Archive for public relations

Microsoft Needs a Lesson in Public Relations

shy guy cartoon illustration

Did I write that?

It never ceases to amaze me that billion-dollar companies like Microsoft that can afford the best PR advice mess up their public relations so badly.

Much has been written already about the incoherent and insensitive letter sent to employees in the Microsoft Devices Group that meandered around until it finally got to the real message towards the bottom of the post.

The company is going to lay off 12,500 employees.

The letter came from Stephen Elop, former Nokia chief executive, and now head of Microsoft digital. Read More→

Profile of a Social Media Director

[tweetmeme]The role of social media in promoting a company’s brand and services is so important that I thought it was time to examine the profile of the Social Media Director. I started by pulling up job postings to sift through the specific skills and experience that companies expect of candidates for this relatively new position in organizations.

My first stop was The Ladders, which only posts jobs of $100k or more, and they had no jobs listed anywhere in the country even when I searched variations on the title.  This was disappointing, because this position calls for a six-figure salary.

I then went to job board aggregator Simply Hired and was delighted to find multiple listings for Social Media Director and variations like Director, Social Media and Communications; Director, Public Relations and Social Media, SEO and Social Media Director, etc.  I was disappointed, though, that the first company listing that I found was, indeed, from The Ladders (so job searchers beware if you’re not successful searching this site).

Qualifications Required

Of the job postings I reviewed, the Social Media Director is at the middle manager level, usually reporting into the top PR or marketing executive. The job requirements I read are so broad and encompassing they would be impossible for one person to accomplish.  But not every job description included managing a team.  Good luck solo directors!

I was gratified to read in Motorola’s qualifications for a Senior Director, Social Media, “This is a new role requiring an individual who can harness marketing, brand building, corporate communications, stakeholder engagement and issues management expertise.”  These are big time responsibilities.

I believe that in the not-too-distant future the Social Media Director will be elevated to the executive suite and report directly to the CEO or COO.

7 Basic Duties

Based on my research, here is the profile of a Social Media Director:

  • Direct social media programs. Well, this is the obvious one.  Manage the company’s participation on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Develop communications strategies across product and service lines.  This is encouraging, because companies now understand that social media permeates every part of the organization.  Companies like Coca-Cola, Intel, Procter & Gamble and many others are launching product/service and educational campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube and they need skilled communicators to execute them.
  • Identify revenue opportunities.  Wow, this is exciting because the director is usually in a staff position (read: below the line on the balance sheet).  Finally, staff employees are being recognized for their ability to contribute to ROI.  Hurray!
  • Customer relations.  This is a big one.  Customers are gathering in online communities where they have a forum to vent their feelings about their experiences – both good and bad.  Companies like Comcast pioneered the concept of an instant response team to respond to customer concerns.  Go to @comcastcares on Twitter and follow the conversations between “Comcast Will” and customers regarding service issues, such as outages and email failures.  Or visit Motorola’s @MotoMobile for their interactions with customers.  Fascinating reading.
  • Enlist employees as brand advocates. This one is close to my heart because employees can be the best advocates for their company.  Frontier Communications’ requirements include identifying “brand evangelists and celebrity bloggers to virally spread Frontier’s value through relevant online communities.”  I’m not a celebrity – but I’m available, Frontier.
  • Reputation Management. In other words, ensure that the company’s brand and reputation are enhanced by social media activities.
  • Investor Relations. I only saw this listed in one job description, but it certainly seems like a good use of social media.  Many highly regulated organizations, like financial services companies, have put a lid on social media, but I think it’s often just an excuse.  They would have to draw up strict protocols, but it can be done.  Just see Wells Fargo and their Bon Jovi promotion.

Of course, I couldn’t read every job description, so I’m sure I’ve missed essential skills that some companies require.  All I know is that the Social Media Director is becoming a major force in the success of his or her company in influencing all its targets: customers, employees, government, investors, and the media.

Please leave me a comment if you think there are other job requirements that I’ve left out and we’ll build out the profile.  Thanks.

That Sound You Hear is the Crash of Advertising

I remember the days when ad people looked down at PR types. They had the big bucks budgets while the PR people toiled away on the leftovers writing press releases, arranging company events and the like.

Advertising sells! Well, maybe not so much anymore. 

A story about a company in a prestigious newspaper like The New York Times has always been more valued more than an ad in the same paper – that old third-party endorsement. The shrinking newspaper and magazine landscape is evidence that advertisers are gravitating to other communications channels, most particularly social media. And what they are doing is not called advertising. They are reaching out to their customers through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+ direct feeds, webinars, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Increasingly, they want to interact with their customers at company-sponsored events, product samplings, and through community service.

Funny thing. It’s the PR people who are leading the way  They are writing the blogs, articles and opinion pieces. They are the ones creating community relations programs – like they always have – but now these communities are more often than not reached online. These are the company’s primary activities and not just an adjunct to advertising.

Here’s another thought: maybe the terms advertising, public relations, publicity, promotion and direct response should be consigned to the compactor. Those words just don’t seem to work in the new online communities that are forming like runaway amoebas.

How about new terms like collaborators, community builders, prophets, enablers?  Or maybe one word that summarizes everything we are: communicators.

Advertising? That’s so 20th century.

Why CEOs Think Differently Than We Do

[tweetmeme]Marketing and communications executives are being challenged by their CEOs to help chart the future of their organizations. It is their skills as conceptual thinkers that enable these communicators to envision the possibilities for supporting the organization’s goals.  If this is the case, then why do so many chief executives resist the recommendations of the very people they have selected to help drive change throughout the organization?

Of course, there can be many reasons, from ill-conceived ideas to lack of budget, to the indifference of line managers. But another reason may be the real culprit. While communicators may be conceptual thinkers, their CEOs are more likely ruled by logic and hard facts. They tend to approach problem solving in a linear fashion.

Sound recommendations may fail because they aren’t organized the way CEOs think. That is why it’s so important to structure recommendations for marketing and communications programs that immediately demonstrate how they will benefit the organization because that’s the chief executive’s bottom line, especially during these tough economic times.

Here are some tips for delivering a winning presentation to get approval for important recommendations:

  • Opening: outline the broad subject of the presentation
  • Presentation objective: this is the overall statement of how your ideas will benefit the organization. This is where a lot of presentations go wrong because the presenter leads with what he or she wants. Rather, the statement should answer top management’s question: why should I listen to this presentation; what’s in it for the company?
  • Key message points: think of your message as newspaper headlines supporting the benefits outlined in your presentation objective. How will the recommendations increase sales, save money, build a brand?
  • Supporting evidence: use facts, sales projections, statistics, etc., to back up your key messages.
  • Recommendations: summarize your key points and then propose a course of action for approval. Know the decision you want in advance.
  • Discussion: This is the most important part of your presentation. As you lead the discussion, you will build commitment for your recommendations, address any objections, and refine your proposal based on the discussion so that you get a favorable decision.
  • Summary: summarize the agreed-upon desired action. Even if all your recommendations aren’t accepted, don’t leave the meeting without a commitment to some sort of action. For example, if you can’t get your entire program approved, try to come away with a pilot project.

Remember, your overall goal is to link your programs to the company’s goals. Appreciate your incremental wins and then prepare for your next presentation.