Posts filed under ‘Uncategorized’

Making The Most of a #McStake

As a vegetarian, I never thought I’d be saying this, but here goes….. Good job McDonald’s.

When their Twitter campaign using #McDStories went terribly wrong, they admitted it and took it down.  They introduced the hashtag Thursday with they tweeted “When u make something with pride, people can taste it.”  People jumped on the hashtag, using it to kvetch about all things McDonalds ranging from food poisoning to chipped molars from the burgers.

They moved quickly to take down the campaign.  Here’s part of the smart, self-effacing email from McDonald’s social media director Rick Wion that explained it:

 

Last Thursday, we planned to use two different hashtags during a promoted trend – #meetthefarmers and #mcdstories.

 

While #meetthefarmers was used for the majority of the day and successful in raising awareness of the Supplier Stories campaign, #mcdstories did not go as planned. We quickly pulled #mcdstories and it was promoted for less than two hours.

 

Within an hour of pulling #McDStories the number of conversations about it fell off from a peak of 1600 to a few dozen. It is also important to keep those numbers in perspective. There were 72,788 mentions of McDonald’s overall that day so the traction of #McDStories was a tiny percentage (2%) of that.

 

With all social media campaigns, we include contingency plans should the conversation not go as planned. The ability to change midstream helped this small blip from becoming something larger.

Bravo, McD’s!  You admitted a mistake and didn’t let the need to be right keep you from admitting a screw up.  Here’s the lesson to all corporations where arrogance gets in the way of such actions: you can admit a mistake and people will forgive and forget.  Or you can think of yourselves as infallible and NO ONE will forgive OR forget.

January 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm Leave a comment

Recovering from a #McStake

As a vegetarian, I never thought I’d be saying this, but here goes….. Good job McDonald’s.

When their Twitter campaign using #McDStories went terribly wrong, they admitted it and took it down.  They introduced the hashtag Thursday with they tweeted “When u make something with pride, people can taste it.”  People jumped on the hashtag, using it to kvetch about all things McDonalds ranging from food poisoning to chipped molars from the burgers.

They moved quickly to take down the campaign.  Here’s part of the smart, self-effacing email from McDonald’s social media director Rick Wion that explained it:

 Last Thursday, we planned to use two different hashtags during a promoted trend – #meetthefarmers and #mcdstories.

 While #meetthefarmers was used for the majority of the day and successful in raising awareness of the Supplier Stories campaign, #mcdstories did not go as planned. We quickly pulled #mcdstories and it was promoted for less than two hours.

Within an hour of pulling #McDStories the number of conversations about it fell off from a peak of 1600 to a few dozen. It is also important to keep those numbers in perspective. There were 72,788 mentions of McDonald’s overall that day so the traction of #McDStories was a tiny percentage (2%) of that.

 With all social media campaigns, we include contingency plans should the conversation not go as planned. The ability to change midstream helped this small blip from becoming something larger.

Bravo, McD’s!  You admitted a mistake and didn’t let the need to be right keep you from admitting a screw up.  Here’s the lesson to all corporations where arrogance gets in the way of such actions: you can admit a mistake and people will forgive and forget.  Or you can think of yourselves as infallible and NO ONE will forgive OR forget.

January 26, 2012 at 1:04 am Leave a comment

Hey Penn State – You’re Missing the Point

“This is not Penn State. This is ‘the Sandusky scandal.'”

This quote by Penn State President Rodney Erickson made me see red.  He offered this lame defense of the university’s “see no evil; hear no evil” approach to the Jerry Sandusky’s situation. It came at one of three town hall meetings he was holding with alumni in an attempt to return to Happy Valley.  To quote AP reporter MaryClaire Dale, “…the 650 alumni in attendance for the sometimes heated 90-minute session didn’t receive him well.” And that’s probably because neither they nor Erickson continue to miss the central point of the scandal – that no one in authority stopped it.

Most of the meeting focused on how storied Coach Joe Paterno was fired. How, not WHY.  If I understand this correctly, many of the folks in that room seemed to overlook the two parts of the scandal.  Part I was, of course, Sandusky’s ongoing acts of child sexual abuse.  Part II (and the one makes Part I into a Penn State issue) was the ongoing ability of everyone around Sandusky, including Paterno, to turn a blind-eye to these acts.

Paterno may be the Godfather of Football and a heck of a winning coach, but he was quietly complicit in letting Sandusky continue to ruin young boys’ lives.  So, please, Penn State administration and Penn State alumni, stop talking about the pain caused by the way Paterno was fired.  Stop asking Erickson and the trustees to apologize to Paterno.  Instead, ask yourself how the University is going to change its culture from one in which football can do no wrong to one in which it’s everyone’s job to do the right thing.

January 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm Leave a comment

Marketing – It’s Everyone’s Business

If you think marketing is the sole province of your Marketing Department you’re missing a lot of opportunities. In fact, in today’s world, marketing should and must be the responsibility of everyone in your company – from the person who refills the salad bar in the cafeteria to the president of the company.

The Salad Bar Lady? Really? Yes, really. Let me give you an example: When we were on the college search for my son, our first stop was Wake Forest. If you haven’t looked at college since you were in bell bottoms, you’re in for a surprise. Searching for a college is like looking for a time-share – it’s marketing on steroids. Colleges woo you with everything from dining halls (no more cafeterias) to the wireless in the dorms to dryers that email the students when their clothes are done. And they obviously understand that getting that message to prospective students is about mobilizing everyone who sees (or could see) your kid and their parents.

So, back to the dining hall at Wake Forest… As I grabbed my tray and began a walk-through of my dining options — from stir fry to gluten-free alternatives to custom-made sandwiches — my confusion must have been obvious. “Can I help you, Hon?” came a lilting southern voice in a crisp white uniform. “You look a little overwhelmed. Let me show you around.” And, so she did. Me, the marketing professional and she, the well-trained marketing ambassador.

And that’s what everyone in your company needs to be…. A well-versed marketing ambassador. Why? Because it is the people who contact your customers day-to-day who are the living, breathing face of your brand to them. Think Starbucks. Think UPS. Think Nordstrom’s. Who does the customer see in these entities? The VP of Marketing or the people who deliver their products and services? So why would you leave the communications of your marketing messages to chance with these customer-facing people? And yet, most companies do and the result is that highly engineered, pricey brand strategies are sunk by ill-informed workers who simply didn’t get the message.

How do you mobilize everyone in your company as a brand ambassador? By treating them as your first and most important target audience. Make them understand just how critical each and every one of them is to your marketing and business success. Make sure they understand your brand and can give voice to it in their sleep. Do your employees understand what makes you the best place to come for your products and services? Do they understand how you stack up against your competition and where you beat the pants off of them? Do they know which customers are best served by what you do and why? Can they tell anyone about the latest and greatest development in your company? In other words, do they understand the elements of your brand?

How many times have you found yourself on hold listening to the message “Your business is very important to us”? How credible is the company that brags about their devotion to their customer service and puts a sour-faced clerk in the Returns Department who treats every customer like they are trying to get away with something? Doesn’t work, does it? There’s a disconnect and it makes you leery of doing business with that company.

Whenever we research and build a brand with our clients the first thing we do is to explain just how important every one of their employees is to carrying that brand forward. We like to create three to five simple talking points and an elevator speech that’s specifically for employees. This enables everyone in the organization to vocalize it. Then, it’s a matter of charging those employees with carrying that message into their daily business practices and empowering them to do just that. You’ve got to get the message to everyone in the organization that they are the living, breathing embodiment of that brand. In the way they talk about what the company does and their role in it. In the way they treat customers. In the way they dress and comport themselves on the job. Because if the customer-facing members of your company aren’t living your brand, how can you expect your customers to believe it?

The bottom line is this (and believe me it is THE bottom line). Treat every employee as the guardian of your brand. Arm them with your marketing messages. Train them to live the brand in every interaction with the customer and each other. Make sure they understand that marketing is a critical part of their success in the organization and that they will be evaluated by how well they handle that responsibility. Empower them to do what it takes to live the brand and reward them for their part in carrying your company’s marketing efforts forward. That’s how you build a company that customers want to do business with, over and over.

September 26, 2011 at 7:12 pm Leave a comment

Do We Really Look That Stupid?

By Andrea Obston, President, Andrea Obston Marketing Communications, LLC

The recent spate of u-turns in crisis response makes me wonder just how dumb some folks think we are.

Most recently, it came to mind when I read a news account of the purported accidental leak of the PR plans for “Pottermore”, the super-secret Harry Potter-themed internet treasure hunt.  It seems the agency handling the PR for Pottermore inadvertently sent the timeline to The Times UK, The Guardian, The Independent and other media.  When confronted with the mistake their initial comeback was that those were “old plans.”  Maybe, but I had a lot of trouble buying into that and it turned out to be as much a fantasy as Hogwarts.

Interestingly, there has been some speculation that the leak was part of some elaborate marketing ploy to raise anticipation for the release of Pottermore.  My Google search had the phrase “Pottermore” and “leak” taking up the first page on Google.  You can’t buy that.  Unfortunately, J. K. Rowling’s PR representative, Mark Hutchinson, confirmed that the leak was nothing more than a mistake.  “Much as we would like to say this is an elaborate stunt to create excitement, I’m afraid it was a simple error,” Hutchinson said, while continuing to call it an “old plan” and pushing the next day’s news conference as the time when the real details would be revealed.  So first it was an “accident”, then it was a clever ruse and now we’re back to “accidental but still old”.  I suppose it fits with the playfulness of the whole venture, but frankly I’m inclined to distrust the whole thing and wonder at their need to continually u-turn.

And, of course, you’re going to have to go a long way to beat the newly crowned King of U-Turn Crisis Management: former Representative Anthony Weiner.  This guy thought we were dim-witted enough to buy his “My-Twitter-Account-was- Hacked” story for five days.  The more this guy u-turned, the more pathetic he seemed.  I’m told it fits with his larger-than-life persona to bluff his way through things, but does he really think the rest of us have minds that are smaller-than-life?

The approach isn’t new.  Who could forget the version played by the John Edwards’ campaign?  It was a variation on Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” line: “The Kid is Not My Son (daughter)”?  What started as a 2007 National Enquirer story about his affair with a former campaign staffer escalated to an August 2008 on-air interview with ABC News’ in which he confessed to having the affair but maintained that he was not the father of Rielle Hunter’s baby.  That was followed by a 2010 u-turn in which he admitted his paternity, saying “I will do everything in my power to provide her with the love and support she deserves.”  Earlier this month, the whole thing came home to roost.  This former presidential hopeful was indicted by federal prosecutors for violating campaign finance law by soliciting nearly $1 million to cover the cost of keeping Rielle Hunter and her baby out of sight.  Edwards response (and here the u-turns are definitely giving me whiplash) was to essentially say “I may be a lying creep, but that doesn’t mean I’m a felon.”

And let us not forget Tiger Woods’ explanation of his golf-club wielding encounter with his now ex-wife.  His U-Turn Crisis response was to try to sell us on the story that she was using the club to extricate him from the accident.  REALLY?

The lesson here is quite clear: U-Turns don’t fly.  When you mess up, fess up.  Don’t bob and weave hoping people will buy your story and forget it when the truth comes out.  It always comes out.  So why put yourself in the embarrassing situation of explaining two mistakes?  Are you listening, Mr. Weiner and anyone else who’s pondering covering a boo-boo with a tall tale?

My mother had a refrain that was the bane of my existence growing up.  When I’d weave a yarn to cover up a screw-up her response was, “What makes me really mad isn’t what you did.  It’s that you think I’m stupid enough to buy that story.”  I hated that then.  Now, it seems pretty wise.

This column appeared in the July 4, 2011 edition of the Hartford Business Journal.  It was just too much fun NOT to share.

Comments, Questions, Answers, Suggestions?

aobston@aomc.com

860-243-1447

@aobston

http://www.facebook.com/AndreaObstonMarketingCommunications

http://www.LinkedIn.com/aobston

July 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm Leave a comment


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