Twitter rolled out a major redesign last week and announced brand pages at the same time. While the brand pages announcement is by far the most exciting part of this, we’ll have to wait to see their full implementation since they’re available only to mega-brands at the moment. You can read all about the redesign here.
You’ll remember that Twitter purchased TweetDeck earlier this year, and at the time there was much hand-wringing over what Twitter would do with its new toy. Theories ranging from a complete shutdown of TweetDeck to a shelving of the popular 3rd-party service were flying around. Then, the redesign happened and we have an answer to the question of what Twitter will do with TweetDeck. The answer? Harness that team’s ingenuity into making the Twitter site and mobile apps a real choice for power users. The designs are strikingly similar; from the “compose” button all the way down to the fonts, the TweetDeck’s teams fingerprints are all over this.
For the longest time, many people (I among them) argued that the worst part about Twitter was its own webpage and its mobile apps. When Twitter purchased TweetDeck in May for the low, low price of just $40 million,functionality was a big reason I thought they were making the move. Twitter’s functionality was a reason many used services like TweetDeck; and many still do. The gap is getting smaller though, and I’ll predict that within the next year, TweetDeck will simply be known as either Twitter Web/Desktop App. It’s all the same company now, so TweetDeck shouldn’t care about what it’s being called and Twitter SHOULD want to have its name all over power-users preferred app.
A few other things I’ve noticed:
- Your Real Name Matters - Rather than your username, Twitter is displaying the name you’ve given them as the prominent identifying text. That’s bad news for spammers, because they just got even MORE obvious. It’s fantastic news for those whose name is their brand; freelancers really benefit here.
- Twitter Is Going After 3rd Party Apps - Seesmic, HootSuite and other popular 3rd party apps have been put on notice by this redesign. What Twitter did isn’t all that different than what the Angels did last week in signing Albert Pujols. Twitter went and got the big free agent name to help them win; and that free agent just smacked a huge home run.
- Twitter Is Morphing Into A News Aggregation Site - I’d love to say I thought of this, but the good folks at Poynter thought it first. I’ll paraphrase a bit of what they have to say, and I’d encourage you to click through and read that article. The new Discover section is huge. It’s a personalized news wire and what you tweet is much more important now as each tweet is embedable. Tweet with care and compose those in a way that encourage people to use them on their blogs and elsewhere.
What about you? What do you think of the redesign? Love it? Like it? Hate it? Think I’m off my rocker? Let’s hear it in the comments.
My best friend from high school posted this on Facebook this morning:
If you find a four-leaf clover, you have entirely too much time on your hands.
I, like I’m sure you do, found that highly amusing, chuckled and moved on with my day. Something happened though. I couldn’t get that quote out of my head. I started thinking about people who just sit and wait for good luck to drop into their laps, convinced that simply because people like them, the opportunity they’ve always dreamed of will appear out of the blue. Believe me, I wish that’s how the world worked.
I’m fortunate enough to count many people as friends and family, and to have a great professional network. That said, I’ve worked very hard to attain the reputation that I have, which I believe to be a good one. That reputation has landed me more than one connection, and to date has landed me three jobs. While one of those (kind of) landed in my lap, the other two involved the typical hiring process. The big factor in all three though was my reputation. What others said about me, or what the company already new about me, is what got me the job. That’s not sitting around and waiting for good things to happen. That’s working hard on your personal brand and excelling at what you are doing right now.
If you’re actively looking for that four-leaf clover, that magic person or moment that is sure to launch you to the top of trending topics on Twitter for the next week, you’re wasting your time. There’s only one time-tested solution to success and that’s hard work. I know. I hate it too. It’d be so much easier if that magic solution dropped out of the sky, but any “magic bullet” that appears is usually the product of an incredibly long and difficult journey. Twitter. Facebook. McDonald’s. Hell, Home Depot. These successful enterprises didn’t happen because someone all of a sudden said, “Oh my! That’s the best way to sell tile and hammers I’ve ever seen in my entire life! Here’s a billion dollars and the Atlanta Falcons!”. Decades (or in Facebook and Twitter’s cases, years), are why these are household names.
Don’t waste your life looking for a four-leaf clover when you can MAKE your own four-leaf clover. Now, because it’s St. Patrick’s Day, a video from my favorite Irish-tinged band. The Dropkick Murphy’s:
CNN allegedly reported via Twitter Thursday afternoon that beloved actor Morgan Freeman had died. This came as a surprise to Mr. Freeman, who was (and is) still very much alive. Apparently, a user, whom I’ll not link to nor name in this space, thought it would be funny to attribute a retweet to CNN saying Freeman had died. Popeater did a great job at explaining what happened here. Rumors quickly spread that CNN had deleted the offending tweet, which CNN had never actually sent out. That has been confirmed by numerous outlets.
The only thing CNN did wrong in this situation was not updating their investigation into the hoax. Updates letting users know what was being uncovered about the hoax, in real time, would have done much to quell the rumors. And frankly, if those rumors were true, I would have stuck with what I tweeted about the situation last night:
So how can you prevent someone from hijacking your brand on Twitter and putting, in this case, false words in your mouth?
What you can do is constantly monitor what people are saying about you. Use a service like TweetDeck to get real time updates about your brand. Use Google Alerts to keep an eye on the conversation happening around the Internet about you and your brand. That might be the biggest mistake many brands make; thinking a conversation isn’t take place already. You or I could be the target of a hoax at any moment. The only thing to do is to continue building your reputation, so you have some capital to spend when that crisis occurs. I’ll give you the same advice “Mad Eye” Moody would give. Constant Vigilance. Once you’ve detected the problem, be proactive about proving it was a hoax.
I enjoyed a relaxing Sunday on my couch yesterday, watching the Kansas City Chiefs destroy the San Francisco 49ers, and seeing former Iowa Hawkeye Tony Moeaki make the best catch of the day, even ending well ahead of 3:15, meaning bonus coverage! In this case, that meant the New Orleans vs. Atlanta game, which had just gone to overtime. As soon as the dulcet tones of Thom Brennaman reached my ears, he was informing me that we wouldn’t be seeing the end of the game due to NFL broadcast rules prohibiting broadcast past 3:15.
This was not a shock to me, but it had been a while since I’d run into this particular issue. Here’s the rule, and why it’s in place via Wikipedia:
First, bonus coverage offered after any early time slot games cannot be shown past the start of the late time slot (either 4:10 ET for the doubleheader network or 4:15 ET for the non-doubleheader network). This prevents people from continuing to watch the bonus coverage instead of seeing the beginning of the late doubleheader network’s game (which is usually either their local team or the network’s featured game). Again, the networks may show highlights of the game, and usually will at the earliest opportunity. The singleheader network will sometimes show each play as soon as it ends as part of its post-game show. A station originally getting the game featured during bonus coverage will stay with it unless they are leaving to show a local team.
Second, bonus coverage cannot be shown after a late game on the single-game network because it will run in opposition to the ending of the late doubleheader network’s game(s) and NBC’s pre-game show. However, the single-game network usually schedules most of its top games in the early 1:00 ET time slot (except for west coast teams’ home games, and possibly either a Giants or Jets game), so this does not tend to be a major issue.
Reading that, it seems to me the NFL is more concerned about protecting ratings for the late games than allowing the audience to choose which game it wishes to view. In my case, there was no game on the Fox station at 3:15, and the late game on CBS was Indianapolis/Denver. The Colts/Broncos games was incredibly boring at the start, which stands in stark contrast to a sudden death overtime game in New Orleans.
The NFL, in attempting to protect its entire product, cuts off what could be a huge ratings boost. The defending Super Bowl Champions in overtime at home? You can be absolutely certain I would have watched the rest of that game and THEN turned over to the Indianapolis/Denver game. The point of this is, people will tune in to the late games after bonus coverage is done. The NFL is a popular product, and the only thing that would have kept me from watching the Colts/Broncos game was my wife (since she was busy with other things, this wasn’t an issue. Praise be to God.).
Why sacrifice a potential ratings bonanza to ensure the start of a game is seen? If the network has a doubleheader, send the local audiences of the late games out to those contests, but keep the rest of us plugged into that exciting overtime game. If there is no late game, broadcast the ends of those early games. Rarely will the beginning of a game be more exciting than the end. Give the networks a choice Roger Goodell. No money is lost, you keep the audience happy, and you enhance your reputation.
I have a small confession to make before we go any further. I find myself tapping my toes to some of Lady Gaga’s music. I’ll stop short of calling tunes like “Poker Face” or “Telephone” good or bad, and simply say I find them stuck in my head randomly. One of those random times was yesterday morning when this picture graced my Google Reader inbox:
Um. Wow. Let’s just all let that marinate for a minute or two (thanks, I’ll be here all week. Tip your waitress and try the veal. GAH! SOMEONE STOP ME!!! I’M IN A PUN VORTEX!!!!)
We all know Lady Gaga likes to pull the crazy out every once in a while, give it a Roger Clemens’ size dose of steriods and really go for gusto. That said, sometimes, enough is enough. Her outfit didn’t, and doesn’t, offend me. As my friend Aurora Meyer was kind enough to point out, it actually makes me hungry. Looking at her fashion choices from a PR perspective, she’s allowing her persona to outweigh her job performance; that is her singing.
The same thing can happen for us in public relations. When the stunt to grab the media attention ends up taking over the headlines, and the message you are trying to deliver is lost, you’ve actually cooked up your own mini-media-crisis. It’s usually not serious, unless someone gets hurt, but still. Do you want to be known as the PR person and/or firm who puts clients in a meat-dress (metaphorically speaking), or do you want to be the firm that can get that positive public attention in fun ways that DON’T distract from the message?
Feel free to cut loose and go with that zany idea every now and again. Just don’t make the mistake of letting those zany ideas drowning out your message.
Saying “I’m sorry” is a tricky proposition; especially in the realm of public relations. Jeff Esposito has a great post here regarding a PR mess Target has on its hands. I’ll urge you to read his post for the details, and his advice on that particular topic. We got into this topic a bit last night on #pr20chat (that link will take you to last night’s transcript).
It’s not just the wording of the apology you need to worry about. It’s the legal ramifications of saying I’m sorry. In certain situations, saying those words is a one-way ticket to Lawsuitville, though in certain situations, you’re heading there no matter what (just ask BP and Toyota). Here’s the three things you must keep in mind when saying I’m sorry in a public relations capacity. One caveat; every situation is different and requires delicate maneuvering. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Now, without further delay:
1. Be honest. Your customers, and the public at large, will forgive you if you screw up. What they rarely, if ever, forgive is a cover up. If you royally screwed up, there’s no shame in owning up to that mistake. Consult with legal, but whatever you do, DON’T COVER UP YOUR MESS. Take South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s situation. If he’d simply left his wife for his girlfriend, he would have caught a lot of heat…but probably not the intensity he did after trying to cover up his affair, becoming a national joke in the process.
2. Be human. If legal shoots down apologizing in any way, shape, or form, there are other methods of not coming across as an emotionless robot with no soul. Like this guy:
Expressing concern for the plight of those affected by your crisis is fine. For example, wishing someone a speedy recovery from injuries sustained does not paint you into a corner of taking responsibility. It simply shows your concern for the well-being of another person. This statement must be worded carefully, but most legal departments will/should go along with this.
3. Focus on the future. Talk about the solutions you are already working to solve the problem at hand and steps being taken to make sure the situation doesn’t happen again. Once the details of what happened are established, the focus turns to what is being done to solve the problem. The latter is what you can control. Show the public how you are being proactive in solving the situation.
Apologizing in PR is ALWAYS a delicate situation. Every single crisis communications situation is different and must be evaluated as it develops. Things can change not just minute to minute, but second to second. Carefully analyze your situation and circumstances before issuing any statements or speaking to any reporters.
Of course, the best piece of advice is this; don’t screw up in the first place.
It appears British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward is on his way out. There are many reasons I think this is a good idea. Here’s a couple:
Looks like you’re going to get your wish Mr. Hayward. And don’t forget this gem:
What I AM saying is that regardless if Hayward is booted, the next person still has a monumental mess on his hands. So, ultimately, why even bother removing him? The environmental damage alone will take decades to fix. Some things may never return to normal.
This is a “save face” move. BP appears to be moving on from the Hayward reign and place the keys in the hands of a new leader. Basically, BP’s board is saying, “Hey look! We are doing something about the spill!” No, you removed your CEO who was a small part of the problem.
I disagree that this is completely a “save face” move. Without a doubt, any guy dumb enough to say he’d like his life back and then a couple of weeks later attend a yacht race in France is a liability. Where I disagree with Jason is that I don’t think BP is viewing this as a “Look at us people of the Gulf Coast region affected deeply by our screw up! We’re DOING something!”.
There comes a time when the ship needs a new captain. When that leader inspires zero faith from the crew (in this case crew being the public, its BP’s employees, and its investors and stockholders), a new direction is needed. Americans, and most people worldwide, are predisposed to distrust corporate CEO’s, a point made by another friend of mine, Sam Ogborn in the comments:
Here’s my question though: who is someone that the public trusts? Most CEOs of large corporations I’ve never heard of, so I wouldn’t be a good judge of character. But how can someone instill trust in the public eye if no one knows of them in the first place?
That’s a GREAT question. The answer is the public just needs to know that the top man (or woman) at BP “gets it”. They need to know that the BP CEO understands the trauma inflicted by this spill on wildlife and mankind and perceive that person as someone who CARES about what happens in the Gulf. Hayward didn’t seem like he ever truly cared. See those clips up above if you disagree.
To promote change you need a person at the top that is willing to instill change. If Tony Hayward isn’t going to do his job, then BP needs to find someone inside its organization that can step up and do the job correctly. It’s less about solving the problem in the Gulf, which is going to take another generation at the minimum to TRULY solve, and more about putting someone in place that will take those first steps.
I went to the Lake of the Ozarks over the weekend to see a couple of friends I hadn’t seen in some time. I had an absolute blast, but as you’ve probably guessed from the headline, I incurred some problematic situations. In the first incident, I lost my wedding ring. It’s sitting at the bottom of the Lake currently, and probably will be for some time. A few hours later, I slipped off of the boat I was riding on and landed in the water…with my phone and iPod in my pockets. Both were instantly transformed into paperweights.
As I was debating the best way to tell my wife about all of this, I realized there WASN’T a best way. I just had to tell her, and face the music. In retrospect, and in part because of the BP discussion during last night’s #pr20chat, I’m able to apply some lessons in crisis communications.
Lesson #1 – “The Ring” Know when a problem is unsolvable. My wedding ring is gone, there’s no finding it unless I hire a diver to go searching for it. That’s too expensive, and we’ll be replacing the ring. However, the original ring my wife gave me at our wedding is gone. Lost to the depths. There’s really no replacing it. BP needs to realize that there’s no “fixing” the disaster in the Gulf. It will take beyond our lifetimes for the ecosystem to completely restore itself…if it ever happens. It is finally beginning to realize it needs to quickly plug the leak, which is the only way it can remedy the issue.
Lesson #2 – “The Phone” Know when to make the best of the situation. I’m using my wife’s old phone…a Samsung Instinct she bought in 2008. I’m having withdrawals from my Android OS phone already. It’s not the situation I’d prefer, but it’s my fault for falling in the Lake with it in my pocket, so now I have to deal with the consequences. I’m not convinced BP’s image will ever truly recover, but it can commit itself to being the most environmentally conscious oil company on the planet. Develop a new segment of the company dedicated to creating methods of quickly, and with as little environmental impact as possible, cleaning up oil spills. BP will never be able to replace what it has lost, but it can find a new opportunity for growth, and become synonymous with a positive idea than a negative.
Lesson #3 – “The iPod” Know when to let go. I got my iPod for Christmas this past year. I loved it. It was a “Classic” with 160 GB of storage. When I got it, I figured I’d be able to go 15 yrs or so without having to get a new one. I was able to put my entire CD collection, plus a few movies, on it and have about 115 GB left. I was in love. Now, I’m without an iPod for the foreseeable future. I’m ok with that. It’s not something I must have like my ring or phone. BP needs to let go of whatever it thinks/thought its image was before the Deepwater Horizon disaster and resulting oil leak. It doesn’t exist anymore. Any goodwill it had remaining from people who still connected it to the Amoco stations of their youth (like me) is gone. Rather than trying to rescue an image stained with oil, a decimated ecosystem, and an entire region’s fishing industry destroyed, it needs to let go of that past and focus on the future. Become a new company, one (as suggested above) whose primary focus, aside from being an oil company, is figuring out new and better ways of cleaning up spills.
Sarah Palin’s longtime spokesperson, Meg Stapleton, resigned her position yesterday. Mediaite reports it is to spend more time with her family. That article quotes Politico’s Michael Calderone as saying:
[G]etting a comment or sometimes even an acknowledgment from Stapleton could be difficult. I tried several times in recent months on Palin-related stories, and Stapleton never responded, while her voice mail was repeatedly full and unable to accept messages.
So, maybe she was asked to step down? Who knows. Either way, Ms. Palin is looking for a new spokesperson quite capable of handling the media on her own, thank you very much. Calderone continues:
So as of right now the only contact seems to be through Palin’s PAC, which provides a phone number which goes right to an answering machine and an e-mail address with no specific person to contact (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Mediaite article concludes with this:
Crafty or crazy? Palin is, obviously, one of the most talked-about women/politicians on the planet, and a lot of that talk is not nice. I suspect “responding in her own voice” actually means one of two things. Palin has decided that answering questions from actual reporters is very last decade and is either going to let a combination of her Fox appearances and the take-no-prisoners Fox News PR team do her dirty work for her (one can dream). Or! She has concluded, and not without good reason, that her one-way Facebook mouthpiece is all the public access she requires. It’s worked so far. Why bother with the fourth estate at all when all you need is a catchy Facebook note to derail an entire health care bill.
That’s a fascinating point. Why does Sarah Palin need a spokesperson? Frankly, why does any politician/public figure need a spokesperson? I think it’s pretty simple as to why they do. It’s because they don’t always know how to connect with someone through a microphone. Here’s the thing, whatever your thoughts about her, Ms. Palin is a highly charismatic person that many people agree with. She has nearly 1.5 million fans on her Facebook page and has almost 91,000 followers on Twitter. She probably thinks she doesn’t need anyone to speak for her.
The thing is; she does. She’s at her best when she’s speaking to a sympathetic crowd, or getting tossed softball questions when she’s painted herself into a tight corner (I’m referencing her appearance on Bill O’Reilly’s show regarding Rush Limbaugh and his use of the word “retard”. Video is at the bottom of the post). Ms. Palin has a tendency to get flustered at the first hint of someone asking anything she deems as attacking her. The definition of that, in my opinion, is any question that doesn’t allow her to simply state her talking points. The best example of this was the infamous Katie Couric interview. The interview was wide ranging, talking about the struggling economy among other topics, but the only thing people remember is this:
One of two things happened here. Either she wasn’t prepared well enough by her handlers, who should have been reassigned or fired immediately, or she ignored all of that advice. Ms. Palin is an extremely smart person, of that I have no doubt. She’s incredibly media-savvy as well. However, she needs to have someone to guide her in crafting her public image, and the way she cultivates it. What would you say Ms. Palin’s general public image is currently? I don’t think, generally speaking, it is one that would provide her enough support to make a serious run at a 2012 bid. Does a good spokesperson accomplish that goal by themselves? No. Not even close. However, they can go a long way in getting her image back on track.
Bottom line is this. Sarah Palin needs a spokesperson because she has proven that when she lacks a good one that doesn’t prepare he properly, people lose the message she’s trying to deliver. The focus should never, ever, be you, your company, or your client. The focus should always be on what you, your company, or your client have to say. Sarah Palin doesn’t understand that. She should hire someone that does.
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning and saw an interesting post from Jefferson City Mayor John Landwehr:
Needless to say, I was intrigued. I followed the instructions, and what happened put a smile on my face. Pushing the number 4 after the 10 second pause takes you to the “Funner” menu where you get a variety of different options ranging from information about cooties to listening to a backyard game of catch or listen to a boy express affection for the girl he likes.
So what does it all mean, Basil? Simple. By doing something like this, it makes you LIKE Nestle, and be more likely to do business with them again, or perhaps be willing to discuss whatever issue it is you have with the company in a reasonable manner rather than just yelling at the first live person you get on the phone. I believe it’s genius public relations. It’s also a huge risk, because it is out of the ordinary.
This wouldn’t work for every company. For example, could you imagine hearing that on Toyota’s customer service line currently? The right company, in the right situation, can do this and build positive name recognition as well as customer loyalty. If I’m faced with a decision to choose between something with a Nestle brand name or a Hershey’s brand name, I am choosing the Nestle product. Not necessarily because it’s a better product, but because I just like the company more.
What do you think? Could this work for other companies? If Nestle was hit with a recall, would they need to take that off their phone system?