record company was taking it off the record/disc.  At the end of that day, we were quite pleased at the success of our effort to do the right thing.  Abbott said, “It’s nice to so something good for a change.” That month, Gov. Hunt was on the front page of Billboard magazine.  But that wasn’t why we did it.  We believed then and still do, that selling a record that enchants others to think about killing police officers has no place in our world.

Veronica Galaviz

One of our most enchanting clients to date is Veronica Galaviz.  Her Website and budding charity is called Living To Share.

The venture is appropriately named.  After going through the proper legal channels beginning in Nov. 2009 and on into April of 2010, Galaviz was trying to divorce her husband.  She was in an abusive relationship and had even filed court documents that restrained his presence around her.  He violated the court’s orders multiple times and Galaviz reported the matters to her local police department.  But each time they said they didn’t have enough evidence to make an arrest.  Even with surveillance video from in front of her house showing him slash the rear right tires of a car in her driveway, the Rowlett, Texas Police Department failed to act.

On the night of April 21, 2010 about about 1:30 a.m., her husband broke into her home, tried to shoot her with a shotgun, and after she had escaped the house, he set it on fire and then shot himself.

She’s now on a mission to help others dealing with abusive relationships and trying to bring about changes in the laws of Texas.  The rest of America is next.

Galaviz is operating on one single enchanting premise: She’s Living To Share because she firmly believes God kept her alive to carry out her mission of raising awareness about the problems of enforcement of protective orders and domestic violence.

Enchantment

It’s these types of stories that make a difference, not only in marketing terms, but in real, practical ways of life.

This is why our company is different from any other PR firm here in Dallas and in many other cities across America.  At age 21, our owner was still in college and through a still unnamed police officer, was given a list of 17 people living in Montgomery, AL in Sept 1987 who were said to be “Known AIDS Victims.” No other news outlet in media market 112 ever was able to obtain the same information and it became a national news story.  The point then was that everyone should be treated alike, and two, the list allegedly maintained by the Montgomery Police Department, wasn’t as well secured as they thought it was.

We understand the importance of not just putting out a press release and sending it out on PR Newswire and letting our clients bask in the glow of a 8-pound clip book at year’s end and use that as a measure of our success.  That’s neither enchanting nor accurate.

Summary

Kawasaki’s book Enchantment now is on sale.  We strongly recommend you buy a copy and read it cover to cover.  Mark it up as you go along.  Then re-read it.  Write notes in the margins, write notes to yourself in your daily journal of the things you want to come back to.  That’s what we’ve done.  We seek to be enchanting as well.  Otherwise we’d just be like the other PR Firms in Dallas and there are enough of those already.

 

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UPDATED: InfoUSA.com Email Fiasco

Feb 15, 2011 by

UPDATE Feb. 16, 11:10 a.m: We finally received a call from Tami Kruse, a sales manager at InfoUSA.com.   After some clarifications, and a good customer service call on her part, we’ve worked things out. (Also don’t miss the case study we’ve written about this incident.)

Apology accepted and they’ve made an overture to make up for the trouble this has caused.

So if you keep reading, please keep in mind, that while it took them 26 hours to get back to us, they did reply and have tried to make things right.  Hopefully in 3-4 months we’ll be able to report back here that we’ve been using their product and that it’s been an effective tool in growing our business.  While she was selling InfoUSA.com, we also were reminding her that ClaxtonCreative.com is in the crisis management business and there are somethings they need to be working on as well in case this ever happens again.  Maybe, just maybe, they’d consider working with us, too.

———————————————————————

On Saturday, trying to develop a way to create new business leads, we registered with InfoUSA.com and narrowed down a selection of options we’d consider in a direct mailing campaign. We are a Dallas public relations firm and trying to grow our business by helping clients with PR, book publicity, social media strategies, and school district public relations.

Within two minutes of hitting submit on the InfoUSA.com Website, our office phones were ringing.  If we had wanted to talk to them, we would have called them in the first place. We didn’t answer.

Then yesterday, we received another call.  Within two minutes of that call, we also received an email from Account Manager Jeff Gunther.  We let him know that when/if we need them, we’ll let them know.

This morning at 8:22 a.m. CST, we received an email from Orlando Vera. His email was sent to us and 736 other recent businesses or people who have apparently registered in the InfoUSA.com system.  How do we know it went to 737 people?  Simple.  Orlando Vera sent it out CC instead of BCC to all of us.

Our Initial Response

First we sent Mr. Gunther a nastygram.  Then we sent one to Orlando Vera and copied the other 736 people on the list and said:

Orlando Vera,

I do not at all appreciate your compromising my business strategies by sending out my email address with all these other contacts.  I doubt they do either.  Personally, I think we now all should be entitled to at least two month’s worth of free services from your company because of this compromise.  Not to mention a letter of apology.

I’m trying to run a PR and social media company in Dallas.   Like my counterparts on this list, we all now have to wonder if any of our competitors also are on this list.  And since there are more than 700 people, that’s going to take a little bit of time to figure out.  Please enact stricter policies about how you send out emails.  If you need some help with setting that up, fixing your public relations mess you just created, or doing some social media damage control, please feel free to contact my company.

DC

That email went out at 8:57 a.m. CST. As of time of publishing, 10:24 a.m., we’ve not received any response or phone calls within two minutes from InfoUSA.com.

But we are getting other messages from some of the other recipients:

I am a consumer who registered with InfoUSA because I couldn’t find any other way to contact them to be removed from their mailing list.

InfoUSA ignored the fact that I registered on the National Do Not Mail list at DMAchoice.org more than 5 months ago.  They continued to sell my information and I finally found out it was InfoUSA because one of the companies that sent me mail told me where they bought my information.

I am trying very hard to reduce my impact on the environment and it is extremely frustrating to get paper mail from companies I’ve never heard of in spite of all the steps I take to prevent it.

I recommend that all of you use a different marketing company that is more respectful of your consumers’ mailing preferences – you will end up annoying less of your potential customer base.

Orlando – thanks for including everyone’s email address in the “To” field so I can get the message out.  Next time maybe you’ll use the BCC field.  😉

Sincerely,
-Janie Pumphrey

——————————————————

Hi Donald,

If Orlando can actually manage over 700 new client accounts, maybe one of us should hire Orlando.  Amazing.

This is exactly why I use a dummy email account when I’m reviewing new marketing options.

Regards,

Owner Collaborative Quality Systems

——————————————————

Mr. Vera,

I completely agree with Mr. Claxton.  And wish to thank Mr. Claxton for pointing this out to you.

——————————————————

Those are just the beginning.  We’re going to publish this piece now and update it throughout the day.  Please feel free to forward this link to as many other business friends as you like.  You might also offer the InfoUSA.com listing to your competitors.  Or maybe not.  Karma, don’t you know.

We’ve offered InfoUSA.com a chance to respond, yet they’ve been silent.  We still think several months of their services for free would be nice, but from the way Janie Pumphrey’s email reads, that’s the last thing we’d want to do.


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Who Owns Your Social Media Strategy?

Feb 13, 2011 by

This morning’s ClaxtonCreative .li publication (Please click on it and subscribe) hit on a very interesting topic we’re going to go a little further with. From the Econstulancy.com Website, Chris Lake of London poses an interesting question: Who should own your social media strategy: Your PR firm, your Ad agency or YOU? (BTW Econsultancy, one word of blogging advice: PERMALINKS.)

Mr. Lake goes on immediately to say he can’t see the value of either the PR firm or the Ad agency owning YOUR social media strategy.  Thinking that might be a controversial subject, he goes, but we agree with him whole heartedly.  It’s like asking the question who should own the garden of your home, your landscaper or you?

He then goes on to intelligently outline the fact that there is no way a PR firm or Ad agency can do what needs to effectively be done to run the daily operations of your social media strategy.  They should support it, help you get it set up, but they can’t, in good terms, become the voice of your company.  For one, most firms don’t have the staffing to do this or if they do, they’ll charge you as many billable hours as there are in a day times 10, and while you as a client might argue you don’t either, what a PR firm or Ad agency can’t do is respond in the same terms, emotions or with the same empathy as you or one of your employees.

Social media is about relationships.  Letting a PR firm or Ad agency be your voice means there’s going to be a disconnect from the get go.    As Lake writes: “Your people are your best asset, you cannot fake it, and you need to share the workload when it comes to having a social media strategy.” 

He’s right.  Just how we at our Dallas Public Relations firm Claxton Creative insist that product development and design can’t just be done by the engineers of your firm, neither can social media just be done by the marketing department.    If your engineers are the only ones designing your products, you’re probably making things that people don’t necessarily need or want.  Some engineer just thought it would be cool if you had this widget or that one and then they sent it over to marketing and said, “Here,  now go create some demand.” One of the premises of selling is that unfortunately, people don’t need what they don’t need.

The same goes for social media.  What if customers are complaining about a characteristic of your product online and only marketing is engaging them and simply giving them the party line?  Think of how much better your responses might be if customer service was helping craft responses, and what if the engineer who designed the widget in the first place–most likely without customer feedback–hears the complaints and suggestions and says to all, “Hey, we can fix that in our next version update.” How do you think your customers would react to that message vs. “We’re sorry you’re not enjoying how our product seems to blow up in your kitchen when you plug it in.”

You can see the opportunity for a disconnect here.  If the PR firm or Ad agency get this, it’s going to be one step further away from even the marketing department, let alone customer service or engineering, and up goes your opportunity for losing customers or alienating them. And if the account rep at your PR firm or Ad agency is insisting that they be the ones to own your social media strategy, we strongly suggest you get another PR firm or Ad agency, and one that gets it, like ours.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about strategies for responding to complaints on online platforms like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.   That’s another entirely interesting conversation.

CLAXTON CREATIVE

Our Dallas Public Relations firm has a unique protocol we work through with your company to establish your social media strategy.  We help you decide what platforms would be the best for your company, get feedback from you and potential customers, and then help build a system for you and your company to use.  We will be there to support and guide you into the future, but we don’t believe in becoming your online voice.

Now seriously, would you sign the deed over to your landscaper just because he put the rocks, trees and grass in place for you to enjoy at your home?   We didn’t think so.

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The Importance of Brand Consistency Across Social Media

Jan 18, 2011 by

We’ve been having great conversations lately about why having a consistent user name across social media platforms is so critical in today’s world, especially as it relates to brand recognition and messaging.

It’s become a cliche these days to say that “everyone on the Internet is a brand,” but the simple fact of the matter is that that’s a true statement.  And just like it’s important to have consistency in messaging offline, it’s almost more critical online.  Why?

Brand Consistency

Offline a company, at least a successful one, would never allow it’s name to be used in varying forms whether in it’s logo, mentions in the newspaper, or even how employees answer the phone.  It would not make sense to see John’s Acme Shoes on the sign outside the store, then call the store something else in a newspaper ad or the phone book like Hunter’s Acme Apparel, for instance.

Online is no different, and possibly just as important.

With the number of new websites popping up on the Internet each hour, consistency becomes essential.   We couldn’t be the Dallas Public Relations firm Claxton Creative in the domain of our Website and then say our name is Creativity by the Claxtons.  While with those two terms still seem to be the same, Google doesn’t agree.

As you can see, the results are quite dramatic.

With certain keywords and content on your site, you might eventually be able to overcome this difference, but why would you risk that?

Our Social Media Strategy

We believe in providing our clients with social media campaigns that keep things consistent with the offline brand as well as the online brand.   In an Internet arena where things are changing by the mili-second, being consistent can mean the difference in a customer finding you and your making a sale, or them missing you and many others like them.

Now which of those two scenarios would you prefer?

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