Tag Archive: LinkedIn.com


How many times have you heard some frustrated consumer threaten to take a vendor to the Better Business Bureau? http://www.bbb.org/

With all due respect to the triple Bees, you might as well take the complaint to the Vatican, the Kremlin and the White House as well. I have never heard of anyone securing a satisfactory result taking their case to the Better Business Bureau (maybe they can prove me wrong)…but all is not lost.

In our fast-paced lives we literally deal with hundreds of service providers during a course of a given year, some better than others. We are pleasantly surprised by those who produce great results with super bedside manner. We are mildly frustrated and disappointed with those who do not perform well. But what happens in those (hopefully) few cases where we feel that we have been downright wronged?

Well, there are alternatives to contacting the Pope, the Politburo, the President or even Santa Claus. And these alternatives are digital in nature and are becoming increasingly effective.

As we all know there are literally thousands of articles and tutorials of how digital tools can be used to build brand, promote products and ideas, and enhance reputations. There are fewer accounts as to how these very same digits…the ones and zeroes…can be used to warn your fellow consumers to stay clear of a bad actor. Think of it this way, you are providing a needed public service to your fellow consumers in our service-oriented economy.

mcguire

Without rehashing the mind-numbing detail, I went through an absolutely horrendous process in selling my home in California’s East Bay. The proverbial last straw was the agent for the buyer, Tim McGuire of Alain Pinel Real Estate, reneging on a promised $500 reduction in his commission in order to facilitate the deal. This very well may turn out to be the most expensive $500 decision in his life.

I am truly sorry it had to come to this, but I felt compelled to write about this experience last month on Yelp.com, telling the absolute truth about what happened to me. I would not wish the anguish and sleepless nights on anyone. http://www.yelp.com/biz/tim-mcguire—alain-pinel-real-estate-pleasanton. The review was written and uploaded and that was that…or so I thought.

What brought my attention back to this issue was a casual search of the McGuire’s name on Google www.google.com. My Yelp review was the number three item on the first page, right underneath duplicates of his personal website http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=0h&oq=tim&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADRA_enUS373US374&q=tim+mcguire+realtor.

Not only was there my less-than-flattering, but absolutely on-target “review,” but his response…and the response that he coaxed from his clients, the buyers. Didn’t Mr. Tim realize that he was generating traffic to my Yelp review and with it more eyeballs to the page? In effect, he was doing a superb job in SEO or Search Engine Optimization, thus raising the profile of my Yelp review in the “eyes” of the Google search engine.

Being me, I decided to help him out by writing a response to his response. And hopefully, he will write a response to my response to his response of my review. And maybe, he can ask his friends, clients, neighbors and family to all write a response to my response to his response to my review? The more, the merrier…right?

Taking it a step further, I even recounted this episode on my Facebook www.facebook.com, Twitter www.twitter.com and LinkedIn.com www.linkedin.com pages and now my Almost DailyBrett blog.

So what is the point here? The point is that good customer service should be the norm. Why? Because if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right. And if you deliberately commit a wrong and hurt your customer, well that customer has many digital options at her or his disposal. As a service provider in this increasingly interconnected and very small world, you really don’t have that much to lose: just your reputation and hard-earned brand. Be afraid, be very afraid.

pinel

Mark Twain once said something about not getting in fight with those who buy ink by the barrel. If he was around today, he would probably implore Tim McGuire to not get in a fight with those with access to a keyboard, Internet browsers, digital websites and social media. The results may not be so pretty.

What’s easier, attacking or explaining?

Ever hear the old saying that allegations make news, rebuttals don’t?

Do “nuances” lend themselves to 140-bite “tweets?”

If these truths are self-evident then who has the advantage: challengers or incumbents?

This week’s Economist analyzed how politicians around the world from Venezuela to Japan and from Greece to Chile are using Twitter social media tools to get out their messages to constituents and voters. By extension this also applies to those who aim to unseat them. In fact, the insurgents may have a clear advantage. http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=16056612

The trend toward quicker and faster political dialogue accelerated from radio fireside chats and televised presidential debates with the birth of “USA Today” in 1982. Fourth Estate purists ripped the new publication as “Journalism Lite” for its practice of synthesizing news down to easy-to-read-and-comprehend stories. The editors of USA Today laughed last as the format meets the needs of the populous with ever-shrinking attention spans to the tune of 1.8 million copies daily as of last March. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_Today.

Coupled with the introduction of “Journalism Lite” has been the growing reliance on the 20-second sound bite and the 30-second spot to move the opinions of an increasingly distracted and information-overloaded general public. This is particularly true in multiple-market, mass-media states such as California, New York, Texas, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, where retail politics are not possible and not even practical.

Political purists have long denigrated reducing complex policy choices, such as health care, immigration, national security, energy, to quick 20-second earned media sound bites or the reach and repetition of paid media 30-second radio and television spots. Even with the growing reliance on digital tools including the Internet and social media neither the 20-second bite nor the 30-second spot is going away anytime soon. http://newteevee.com/2010/02/08/advertisers-look-beyond-the-30-second-tv-spot/

Now add into the mix prominent social media sites including Facebook with its 400 million viewers, Twitter, 100 million, and LinkedIn, 65 million. The Economist concluded that: “As well as boosting the profile of individual politicians, Twitter may be better designed for campaigning and opposition than for governing. ‘We’ll change Washington’ is easy to fit into 140 characters. Explaining the messy and inevitable compromises of power is a lot harder.”

The Economist noted a January study by Fleishman Hillard, a Washington PR firm, http://fleishmanhillard.com/ that discovered that Republicans in the House of Representatives twittered more than five times as often as Democrats.

And which party is the out party? The Republicans. Who is playing offense and leading the fight against incumbents? The Republicans. Who are the incumbents that are playing defense having to explain the inevitable nuances of government and policy development? The Democrats.

Of course, the direct opposite was true back in 2006 as the incumbent Republicans were back on their collective heels against determined challengers, the Democrats. Certainly, Internet organizing was a significant factor in the Democrats taking over both houses of Congress that year and Barack Obama being elected president two years later.

Considering that LinkedIn.com was established in 2003, Facebook in 2004 and Twitter in 2006, the 2010 campaign can effectively be seen as America’s first true social media electoral cycle. Whether the GOP uses these tools to their maximum advantage or whether the Democrats figure out how to employ social media to explain incumbent policies and rally their base will be analyzed in-depth following the November elections.

One thing is certain: Just as radio was harnessed to the advantage of FDR, and television for JFK and Ronald Reagan, we will soon learn who are the first big political winners of the social media age.

Is the Pope Catholic?

Does a bear do nasty things in the woods?

Why even address the question of whether a blog is social media?

And yet a well-respected colleague, Eric Villines of the MWW Group in Seattle http://www.mww.com/, posed this innocent sounding question to the “Public Relations Professionals” group page on LinkedIn.com. http://www.linkedin.com. The answer seems obvious, but upon reflection maybe it is not.

Why? The great promoters of blogs (and you know who you are) extol the virtues of social marketing. This is a utopian, Wild-West free-flow of ideas that germinates with the introduction of a provocative subject by a blogger. Of course, the blogger is not doing this out of the goodness of her or his heart. The goal is to demonstrate thought leadership (oh how agency PR types love that phrase) in a given subject or a given market.

Does this blogger necessarily want a conversation? Now that is a different question. In some respects, a blogger may want to lecture, instruct, pontificate and maybe even, bloviate. There may be a product to sell, a cause to promote or even a trial balloon to float.

And do companies, particularly always nervous publicly traded companies, want a dialogue? Yes, they want to build brand. And they also want to expand the number of their customers and investors, but do they want input, particularly public input? Some do. Some don’t.

Personally, I led a successful campaign to convince a major Asian technology company to start blogging. What little hair that was left on top of my head is now gone as a result of this process. Since the company trades on the NYSE, they naturally have SEC regulatory concerns (e.g. Reg FD). And they are paranoid about protecting market share and that means preventing inadvertent releases of proprietary information to competitors. These are normal and justifiable considerations.

But it went beyond that. What about comments from readers? Do we allow these comments to be read by others? Yes that is the noble purpose of a blog, but still do we want to air what could be dirty laundry?

The answer in this case revolved around posting a blog link on the company’s home page that transferred to a separate WordPress site. The company was able to review the comments in response to the blog before approving or rejecting them. The company could also comment in response, keeping the dialogue going.

So the answer is a qualified yes, a blog “should” be social media. I use the subjunctive tense to reflect that blogging should encourage a conversation, and that is a great way to build brand and to demonstrate thought leadership.

And consistent with this notion that blogs are social media, let me ask: “Do you agree or disagree that blogs are social media?” An inquiring mind would like to know…and thank you Eric for the great idea.

“Giving Back” Thru Mentoring?

Undoubtedly, one of the most hyped phrases in our language is the concept of “giving back.” This notion has been used so many times in so many places that it has become almost cliché.

Even after acknowledging this point we still need to ask: Does the present generation of senior communicators owe it to our profession and society to pass along our knowledge and insights to the next generation of communicators?

Writing checks is nice, but is it even more valuable to impart as mentors hands-on knowledge based upon our years of experience in strategic communications?

As I contemplate this question of “giving back,” I reflect back to one of the responsibilities that did not fit into the position description of a gubernatorial press secretary: Meeting and answering questions from visiting university, community college, high school, middle school and even elementary school students.

During my three years as the Press Secretary to California Governor George Deukmejian in Sacramento http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Deukmejian, I was repeatedly asked to serve as the face of the administration to delegations of visiting students. I would encourage these students to pursue public service or at least to harbor a profound interest in government and politics. Sometimes the questions were tough, many were unfair or completely off-base, but the students nonetheless demonstrated their desire to learn and even to challenge authority.

As I moved from the public sector into roles with two major industry trade associations, a publicly traded high technology company and to a senior position in an international public relations firm, I was periodically asked to lecture classes on effective communications. Some of these schools included: UC Berkeley, Oregon State, San Francisco State and just recently Santa Clara University.

At Santa Clara, I lectured both MBA and undergraduate students about how to communicate to Wall Street and investors. I realized in making these presentations and seeing the enthusiasm that they generated that these students were clearly appreciating that the world of financial communications was changing at a breakneck pace.

This rate of change is not just limited to the financial sphere as digital technology, the ubiquitous ones and zeroes, are making instantaneous communication and lightning-fast responses a never-changing fact of life. We now have the ability to self publish and to share with the world our deepest thoughts.

Social media or conversational marketing via digital key strokes is something that Johannes Guttenberg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Gutenberg could not even fathom when he invented the printing press in Mainz, Germany. But one thing has been constant since then; technology has made communication faster, more efficient and global.

Many cannot stop talking about and tweeting on Twitter, amassing their connections on LinkedIn.com, watching videos on YouTube or counting friends on Facebook. They are commenting on breaking global events via their blogs or reading, listening and viewing what others are saying via cyberspace, bypassing the “traditional media,” particularly the dying pencil “press.”

The hot social media tools of today most likely will not be the hot social media tools of tomorrow. New techniques are being written today (e.g. Google’s “Buzz” http://www.google.com/buzz) not on parchment paper, but rather in the form of software code.

Will students and society as a whole be prepared for these new techniques and their implications? What are the responsibilities of self publishing in the wake of fewer and fewer conventional media outlets? Will bloggers become the reporters of the 21st century, thus setting new standards for journalism?

Most importantly, what can we do to help these students in facing these brand new challenges? We all have our unique stories and experiences. Is it our duty to serve as mentors and to pass this knowledge on to those who can use it for their respective careers?

Looking back, I have been extremely fortunate to have many different experiences in my career. But I still keeping going back in mind replaying the scene in the Governor’s bill signing room filled with students and their teachers with a particular gleam in their eyes and engaging questions flowing off their tongues.

They wanted to learn.

They wanted to explore.

They wanted to challenge convention.

I was more than happy to help them in their quests.

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