Instagram? More like InstaSpam

I’m announcing my resignation as a member of the Instagram community. Note: My resignation has nothing to do with the shocking departure of Instagram Co-Founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom. But it’s effective immediately and, to paraphrase what corporations everywhere say when they’ve just dumped a top executive, I’m leaving to pursue other channels. I’m stepping down because I am appalled at the vast spam wasteland that Instagram has become. I doubt I’m alone in making this observation, but I now spend more time deleting unsolicited ads on the platform than I do liking or commenting on member’s posts. I realize Instagram needs to turn a profit, but the sudden tsunami of unsolicited ads is a complete turnoff. I realize the entire advertising universe is going through a very tough time (witness the huge turmoil at the major holding companies), but Instagram is making a huge mistake in terms of customer
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23

It’s hard to believe that Peppercomm began its improbable rise to fame and fortune 23 years ago today. I say improbable because there was no reason to expect success. After all, why would yet another start-up in the highly competitive PR firmament succeed? The answer? Our name. I decided to name the firm in honor of my late black lab, Pepper. The name turned out to be a godsend. It was at that precise moment in time the dotcom boom was in overdrive. Venture capitalists were pouring billions of dollars into dotcoms with any semblance of a business plan (as well as many that did not). The phone began ringing off the hook. Why? Because dotcoms mistakenly thought Peppercom (there was only one M in those days) was a dotcom specialist. We weren’t. But we hired tech PR specialists faster than you can say IPO and, by 1998, O’Dwyer’s had
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Is Google’s North Star Going South?

Today’s guest blog comes courtesy of Deb Brown, one of my Peppercomm partners in crime who doubles as the very best media relations strategist in the business…. All companies – regardless of size – need a purpose, the reason why employees come to work each day and what the company stands for. The purpose is its North Star, guiding the company through difficult decisions and challenges, ensuring it remains true to its beliefs. Yet, Google’s North Star seems to be going south. According to Fortune, Google, which originally pulled out of China in 2010 because the company refused to give in to the government’s censorship demands, staying true to its focus on digital rights and an open Internet, is now seeing things through a different lens, specifically a “green” lens. Google’s “secret” project called Dragonfly is expected to enable a censored search engine and censored news aggregator app for
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Inspect what you expect from communications (but you probably won’t)

Great communications, great PR, how do you measure it? You do measure the impact of your communications don’t you? There is no single question that I know of that is quite as effective in getting a room of communicators to examine their shoes. It can be a real conversation killer too. Recently I was talking to a senior PR professional leading a large team driving global PR for a multi-billion dollar business in a related industry. Super smart, we had a great conversation, great insights. As always I learned a lot. The conversation was going very well until I popped the measurement question. I felt the room temperature drop. Eye contact was broken. An awkward silence reigned.
“Do you want the honest answer?”

I nodded.

“If the boss is happy then we know it’s going well.”

In a world of readily available big data, online metrics and artificial

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Are You Ready for Some Football (Controversy)?

  Today’s guest blog is authored by Steve Goodwin, a principal at Brand Foundations, a strategic branding & purpose partner of Peppercomm’s. As you’ll read, the National Football League once again finds itself knee deep in controversy. Enjoy….. The NBA and NHL playoffs are nearing their final rounds. The MLB All-Star break is within view. Yet even though team training camps won’t open for another couple of months, the National Football League is grabbing headlines. And one of the league’s fiercest rivalries promises to make the upcoming season anything but predictable… for corporate America. Redskins/Cowboys? Raiders/Chiefs? Packers/Bears? Nope. Fiercer than those legendary matchups. We’re talking owners vs. players. This week, NFL owners unanimously approved a new policy that requires players and team personnel to stand for the national anthem if they’re on the field while it’s being played. Players will have the right to remain in the locker room.
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Nice to see NBC Won’t be Taking a Knee

One story that was completely overlooked during the recently completed round of NFL playoff games was NBC’s staunch decision to spotlight kneeling by Super Bowl players of color during the playing of the national anthem. That’s a pretty gutsy move considering any number of conservative, America First, deep-pocketed advertisers are probably deciding right now whether to yank their advertising or let it ride (or, if they don’t pull their spend, Tweet an immediate corporate response distancing themselves from NBC and the kneeling players). Many organizations would see the kneeling question as a real conundrum: 1.) If we don’t cover kneeling players, we won’t lose millions of sponsor dollars. But will we be doing the right thing? 2.) If we do cover the kneeling, we’ll undoubtedly lose millions of dollars. But, we’ll be staying true to our values. NBC didn’t flinch. Their Super Bowl Executive Producer, Fred Gaudelli, said,
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The three pronged approach to getting your first – or better – PR job

I recently organised a workshop with some of the promising PR students I work with, with kind inputs from my own recruitment manager at Weber Shandwick and some professional PR recruiters/headhunters from Hanson Search’s PR division. I’ve pulled the gist of a top quality hour into a blog post. students-hands-up-1000x574 Here’s a summary of the three pronged approach. 1) CV – No more than two pages. No photo necessary. Start with a short personal statement, then education, then any PR work experience or internships or other work experience, then hobbies and interests, then references. Try and stand out but without being daft. No banana-shaped CVs! Highlight things you did that speak to your character – organising a sports team suggests you are a team player, running the debating society suggests you can string an argument together, writing for the student newspaper suggests you can write etc etc. If you send your
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A (n Aspirant) Writer’s Journey

I recently took the decision on reaching sixty that I would give up a highly successful and lucrative senior role with the world’s second largest and most creatively awarded PR agency to pursue my dream of being a writer. Mad, some people have told me. To inject some discipline and learning into my random and chaotic attempts at having a writer’s life I enrolled on a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Winchester, and am enjoying every minute. This week we had a real treat, when an alumni of the course, now with two successful, critically acclaimed and internationally published literary novels under her belt and a third in the wings: Claire Fuller (Swimming Lessons, Our Endless Numbered Days). Claire Fuller   Swimming Lessons, her latest book, is an intricately and beautifully structured reflection on family love and loss. I asked her if she knew her ending from the start.
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CEO Activism: What We Have Learned So Far in 2017

I wanted to share this piece I wrote for Harvard Business Review on what we have learned about CEO and corporate activism so far. We’ve been consistently monitoring the dynamic of CEOs speaking out on some of the hot button issues of the day. In addition to the market research we have done, we analyzed corporate and CEO responses to each of the contentious issues in 2017, whether it was the travel ban, climate change withdrawal, Charlottesville, etc. It is important for companies to understand the patterns in how companies are responding in order to determine if they want to walk that tightrope or not. Here it is. Enjoy. The post CEO Activism: What We Have Learned So Far in 2017 appeared first on ReputationXchange.

CEO Activism: What We Have Learned So Far in 2017

I wanted to share this piece I wrote for Harvard Business Review on what we have learned about CEO and corporate activism so far. We’ve been consistently monitoring the dynamic of CEOs speaking out on some of the hot button issues of the day. In addition to the market research we have done, we analyzed corporate and CEO responses to each of the contentious issues in 2017, whether it was the travel ban, climate change withdrawal, Charlottesville, etc. It is important for companies to understand the patterns in how companies are responding in order to determine if they want to walk that tightrope or not. Here it is. Enjoy. The post CEO Activism: What We Have Learned So Far in 2017 appeared first on ReputationXchange.

CEO Activism: What We Have Learned So Far in 2017

I wanted to share this piece I wrote for Harvard Business Review on what we have learned about CEO and corporate activism so far. We’ve been consistently monitoring the dynamic of CEOs speaking out on some of the hot button issues of the day. In addition to the market research we have done, we analyzed corporate and CEO responses to each of the contentious issues in 2017, whether it was the travel ban, climate change withdrawal, Charlottesville, etc. It is important for companies to understand the patterns in how companies are responding in order to determine if they want to walk that tightrope or not. Here it is. Enjoy. The post CEO Activism: What We Have Learned So Far in 2017 appeared first on ReputationXchange.

The Power of Vulnerability

It’s always been my opinion the strongest leaders are the ones who aren’t afraid to display their emotions, vulnerability and humanity in times of stress. Vulnerability is, in fact, one of the key lessons we instill in our troops as they undergo stand-up comedy training (a de facto part of our management development for the past decade). There are a few terrific examples of CEOs who “get it”, but I’ve rarely seen a late night talk show host display his emotions and vulnerability to the degree Jimmy Kimmel did in the aftermath of the Las Vegas tragedy.  Regardless of your political views, watch the entire segment. The single best advice I could provide any CEO addressing stakeholders in a time of crisis is to emulate Kimmel’s authenticity. It’s riveting (and incredibly effective).

A company without a purpose

Lost amidst the usual hysteria surrounding Donald Trump’s Tweets, tirades and threats this past weekend was the woeful performance of Under Armour. In a flip-flopping move reminiscent of 2004 Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry, Under Armour took two diametrically opposed POVs in the space of an hour. The drama unfolded after the sports apparel brand decided to publicly support the NFL and NBA players who suddenly, and unexpectedly, were attacked by President Trump at the appropriately named Von Braun Center at the University of Alabama. Under Armour stepped up and immediately expressed its commitment to diversity, inclusiveness and the right of all America citizens to exercise their First Amendment rights. Then, when conservative followers began savaging the statement on social channels everywhere, Under Armour stepped back. Holy two-step, Batman! The brand wizards took down the original Tweet and subsequently added a line about respecting our flag in a new one.
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Why you should seriously consider leaving your PR agency

When I first moved into PR consultancy 22 years ago, having previously worked in political communications, I was shocked to discover the lack of interest in insights, data and research within PR firms beyond the most rudimentary dip stick research designed to push whatever we were pitching. In politics we had every sound bite and slogan tested and focus grouped to within an inch of its life. Over the past decade, with the rise of digital communications and social media, and the new horizons that has brought to our industry, this has started to change. Many agencies have established planning and insights teams, bringing more diverse and science-based skills into our industry. (At Weber Shandwick we hired our first strategic planners well over a decade ago and have had our own research arm KRC for over three decades thanks to the political campaign heritage of the firm.) But many
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Humor flexes its muscles

I’ve just returned from The Arthur W. Page Society‘s superb annual conference in San Diego. And, while the conference theme was, “Search for community in a (dis) connected world,” there were a surprising number of speakers who addressed the power of humor in business. Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines, said his use of humor, authenticity and doubling down on the airline’s “purpose” were key to his ability to weather the widespread outrage after the “incident” on flight 3411. Rich Jernstedt, former CEO of GolinHarris (now Golin), erstwhile chair of the Council of PR Firms and current head of his own consulting firm, shared a priceless “Page Moment” that occurred long ago and far away, AND demonstrated the legendary Al Golin’s use of humor in an intense situation. The Golin team had just entered the massive boardroom of a large prospect they were pitching. As everyone pulled
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The Babe Ruth of the Back Office

Some things bear repeating. This blog ran one year ago and is more appropriate than ever…

The Babe Ruth of the Back Office

leeWhat do Weber-Shandwick, F-H, Makovsky, M. Booth and, yes, Peppercomm, have in common? They’re hugely successful strategic communications firms whose prowess is directly connected to the strength and performance of their back office functions. Show me a PR firm with a weak CFO, office manager or personnel director, and I’ll show you an agency that isn’t winning new clients, growing profits or attracting and retaining great people.   Caste System Alas, back office workers are often treated in much the same way as the Untouchables in India’s Caste System. They’re literally invisible, are rarely mentioned in internal memos and NEVER included in those already suspect best workplace tales that PR Week likes to spin. But, that’s not the
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It’s so nice to have The New York Times verify what I’ve been saying all along

As loyal Repman readers know all too well, I despise the unnecessary theatrics weather reporters employ to heighten the drama, pathos and, of course, ratings of any natural disaster ranging from blizzards and hurricanes to earthquakes and wildfires. In the case of Hurricane Irma, I find it despicable for thesemeteorologists to prey on people’s fears by purposely standing in waist-deep water, finding the windiest spot on a beach or allowing themselves to be nearly blown off the roof of a high-rise apartment building. It’s unprofessional and irresponsible. But, enough from me. Read what The New York Times has to say… As Irma’s Winds Rise, So Does a Debate Over TV Storm Reporting
Television correspondents are standing out in the storm as Hurricane Irma lashes Florida. Is that necessary? Reporters say better them than you. Read the full story.

Jerry Lewis and Me

I was saddened to recently read about the passing of entertainment legend, Jerry Lewis. While I was never a fan of his, I did have the unique opportunity to spend three solid hours with him in his dressing room prior to Jerry’s performance one night at the legendary Las Vegas Hilton (Think: Elvis, Howard Hughes, etc.). I believe the year was 1983. Regardless, I found my way into Lewis’s sanctum sanctorum courtesy of a barter deal my client, Sony Audio, had cut with him and a number of other stars of the day, including: Willie Mays, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Mick & The Boys and John “The SuperBrat” McEnroe. The deal was simple and straightforward: Sony would provide the stars with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of top-of-the-line professional audio, video and car stereo equipment and, in exchange, the star(s) would grant exclusive interviews with the top audiophile
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Day One

It’s nice to step off the fast track every now and then to pause and reflect, however briefly, on a seminal moment in one’s life. Today is one of those seminal moments. It’s the date in time Ed and I took the first step on a long and winding road that would take us to the highest highs and lowest lows. It’s the day we began Peppercomm. And, today we begin our 23rd year in business. I have to say the first year was, far and away, my favorite. We started in a ramshackle one-bedroom apartment, paid our bills with $12,500 borrowed from my family, had no preconceived notions and figured, what the heck, let’s give this six months and see what happens. And, I can tell not much happened at all the first three months. But, then, we landed two blue chip accounts that provided us with the credibility
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