Nestle’s Facebook Conundrum

I’ve read—and written myself—so much about the great results social media can generate that when you hear about Nestle’s current social media woes, it comes as kind of shock. Sure, there are the occasional stories like Domino’s/YouTube that gives one pause, but those are few and far between. Nestle’s situation is interesting because the company’s Facebook page has been “virtually” hijacked by those angry about the company’s choice of palm oil supplier for its products—which is described in more detail in The Wall Street Journal. In the case of Nestle, the social media mantra of sensitive engagement with friends goes out the window, as the “friends” (now up to about 96,000) are anything but friendly. Which leads to the interesting options posed in the WSJ article: Do you keep the Facebook page going and ride out the storm, or do you shut it down and start over (presumably after the crisis wanes)? Closing it would mean surrender, while keeping it online means more negative posts for who knows how long. If you were a Nestle PR exec, what would you do?

–Scott Van Camp

All in a Day’s Conference: Ad Value Equivalencies, Market Influencers and Promoting Your PR/Yourself

It was encouraging to see nearly 250 attending our annual PR News Measurement Conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.  on March 23.  PR practitioners worth their salt understand that measuring their communications efforts is a must-do.  How to do it right is another thing! One quote used by a speaker during yesterday’s conference, compliments of political strategist James Carville, was:  “If it can’t be measured, it didn’t happen.”  The audience of mid- to senior-level communicators agreed that ad value equivalencies are bringing the profession down; that identifying key influencers and making them your best friends is a strategy worth trying; that measuring impressions is so “yesterday” while measuring stakeholder engagement is a better way of proving PR’s value to an organization.  Speaking of which, PR can be tied to sales, and we heard dozens of case studies showing just that. So don’t let your marketing or advertising department tell you any differently.  But make sure you’re actually talking to and partnering with those counterparts in Marketing/Advertising/IR/HR, lest they take the credit for your organization’s stellar reputation and market share, and blame you (PR) when things aren’t going so well.

If you weren’t able to be at our conference, check out some of the Tweets (#prnmeasure). Look for coverage of the event in PR News and on our web site.

- Diane Schwartz

Google’s Chinese Dilemma

Like a lot people, I find the technology sector fascinating to read about. Which is good because the press puts out a couple of stories an hour about Steve Jobs, Google and Microsoft—with a little dab of Larry Ellison and his thrifty ways thrown in for variety. These days the tech giants are often in the same story, as they battle each other for mobile and/or search domination. To me though, the most interesting battle involves Google and the Chinese government, who have traded words about Google’s January announcement that it may leave the country because of censorship rules. With a March deadline looming, the pressure is on Google to make a final decision. If Google does leave, its Chinese partners will be left hung out to dry, and Google customers will be without many of the search tools and features the company is famous for—censorship or not. Whatever Google’s next move is, it’s surely to affect its reputation in a major way. I’d love to be a fly on the boardroom wall as execs debate the pros and cons. From a public relations standpoint, what do you think—should Google stay in China, or go?

–Scott Van Camp

Acceptance Speeches Pushing the Envelope (in a bad way)

Acceptance speeches can be boring – and the Oscars on Sunday night offered no exception.  Be short. Be graceful.  Be sure to thank your mother. And make sure you don’t have a wardrobe malfunction.  During the Oscars, when supporting actress winner Mo’Nique did a shout out to herself – noting that the Academy did the right thing by awarding performance over politics — I cringed. Was it just me, or did her speech strike you as angry and full of hubris? Did she really have to put it that way?  And when producer Elinor Baker jumped on stage and pulled a “Kanye” on director Roger Ross Williams (winner for short documentary)– and took over the microphone,  I thought, c’mon.  When another winner (Sandy Powell, for Costume Design) gloated that “I already have two of these [oscar statues],” I thought: did she really have to say that?  I admit that all this craziness made the ceremony a little more interesting and entertaining.  I wonder whether the aforementioned winners scripted their acceptance speeches or went off the cuff . Either way, it’s a relief to see that even Oscar winners are not so great at public speaking…

- Diane Schwartz

Let’s Make A Deal, Please!

In the movie Network, Peter Finch shouted the famous line to the world, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Well, that’s the way I’m feeling about the current Cablevision and ABC brouhaha. Seems ABC wants Cablevision (of which I’m a customer) to pony up millions more for the right to have the network on its cable lineup. Each side is engaged in a war of words that’s being battled through the media, online and via lots of advertising. Both ABC and Cablevision are trying to win the hearts and minds of us customers, but there’s one problem: this thing is getting old—we just got back the Food Channel and HGTV after a similar dust-up (the thought of losing Diners, Drive-ins and Dives forever DID weigh heavily on my mind). My question is, why spend so much on PR and advertising trying to reach an audience that is most likely sick and tired of hearing about it? It makes both parties look bad. ABC: I haven’t watched a show on your network since Thirtysomething. Cablevision: Many people pay over $150 per month for your services. Whatever happens with ABC, the rates will go up regardless—so stop playing the victim. There, I feel better.

—Scott Van Camp

How Do You Define Your Company and Yourself in One Sentence?

The advent and popularity of Twitter and texting should make it pretty easy to sum up, in one sentence, how we define ourselves or the company we work for.  Can you define what your company or what your brand/product stands for in roughly 75 characters? An article on Harvard Business Review’s site got me thinking about this challenge and how difficult it really is.  How you personally define your company is probably different than the person in the office next to you, or in the cubicle down the hall. And if you’re in a position to ask, it’d be interesting to see how your employees define their organization. We’re not talking about fancy mission statements or taglines, either.

Just how disparate those definitions are will point to whether your employee communications strategy is working and even how well your company is performing. Google’s one sentence definition is this: “We organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”   Southwest’s sentence is: “We democratize the skies and give people the freedom to fly.”   The HBR article author, Bill Taylor, asks: “What’s your sentence?”  That’s a good question (and that’s not “my” sentence, by the way). What’s the defining sentence for your organization and to take it a step further, what’s your personal sentence?  If you are having trouble with either of these questions, then it’s time to take stock of how you’re spending your day and expending your energies.

– Diane Schwartz

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