Great PR

Anyone who has worked in the dairy business -- and I have -- know that it is a brutally hard occupation.  Cows produce milk everyday and must be milked everyday in addition to feeding them, mucking manure, cleaning pipes, administering medicine and driving them to and from the barn.  Milk workers often get up at 3am to start their day seven days a week and don't get to bed before 8pm.  That is why this is great PR.  Ben & Jerry's "Milk with Dignity"pact is finally recognizing that dairy workers have suffered too long, and it is a start to normalizing their existence.  They now work 6-day weeks under the agreement and they get an annual vacation of five days, scarcely enough for anyone else, but a breakthrough for the milk industry. Ben & Jerry's can do it because it makes a premium product for Continue reading "Great PR"

Customer journeys start with smartphones, but brands still don’t get mobile

Customers are not going to wait for brands to get the mobile journey right…they’ll move on and find someone else who gets them. Customers are increasingly and overwhelmingly mobile-first. For the most part, many brands are still learning how to optimize traditional e-commerce experiences let alone mobile sites and apps. The Amazons of the world don’t make it any easier to keep up. Yet every day, customers are reaching for their smartphones to learn about what to buy, what to do or where to go. But without being mobile-centric and integrating digital touchpoints, customer journeys are certain to be rife with obstacles between mobile sites and apps and even the desktop web.

Mobile journeys straddle mobile sites and apps

When customers reach for their smartphones to learn and make decisions, they begin a  mobile purchasing journey that’s complex and incredibly fragmented. As a result, the lines blur between mobile sites
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Virginia Dandridge Stevenson

I loved Dandy Stevenson. And I deeply regret never having told her so while she was alive. Dandy had been my executive assistant for 15 years, before being forced to retire and eventually succumbing to lung cancer this weekend. But she was far, far more than my executive assistant. Dandy was my biggest cheerleader. She was more excited than me when Mcgraw-Hill published my first (and only) book in 2003. And she would whoop it up with her North Carolinian shouts whenever I would win some type of recognition from one of the awards programs (or be named to a prestigious board). But she wasn’t just there in the good times. Dandy would also bend over backwards to prop me up after an evil client had just fired us or a key employee walked out the door. “They’ll find out they made a mistake and come crawling back,” she’d predict.
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Will It Work?

PG&E, the giant west coast power utility, is wrapping itself in climate change.  Its CEO is saying the company can't be held to strict liability for fires resulting from its power lines because the climate has become drier and hotter.  If the utility were to pay claims from recent fires, which destroyed structures and took lives, it would be on the hook for $75 billion, far more than the balance sheet can handle.  One could be cynical about this outlook, but California's firefighting officials have made the same point.  We are entering an era when a company's messages will have to reconcile a changed world with economic transactions.  PG&E is in the vanguard despite denial from the government that climate change is occurring.   

Hard To Do

One bane of a software developer's existence is an upgrade.  Companies and users don't do them and the result is there are many versions of an operating system in the marketplace.  This is a problem Google faces with Android.  It has just released its latest version, called Pie, but Samsung, which just introduced its newest phone, isn't using it.  This is a PR problem for Google.  How do you persuade reluctant companies to go along with change?  It costs the companies time and money to shift to a new system and understandably, they are reluctant.  The question they have is "What's in it for them?"  Google has to persuade them that it is better for their customers and they risk being left behind as other companies adapt the new software.  That isn't easy, just ask Microsoft when it introduced Windows 10. Continue reading "Hard To Do"

Just OK

When a product in development has been over-hyped and at its debut is just OK, there is media disappointment.  Such is the case with the "mixed reality device," Magic Leap One.  Reporters were eager to try it on and were not transported by the results.  Add to the less-than-stellar reviews the cost of the product -- $2300.  The reaction is "After all the publicity, this is what we get?"  The company would have been far better off if it had worked to dampen expectations rather than let speculation run wild.  The product was developed in secrecy so journalists relied on over-hyped rumors.  Magic Leap is now faced with mediocre reviews and its first new product that might not go anywhere in the market.  It's a bad position to be in.  One hopes they have the cash to develop a second generation Continue reading "Just OK"

Are You Writing Intelligent Content? Should You Be?

intelligent contentGuest Post by Kathy Vaské Intelligent content aka structured content is breaking out of its traditional boundaries. No longer is it used solely for product catalogs, technical specifications and the like. Today, organizations are looking to use Structured Content for their ebooks, case studies, research reports and blogs. Why? With the dynamic and ever-growing number of ways to consume content, there is a need to structure as much of our “valuable” content so it’s free to be automatically discovered and reused across multiple channels and devices and in a variety of previously impossible contexts. A piece of “intelligent” content can be created once and served up in many places automatically e.g., blog article served up on an Apple Watch or Google Home. Now that’s intelligence. What is Intelligent Content?        Intelligent content is essentially structured content. Structuring your content enables customers to find your message more easily online and
Kathy Vaske
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Five Year Comeback

Few companies have to withstand a crisis that lasts five years, but that is what Seaworld has experienced.   Its visitor count collapsed when the company was under siege from activists who wanted Orca shows stopped.  Seaworld did end them and the Orca breeding program.  But, activists were not mollified and the public stopped coming.  It has taken five years to increase the flow of park attendees and the company is just now showing signs of health.  The previous CEO was fired and it is up to the present CEO to keep park attendance increasing while cutting expenses and boosting the bottom line.  The lesson from all this is never to ignore activists, especially when they have the public's ear.  It is better to co-opt them if at all possible. 

Great PR

This is great PR for a basketball player who could use his millions for living a swank personal lifestyle.  He has given students and their parents hope of a better future with all the amenities they need to succeed.  Lets hope the affected families take advantage of everything offered to them and put their children through college.  There will be drop-outs along the way, which is unfortunate, but there is a good chance that many of these children will break the poverty cycle that keeps so many down in America.  James is leaving northern Ohio for Los Angeles to continue his hall of fame career, but his action shows he has not forgotten his home. Kudos to him. 

Social Web Recap 06.08.18

My weekly annotated summary of significant social web platform developments from the previous week, with links and carping marginalia as needed . . . Posted every Monday morning or thereabouts. 


With the closure of Facebook’s Move location tracker, the door opened for a new tool “to record your activities, photos, memories and other moments shared with friends and family.” Hence the transformation of personal journaling app ‘Fabric’’, which already has the advantage of being private by default. As Sarah Perez summarizes in TechCrunch: “But while other journaling apps may offer a blank space for recording thoughts, Fabric automates the process by pulling in photos, posts from elsewhere on social media, places you visited, and more, and put those on its map interface.”


The messaging app announced last week that users can now make a group voice or video call with up to four people “anytime and anywhere” Continue reading "Social Web Recap 06.08.18"

Getting Tangled

Liars have a perennial problem -- getting tangled in fabrications. They lie then lie again to cover the first lie and so forth.  The problem comes when someone documents their words and shows the inconsistencies.  Consider this example.  President Trump lied about his son's meeting with the Russians.  Then, when caught out, he lied again by dictating a note to explain it while denying knowledge of it.  Now, he is saying that yes, there was a promise of dirt on Hillary but it was entirely legal to do so, which isn't true either.  Eventually, with continuous pressure from investigators and the media, the truth might come out, but at this juncture, Trump is making Nixon look good.  There is no percentage in telling a lie, particularly in high-profile events.  People are taking notes.  The liars hope that no one remembers the Continue reading "Getting Tangled"


It takes a great deal for one's mind to begin to comprehend a trillion.  The number is so large it is unimaginable.  The figure belongs to government debt or to data stored on computers.  The news that Apple is now valued at a trillion dollars is mind-boggling.  Its size and wealth are beyond any other corporation in US and probably, world history.  The company needs to understand, however, that its exalted position is tenuous.  It can fall back at any time should it misstep in product innovation and marketing.  Previous behemoths in technology, such as IBM and Hewlett Packard, are still growing and profitable but nowhere near Apple's multiple.  Apple will hit a maturity at some point when its technology is ubiquitous and widely imitated.  It will need to find another breakout product and that will be difficult.  Meanwhile, competitors Continue reading "Unimaginable"


One nightmare for executives is to be trapped by crises not of their own making and that come out of seeming nowhere.  For example, like this one.  Cardinal Kevin Farrell, head of the Vatican's family and laity office, once served under a formal cardinal in Washington DC who stands accused of sexual abuse of young men.  He says he is angry and would have done something about it had he known.  His problem is that critics say he should have known because he lived in the same rectory as now-disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.  There isn't much Farrell can do to convince the public that he didn't have an inkling of the case.  He is going to have to live with the suspicion that he is covering up.  There are PR problems for which there is no good answer.  This is one.

10 Content Marketing Tricks That Will Help Your Brand Stand Out

content marketingGuest Post by Monika Jansen There’s a lot of noise out there. You are drowning in emails, ads and brand messages – and so are your prospects and clients. The best way to stand out from the noisy crowd is by employing a few tricks of the content marketing trade. As you work on your content marketing strategy, keep these in mind: Talk to your audience, not at them People don’t care about what you do; they only care about how you can help them. That means you need to write messaging that’s completely client-concentric. Instead of “We are an award-winning catering company” say, “Your guests will be wowed.” The next time you write marketing copy:
  • Use “you” instead of “we”
  • Focus on the benefits of working with/buying from you
  • Write like you talk
Ask for feedback, ideas and insights You can’t give people what they want unless you
Monika Jansen
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You’re Fired!

I’m impressed by the actions of Fallon, Olson Engage and Initiative to step up, stand out and fire their client Papa John’s in the aftermath of the N-word controversy. Skeptics could argue that, by firing Papa John’s, each agency will now attract new, and more reputable, clients as a result. One could also surmise such a move will motivate existing employees to stay put while attracting recruits with a desire to work for an agency with ethics. Perhaps. But I can tell you as an owner of a 22-year-old firm, it’s very tough to walk away from guaranteed billings. Very tough indeed. Setting aside higher purpose for a moment, the owners of Fallon, Olson Engage and Initiative also have a payroll to meet. And, that’s when an entrepreneur has to stop and think about the implications of firing a quasi blue-chip client like Papa John’s. Sure, your Millennials will love
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Can’t Get It Right

Chipotle Mexican Grill is snakebit.  Yet another restaurant has had to go offline from food-borne illness.  This time under the chain's new CEO.  For some reason, Chipotles nationwide have suffered from poisoning outbreaks.  The firm has changed its sourcing, logistics and cleanliness practices but to little avail.  It just can't get it right and the public has responded by staying away from its burritos.  This is a chronic PR crisis for the company and one it must solve sooner rather than later. There are many ways viruses and bacteria can enter a food chain, and a restaurant company needs to guard against all of them. It doesn't have the leeway of occasional lapses.  The CEO will have to bear down on procedures to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Social Media And Investing

Goldman Sachs has taken an interesting way to gauge the valuation of a company and its stock -- buzz on social media. Its analysts used comments to warn on Tesla and its Model 3 sedan.  Here is how they did it:

"Goldman analysts looked to gauge sentiment on the Tesla TSLA, +0.63%  Model 3 by analyzing daily social-media posts and categorizing Twitter and Reddit posts as positive, negative, or neutral. The buzz has skewed negatively recently, they said.
"They found that weekly posts about the Model 3 declined from an average of 3,900 a week last year to an average of 3,000 a week this year; posts with a positive skew have faded, they said."
This is how PR measures public opinion to report back to clients.  There is a caveat to this approach.  It is not statistically accurate because the sample is most likely Continue reading "Social Media And Investing"