Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’


Maintaining Authenticity and Substance in Your PR Efforts

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

BurrellesLuce PR Public Relations Authenticity Substance Media MOnitoring PR Software press clipping Great public relations and marketing doesn’t come down to the slickest campaign or the catchiest slogan; as most pros know, it’s about complicated, intangible goals that take long-term cultivation and determined implementation. Two of those things? Substance and authenticity.

On Friday, PRNewser ran two interesting posts. The first, entitled “The 20 Most ‘Authentic’ Brands in the U.S. (and Why),” surveyed people on the brands they perceived as most “authentic.” The catch is, those conducting the survey didn’t define “authentic;” instead they left the definition wide open. The most consistent finding about authenticity, though, was that consumers – 87 percent of those polled – say it’s important that brands “act with integrity at all times.”

So while it can be a great and noble goal to strive for, say, innovation, only 72 percent of consumers said that innovation was necessary to being authentic.

Topping the list, somewhat surprisingly, was WalMart, followed by Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, and Target.

Brands considered “authentic” were not necessarily popular – Chase Bank and AT&T made the list, but GE did not. Instead, authenticity came from people knowing what they’re getting and brands being transparent about what goes into their products. The survey is a great reminder that people generally appreciate being spoken to like adults – being forthright and sincere, especially in a crisis situation, is far better PR than trying to bury one’s head in the sand or obfuscating facts and findings.

Later in the afternoon, PRNewser ran “B2B Clients to Firms: ‘Stop Marketing to Me!’” which shared findings from a survey from The Economist which showed that in B2B marketing, people want more substance and emotional appeal. PRNewser interviewed Ted Birkhahn of Peppercomm for his take, and he defined “substance” thusly:

Substance refers to content that adds tangible value to the audience and typically incorporates one or more of the following criteria:

1. It provides a new and credible angle or point-of-view on an issue that is topical or material to a client’s business.

2. It offers counsel and new ideas to tackle well known challenges the audience is facing.

3. It makes the executive and/or their company smarter about complex issues facing their business, industry, etc.

4. It entertains, when written in a storytelling manner that is painless to consume.

That consumers want substance is a way of saying they want more meaning – they want content that will help them do something or change something, not content that fills a social media feed for the sake of being filled. So here are some tips for being authentic and substantive:

Define your values. You can only stay true to your brand if you know what you values are in the first place. Define them and stick to them throughout all your campaigns.

Define and stick to your voice. Defining your voice goes beyond just deciding if you’re going to be snarky or sweet. It means defining your role in relation to your consumers, and then deciding how that role relates to them.

Listen to what your audience is saying. Listen to the conversations your audience is having around and aside from your brand. What do they want? What information are they not getting, or what did they react will to?

Be transparent. Especially this day in age, glossing things over or pretending they didn’t happen just doesn’t fly. In fact, it just makes it worse. Be straightforward and acknowledge incidents, snafus, or dissatisfactions. It will give your image much more long-term positivity when people know you’re willing to treat them like equals.

In this supersaturated content world, it’s hard to cut through the noise. But the best way to do that is to focus your brand voice around authenticity, substance, and meaning, and what your customers need. How do you keep your brand authentic and substantive?

In PR and Media: September 1, 2011

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

J.C. Penny Pulls Controversial T-Shirt (Yahoo!/Shine)
“A few months ago, the Internet was up in arms over a white David & Goliath T-Shirt that read, in pink bubble letters, “I’m too pretty to do math.” Then there was the one with “Future Trophy Wife” written on it. But many parents think this one is worse…”

E-Books Get More Interactive With Amazon’s New Author Q&A Feature (ReadWriteWeb)
“Amazon nudged the experience of reading books ever-so-slightly further into the future today. The company announced a new feature for its Kindle reading platform that lets readers ask authors questions about their books as they’re reading.”

 Juror Pleads Guilty After ‘Friending’ Defendent (Mashable.com)
“Jurors and defendants are not meant to be friends — even if it’s just Facebook friends. Four charges of contempt of court probably drilled this point home for 22-year-old Jonathan Hudson of Arlington, Texas.”  

Apple’s Cloud Still Isn’t Streaming (AllThingsDigital.com)
“When is a stream not a stream? When it’s a download. While a video making the rounds today makes it seem as if Apple’s upcoming iTunes Match service will stream music from Apple’s servers to a user’s device, that’s not the case.”

Zuckerberg Tops Vanity Fair’s “New Establishment” List Again (And Look Who’s No. 40) (AllThingsDigital.com)
“Vanity Fair magazine put out its high-profile “New Establishment” list of the top 50 people, who are ‘an innovative new breed of buccaneering visionaries, engineering prodigies, and entrepreneurs, who quite often sport hoodies, floppy hair, and backpacks.’”

Ex-NYC Deputy Mayor: Hyperlocals Should Help Citizens ‘March on City Hall’ (StreetFightMag.com)
“Journalism and community are rapidly converging in the hyperlocal space. But the big missing piece is meaningful participation by local government.”

Nielsen 2011-12 Rankings: Washington DC, Seattle Move Up, While Atlanta and Phoenix Drop (TVSpy)
“The Top 20 local markets will see some changes this year, according to Nielsen. The 2011-12 list of DMAs, released today, measures Washington, DC and Seattle each moving up a rank — to 8 and 12, respectively — while Atlanta and Phoenix each drop down one spot, to 9 and 13.”

Amazon, Apple, Google Race to Dominate the Cloud-Based Music Sharing Arena

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Record labels are once again under attack from the Internet, this time by companies eager to jump into the red hot “online music storage” arena. After what the labels have been through the last several years, you can bet they’ll be better prepared this time. Apple and Google have been working diligently on a new music sharing model which promises to give music fans more flexibility in accessing their media, wherever they iStock_000001626968XSmallare rather than tying them to a particular computer or mobile device (a service known as a music locker). Google, however, hasn’t been able to deliver anything to this point, despite promising to launch their service as far back as last Christmas. And neither has Apple’s which hasn’t launched yet. But surprisingly it was Amazon who became the first media company to launch a cloud-based consumer service – deciding to take a bold “Napster- like” approach last month with the launch of their version called “Cloud Drive,” as reported in this New York Times article.

Amazon initially thought they were sidestepping the sensitive music licensing problem by allowing its customers to upload their songs in MP3 or A.A.C. format and then storing it in the cloud, enabling consumers to play the music on any Android phone, Android tablet, Mac or PC, regardless of where they were. “We don’t need a license to store music,” said Craig Pape, director of music at Amazon in this Reuters article. “The functionality is the same as an external hard drive.” 

What Amazon neglected to do was license the rights, for this type of activity, from the major Hollywood film studios and record companies. The labels immediately fired back, but rather than engage in a nasty drawn out lawsuit the two sides quickly realized they needed each other (for now anyway) to compete in this new music sharing market, fueled by the changing desires of the consumer. Amazon is currently engaged in talks with all members of the big four (Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Group, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group) to discuss how this latest business model can make sense for both sides. If the two sides come to an agreement, the way we access music will change dramatically once again; however, the question remains, how will the music industry be affected by this sudden access to online stored music files. And other than the consumer, who stands to benefit the most from this new platform?

David Bowie predicted in 2002 that music would become “like running water or electricity,” notes this article penned by John Naughton, The Observer. At the time of the original interview, Apple’s iPod had only just been released. Bowie understood that “iPod users were, in fact, the audio equivalent of travelers to primitive countries who carry bottled water because public supplies are unreliable or unsafe. In a comprehensively networked world, Bowie surmised, people would eventually become more relaxed about carrying their supplies of bottled music: when they needed it, they would just get it streamed from the network.”

I wonder what artists think of their content, once again, being downloaded and potentially shared by millions of people without a licensing arrangement on the table. Will Mick Jagger shout, “Hey! You! Get off of my cloud” (ok, that one was too easy) or will Rihanna say, “Come on, come on, I like it, like it.”?

The music industry continues to struggle to keep up with the consumer’s demands, but finally appears to have recognized its better in the long run to accommodate music fans rather than waste time in court.

What are your thoughts? How do you think cloud-sharing with affect the music and media industries? Share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

Crowdtap: A New Platform in the Social Media World

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

by Denise Giacin*

CrowdtapI’m always up for checking out new things in cyberspace so when I came across Crowdtap I figured I’d give it a try. Still in beta, Crowdtap is a way for consumers to “tap in and ideate, engage and promote with leading brands, entertainment properties, non-profits and startups,” according to its website. The basic idea is to participate in what you want to and you will be given status and rewards for your time.

Let’s take a look at my profile, for example. I sign in using my Facebook account and immediately see my avatar, status level, total cash earned and total points at the top of the page. Any actions available for my participation are located below my status bar. “Quick Hits” are generally poll questions (multiple choice or short answers). “New Actions” are opportunities posted since I last signed in, and “My Actions” are discussions I am already taking part in. I can comment and engage my peers as we actively participate.

By clicking on the “Stats” tab at the top of the page I can look at all my data for my actions, cash, and points. Your “Quality Score” is on this page, as well, and is important because the site asserts that participants need to maintain a good reputation in order to receive new actions. Participation, solid answers with details and photos, and sharing content are ways to keep your Quality Score up.

Similar to other social media platforms (Foursquare comes to mind) Crowdtap rewards participants with badges for their participation. You have the opportunity to earn “brand badges” or “action badges.” For example, I performed three actions for Mr Youth, an agency in New York City, and received the “Mr Youth” brand badge. I also responded to three moderated discussions and received the “Ideator” badge.   

In addition to badges, I’ve also been earning points, which have promoted me to higher levels of status. I’ve gone from “cardboard” to “plastic” to “oak” and now I’m “bronze.” Each new level gives the participant more opportunities, such as sampling products when you reach level three and receiving advanced notification when you reach level four. The advanced notification part is key for opportunities that give cash rewards. When you earn over $10.00 you can redeem all of it to charity, or you can redeem 5 percent and take the rest on an Amazon gift card.

I signed in as a participant, but you can also sign in on the Crowdtap Client Site, where you can be the one asking all the questions. There are options for polls, feedback questions, discussion boards, sampling opportunities, sharing  (such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube), or even hosting a party.

Will you check out Crowdtap as a consumer or a client? Do you think this is an innovative social media site? Do you feel Crowdtap will “empower influential crowds to drive measurable peer-to-peer marketing results” like the website claims? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas. 

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*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: @denise10283 Facebook: BurrellesLuce

Online Video: Another Tool in PR’s Arsenal

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Valerie Simon

On Wednesday Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos chose to talk about the Zappos deal on YouTube. By speaking directly to the public, and bypassing the press, Bezos was able to assure that his key messages were clearly articulated. The video spread quickly via social media, and became a part of the story in the traditional media.

There is little doubt that online video is exploding. The July issue of the BurrellesLuce e-newsletter, devoted to online video, notes that according to comScore’s Video Metrix, published in June 2009, 78.6 percent of all Internet users viewed online video during the month of April 2009 (16.8 billion videos), a 34.5 percent increase in video consumption from April of 2008.

The rapid growth of online video provides public relations professionals new opportunity to engage the public and media. Tuesday I moderated a PR News webinar, “How to (Really) Leverage YouTube for PR,” designed to help PR practitioners use online video to take their media relations to the next level. Anthony Allen, director of Digital Media for the American Society for Training and Development, provided some practical advice on creating and sharing videos. Christi Day, emerging media specialist from Southwest Airlines, shared great examples of how Southwest has been able to engage the media and audiences using online video. And Rick Wion, vice president Dialogue, GolinHarris, offered great suggestions on what organizations should be measuring.

As Rick pointed out, “Viral is not a strategy.” Effective use of online video means assuring that it is seamlessly integrated with your overall PR plan. The Jeff Bezos video provides an excellent example of how to tell a story, while simultaneously aligning the video to key messages. While it took Bezos nearly six minutes to mention Zappos, he was quick to talk about the company’s core values; a customer centric philosophy, constant invention/innovation and long-term focus.

With that said, the Bezos video was not without its critics. Is eight minutes too long for an online audience? Why did it take six minutes to get to the news viewers were waiting to hear? Was the quality of the video lackluster?

As business communicators, we all have a lot to learn about how to harness the full potential of online video. Back in February of 2007, Doug Simon, president of D S Simon, noted in his welcoming vlog post: “In two years, websites and blogs without video will be the exception, rather than the rule.” Today, online video has become an essential element in communications plans and is an important part of what we monitor for our clients.

Be sure to check out these tips for using online video from BurrellesLuce.  How do you incorporate online video into your PR plan?