Posts Tagged ‘company’


Robot vs. Human

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

manvsmachineWhen was the last time that you called up a company for information and were patched directly through to a fellow human? I can’t remember when.

In the past 30 days I’ve been on the phone with a cable company, a cell phone company, a bank, a law firm, two kinds of insurance companies, plus a pet store. The only time I was actually patched in directly to a live person was the later – the pet store – although they weren’t particularly helpful and I should really be adopting from a shelter anyway.

In any case, I submit that few things are more annoying than punching through a handful of phone prompts, listening to hold music, then stumbling through more prompts before realizing what you need isn’t one of the touch tone options and that you’ll have to wait for a human anyway.

Facepalm.

Please allow me to introduce you to Gethuman.com. This is a directory of companies, phone numbers and reviews, compiled by for and of the people, which offers not only a guide on how to bypass phone prompts, but details the best way to get the most out of any listed companies customer service department.

From their site, “The GetHuman™ movement has been created from the voices of millions of consumers who want to be treated with dignity when they contact a company for customer support.”

The GetHuman site was created by Paul English (also the co-founder of Kayak.com, a site that lets you search flights, hotels and cheap travel deals all in one place) in the mid 2000’s and has grown through the hard work and diligence of their team as well as the support and input from readers like you.

Using the recommendations on the site, I rarely get stuck punching through phone prompts anymore. I’ve also gathered a healthy respect for those companies that patch you straight through to a human representative. I hope that as time passes, consumer feedback and experience leads to a friendly sea-change in the service industry.

Robot vs. Human?

Human > Robot.

Why Are Marketing and PR Professionals Using Geo-Location or Location-Based Social Media?

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

foursquare2This past April, I asked if geo-location social media is the next big thing for PR? Five months later, some are still trying to figure it out. At a panel I recently moderated for the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA-NCC) I found some in the audience were very knowledgeable and just looking for additional tips, while others wanted to know how to login.

To summarize the panel: location apps (e.g., Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt) serve as another way to enhance a consumer or stakeholder’s experience and interaction with your company, brand, or client. 

Tara Dunion, Consumer Electronics Association, looks to enhance the attendee experience at the International Consumer Electronics Show each January by creating an official location page on Foursquare and aggregating all the social media coverage on the website. (And they even plan to add additional locations for 2011). She commented that many exhibitors have multiple locations available for check-in, which also buys-into the game aspect of Foursquare.

Danielle Brigida says, The National Wildlife Federation wants to get you outside enjoying nature, so they employ Whrrl and Foursquare to help people share their experiences with others.  Whrrl works well for their needs because it allows the user to upload a picture to help tell their story.

A recent story on Mashable by Dan Klamm highlighted how universities and colleges can use location-based tools to promote the school, foster school spirit, drive revenue and promote the community. One idea included offering special badges for exploring places on campus.

However, not all location-based tools are gaining momentum. When Facebook Places premiered, Foursquare had a record number of new sign-ins because it connects with the new Facebook app. A few weeks later, few people are using Facebook Places. Dan Frommer explored the possible reasons on Business Insider, commenting, “Only 2% of My Friends Are Using Facebook Places…”

After the panel ended, I enjoyed brainstorming with others on how they might use these tools to help their organizations. How could you add geo-location social media into your PR toolbox? What questions do you have about the tools? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

Relationships and Referrals: Making the Most of Your Two Most Important Business Assets

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Valerie Simon

Early on in my career I received a phone call from a client who began the conversation with, “Hey Valerie, I want to introduce you to a friend of mine…”

I very much enjoyed and respected this client and was thrilled that he wanted to introduce me to his friend. In my mind I fantasized about his intentions. Perhaps we would all go out for dinner, or maybe he was setting me up on a date… my thoughts were interrupted by the words “director of corporate communications” and “in charge of media monitoring.” My heart began to pound as I realized what was happening. I was getting my first referral!

Today I regularly receive such phone calls, but the thrill has yet to go away. While Relationships and Referralsreferrals add up to quantitative results of your efforts to build relationships, they also offer bona fide proof that your relationship is one of trust and confidence (Cue Sally Fields, “They like me, they really like me!!!)

In order to earn new business, you’ll need to invest both time and resources and maximize your opportunities in the most efficient manner. Below are 5 steps to help you become more strategic in your relationship building and increase the number of referrals you receive:

1. Perform a SWOT analysis. Identify your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and then clearly identify the organizations you are targeting. As you consider different prospects and prospect categories, evaluate the customer needs against your analysis. Brad Douglas, vice president of sales and marketing with Shipley Associates, offers some excellent considerations to help you better assess your opportunities for targeting the right customers.

2. Determine the influencers you need to reach. As mentioned in this post from the Harvard Business Review, you may think you know the decision maker, “the one that is described in the RFP or articulated by those who actively participate in the formal decision-making process.” However, there are often key influencers within the organization who carry informal power as it relates to your opportunity. Take the time to uncover and develop those relationships.

3. Utilize ALL of your current relationships. While most organizations have a sales team or business development group, I am a firm believer that everyone in an organization, regardless of title or department, should consider themselves a member of the sales team. If you are proud of your organization and even if you are not (though you may want to ask yourself why are you working there?), it is your responsibility to help your company grow. Communication and collaboration between the sales team and other departments is essential. Beyond your organization, consider your vendors, partners and affiliates, clients, industry contacts, and even personal networks. If you aren’t actively using LinkedIn it is a great place to start organizing and expanding your network.

4. Ask for the referral! It is interesting that many people shy away from asking for a referral when they need/want it. Consider what’s stopping you. Are you afraid of creating an uncomfortable or potentially annoying situation? If yes, then that is good because it means you are thinking about and potentially being considerate of the person you wish to ask. And that is what distinguishes a “pushy salesman” from a friend you want to help. So be professional to and respectful of the person you are asking, their relationship, and their reputation. But don’t let that stop you from asking. After all, if you have real relationships, qualified targets, and a product/service you believe in, the person you’re asking should have no issue referring you and the person you’re introduced to will soon be thanking your friend for making the introduction.

5. Beyond ABC’s… ABH. While I certainly understand and appreciate the need to “Always Be Closing,” my personal philosophy is to “Always Be Helping.” In sales, and perhaps maybe in life, your reputation is everything. So be the person you want to be perceived to be – whether or not it meets an immediate business goal. In this case, that person is one who is helpful and informative and acutely aware of the needs and goals of his/her clients, prospects, colleagues, friends and family. In other words, take every opportunity to add real value and help them achieve their goals.

How are you making the most of one of your most precious resources – your relationship with others? Do you find it easy to ask for referrals and network when needed? What tips would you add to the list? If you are having trouble, what do you think is holding you back? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

Social Media: The New Solitaire?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

by Denise Giacin*

Flickr Image: The Progressive

Flickr Image: The Progressive

Lately I’ve been struggling with the social media paradox – is it good or is it bad? I use social media because it encourages me to be, well, social. You can keep in touch with your aunt halfway across the country, you can check out photos of your recently married ex-boyfriend (ah-hem), you can stay on top of current news stories, and you can even rant or rave about practically anything and cyberspace is forced to “listen.” Networking is also another plus for social media. One of my friends recently told me how he actually used Facebook to help out a friend who was laid off. The news came up in his Facebook feed, he contacted his friend for a resume and emailed it to a PR firm he knew was hiring. His friend was rewarded with an interview and an opportunity that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

All of this sounds good, so what’s the bad? Well, there is a lot of question and doubt regarding social media in the professional world. For one, some companies are hesitant to learn about these tools and apply them to their strategies. Instead, they are blocked, strictly forbidden, and grounds to send you packing in the event that you’re caught sneaking a peek at your Twitter feed.   

I recently attended a BDI conference called “Social Convergence and The Enterprise” and my mind is overflowing with all these thoughts on social media. Paul Hernacki, chief technology officer from Definition 6, boggled my mind with his perspective on social media in the workplace. He advised that we “stop blocking things internally.” Whoa! Wait, there’s more. Hernacki pointed out that while public relations, marketing, and communications departments should guide your company as your “official voice” this alone won’t be as successful as getting your organization involved as a whole.

This, my friends, is genius. Case and point: I tried to explain to my dad, who isn’t familiar with social media, what “liking” something is on Facebook. You should have seen the blank stare on his face.  My point is, how can you expect your employees to understand the power and impact of social media if they are not allowed to be actively involved?

At the same conference I also had the pleasure of listening to Jenny Dervin, director of corporate communications for JetBlue Airways. When speaking of social media, her words “you are being watched” hovered over the conference room. After all, the conference was being broadcast live over the web and we were all watching a live Twitter feed (#BDI) of our comments.  Dervin went on to further explain JetBlue’s use of YouTube and their blog “Blue Tales” as part of their strategy for taking a crisis situation head on. How much more authentic can you get than having the founder and former CEO of JetBlue Airways, David Neeleman, deliver an apology over YouTube? Kudos to JetBlue for picking up on the fact that consumers are involved in social media and for using this medium as a way to interact.

When your employees know what is being said on social media sites or how this medium is being used to promote a product, service, or idea it can only help your company. For example, if I worked at a major automobile manufacturer I might find it interesting to know that Ford is promoting the 2011 Explorer by unveiling it first on Facebook. In fact, the Ford Explorer fan page reached their goal of 30,000 “likes” so Ford will now give away a brand new Explorer! Clearly, Ford understands Facebook and the users who frequently use it.

I’m not suggesting that your employees should do nothing but surf the web all day, but there should be a balance. Encouraging your employees to understand social media and to use it wisely is an important tactic for any business plan. There are a lot of studies discussing whether or not social media decreases productivity at work. In my opinion, before social media it was Solitaire, before Solitaire it was “the water cooler.” There are always going to be distractions. If an employee is consistently not doing their job they shouldn’t be an employee of yours.  Not doing your work is a choice you make, regardless of how easily accessible any distractions are.

Social media gets people talking. If you want to be a part of the chatter, don’t block social media, incorporate it.  I’m sure you have many thoughts on this controversial topic and we’d love to hear them. Share your thoughts with the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas. How does your company feel about using social media internally? What ways have you utilized this social media phenomenon? How do you monitor social media?

***

*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

Are You Paying for Word-of-Mouth Marketing?

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

by Crystal deGoede*

There are a lot of us that follow people on Twitter whom we have never met or heard of just because everyone else is following them. “They” must have something good to say, right? We should trust them. Or we like a brand on Facebook just because they are giving away an iPad, or friend someone from high school merely to see their photos. Yet, we never even talked to them – then or now.  (I know people that have over 2,000 friends on Facebook…come on. That number might be ok for Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. because we are “networking” with peers and colleagues, but these Facebook accounts are mostly personal.)  

In reality, we all are just building our personal brand. In fact, regardless of the Are You Paying for Word-of-Mouth Marketing?network, these people may not really be our “friends” or even acknowledge our tweets but when we update our status or link to an interesting article, they are seeing it and vice versa.  Our own word-of-mouth marketing is taking place with every post, generating a buzz for ourselves, company, brand or clients.

Since the 1980s, when word-of-mouth marketing became the big craze, the continuing efforts of companies trying to create a buzz, by having people endorse their products, has increased. And with social media, it is easier than ever. All marketers know that the ability to generate word-of-mouth advertising is not something that can be purchased, or so they’ve been taught.

However, that may no longer be the case. Celebrities, along with other influencers are receiving compensation to tweet and blog, mentioning certain products to their millions of followers. Can you imagine getting paid $10,000 just to tweet?

Sponsored Tweets, a new Twitter advertising platform, connects advertisers with twitter users. Advertisers can create sponsored conversations on Twitter. Tweeters can earn money for spreading the word. Along with advertising on Twitter, the company also has a sister site Pay-Per-Post, which pays influencers to blog about certain products. Currently they have 400,000 participating bloggers and tweeters, and over 40,000 advertisers.

Besides paying people to tweet and generate a buzz around your brand, you can also gain followers or friends by simply buying them. One way to gain “fake,” “targeted” friends is Twitter1k, which offers several options for the quantity of followers. If you need Facebook friends/fans, well you can buy them too. (Interestingly enough, the use of such friending or advertising services could potentially get you banned from a given social network – though some claim that they are less likely to do so then their competitors – unless of course you are using a service affiliated with the network. Then it seems to be more “ok.” Go figure.)

Why are companies doing this? Well most of us trust a brand that has a higher number of followers, fans, and YouTube views. If a brand has this, many “friends” and most of those friends are speaking positively about them, then we assume they must be engaging or influencing.  We are also more likely to recommed the brands (personal or business) that have lots of friends and followers.  Those artificial friends that are doing your word-of-mouth advertising have real friends that trust them, and that allows your brand to reach different verticals without much effort. Therefore, for some marketers, the incentive to fallaciously drive-up those numbers is very attractive.

If you found out that a brand you trusted had paid for their followers or for praise from someone that doesn’t even use their products or service, how would you feel? Does the ability to buy friends or pay people to be brand ambassadors go against the etiquette for transparency in social media? How does that reflect on the brands and companies who legitimately build their following, slow and steady, over time? Would you ever consider purchasing friends and followers for your brand? Share your thoughts with BurrellesLuce and our authentic Fresh Idea readers. 

***

*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