Tuesday, June 28, 2011

2 Informative Reads: Social Media ROI - Competition & Innovation

Each morning I set aside 45 minutes to an hour of uninterrupted time to dive into a set of general news and business publications, technology trade e-newsletters and Web sites, and 30 or so technology, public relations and social media blogs.

Context is everything in communications.  The ability to comprehend and articulate the "why" behind a timely news development or industry trend separates the merely tactical practitioner from the strategic thinker.

Here are two articles from today's reading that I found to be interesting and informative:

Does Social Media Have a Return on Investment in Fast Company.  Be sure to check out the reader comments to this article as I share there critical view.

Microsoft Takes Action to Ward Off Competition in the New York Times.  A good reminder that consumers win when there is credible competition.  It stimulates innovation, superior product development and pricing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

3 Sure Fire Ways to ID Blog-able Topics

It was a Father's Day treat.  Yesterday afternoon before my official grill master duties was set to commence, I saddled up to my laptop with an hour of uninterrupted time to blog.

Log on to the network.  Fire up a browser.  Access Blogger.  And then…absolutely nothing came to mind.  I spent 15 minutes staring at a blinking cursor before deciding to catch a few minutes of the US Open on television.

This was a first for me as I pride myself on a willingness to wade into nearly any topic of relevance in public relations, social media marketing and entrepreneurship.  Yet, I have come to appreciate the often uncomfortable silence that sweeps across a client or prospect meeting when I declare that “thought leaders have thoughts.”

What happens if you have nothing particular insightful or relevant to say?

Committed to filling the editorial pipeline of this blog, I signed back on after the kids went to bed last night and took three meaningful actions:

1.  Hit Up My Google Reader:  I subscribe to more than 50 industry and executive blogs, and spent a few minutes analyzing common themes and topics being dished about during the past few weeks.  

2.  Troll the Trades:  There are a handful of informative PR and marketing-oriented publishers that report on the industry and its trends.  In particular, I found this article about PR shop Golin Harris’ restructuring to be of interest.

3.  Monitor the Chatter in Social Networks:  My colleague and partner Chris Parente does an exceptional job of this.  He’ll note a discussion that has garnered intense interest and debate, and then weigh in via a post on his “Work, Wine and Wheels” blog.

A mere thirty minutes later I had a collection of five new ideas for the blog, all of which address timely issues that have generated discussion in the industry.  

Now I just need to find time to write.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tempering My Millennial Rage

During the past few years I have grown increasingly weary of millennials and their insistence that management kowtow to their unrealistic expectations with the hope of possibly motivating them to perform their job at an acceptable level.

Here is a recent example.  A column published by Ragan Communications entitled "How to manage a millennial, according to a millennial" in which a 20-something schools readers on why we have to "go the extra mile to pay a few compliments to get the results we're looking for."

I'm all for complimenting a colleague when the performance warrants it and I certainly recognize the importance of a positive and supporting culture.  Yet, this "gold star at the end of the day" millennial mentality merely creates an environment that celebrates mediocrity.

Enough...please!  If demanding an employee invest the time, energy and effort to improve and master their craft is old school, then call me grandpa.

In fact, Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) adopted a blended staffing methodology in part because of how tiresome it had become identifying, hiring, motivating and retaining millennials.  The return simply wasn't worth the time and aggravation.

Yet, I've begun to rethink my perspective on this wayward generation.  At Strategic, we employ two rising stars who have demonstrated a willingness to truly invest in their professional growth and development, and (most important) recognize that this is their responsibility.

We also recently added an account assistant to the team based on a mutual understanding she'll need some time to get up-to-speed.  I've been incredibly impressed with how she has appropriately questioned our senior team about Web 2.0 tools, content strategy and social media best practices.

And finally, I received this Email from a millennial-aged corporate marketer who I met a few months back through a valued client.

Hi Marc,

I hope you have been doing well! I have been keeping up with your blog posts on FedBizDaily and have used your suggestions within our organization.

I wanted to write you and say again how thankful I am for having the opportunity to meet you. I took the advice you gave me to heart and made sure I was not just the "Twitter girl" at our company. Currently MANDIANT's Klout score is at 54, 10 points higher than our competitors! There is no doubt in my mind that our social media efforts wouldn't be nearly as successful without you taking time out of your day to meet with me and give me some truly helpful advice. I have told Meredith how thankful I am for her having introduced us and hope she has relayed those sentiments to you.

Once again I want to thank you and hope both you and your company have continued success.


My reaction:  Mandiant is fortunate to have such a polished and professional manager in their marketing organization.  Yes, the compliments in her Email are appreciated.  More important, Helena understands how to cultivate a relationship. 

That's a skill that will serve her well as her career continues to progress.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Loved by Phishers

Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) works extensively in the information security market on behalf of clients like British Telecom (BT), Merchant Link, Neustar and Blue Coat Systems.

We’ve gained insight on the increasingly sophisticated attacks perpetrated by hackers, crackers, crime rings and foreign entities on corporate and government networks.  The potential for damage – economic, political and personal - is frightening.

Then along comes the missive below delivered to my Email inbox as a result of my participation in a social network of online marketers.

I find it strangely comforting to be reminded that there remains a set of rather unsophisticated cyber-miscreants.

Perhaps I’ll even send angela17william an Email to get a look at her photo. (smile)

Subject: HI

Hello Dear,
I saw your profile today in this site and i
like it Here is my email address (REMOVED)
send me an email today
love and kiss

Thursday, June 2, 2011

There's No Place for Product Love in Social

Prior to launching Strategic Communications Group (Strategic), I worked for a marketing, advertising and public relations agency that did a fair amount of business in the residential real estate market.  The Northern Virginia division of Pulte Homes was one of the clients I supported.

Upon standing up my own consultancy much of my day was filled with business development outreach to attract an initial set of clients.  To say I leaned towards the aggressive in my sales tactics would be an understatement.

One of my mis-steps was tearing out of the newspaper a print advertisement from Pulte Homes' Maryland group and sending it to their marketing director with a handwritten note that explained why it was poorly executed.

What came back was my handwritten note with a sticky attached from the marketing director that curtly suggested I refrain from commenting on their advertisements without an understanding of the company's strategy.  Good point.

Well...I suspect I may be reliving that mistake with this blog post.

Today, I came across a group on LinkedIn entitled "We Love Iridium Satellite Phones."  This is an example of how NOT to engage in social media.  The gang at Iridium is using LinkedIn as a platform to connect with key audiences.  That's good.

Yet, the title of their group is too self-promotional, rather than thought leadership, trend or topic oriented.  While this may work in a consumer environment, in business-to-business and public sector marketing this is inappropriate because of the reticence customers, partners and influencers appropriately display in any activity that promotes a particular vendor.

This is why convincing an enterprise or government agency customer to participate in a press release or media interview is so challenging.

It's encouraging to see a successful company like Iridium step into social media.  They just need to do so in a way that is more sensitive to the unique requirements of this emerging channel.