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Case Study Update: Family Promise GR Receives Toyota Truck

October 27, 2012 Leave a comment
Family Promise GR Receives Toyota Truck

Family Promise Director Cheryl Schuch, right, accepted a ceremonial key for the program’s new pickup truck at Toyota of Grand Rapids Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Michael Croff)

I was fortunate to work with a great team of people who helped Family Promise of Grand Rapids win Toyota’s “100 Cars for Good” competition this year (a full case study is available here).  Yesterday, the organization took receipt of the car which was another great public relations opportunity from the competition (which has given the organization a great platform to reach more members of the community).

West Michigan charity takes delivery of Toyota truck it won through Facebook contest
By Jim Harger | Grand Rapids Press | on October 26, 2012 at 11:49 AM

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Family Promise of Grand Rapids took delivery of its new Toyota Tundra pickup this week thanks to its success in Toyota’s 100 Cars for Good competition earlier this year. (More)

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Case Study: Family Promise of Grand Rapids “Toyota 100 Cars for Good” Social Media Campaign Results

August 3, 2012 1 comment

familypromisewin
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Thanks to the generosity and tech-savvy of West Michigan as well as the hard work of volunteers, Family Promise of Grand Rapids won a Toyota truck by pulling in the most support in the 2012 Toyota 100 Cars for Good contest.  This is the second win for a GR-based nonprofit in as many years.  Clearly this city has something going for it (take that Newsweek).

Thanks to everyone who helped!

Big kudos go to the core group of volunteers that helped make this win possible:

Rick Jensen, Terri Howe, Christine Hoek, Allison Root, Adrienne Wallace, Abby TaylorPete Brand, Amanda BrandKaitlin Brand, Angie Phillips, 834 Design and MarketingWondergem Consulting, Clark Communications and the WMPRSA Board.

It’s also worth noting that everyone was led by Cheryl Schuch – the Executive Director of FPGR who is a model for all leaders to learn from.  She’s truly invested in her organization and was closely-involved every step of the way.

Rick and Terri worked on the campaign on behalf of the West Michigan Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (of which all three of us are board members – FPGR is WMPRSA’s current nonprofit client that we provide with two years of pro bono counsel as part of our PRforGOOD project).

The Strategy

Having helped Kids’ Food Basket come up with a winning strategy last year, Adrienne Wallace and I shared what we learned with the FPGR team (the case study for KFB is available here).  Here’s what we came up with: Read more…

[Update] @HowardStern Just Started Using Twitter, but he’s Already a Pro: Here’s Why

February 10, 2011 1 comment

[Update: @HowardStern is enjoying Twitter so much, he talked today about how he plans to experiment with a talk show on Twitter after having fun quizzing @Alyssa_Milano.  Pretty impressive tech innovation for a guy who still uses Lotus Notes.]

Howard Stern Tweets

Last week, Howard Stern (@howardstern) finally broke down and decided to start tweeting at the urging of his colleagues and friends.  So far, he’s doing everything right and his success is something anyone can learn from even if they’re not the “King of all Media.”

  1. Howard Stern Tweets - Backstage at LettermanBe Authentic: Stern tweets himself.  He doesn’t have his publicist or agent or staff tweet for him.  In an interview with Piers Morgan today (another celebrity who understands Twitter), he emphatically rejected the idea of having someone else tweet for him.  Authenticity is what makes Twitter successful.  It’s why people have been flocking (excuse the pun) there since 2007.  In an age of glimmering fakery, they’re looking for real contact with people they find compelling.  Stern’s first tweets were backstage before an appearance on the David Letterman show where he even posted a photo of himself sitting in the make-up chair flanked by Stern Show fixtures Vinnie Favale and Ralph Cirella.
  2. Have Something to Say:  The traditional paradigm of mass media was that one must constantly publish to stay in front of the audience one has built.  That relentless pressure to produce on deadline is often met at the expense of quality.   In the era of social media, I fervently believe that you don’t need to force yourself to come up with something to say for the sake of saying something.  If you’re scheduling tweets (especially repeats of your previous tweets) you’re likely doing something wrong.  Stern tweets when he has time and feels inclined.  That’s perfectly fine – unlike a newspaper, magazine, cable TV package, or Sirius radio – it costs nothing to remain a follower of the @howardstern twitter feed when he’s not tweeting (just as it costs nothing to follow the RSS feed of a blog or virtually any other form of publishing online).
  3. Trust Your Instincts:  One of the main factors that kept Stern from trying Twitter was the relentless criticism he’s subject to being a controversial figure of his notoriety.  Fortunately he discovered the satisfying feeling that comes with blocking someone from interacting with you.  That’s not to say that one should block out all negative comments.  You know when a criticism is authentic and constructive – so trust yourself and block out all of the carping that doesn’t add quality insight to your life.
  4. Howard_TweetsEngage Your Audience as the Real You:  This applies for multinational companies just as it does individuals.  It doesn’t matter if you have dozens of Twitter followers or millions – you’re not making the best use of the medium if you’re not connecting on a one-on-one basis with people.  That’s not to say that you have to reply to every tweet fired off to you, but at the very least you have the chance to respond to the ones you find interesting.  Another way celebrities can provide their millions of followers a simulated personal connection is by letting them see interactions with their friends (which usually include other celebrities that followers are interested in).  So @howardstern converses with @johnstamos – and we get a voyeuristic glimpse into the lives of these two personalities.  Stern also had fun with a challenge to his audience; offering to post a photo he’d just shot of his model wife Beth Ostrosky Stern with his smartphone if he reached 100,000 followers by “cocktail hour.”
  5. Use it for Real-Time Group Experiences:  Twitter is terrible for communicating complex messages; by design it sacrifices the ability to apply nuance/depth for flexibility/brevity.  This allows it to be an ideal vehicle for communicating with many people in real-time about a shared interest.  Case in point: the Superbowl.  For my money, the tweets about the Superbowl halftime show (most of which mocked the over-the-top Black Eyed Peas performance with references to Tron and Demolition Man) were far more interesting than the actual show itself.  Stern launched a few snarky tweets during the Superbowl and by his own admission he had a great time.
  6. “give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give give THEN ASK! Period!”: To quote sommelier and social media pro Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee), you can’t just promote yourself and ask things of your audience.  You have to provide them with value – and not only that, but you have to provide them with comparatively more value than what you’re asking for.  As Stern demonstrates – it’s not until his 49th tweet that he finally promotes himself.

Here’s to hoping Stern convinces his parents to start a “@ShitBenSternSays” Twitter account.

Case Study for Seth Godin’s “Five Ingredients of smart Online Commerce”

January 6, 2011 1 comment

Marketing Guru Seth Goden just wrote a post – the “Five ingredients of smart online commerce.” After a recent interaction with Drs. Foster & Smith, a pet supply company, I thought I’d see how well their site fared by Godin’s metric:

  1. “They sell a product you can’t buy at the local store.” [Success]
  2. “They understand that online pictures are free.” [Fail]
  3. “They use smart copy.” [Success]
  4. “They are obsessed with permission.” [Success]
  5. “They aren’t afraid to post reviews. Even critical ones.” [Fail]
    [It should be noted that Godin doesn’t allow comments/discussion/review on his own blog.]

To be fair to Drs. Foster and Smith – for the most part they’ve handled the transaction well:  I was contacted promptly when I sent an email asking about returning the dog bowl I ordered (which was far smaller than the description posted on the website).  When I tweeted my dissatisfaction, they refunded my money before they had even received the returned product.

However, what I can’t abide is how they handled my review of the product on their website.  They have a section marked “Testimonials” for product reviews.  I submitted a review noting that the size was incorrectly advertised and that the product was unsatisfactory.  Rather than posting my review – they disabled reviews for that product (which they continue to sell).

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In the era of social media – this sort of situation is actually a chance to improve your reputation because it allows the public to witness your dispute resolution process (by preserving it online for people to see).  When you allow engagement on your website or social media presence, you create the possibility for people to happen across examples attesting to your quality

Here’s what should have happened:

  1. The negative review I submitted should have been approved/posted.
  2. Customer Service at that point should have initiated a refund (without me having to post a negative tweet).
  3. Someone should have responded to my negative review explaining the situation (I don’t blame Drs. Foster and Smith for the product description – they likely were misinformed by the manufacturer) and noting that my money was refunded.
  4. Then, I should have been invited to publicly rate my satisfaction with the response.  (Some might worry that I would still hold a grudge and post a spiteful negative review – but then that spiteful act would have been preserved too so people could see that I was just a jerk even though the company attempted to satisfactorily resolve my concerns).

By going the route they chose – Drs. Foster and Smith is missing out on the opportunity to show other potential customers that I was ultimately satisfied with them.  All anyone would see if they happened to search for background on the store (with the exception of this blog post) is my negative tweet and a tweet in response.

Advertising Alongside a Parody of Yourself: the Power of the Semantic Web

September 14, 2010 Leave a comment

The "Goldstein Advantage" Parody Video from John Kerfoot

A good friend tipped me off to the site “Not so Pure Michigan” – which parodies the brilliant and popular “Pure Michiganadvertising campaign run by the state, featuring the voice of Tim Allen.  Among the ribbing the parody site gives to U of M football fans, Grosse Pointe, and Construction Season is a parody of the commercials for well-known Michigan ambulance chase…err…civil litigator, Sam Bernstein.

Bernstein has recently begun featuring his children in his ads, as they’ve joined his law practice.  That prompted this less-than-P.C. parody:

Here’s the thing though; the Bernstein Law Firm uses Google ads, and they show up on the Not So Pure Michigan site:

The Bernstein Law Firm Advertising on NotSoPureMichigan.com via Google Ads

I’m not the only person to notice this either:

A post from someone else who saw a Bernstein Law Firm Google Ad appear on the video mocking the firm.

Advertising alongside a web video that ruthlessly mocks a handicap of one’s family member is either a brilliant bit of cutthroat advertising strategy, or an example of how clumsily wielding the power of the semantic web can go horribly wrong.

Either way, it’s another great reminder of the interesting times we live in.