Posts Tagged ‘word-of-mouth’

You Say You Want a Revolution… in 140 characters or less?

Monday, February 14th, 2011
by Rich Gallitelli*
Image: CNN @piersmorgan Twitter Revolution
Image: CNN @piersmorgan Twitter Revolution

Egypt is the hot button topic and we are all witnesses to what some want to describe as a 21st century revolution.  On CNN, last week, the network repeatedly displayed a large screen showing in real time the social media posts that were related to Egypt.  It was astonishing to see. The board could not keep up with the updating posts, so the board basically resembled something like an amusement park ride’s flashing neon lights. And just like those flashing lights, social network postings at a meteoric rate can be encapsulating.  But can the intrigue last, or better yet, sustain an entire movement?  

It can no longer be surprising that social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the many countless blogs are being viewed as the forefront of this revolution. They have become what is the fulcrum of our collective “interconnectedness.” In my previous post, I discussed how email responses and phone etiquette, in today’s service orientated business world, are allowing employees to act as company brand ambassadors and, in turn, become the company’s brand. On the flip side of that, these company brand ambassadors are instantly accountable for their actions. Having a bad day?  Better not let that show up in your service industry work. The public’s demand for real time results has an agent of technology with new media to enact a change in dynamics in the moment and maybe even a change in social dynamics for an industry.  A waiter who gives poor service is no longer a regrettable experience between a few people.  Neither is a rude representative on the phone. Nor the president or parliament that fails to support its people. In today’s real time world, the negative experience instantly becomes online fodder for hundreds and potentially thousands to see.  Word of mouth, still the industry standard by which all companies build their reputations, no longer requires a face to face meeting for a poor review to be disseminated; it’s tweeted, it’s posted on Facebook, it’s blogged about and becomes part of an online community, with information that passes far beyond your own circle of contacts. 

Before the advent of social media, your reputation was built on the hundreds of positive reviews and one negative review didn’t fully transcend that reputation.  Now, that negative review becomes a flashpoint by which people will now effectively brand your reputation.  Think, did restaurants and hotels pay attention to comments and blogs about service in their establishments even just two or three years ago? I am sure they do now.  But can social media dispel the good reputations many service industry companies have accrued over the years?  Or is it just a flashpoint quickly brushed aside after it’s been tweeted and read?  Is it as lasting a movement, as say, the picture four activists sitting at the Woolworth counter in Greensboro, North Carolina? Hardly! Four students quickly grew to 600 protesters and in a few days, sit-ins had spread to Winston-Salem, twenty-five miles away, and Durham, fifty miles away. The day after that, students at Fayetteville State Teachers College and at Johnson C. Smith College, in Charlotte, joined in, followed on Wednesday by students at St. Augustine’s College and Shaw University, in Raleigh. On Thursday and Friday, the protest crossed state lines, surfacing in Hampton and Portsmouth, Virginia, in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Sound familiar?  No social media at the time. Malcolm Gladwell, recounts in this New Yorker article, “why the revolution will not be tweeted.” It’s the cause that rallied the people together, not someone updating their Facebook status while eating lunch.

The change and demand for freedom in Egypt is truly remarkable. It is something entirely different than what many generations have grown accustomed to.  No army.  No invasion.  No secession.  No strong victimizing the weak (for the most part).  And yes, we have one tweet at a time, one Facebook posting at a time, one woman’s bravery for a call to a common cause on YouTube.  One has turned into thousands and then millions, with billions of the world’s citizens watching events unfold in real time. But it all started in real-life, real-time.

February is Black History Month and I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. I am, as ever, amazed by the picture of all the people standing in the Washington Mall, demanding, peacefully, the equality rightfully given to them in the Constitution.  Imagine if that speech with the historical implications was given today. Would people attend or steam the video live at their computers?  Would people make the trip to Washington, D.C. or just comment about it on Facebook?  While social media has the ability to rapidly organize people to an event or a cause, it hasn’t shown that it can continue to extol its influence beyond that.  As Andrew K. Woods wrote in his recent op-ed for the New York Times, “Of course, great movements require great leaders. That’s why the leadership vacuum in the Middle East is so politically electric, and why Tunisia is still a mess. The crucial question, in Egypt as in Yemen and Tunisia, has little to do with Twitter’s availability. It is whether a galvanizing figure will step forward and seize this opportunity to lead, or remain in the crowd, just another decentralized node in the network.”

So while I am here, I will gladly and proudly proclaim “Viva La Revolution” and hope for a better Egypt. Yes, I am astonished at that screen of social media posts.  The question is, will the masses be listening, or better yet, tweeting, long after social media’s initial impact has been felt and the state of Egypt is left in the hands of the Egyptians? Or is social media just another hyped-up PR tactic?


*Bio: Richard Gallitelli brought a wealth of sales and customer-service experience when he came to BurrellesLuce in 2007. His outstanding performance as a sales associate and personalized shopper for Neiman Marcus (he also has worked for Nordstrom) earned him a nomination by Boston magazine as “Best of Boston” sales associate for high-end retail fashion stores. Rich’s talents also won him praise and a profile in the book, “What Customers Like About You: Adding Emotional Value for Service Excellence and Competitive Advantage,” written by best-selling business author Dr. David Freemantle. Rich majored in English Literature at William Paterson University, and is a published poet and short-story writer. Facebook: BurrellesLuce Twitter: BurrellesLuce LinkedIn: BurrellesLuce


YouTube Turns Five … Are You Tuned In?

Friday, May 21st, 2010

by Denise Giacin*

User generated content is all the rage. So, it’s no wonder that YouTube’s popularity has continued to grow over the past five years. (You can check out YouTube’s “birthday” celebration channel here.)

While YouTube has become a place to show off your dance moves, rant about politics, or promote your garage band, among other things – it’s also become a useful tool for media professionals looking to connect and engage with their constituents and to promote and market their brands, clients, and concepts to consumers in visually stimulating ways. (Even my BurrellesLuce colleague Johna Burke has begun to interview PR professionals at various industry events and posting videos on YouTube like the one below.)

By using YouTube to engage consumers, marketing and public relations professionals are creating a lasting impression…perhaps even more lasting and with a farther reach than even they may realize.

For instance, earlier this week, I received an email from an online events company promoting the Discovery and National Geographic King Tut New York City exhibition in midtown Manhattan. While the advertisement itself did catch my eye, the piece that won me over to buy tickets was the YouTube video included on the web page. The video is captivating and really motivated me to check out the exhibition. Not only that, but I forwarded the video to a few friends and now they would like to go with me. If I wanted to, I could also post the video on Facebook and Twitter which would give the exhibition even more exposure.

YouTube videos are in an easy-to-share format, allowing people to quickly pass along information without taking much time or energy. The passing along of information in such a way can create a “viral video,” which has the potential to do great things for your brand. (But remember, each brand or organization must determine their own measure for “viral” that makes sense with their overall communication plan.)  Having your YouTube video passed along by a consumer sends a powerful message: The consumer is actually telling the recipient this is something worth checking out – in other words, the act of sharing a video becomes a digital form of word of mouth. And even if viewers aren’t necessarily sharing the physical video online, they may still be discussing it offline.

A recent PC World article by Daniel Ionescu called “YouTube Beats Prime Time TV On 5th Birthday” states, “Google-owned video sharing site YouTube is celebrating its fifth anniversary on a roll: the company announced that it is now serving more than two billion videos per day, which is nearly double the audience of U.S. prime-time television.” With an audience like this size, organizations that aren’t already doing so should really take advantage of YouTube to give their brand the greatest exposure – assuming it makes sense with their overall communications strategy.

Is YouTube a medium that’s worked for you in the past? How are you utilizing YouTube to promote your brand? I would love to hear your success stories!


Bio: Prior to joining the BurrellesLuce Client Service team in 2008, Denise worked in the marketing industry for three years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Connecticut, where she gained experience interning in PR and working for student organizations. By engaging readers on the Fresh Ideas blog Denise hopes to further her understanding of client needs. In her spare time, she is passionate about Team in Training (The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s charity sports training program) and baking cupcakes. Her claim to fame: red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. LinkedIn: dgiacin Twitter: BurrellesLuce Facebook: BurrellesLuce

Are People Really Swayed by Authority?

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010


by Lauren Shapiro*

Are you an obedient consumer? A study in the 1960’s by Stanley Milgram proved that we, as human beings, are obedient to our instructor even when what we are asked to do may cause harm to another person. The study, mirrored by the 2009 movie The Box, asked participants to shock their co-participant (an actor) any time he answered a question incorrectly. Out of the forty participants, all 40 agreed to induce shock when asked to by the scientist. 62 percent gave the highest shock and 65 percent of participants continued to administer shocks even when the person being shocked said he was experiencing heart trouble. Now, a French reality show, The Game of Death, puts a new spin on the Milgrim study to see if contestants in 2010 will be as obedient as the participants from the sixties. Their findings? Out of 80 participants, 81 percent administered shocks and more than four out of five gave the maximum jolt. 

From both experiments, it is clear that we are very influenced by individuals of authority. The studies take the point to an extreme, but the fact itself is true. Take, for instance, the role of public relations, marketing, and advertising which attempt to influence the way people think about a certain brand, product, or person. Some people are more influential than others and their message can make consumers more or less obedient to their instruction. For example, Tiger Woods was a significant “authority” in the sports world and he received many endorsement deals with products such as Gillette, Tag Heuer, and Gatorade. His wholesome, positive image made him the perfect spokesperson whose message would yield obedience by consumers, creating and tracked by higher sales. However, Tiger’s most recent popularity in the media has caused him to lose endorsement opportunities and downgraded his authority as a person of influence in the media.

Social media has allowed for the non-celebrities of the world to become important influencers, too. According to, an influencer is “a visitor who’s subsequent sharing actions result in at least one additional site visitor.” In the PR and marketing industries, these influencers and their reach are extremely important in identifying who to engage and in measuring social media success. also found that “content spread from consumer to consumer through word-of-mouth is far more powerful at driving brand preference and purchase intent than content distributed by the brand itself.” But, do top social media influencers create obedience in their followers? uses the 2-4X rule, stating that “visitors driven to a site by influencers are 2-4X more likely to convert compared to visitors from other sources.”

With social networks like Facebook and Twitter users get to pick and choose who they want to be influenced by. Unlike Milgrim’s study or the French game-show, consumers are dealing with the conundrum of whether “to buy or not to buy” versus “to shock or not to shock” which is a far more pleasant dilemma. However new social media tends to be, it appears that users are still more obedient to their own social media authorities than the influencers presented to them by corporate branding strategies. Consumers have taken over branding the social media outlets to let their peers know the “real deal.”  

In the world of PR, marketing, and advertising – how are you using authority to influence the decisions of constituents? Do you target social media influencers in your PR pitches? As a consumer, are you swayed by a person’s authority or influence when making purchases? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas?


*Bio: Soon after graduating from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, in 2006 with a B.A. in communication and a B.S. in business/marketing, I joined the BurrellesLuce client services team. In 2008, I completed my master’s degree in corporate and organizational communications and now work as the supervisor of BurrellesLuce Express client services. I am passionate about researching and understanding the role of email in shaping relationships from a client relation/service standpoint as well as how miscommunication occurs within email, which was the topic of my thesis. Through my posts on Fresh Ideas, I hope to educate and stimulate thoughtful discussions about corporate communications and client relations, further my own knowledge on this subject area, as well as continue to hone my skills as a communicator. Twitter: @_LaurenShapiro_ LinkedIn: laurenrshapiro Facebook: BurrellesLuce

Do You Have Brand Fans?

Friday, November 13th, 2009

by Crystal DeGoede*

Technology, the ways you connect with your audience, and communicate your brand continue to change – faster than you can send a 140 character message. But it seems that as things speed up some organizations are losing the trust of their clients and prospects because they lack personal interaction. Should you stop launching marketing campaigns and start word-of-mouth movements?  What does it take to engage and build brand ambassadors and start a movement in the digital age?


Flickr Image: Intersection Consulting

Part of my responsibilities in the marketing department at BurrellesLuce is always trying to find new ways to increase our presence on social media sites along with engaging our clients and target audience. 

So naturally during the 2009 PRSA International Conference (#prsa09), I wanted to learn more about getting our clients and prospects involved and talking about us on social media networks and even offline. I wasn’t interested in just not another “how-to” session.  Like many public relations and marketing professionals, we are already out in the social media space. And like many in the industry, we just need to know how to make it more engaging and inspiring to our audience and deliver on those results. So I attended, “People Are the Killer App: How to Grow Word-of-Mouth Movements With Your Brand Fans” presented by Geno Church, word-of-mouth inspiration officer, Brains on Fire.

To start was a discussion of campaigns versus movements and how they differ. When a company talks about its brand or product, that is a campaign; when others talk about a company’s brand or product that is considered a movement. Here are a few comparisons from Geno’s presentation:

  • Campaigns have a beginning and an end. Movements go on as long as kindred spirits are involved.
  • Campaigns are dry and emotionally detached. Movements are organic and rooted in passion.
  • Campaigns rely on traditional mediums. Movements rely on word-of-mouth, where the people are the medium.

 To help illustrate his points, Geno shared with us a very compelling case study on Fiskars brand scissors, and how they launched a movement with the help of Friskarteers (a group of four brand ambassadors). With the aid of these brand ambassadors Fiskars  increased their online conversation by 600 percent and “recruited” 5400+ engaged and active members.

Do you think businesses should now become P2P (People 2 People) and rely on customers to generate movement for their brand rather than running a print ad in The New York Times? Or is it necessary to stay B2B/B2C and continue to employ the traditional tools of the trade?  Do you think connecting with your customers on a personal level is more valuable that keeping things all business?

*Bio: After graduating from East Carolina University with a Marketing degree in 2005, Crystal DeGoede moved to New Jersey. In her four years as a member of the BurrellesLuce marketing team and through her interaction with peers and clients she has learned what is important or what it takes to develop a career when you are just starting out. She is passionate about continuing to learn about the industry in which we serve and about her career path. By engaging readers on Fresh Ideas Crystal hopes to further develop her social media skills and inspire other “millennials” who are just out of college and/or working in the field of marketing and public relations. Twitter: @cldegoede LinkedIn: Crystal DeGoede Facebook: BurrellesLuce

Are You Still Using Multipliers?

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

flickr_graphmeeting_2136954043_5145b15312.jpgDuring a recent PRSA webinar sponsored by BurrellesLuce I referenced the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) white paper, “Dispelling the Myth of PR Multipliers and Other Inflationary Audience Measures” by: Mark Weiner and Don Bartholomew. This prompted many follow-up questions, mostly about the “greater” credibility of editorial content vs. advertising. As noted in the white paper there are flaws in that thinking and there is no substantiated data proving this notion.

The white paper is excellent and should be read by everyone currently using multipliers in their measurement rationale and those thinking about its implications.

Here I want to provide my very “Reader’s Digest” summary for our peers who may need to recalibrate existing benchmarks if they lose a multiplier. In the real world of business, a “multiplier” of publisher supported data is an “Enron Metric.” The more you have to explain something, the more you compromise the credibility. Think about it this way: Your company has a certain number of clients. That’s the number. Would it be acceptable for the customer service department to report a higher number because they have a lot of “happy clients” or “clients who are referring business”? No. Then why would you want to put forward a number that can’t stand on its own merit?

The power of social media is thriving and growing by word-of-mouth and the influence of peers. The reason: credibility. Don’t compromise your greatest asset by taking a short cut or using numbers that aren’t straight forward and/or supported by a third-party data source.