Here's some ways to turn press releases into press coverage

I was at a holiday party this past weekend and had a chance to talk with some reporters and PR folks.  I asked each person what was the biggest problem businesses faced when trying to pitch stories.  I was shocked that nearly all of the reporters and PR professionals agreed that finding a compelling story was the one thing businesses had the most trouble doing.

It is always amazing to me that businesses can’t seem to figure out the stories that make them interesting.  In that vain, here are five areas of your business where you can find that great story that can turn your press releases into press coverage.

HIGHLIGHT YOUR GOOD DEEDS

There’s one thing that most, if not all, news people bristle at is the perception that all they’re interested in is bad news.  It’s just not true.  News folks are interested in stories that are not “normal.”  Those stories can be good or bad, just not typical.  Here’s how this can work for you.  Do you as a company raise millions of dollars for a good cause?  Do you give away free products to the disadvantaged?  If you do, you need get a press release out, stat.  You see, you’re not “normal.”  There are many businesses out there who don’t do charity so finding one that does is newsworthy.  Reporters love positive news stories just as much as bad news stories, and the fact that your company is so charitable is news.  Let them know.

“SUPER” EMPLOYEES

Support and highlight your employees who are doing something super

What do your employees do when their not working for you?  If you don’t know, you should find out.   Too many Support and highlight your employees who are doing something super businesses don’t think about how their employees non-work actions can affect them, but it can.  Learn about your employees and support them when they do extraordinary stuff.  It would be a shame if you had employees that went to the mountains every weekend to help disable kids learn how to ski and you didn’t help them and tell the media about it.

OFFICE CULTURE

Why do people like working for you?  Yes, it might be that you give them 20% more money than anyone else, but more likely it has something to do with your office culture.  Do you allow dogs?  Do you have flexible hours?  Do you have a swimming pool in the main lobby?  If you do, I bet a news organization would love to do a story on it.

GENUINE INNOVATION

This area is where most businesses try to get news coverage but fail.  The reason is that their products are not interesting.  Look, I understand that to a company that makes rugs, using a brand new type of thread is interesting, but to the rest of us its not.  If you are using thread, however, that makes your rugs last for 200 years, or makes sure that nothing will ever stain them, or it makes your rugs fly…THAT is genuine innovation.  If your company is doing something that makes the average person on the street go “wow,” that’s a reason to let the press know.  By the way, that should exclude about 98% of the things businesses are currently writing press releases about now.

Are you an expert? Let reporters know.

EXPERTISE

Are you an expert in your field?  Do you have people on your staff who are experts?  I mean real “other folks come to you asking for help” expert, then you should notify the press.  Reporters are always looking to stack their Rolodex with experts they can call at a moments notice to help them with a subject.  Even better, tie your expertise in with something that is happening in the news.  You’d be surprised how often reporters are looking for experts.  Writing that press release will let those reporters know that you are the expert they should call.

To be sure, the hard and fast rule about sending out press releases is “less is more.”  But by examining these five areas of your business, you might just find a great story which will help you succeed in turning your press releases into genuine news coverage.

*(If you’re interested in hiring me you can go here for more information.)

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Andrew Hudson just got back from Argentina and shot this video.

Not only is this fantastic video but it reinforces that lessons can be learned everywhere, we just need look.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOS8JGQ1gFU]

 

What is the lesson?  Nothing worth learning is gained easily, Grasshopper.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

I know you laughed.

I love my wife.  I really do.  There’s just one problem.

She doesn’t get my jokes.  Ever.

I got millions of ’em and they’re funny,  I swear.  Except to my wife.  I have told jokes that have put entire rooms of people into stitches, but when I tell her I get nothing excepts crickets.

It’s not her fault though.  You see, she is from Venezuela and simply hasn’t had the same experiences that I had growing up in the United States.   So when I tell a joke about “hillbillies” for example, she has no clue as to why we might find it funny.

The same goes for slang.  Everyone uses slang to some degree.  Slang helps form our identity.  I mean imagine

An innocent misstep forced Alicia Machado to close her Twitter account

a Texan not using “y’all,” or a New Yorker not shouting “fuggedaboutit”.  How boring.  On the flip side, you can get pretty lost if you aren’t familiar with the particular slang others are using.

 

It’s something to think about when you’re using social media.

Just ask Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado.   Fox News Latino explains.

The Venezuelan model and actress told a Mexican radio station that her twitter post in which she called for “peace between the Chinas,” referring to North and South Korea was misunderstood.

“I said it in a very colloquial way and people misunderstood me,” E!Latino reports Machado saying. “Obviously, I know there is a bombing going on between North and South Korea. When I said the ‘Chinas,’ I was referring to the Asian continent.”

I feel for Ms. Machado.  She used slang that is very common in Venezuela, but because others didn’t understand, she was thought of as “dumb.”

To make matters worse, Machado had to close her Twitter account because she was being deluged with insults.

Yikes.

This can be a real problem for people and businesses using social media, particularly when you only have 140 characters to make a point, or when you’re posting something from your “Smart” phone.

Just because you know doesn't mean others will

So to save yourself from a that kind of headache, here are five tips to help you avoid those social media misunderstandings.

TONE DOWN THE SLANG

It’s really hard not to use any slang when using social media.  Just make sure you’re not getting to provincial.  The “slangier” you get, the better the chance you will be misunderstood and your real message will be lost.

IF IT LOOKS BAD, IT IS BAD

It’s happened to all of us.  We make one innocent comment that gets taken the wrong way and we end up apologizing for years.  Remember that it’s what you said that matters, not what you meant.  If you see a word or phrase that you’re about to send out and you think it might be misconstrued, it will.  Change it.  You’ll be happy you did.

PROOFREAD YOUR PHONE POSTS

I love my smart phone.  One of the best things about it is the auto-correct.  Unfortunately, one of the worst things about it is, also, the auto-correct.  More people have gotten into trouble by not proof-reading the stuff they send out via phone.  Take a second to make sure your auto-correct hasn’t decided to sabotage you by changing “sink” into “stink” in that post you were sending about plumbers.

DON’T GET CUTE

I have always been of the opinion that everyone is smart, except for the people who try to act smart.  It’s a sure way to get you into trouble.  Stay away from puns or witty phrases unless you’re sure everyone will get them.  Realize the people you think will get it, won’t.

TAKE A BREATH BEFORE SENDING

Don’t immediately hit send after you write something.  Once you post it, it’s in the public forever.  Give yourself a count of five before pushing the send button.  Remember, it’s always better to reflect upon on a post you will send rather than reflecting upon a post you just sent.

Social media is a powerful tool that can help you to amplify your message.  But as Ms. Machado found out, social media can also amplify mistakes and misunderstandings.  Hopefully these tips will help you so that when your using social media you are able to say what you mean, and you mean what you say.

Hope that helps you out.

*(If you’re interested in hiring me you can go here for more information.)

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Reputation should be every businesses social media focus.

It was a jaw-dropping story in the New York Times by David Segal.

SHOPPING online in late July, Clarabelle Rodriguez typed the name of her favorite eyeglass brand into Google’s search bar.

In moments, she found the perfect frames — made by a French company called Lafont — on a Web site that looked snazzy and stood at the top of the search results. Not the tippy-top, where the paid ads are found, but under those, on Google’s version of the gold-medal podium, where the most relevant and popular site is displayed.

Ms. Rodriguez placed an order for both the Lafonts and a set of doctor-prescribed Ciba Vision contact lenses on that site, DecorMyEyes.com. The total cost was $361.97.

It was the start of what Ms. Rodriguez would later describe as one of the most maddening and miserable experiences of her life.

What transpires is a nightmare scenario for any consumer, and frankly, for any business as well.  It becomes even worse when you understand why this is happening.  From the company itself.

“Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”

It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”

I understand that this is an extreme example, but any publicity is good publicity right?

SEO is important, but not as much as your reputation

Well no.

Look, I don’t believe that this is the kind of thing that the vast majority of businesses would want to associate themselves with, but it brings up an interesting point.

What are you more interested in as a business, your SEO or your reputation?

You may laugh at that question, but I assure you, too many of you are putting your Google rankings ahead of your businesses good name.  In fact, the only difference between your business and the one above is scale.

Want Proof?  Here are three warning signs that you may be caring more about your SEO rather than your reputation.

  • Your focus on blog posts is toward key words rather than on highlighting your expertise.
  • You post based on what’s popular rather than on where you see solutions to problems.
  • You post about topics that are irrelevant to your business’ strengths.

If you’re doing any of these, you probably want to rethink your social media strategy.  Let me help.

Simply put, most businesses are created because they are able to fill a need.  Your primary goal with social media, really with all public relations, should be to highlight why people should trust you, and ultimately, do business with you.  Everything else is superfluous.

It never ceases to amaze me how many businesses don’t seem to get that.

Here’s a simple solution.

Rather than focusing on popular issues, pick topics with an eye towards highlighting how your business can offer solutions to problems.  If you happen to be able to address a topic that others are talking about, great.  But it shouldn’t be a focus.  Once you have a topic, lay out clearly and concisely what the issue is and how your business is ideally suited to fixing that problem.  Make the case that people should turn to you when they have similar issues.  Only after you have written your post should you worry about how to increase your ranking on Google.

So remember this.  Social media is not a popularity contest.  If it were, then all of us would be acting just like the business above, stooping to any level to rise in the ranks of Google.  This is not to say that you should just ignore SEO words or popular topics, you shouldn’t.  Just understand that your focus should primarily be on what your business can do for others.

Focus on your reputation.  Your future customers will thank you.

*(If you’re interested in my services you can go here for more information.)

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Can you spot the real turkey?

Every family has one.  It was the Thanksgiving from Hell.

You remember…as much as you don’t want to, you do.

It was the year that Mom didn’t do turkey.  Instead she tried the Mongolian-Irish-Colombian-Vegan eel recipe she got from the guy handing out fliers at the mall.  The meal was so bad that Uncle Silus got drunk and yelled at Cousin Teddy, who got drunk and took the sledge hammer to Great Grannie Edie’s heirloom crystal cat collection.  By the end of the evening, the men were passed out amongst the crystal chards while Mom, in tears, chased the dogs away from the untouched dinner, not realizing that the animals were the only things that got her cooking.

Ahh the memories.  The terrible, ungodly, please-god-never-ever-let-that-happen-again memories.  I think we can all agree that we never want to go there again.

Amazingly, similar stuff happens when businesses get cute with their social media.

The boss has no clue about social media so he appoints some kid to do it for him.  The kid “totally knows this rad new platform that all the other kids are using” and ends up spending thousands on some site that can only be accessed in South Korea.  Meanwhile, the Twitter page that a former worker set up, is being used as a “why work sucks” discussion between two other employees who had access because the ex-worker sent everyone the password in a email.

Yeah…no.  We don’t want that either.

Never fear.  Here are five tips to ensure that your Thanksgiving, and your social media, will be a success

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Too often, people treat Thanksgiving as a game of “anything you can do, I can do better.”  They try to make the dish that will be the one that the family will talk about for years.  The problem is, it usually is.  No one wants vegan eels for Thanksgiving.  They want turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.  Just because it’s not unique doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious.   And because you’re comfortable making turkey, it probably will be.

The same goes for your social media.  Here’s a secret, the reason why most businesses stick to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is because those are the sites the everyone else is using.   Social media is a tool to let people know about all the great things your business is doing.   I could have the coolest social media set up, but if no one sees it, it won’t do me any good.  Sticking to the social media sites that your familiar with, that other people are familiar with, will give you a better chance of successfully getting your message across.

DON’T PUT TOO MUCH ON YOUR PLATE

Let me tell you what "seconds" means

This is something we all do, and regret it every year.  We see all the food on the Thanksgiving table and want to eat it all.  Now!  Unfortunately, by the time we’re done piling everything on our plate we have mixed everything together into an indistinguishable brown pile of mush.  It might still taste good, but we miss the chance to taste each dish individually. We might find that some of the dishes we liked aren’t as tasty as we thought, while other that we might not have liked turn out to be our favorites.  Knowing this can be helpful when you’re going back for seconds.  Because there will always be seconds.

Too many of us seem to have the same problem when it comes to social media.  There are so many interesting social media tools that we just can’t resist using all of them.  Sadly, when it comes time to use those tools, we don’t have the time or understanding to truly take advantage of each tool’s unique strengths.  By using fewer tools and getting to know them well, you can find which ones really suit your social media needs.

REMEMBER GRANDMA’S THERE

Remember the time Crazy Uncle Silus got really drunk and started telling loud tales about his escapades in the red light district of Amsterdam, using the dog’s favorite toy to explain every graphic detail?  So does your Grandmother, which is why Unky Silly doesn’t seem to make Thanksgiving anymore.  No one wants to feel uncomfortable at Thanksgiving.  Keep it that way.

Same goes for social media.  The last thing you want is people to see your social media and feel uncomfortable.  If they do, you can bet on two things happening.  The first is that they won’t look at your social media anymore.  The second is that they will tell lots of other people who, also, won’t look at your social media anymore.

A good rule of thumb for making sure your social media is appropriate is to ask yourself if your grandmother would be o.k. reading your stuff.  If you can’t say yes, you might want to rethink what you’re writing.

You may remember Thanksgiving but your family will

SCREWS UPS WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN

I don’t mean to keep reminding you about that Thanksgiving nightmare you’ve been trying to forget, but it should serve as a reminder of why everyone should mind their manners over the holidays.  Crazy Uncle Silus wasn’t always “crazy.”  But down a whole bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream and lay waste to a family heirloom and that’s all anyone will remember.  Don’t be that person.  Don’t talk politics.  Don’t bring up embarrassing stories about yourself or anyone else.  If you do, I can assure you, you’ll be hearing about it for the rest of your life.

Screwing up on social media has the same effect.  You make one unfortunate remark in a blog post, or malign someone’s mother in a tweet and you will never be able to put it behind you.  This is particularly bad if the faux pas happens on your businesses’ social media sites.  Your business will always be associated with that mistake.  Google will make sure of that.  So make sure you proof your work, and please no drunken Twitter posts.  No one wants that.

HAVE A DESIGNATED DRIVER

It is natural at Thanksgiving for the alcohol to flow as much as the food does.  A pre-meal martini, wine with dinner, a beer watching football and pretty soon you’re feeling pretty happy.  Make sure you aren’t driving.  Getting a DUI would definitely fall under the “Screw Up” section above.  Worse would be having a crash that killed you or someone else.  Thanksgiving would never be the same.  Having a designated driver will ensure that your family remembers Thanksgivings past for the right reasons.

Having a designated driver for your social media is essential as well.  Giving multiple people access to your businesses’ social media is just asking for trouble.  The more people who have access, the better the chance of an online train wreck.  Remember the “work sucks” employees?    You just don’t want that.  Make sure you have one person who is in charge of your social media.  It will make your message clearer and there will be a significantly less chance of having any social media “mistakes.”

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities to having a successful Thanksgiving and a successful social media campaign.  If you make sure to keep it simple, don’t put too much on your plate, remember grandma, limit your screw ups and appoint a designated driver, your Thanksgiving and you social media will give you a lot to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all

*(If you’re interested in my services you can go here for more information.)

 

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O.K. quiz time.  What’s the one job you wouldn’t take if it were offered to you tomorrow?

Yes, yes, I know.  Gorilla milker and phone book proofer are on the list, but I’m sure there were plenty of folks who immediately thought….

Not everyone likes TSA's screening procedures

TSA airport screener.

The TSA, or Transportation Security Administrations, has been getting a lot of grief lately for their “thorough” body search policy at airports.  Now, I’m not here to “probe” into whether the TSA deserves the criticism they’re getting for the invasive pat downs.   What I wanted to do was use the TSA to illustrate how a poor public relations response can turn a bad situation into an unbridled disaster.

It’s a lesson that every business really needs to learn.

The problem is that with the growth of social media and all the access that goes with it, businesses are becoming increasingly susceptible to getting bad publicity.  It happens a lot.   What most businesses don’t understand, however, is that it’s not the initial bad press that gets a company in trouble, but their response to it.  A lot of times that means simply making sure you don’t do anything to make matters worse.

Here are four tips to stop a business from making a bad situation worse.

TAKE THE HIGH ROAD

Put yourselves in the TSA’s position for a moment.  You are in charge of every airport in the country.  You must screen millions of passengers, many of whom are just plain disagreeable, every day.  And now you have to read daily accounts of people who have had nightmarish experiences at the hands of some of your agents.

Your first instinct is to want to fight back.  You want to defend yourself.  You want to shove everything back at your “know-nothing, stupid, bus riding” critics and make them eat their words.

Don’t.  You’ll regret it.

Just ask TSA Head John Pistole.

John Pistole, Head of TSA

What a business needs to understand is that most folks take the side of the perceived victim when there is a dispute.  TSA is NOT the victim, the passengers are.  It may not be fair, but its reality.  Maligning the victim and trashing their supporters will only make you look worse.

Instead, take the high road.

Had the TSA showed any sympathy to the people having problems with the invasive screenings, rather than say “digging their heels in,” there wouldn’t have been quite the backlash.

SHOW WE’RE ON THE SAME SIDE

One of the TSA’s worst mistakes has been to turn the issue of invasive screening into an “us-versus-them” situation.  By doing this, the TSA has framed themselves as the opponent rather than as a supporter of the flying public.  Not very wise.  The TSA would have been better served to take this type of stance.

We understand and sympathize with everyone regarding the inconvenience of the increased screenings.  Believe us, we hate it as much as you do.  We feel badly about the increased screenings, but we would much rather feel badly about that than about sending hundreds of people into harm’s way because we chose convenience over safety.

Please.  We need your help.

If any of our agents are not treating you with respect and professionalism let us know.  We are all in this together.

Thank you for your patience and support.

Letting people understand that you’re on their side helps to diffuse many situations.

NO VENDETTAS

In many cases a business will want to “punish” the people who are causing them problems.  It may feel good, but acting on vendettas might be the worst thing to do.  Take TSA.  There are reports that TSA workers will start a work slowdown to show their displeasure about screening criticisms and a possible protest over Thanksgiving.

I can’t think of  a worse idea.

If people are angry with you, treating them worse won’t help.  Furthermore, if you find that you have employees who are acting on vendettas and you don’t get rid of them, your business will be looked at as having been in on it.

You must treat everyone even better than you normally would.  Especially the people complaining about your business.

BE OF GOOD CHEER

Let’s face it.  Screenings aren’t going to go away.  What doesn’t help, however, is when the TSA agents are grumpy, stern, and rude.  This just feeds into the public’s perception about the TSA as an opponent, rather than a partner in safety.

If you are pleasant, (not annoyingly cheerful or acting like a joker) people will be much more patient.  If you are already dealing with a bad situation, showing some understanding that the customer is being inconvenienced will let people know that you care about them.

In short, people want to know that you care when your business in making their life harder.

TSA didn’t do this.  Instead, they dug in their heels, threatened work slowdowns, and acted like they didn’t care about the passengers they were working with.  And because of that, they made a bad situation much, much worse.

So take a lesson from the TSA.  Everyone gets bad publicity, it’s how you respond to it that will truly help, or hurt your business.

*(If you’re interested in my services you can go here for more information.)

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Rapids win the MLS Cup

Dear Denver,

Hope you’re doing well, especially with all the Holiday preparations going on.  I needed to tell you something regarding the Colorado Rapids you may not have heard.

They won the MLS Cup.

Yes, I know.  I was shocked too.  No one saw the Rapids winning a championship before the Nuggets or the Rockies.  And with a Denver guy winning the MVP to boot.

So listen.  I got some PR advice for you.  You need to give them a parade.  Really.

I know, I know, they’re not the Broncos, or the Rockies, or the Nuggets, or the Avs, but you know, they are representing Denver.    Just because you think they might not be as important to Denver as the Broncos, it doesn’t mean that their contribution to the city is any less important.

See, that’s the problem that many businesses have.

Often, they neglect the contributions of their perceived “lesser” employees regardless of the fact that those employees worked just as hard and did just as much to reach an achievement that “important” employees did, just without as much fanfare.  And when that “lesser’ employee isn’t given the same recognition, they tend to take their talents elsewhere which causes the business to then, and only then, realize what they lost.

That business ends up having to spend a lot more to replace that “lesser’ employee than they would have to recognize them when they were successful.

Same goes for the Rapids.  They won Denver a championship!

MLS Cup MVP Conor Casey

They deserve the same celebration that the Broncos and the Avs got when they won theirs.

The Rapids deserve a parade.

I mean a real parade, with firetrucks and ticker tape.

It’s not like parades are a big deal in Denver.  Heck, you let everyone have parades.  The circus, the stock show, even the Irish.  Seriously, a four hour parade for having someone in my background who was born in Ireland is a bit much.  As my grandma McGinty once said “lo and begorrah.”

But that’s besides the point.

For very little effort, you can show, not only the Rapids, but everyone in Colorado that you appreciate it when someone representing you becomes a champion.  That little bit of goodwill will give you more positive PR than anything else you could do.

So please Denver.  Give the Rapids a parade.  Because, as every business should know, celebrating all successes does much more to help them than to just celebrate “big” successes.

Besides, everyone loves parades.

Thanks for listening,

Darren

UPDATE:  P.S.  A rally is not a parade.

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I’d like to let you in on a little secret.

The Honey Do list goes mobile

I’m just a normal person.  I need to run errands and do stuff just like everyone else in the world.  So why would any business care about my errand run?  Because it could change the way you think about social media.

Shall we start?  Good.

I Needed to get a part to fix a desk in my living room.

I Googled stores to find best deals for the part/

Checked which store was closest and  how long it would take to get to the store.

As you can see, I use social media all the time to help me find the things I need.  With social media, I can find the stuff I need at the most convenient store.  Using my smart phone makes this a lot easier.  So why should you care?  Think about this,  ” Morgan Stanley Internet analyst said she expects smartphone sales will surpass PC and laptop sales in 2012, with more than 450 million units sold.”

Wow!  That’s a lot of people with smart phones who just might be using it to search businesses through social media.  Oh well, back to my errands.

Went to hardware store, checked in on Foursquare.  Saw deal for flowers nearby.

Went to Flower shop which gave me a discount for using Foursquare to find them.

Another great thing about smart phones is that can take advantage of geolocation applications like Foursquare.  When you use a geolocation application to check in at a store, they will often have deals posted that you wouldn’t find normally.  Additionally, you can find other participating stores nearby you might want to visit.

Pretty neat!  I wish that was your flower shop, but you aren’t on Foursquare.  So anyway, that  other flower shop was so nice that….

Tweeted how nice they were and that everyone should check them out.

Got a re-tweet about a great new restaurant that serves Venezuelan food.  Texted my Venezuelan wife to have her meet me there.

She checked in on their Facebook page, found a great deal, and realized she knew the owner from her high school.

Got invited to dinner so I needed a bottle of wine.  Went to Yelp to find a wine store nearby that carried South American wine.

Went to the grocery store and had to wait at the checkout for the employee to finish her conversation with her boyfriend.  Tweeted about the terrible service.  Got a reply from someone who said another grocery store, closer to my home, had great customer service.

Social media is the perfect tool for interacting with people and getting tips about businesses from your friends.  In fact, lots of folks check reviews about businesses. If their friend like the place they go.  If not, they don’t.  Oh, you should probably think about this too.

Well it’s off to the wine store.

As I was buying the wine, I got into a conversation with owner and found out that he is a wine and restaurant blogger. Favorited his blog and got great Chilean wine for dinner.

Blogging is like word of mouth advertising on steroids.  People look to blogs for advice more so than any other medium.  That basically means that blogging about your industry can make you an expert.  People want to buy stuff from experts in their field.

So off to dinner.

Had a wonderful dinner with new friends.

Afterwards I reflected on how much had changed for me in one day just by taking advantage of social media.  I found the part I needed at the most convenient store.  I found a great new flower shop.  Replaced my grocery store.  Met some friends with an awesome restaurant and met a blogger who could point me towards a great bottle of Chilean Red.

Pretty good huh?  And I’m not unique.  Everyday there are millions of people just like me who use their smart phones and social media to help them with their errands.

Here’s the catch.

If your business isn’t taking advantage of social media, you’re not reaching any of us.  Basically you’re invisible.

Perhaps you should rethink that decision not to use social media for your business, don’t you think?

Yeah, I thought so too.

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EA Sports made an error

I’d like to share with you a public relations nightmare I’m witnessing first hand.

When I have a bit of free time, I like to play online games.  My game of choice is Tiger Woods Online by EA Sports.  I like it because I can just fire it up on my browser without having to worry about any additional hardware.   The problem is, I can’t just reset it when there’s a glitch.

Like today.

See, with online games, the developers feel that if the game isn’t constantly updated, people will get bored and they’ll lose their jobs.  For EA Sports this means an update every week or so.

Now it’s a good thought to keep the game fresh, but in reality more updates means more glitches that need fixin’.  In this case the glitch is that no one can play any of the tournaments, which is why we play in the first place.

To fully understand the issue I’ve posted a bit of the timeline for the announcement of the update.  It starts with…

11/15/2010 15:06:14            Subject:Weekly Update – 11/16/10
Excellent right?  But shortly after comes this message from a player.
11/16/2010 05:37:02          Subject:Re:Weekly Update – 11/16/10
URGENT – Since update, cannot load tournaments. Load stopping at confirming log in. Please check this out.
Now that’s a problem, but I’m sure that a huge company will be all over this issue, letting us know what’s happening. 

Ummmmm.  Let’s fast forward MORE THAN 24 HOURS LATER.

11/17/2010 06:37:12              Subject:Re:Weekly Update – 11/16/10
I cant play in Full screen now either. Longest drive missing from Friends’ contest, no EXP from making the cut, cant play tourneys, etc…. How is this an update? Maybe the reason we havent heard from EA is because they are working on a fix
Well yes, I’m sure they are working on a fix.  But I’m afraid the damage has been done. 

Why?

Simply put, a company must never, ever, neglect their customers.  This means you need to keep them updated.  Always.

I know.  I can hear it now.  “But they’re in the middle of a crisis.”

Doesn’t matter.  In fact, it is critical that you utilize your public relations during a crisis in order to keep your customers informed.

Let me explain.

What makes a crisis so bad for a company?  It’s the uncertainty.  How bad is the problem?  Is there anything that can be done?  Who’s working on this?  When will things get back to normal?  People need reassurance that a company is working to fix whatever problem they’re having or else they panic.  Or get angry.

When people don’t hear from a company like EA Sports about a problem for more than 24 hours, uncertainty creeps in and people start coming to their own conclusions about what’s happening.  And that’s always bad news for the company.

How do you stop it?  You keep people updated.  Frequently.  You let them know what the issues are.  What problems you’re having, and most importantly, what you’re doing to fix it.

You control the message.  EA Sports didn’t do this and it’s killing them.

Is EA Sports working to try and fix this?  I’m sure they are.  But how do we know?  We don’t and now people are posting things like this….

The lack of a fix in 24 hours is bad enough, but what is losing me as a supporter of EA is the total lack of response in 24 hours.  Not a word… NOTHING. As many have said before this post, this failure to communicate is totally UNACCEPTABLE. 

I don’t post here often because I’ve felt some progress has been being made but this incident shows that I’ve been a fool. What EA has failed to realize is that if you take the heroin away, a crack dealer will soon fill the void. And right now I’m Jones-in for a game and will be checking out the other new golf options. Thanks, EA, for cutting me off….

And come renewal time, my one subscription won’t make them pay attention…. but if we get 1,000 of us organized and ready to boycott come April, well I guarantee you $50,000 worth of subscriptions will make someone start paying attention….

I’m done enabling EA’s crap behavior and poor decisions..gonna see some tough love from now on until they kick their bad habits with TWO members.

The goal is 1,000. Count off.

1.

Yikes. 

If only they had kept their customers informed.  A simple lesson, so expensively learned.

So a lesson for all you businesses that may face a crisis in the future (that’s pretty much all of you).  Don’t neglect your public relations in a crisis.  Customers understand mistakes.  All they want is some reassurances that you care and that you’re trying to make things better.

If you don’t give them that, well they’ll go to someone who will.

*(If you’re interested in my services you can go here for more information.)

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