Friday, October 30, 2009

It Is Not Heroic to Show Up to Work Sick

Great commentary from the folks at Armada Corporate Intelligence, who write the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Daily Business Brief:

The End of “Typhoid Mary” at the Workplace?

In the panoply of things that have bugged me for years (and there are so many) is the determination of people to spread disease in the name of corporate gamesmanship. We all have these people in our midst. They struggle in to work hacking, coughing and sneezing. They can’t function at all as they are in the grips of the flu or some other malady but they think they are showing commitment and loyalty by
showing up to infect everybody else. They refuse to stay home and carry their illness like a badge of honor I am equally baffled by the company that doesn’t demand they take sick leave or at least encourage it. Have they not noticed that one afflicted person will soon ensure that the whole staff is falling apart. Things appear to have changed a little with H1N1flu.

Analysis: Now the reactions are different. People are aware that this strain is brutal and they don’t want it. I have now seen people who would be tolerated in the old days receive the kind of shunning that used to be worthy of a religious cult. One guy was attempting to board an aircraft in the grips of an explosive case of the flu and no less than three fellow passengers provided him with a face mask accompanied by threats that he had better keep it on or suffer bodily harm. I have seen offices issue strict orders that the sick stay home and well away from colleagues and there are far more hand washers in the public toilets than usual. It can only be hoped that this pattern continues once this year’s crisis passes. It is NOT heroic to show up sick. It is selfish and massively inconsiderate.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Excerpt: Stop the Social Media Madness

Logical Juice has the Sauce today...


I speak to large and small companies on a daily basis and everyone seems to say the same thing: “We have to get in on social media marketing.” Some companies are taking the lead to do it themselves. They are establishing “social media” or “new media” or “digital media” departments that will head up the company’s social media initiatives. They are asking about tools that will monitor the social space and easy ways to distribute content. And of course, everyone wants to know about tracking and reporting. Some are going through a very rigorous exercise of shutting down renegade bloggers and using taskforces to establish guidelines and standards prior to foraying into the social space. And yes, there are still a small few who haven’t quite drunk the Kool-Aid®. For this article, I want to focus on the enthusiasts – companies that are eagerly entering the social media space.

To give you a sense of how many are doing just that, Facebook fan pages are being added at the rate of 24,000 per day. It’s clearly reached a critical mass, and most companies at this point are eager and enthusiastic to get going. Last year, companies exhibited a lack of urgency and interest in social media – this year, they are trying to more than make up for “lost time” and in some cases are forgetting their common marketing sense. For all the companies that are getting themselves “some of that social media,” I ask you to please take a deep breath and consider a few things before you drive yourselves – and your companies – down a wrong path.

First, do not establish a new silo in your company. If social media is leveraged correctly, it can influence and impact multiple organizational functions – not just marketing (advertising, direct, promotion and PR) but sales, operations, HR, customer service, product development and research. Social media should not be sanctioned to one department in a company.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Get the Scoop on Social Media (in Plain English)

Boost Your Festival Attendance

No strangers to festival production ourselves, we found this article from Special Events magazine worth a read for all you budding (or struggling) festival organizers out there.


The economy may be in a slump, but that doesn't mean you have to lower expectations for your event. Sometimes it simply takes a good hard marketing push to pull in the crowds. Three festival experts show us how they use everything from uber-popular Facebook to still-relevant direct mail to do just that.


THE PULL: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival brings in 400,000 attendees annually to the legendary city for a celebration of Louisiana music and culture. The seven-day end-of-April affair offers 12 stages of musical options ranging from jazz, gospel, rock, and rhythm and blues to Latin and African music. Headliners Aretha Franklin, Joe Cocker and the Dave Matthews Band have graced the stage of the event, which dates back to 1970.

THE PUSH: “The festival's Web site is the most aggressive Internet-based marketing tool,” notes Louis Edwards, associate producer of promotions. But he stresses it's mainly a source of information. “With an event the size and scope of Jazz Fest, it's difficult to get too cute without being confusing,” he says. “We strive for clarity.”

Beyond the Internet, the festival's organizers rely on good, old-fashioned print and radio advertising, both locally and in major metropolitan cities across the U.S. In fact, paid advertising has “proven extraordinary,” according to Edwards.

Read the rest of the article here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Water's Promo Uses Power of Positive Drinking

One of the pardners at the ranch here is managing an event in California, and he needed to track down some bottled water for the client. He stumbled across this one, which we Midwesterners found, um...well, I guess the only word we could come up with is "Californian."

H2Om water is billed as "water with intention." Now, my first impulse is "Hey, that's great, but I don't want my water to have any other intention than to hydrate me." H2Om explains further:
H2Om is the world’s first interactive water. While you drink, use the words on the label as the driving force in creating your own intention. Visualize great, extraordinary, vivid, mental creations. For the good of you, for the good of mankind, for the good of the planet. Drink in the thoughts as you absorb the crystal clear vibrationally charged spring water, then resonate the positive energy throughout your day.
They also say that "scientific studies have shown that water is directly effected by the words, sounds and thoughts it is exposed to."

Prepositionally awkward sentence structure aside, that sounds kind of unlikely to me. But I'm not here to bury H2Om (or drink it, for that matter. I avoid bottled water for environmental reasons). My intent is merely to share the interesting marketing strategy, which includes celebrity endorsements (Jim J Bullock drinks it!) and sharing the power of positive drinking. The company also contributes to many eco-friendly causes, which is of course a good thing.

The real appeal may best be summed up by Sandy Fox, H2Om co-founder: "People feel good about purchasing H2Om because they know they are contributing to a cause larger than themselves. That's why I believe we are so popular with Hollywood's celebrity role models."

It appears to be working for the water with intent. Even though there are critics, such as the Gallery of Water-related Pseudoscience ("Emoto-style nonsense creates a water"), this California aqua seems to be selling. Their press describes it as "hot in Hollywood," and their website has plenty of photos of celeb role models (!) posing with plastic (Ed Begley, Jr., shame on you!) bottles of liquid intent. It is also available in some Whole Foods locations.

The Sauce

Good for them on tapping into the celebrity/activist pool to push their product. However, their initial press release announcing the water in 2006 had this one drop of info I find conflicting:

Newly released statistics by Beverage Marketing Corporation show U.S. bottled water sales and consumption continuing to rise as consumers increasingly choose bottled water over other commercial beverages. This upward trend was reflected in 2003 category volume of nearly 6.4 billion gallons, a 7.5 percent increase over 2002, and a 2003 bottled water consumption level of 22.6 gallons-per-capita, compared to 21.2 gallons per capita the previous year. These statistics demonstrate continued consumer demand and appreciation for the convenience and good taste of bottled water brands consumed on-the-go, during exercise, at restaurants or meetings, and at home or the office.

If they are an eco-friendly brand, how do they get around the damage plastic water bottles do to the environment? I know that's not their intent, but it has to be a public relations consideration. They deftly "answer" the question on their website by talking up the non-toxic qualities of the bottle.

Intentionally or not, landfills are not discussed.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Small Biz Missing the Boat on Social Media

Small business is ignoring one of the most cost-effective, targeted means of reaching new customers and keeping current clients: social media.

Take a look at this excerpt from a story posted by Reuters:

Few U.S. small businesses have adopted social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter for business uses, according to research released Thursday.

Three-quarters of small businesses say they have not found sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn helpful for generating business leads or expanding business in the past year, according to a survey conducted for Citibank Small Business of 500 U.S. businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Also, 86 percent said they have not used social networking sites for information or business advice. Ten percent said they have sought business advice and information on expert blogs.

The low number of small businesses using such sites for business purposes was unexpected, particularly as social media use has grown overall, said Maria Veltre, executive vice president of Citi's Small Business segment. Citibank is part of Citigroup Inc.

"We were very surprised we did not see more use of some of the social media outlets, even if just for advice," she said.

"What this survey indicates to us is small businesses are very, very focused on running their business and on generating sales and managing their cash flow and doing the things that are really important, especially in these economic times," Veltre said. "I don't think quite yet the social media piece of it has proven to be as significant."

The survey found 42 percent of small businesses have made greater use of their company websites to generate business leads and sales.
The Sauce

Small businesspersons ignore social media at their peril...

Not a lot of analysis needed here. Small business is missing out on some heavy artillery by ignoring social media such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

As a small businessperson, I get it that people are very focused on the nuts and bolts of running the business and keeping afloat. But social media--with a relatively small investment in time--can be a major boon to stabilizing or even increasing business.

It's all part of the religion we preach about being proactive in an economic downturn. If you're not using every tool available to reach new customers and keep current customers you may "save" some funds and effort now, but I assure you, you're going to pay later.

Join EventPros on Facebook

Come on, become a fan!

Click here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ad/PR Agencies More Likely to See Clients Cut Spending

A mixed bag from AdWeek...excerpted:

While detecting greater client optimism than they'd encountered earlier in the year, CEOs of privately held advertising and public relations agencies are still more likely to see their clients cutting than fattening budgets during the rest of 2009. That's among the key findings, at any rate, of a global survey of such CEOs, released yesterday by Worldwide Partners Inc. and ECCO International Communications Network.

Just 22 percent of the ad/PR agency CEOs said they expect client budgets to increase during the rest of this year, vs. 34 percent anticipating further cutbacks. Already, 76 percent of those polled said clients had reduced their 2009 spending through September.

This pattern of austerities comes despite 78 percent of respondents saying "their clients were 'more optimistic' about the business climate in their region than at the beginning of the year." One dreads to think what would be happening to budgets if clients were not becoming more optimistic.

The survey also found a trend away from "budgetary commitments" on the part of clients. "When asked if clients had stopped making annual budgetary commitments due to economic pressures in 2009, 76 percent of the CEOs globally responding said 'yes,'" according to the report.

Under the circumstances, it's hardly surprising that the ad/PR firms have been reducing their own staffs. Forty-two percent of the survey's global respondents (including 47 percent in North America) said they've reduced the full-time head count this year. Looking to the rest of the year, though, 65 percent of global respondents said they expect staff levels to hold steady, and 24 percent think staffing will increase. In North America, 71 percent said they expect the head count to hold steady through the rest of 2009, and 29 percent think it will rise.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Congrats to EventPros

We've done it again, this time scoring a rare honor from a noted educational association:
EventPros, Inc. was honored with the President’s Award at the recent Central Physical Plant Administrators (CAPPA) annual conference in Grand Forks, N.D.

The honor was bestowed for EventPros’ years of exceptional work in producing the regional conference. This marks the first time in CAPPA history that the honor has been conferred upon a conference planner.
Of course, when you have great clients like CAPPA, it makes it all the more flattering!
Read the rest here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Brand Lessons from Starbucks to Star Trek

My column in the October, 2009 issue of KC Small Business is on making your employees into brand ambassadors. As an unapologetic fan of both, I thought Starbucks and Star Trek were good examples. So, here's a taste. Click on the link below the excerpt to beam over to the entire article.


The heart of your repeat business model is the mechanism that perpetuates the best aspects of your company: your employees. Some of the best companies in the world foster a culture that makes employees into brand ambassadors. The company trains and empowers employees to embody the company’s brand message.

At Starbucks, everyone from the barista to the CEO is on message about the company’s environmentally friendly, pro-trade policies and giving customers the “coffee shop experience” with every cup. Even better, Starbucks has been successful in making their customers into brand ambassadors. It speaks volumes that in today’s challenging economy, you still see brand-loyal people start their day with the iconic, premium-priced Starbucks cup in hand.


So how do you make your employees into brand ambassadors? Start with your “elevator speech.” If you were on an elevator and someone asked you what your company does, could you explain it in a coherent, appealing way in less than a minute?


Let’s take a page from the summer blockbuster movie Star Trek. You don’t have to be a Trek fanatic to know the mission statement of the starship Enterprise: “To seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” In All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Watching Star Trek, Dave Marinaccio aptly points out that every crewmember—from the lowly (and generally short-lived) red-shirted crewman to the elite bridge officers—knows the ship’s mission and “brand.”

Read the entire article here.

Of course, hailing frequencies are open (the comments section) for your thoughts, mind-melds, or favorite barista joke.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Trade Show Exhibitors Use Social Media to Promo Presence


Forty percent of exhibitors use online social media to promote their exhibits, according to a new study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research.

Personal social networks, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are the most popular online tools among exhibitors. Roughly 41 percent of survey respondents say they use these networks for promotional purposes, while 36 percent use videos, and 34 percent use blogs, according to the paper, entitled “Effective Methods of Visitor Promotion, Part II: Exhibitors.” The use of these three tools is expected to rise in the next three years, especially the use of blogs. In three years, 44 percent of the 218 exhibitor respondents anticipate using blogs to promote exhibits.

Approximately 26 percent of respondents use virtual events, while 23 percent use microblogs, like Twitter. These percentages are anticipated to rise to 31 percent and 30 percent, respectively, in three years.

Read more here.

Pizza The Hut Strikes Back

Word on the street is that Pizza Hut is looking to fire advertising agency BBDO.

Looks like declining revenues may be tied to a confused brand identity, which of course points back to the Ad firm responsible for brand awareness.

As we said before, BBDO needs to avoid antagonizing intergalactic pepperoni crime boss Pizza the Hutt, who has bigger things to worry about than his own brand status changing.