Posts Tagged ‘Apple’


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?

Are Viral Loops the Building Blocks of the Future Marketplace?

Friday, November 15th, 2013
flickr user Gavin Llewellyn

flickr user Gavin Llewellyn

Andrew Chen defines a viral loop as simply “the steps a user goes through between entering the site and inviting the next set of users.” Former entrepreneur-in-residence at Mohr-Davidow Ventures, now freelance adviser of startups and expert on the vanguard of marketing, Chen dedicates the rest of his collection of essays, “The Viral Startup: A Guide to Designing Viral Loops,” to demonstrating how every product can be seen as a site with a viral loop built in. A viral loop is most definitely not “a mythical vortex that propels products with a magic bang into public consciousness and millions of YouTube hits,” which is what I thought it was before reading his book.

A viral loop is what brought us the viral video phenomenon “The Fox” this fall.

This is a common viral loop scenario: people react to a link they find online and share it on a social network like over and over again, and next thing you know American teens are in love with a South Korean rapper and something called “Gangnam Style.” A viral loop is a business model that emphasizes an exponentially growing feedback-and-recommendation chain of users.

Here is an example of a company that seemed to be doing just fine without a viral loop business model: Years ago I worked for a New York double-decker bus company that the tourism industry anticipated would be a refreshing, disruptive newcomer. As a family business with a history of ventures, however, they opted for the “tried and true” approach of beginning with a Minimum Viability Product—they figured out the minimum product necessary to qualify for the market, just to feel things out.

They bought old buses and fitted them with only a top deck – there was no interior for passengers who preferred to ride from inside. Because of the constant influx of tourists in New York, profits were high despite the fact that the business was in a preliminary stage, and customer dissatisfaction was frequent, especially concerning customer service. The company had not made social media a priority either. All the elements of a viral loop were missing, yet the company prospered. We’ll catch up with their journey a little later.

Chen explains that the key mistake marketing departments make is that they attempt to “bolt” a viral loop onto a product, not realizing that in order for a viral loop to work, it has to be built into the product itself. It is not about an ad going viral, it is about letting the consumer feel like they are playing a very real role in the culture of this Happy Meal, or cell phone, or song. The implication here is that only experiences go viral.

One of Chen’s essays in the book is about the role Steve Jobs played in the marketing of Apple products by making sure each of them was constructed as a viral loop from the start.

A way to build a viral loop into a product is to ensure that the consumer can share an experience; that experience would be balanced between marketing, functionality, and design at every point of the product’s evolution, as Apple did with the iPhone. Even the first iPhone had high functionality and sleek design, while encouraging users to share experiences through the device itself. In a department-driven company, there is competition between these aspects, and the focus on marketing very often wins out. Steve Jobs edited the output of each department and blend it all into a whole.

Awareness of products as facilitators for viral loops separates the waning business culture of yesterday from the adaptable, sustainable entrepreneurships of the future.

Let’s return to the tour-bus company. Because of low overhead, during the recession the company was able to actually take a significant amount of their competitors’ market share. As a result, they stagnated in the Minimum Viability Product model. Its purpose was no longer to explore the market, but to turn in profit quickly. They acquired their main competitor and applied the same model to them. However, small modern tour van startups that already have their own tour-guide apps, have a sustainable loop of followers, and who will soon be able to afford state-of-the-art double-deckers have been growing in the shadows of the skyscrapers.

The colossal tour bus company does have one very important asset, which if exploited can integrate a viral loop into their business model and help them blow any tech-centered, GPS-activated tour guide app-wielding startups out of the water. They have walking, talking viral loops in their live tour guides. A happy employee is a perfect balance of marketing, engineering and design.

Can the future be the Minimum Desirability Model—defined by Chen as “the simplest experience necessary to prove out a high-value, satisfying product experience for users, independent of business viability?”

The difference between minimum effort for maximum profit and simplicity is subtle, but it makes all the difference in who will survive the exponentially accelerating technological shifts of the modern marketplace. Perhaps a viral loop is one way of looking at true simplicity.

How Google Hummingbird Affects Your SEO

Monday, October 14th, 2013

How Google Hummingbird's Semantic Search Affects Your SEO and Search Engine RankingOn Google’s 15th birthday, how should SEOs optimize for its new “semantic search” so they are not left out of the birthday party?

With 90 percent of searches worldwide affected and their search engine audience changed, marketing and public relations professionals are asking what the latest Google search engine semantic algorithm will mean for their online and mobile findability and  how to make their content and SEO strategies more Hummingbird-algorithm friendly.

At Hummingbird’s launch on September 26, Google explained drivers behind the “precise and fast” Hummingbird, saying search users increasingly expect the search engines to fulfill longer, more complex and conversational search queries.  Hummingbird, with its semantic approach, is an upgrade to the way search algorithms interpret these new types of queries, as it better understands the full question and the reasons for asking it, instead of just performing the old-school keyword-by-keyword matchmaking.

Amit Singhal, SVP at Google Search, said Hummingbird is an advancement in search technology’s capacity to understand language and that Hummingbird “makes search results even more useful, especially when you ask Google long and complex questions.”

Therefore, marketers and SEOs need to determine if their pages and content are optimized not only for the evolved nature of the search queries, but also for the new semantic Googling.  With Hummingbird’s release at the end of August, you should be able to compare your search rankings pre- and post-Hummingbird to determine any changes in traffic.

With this latest search engine evolution, Google is also looking ahead to the very near future of conversational mobile search overtaking desktop searches.  And Hummingbird makes Google more mobile-friendly. Considering Morgan Stanley’s analysis in The Mobile Internet Report that mobile web use will surpass desktop internet usage by 2015, Hummingbird’s launch seems extremely timely. With desktop searches also becoming more Siri-like, Google Chrome now includes the voice search option for its desktop queries.

Google searches make up 12.8 billion searches, or 66.7 percent of the 19.2 billion searches conducted monthly.  Distant competitors are Microsoft Bing with 3.4 billion or 17.9 percent, and Yahoo with 2.2 billion or 11.4 percent, according to June’s comScore qSearch analysis.  With Hummingbird, Google might keep on out-Googling its challengers and continue being the leading filter audience between SEOs, as well as the eyes and ears of their targeted consumers.

In fact, Hummingbird’s timeliness is all the more noteworthy considering the increasing Google-Bing competition.  In a recent blow to Google, Apple replaced Google with Bing as Siri’s search engine in the new iOS 7 rolled out on September 18. Although Siri will be Bing-ing rather than Googling, for the time being Google will still remain the default search engine in Safari.

For SEOs now re-optimizing content for Hummingbird’s web crawling, indexing and semantic search, Google says that its search quality rating guidelines regarding content creation have not changed since 2012. In these guides, Google says that creating new and useful content that no other site offers through blog posts, social media services, forums and other means, will “likely influence your website more than any other factors discussed.”

The mobile overtake of desktop demands content creation that is also mobile friendly; in the guidelines Google says that “While many mobile sites were designed with mobile viewing in mind, they weren’t designed to be search friendly.” And Google offers tips to help ensure that your mobile site is properly crawled and indexed.

For additional SEO tips, check out the BurrellesLuce newsletter, 5 Tips for Enhancing Your Link Building and SEO Strategy, and our SEO Tip Sheet.

Are you seeing a drop or an increase in your rankings due to Hummingbird? How are you re-optimizing for the evolved nature of search queries and the new semantic search engine approach? How much are you relying on Google guidelines to drive your SEO strategies? What questions do you have about the latest evolution in search engines?

TED Talks: Joe Sabia – The technology of storytelling

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

 

View the original video and transcript here.

In PR and the Media: June 19, 2012

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

A round-up of what’s trending in PR and the Media.

Google sees ‘alarming’ level of government censorship “Web giant says that in the past six months it received more than 1,000 requests from government officials for the removal of content. It complied with more than half of them.” (CNET News)

 

Post-hack, companies fire back with their own attacks “According to a new report, some companies that have fallen victim to hacking attacks have gone as far as hiring security firms to hack back.” (CNET News)

 

Apple Gives Podcasts a Gentle Push Out of iTunes “So why have podcasts disappeared from the new version of iTunes that Apple started showing to developers this week? Because Apple plans to give the recordings their own digital turf.” (AllThingsD)

 

As Facebook Rolls Out Ad Options, Retailers Pass “Facebook has been unveiling more options for companies to advertise through the social media site. However, Reuters reports today that many businesses have been eschewing paid options to do what they can to promote their biz for free.” (AllFacebook)