I am to be the Emerging Communications Chair Director on our FPRA chapter's board next year. It will be a new position and as such, I am setting up the department and systems. Emerging Communications rests on Social Media or Web 2.0 and is all about using communications to create community and nurture interaction between members.
The current interactive community forums are blogs and podcasts - and I will set up both for the chapter. Since I have kept my own professional blog for some time and am familiar with blog set up and usage, I know I need to research podcasting.
This is how I want to try out using a podcast:
1. Record our professional development speakers; archive them.
2. Interview speakers prior to an event and send out a 30-60 sec promo.
3. Interview leaders in the profession and chapter members on current topics and keep on our website.
People research differently. While many people go immediately to cyberspace, I tend to start by talking to one or two people I consider more knowledgeable than myself.
So I went to GravityFree, a local firm that designs serious websites. The GF tech tells me I need a digital recording device, the ability to edit the recording and I need to be able to convert the audio recording to an MP3 file.
I have a Sony ICD-ST10 - I bought it 3 years ago for $149. It's been great but when I send him an audio file from my recorder, he can't open it - it isn't able to convert the files to an MP3 format. However, the tech says prices have dropped and I can find a usable recording device nowadays for around $50.
Next step: Check out digital recording devices.
Here is a great example of how the the messenger can amplify the message.
Placido Domingo, accompanied by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, is bringing attention to the growing issue of hearing loss as the face of the Hear The World campaign. Hear The World is the non-profit foundation by hearing aid company Phonak.
Currently, over 500 million people world wide are hearing impaired. (That's over 10% of the population.)
By 2015, more that 700 million people will have some degree of hearing loss.
During an interview for the media launch, Domingo says that to the hearing impaired, "any sound can be music to the ears".
Click here to see the clip of the Hear The World media launch posted on Dr. Craig Kasper's blog. He's an audiologist whose blog focuses on helping the hearing impaired and preventing hearing loss in anyone living in the MP3 world. The clip includes media reactions and a bit of his interview on MSNBC.
Dr.CraigKasper.com was one of the featured Typepad blogs last week.
While moving through the blog world, I found a radio show for small business. I only had time to listen to parts of a couple of interviews but topics are current and varied so I've bookmarked it for future returns.
It's worthwhile to check it out.
Here is the link. smbtrendwire.com.
The votes are in on both sides of the world for PR Disasters of 2006. Go to prdisasters.com for the top picks of reputation management guru and author Gerry McCusker (author of PR Disasters).
Or, go to PRWeek for the top 10 PR blunders as well as many other lists - the 10 most daunting PR jobs of 2006, 5 brands that rocked and 5 more that rock-bottomed, best and worst politcal quotes, best and worst communicators and more.
My vote for the PR success story of 2006 is Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth. It's being credited with moving the conversation about the environment to the tipping point - that is, where the process takes a dramatic, expoential leap forward.
The environment has been Gore's message since his college days and in An Inconvenient Truth, he presents his life study in a clear and compelling way - when I googled An Inconvenient Truth, I got 2,270,000 results. It's a stand out example of sucessfully getting your message across to multiple audiences.
Restaurants are great examples of public relations in action.
How you feel about a restaurant is often determined by what I call their PR IQ. When it's a high score, it is inseparable from a good experience. A low PR IQ is usually found intertwined with a bad experience.
Judi Gallagher wrote about a bad restaurant experience (see her post on Dec 4, 2006 A Dining Disaster at Sarasota Magazine - scroll down to "Foodie's Notebook") but poor public relations is a part of what happened during the evening. When a waiter greets you without looking you in the eye, it's low PR IQ. Since Judi had frequented this establishment for six years, you wonder why a more senior staff member didn't alert the waiter to the fact one of their best customers was coming in.
Here are a couple of my own experiences:
This happened in Savannah. My husband and I arrived by train early in the morning and headed straight for the local diner made famous in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." It was around 7am and we were two of the four people in the small eatery. The cook was late and the waitress started breakfast.
Smoke began billowing from the kitchen door. My husband raced over to find the kitchen in flames, grabbed an extinguisher and put out what turned out to be a grease fire. Diners waiting for bacon (the cause of the fire) were out of luck although eggs and biscuits could still be prepared. No thanks for my husband's help. Not even a complimentary cup of coffee.
This comes in so low on the PR-IQ scale, any effort will raise the score. Buy breakfast for the diner who put out your fire before it consumed your kitchen. Say thank-you. Offer the other two diners a complimentary cup of coffee in lieu of the bacon they will not get this morning. Or - how about a certificate for an order of bacon on the house at another date?
Not all examples are quite as dramatic as the Savannah experience.
I was at a local pizzeria and my slice arrived burnt. I was told that if I ate this, it would be no charge, but if I wanted a fresh one, they would have to charge me - and again, no apologies!
How they could have raised their IQ quotient: Don't offer the burned one for free, don't offer it at all. Apologize for the delay and prepare another one.
Successful restaurants always have public relations on the menu.
My small blender arrived and I like it.
It does blend everything in about 10 seconds like they said.
I haven't tried to make an omelette yet so I don't know if it really grates cheese at the same time it mixes eggs.
So, as the ordering process had sunk my confidence in the company, I am pleasantly surprised to have a wonderful new kitchen gadget.
I've thought about infomercials since posing the question - Here are a few ways they could improve.
What about a more interesting story line?
Up to now, the infomercial story line is: this is what my product does and here is an example of people who need it. With up to 30 minutes of air time, perhaps there could be more complexity.
What about interesting visuals?
If the story line is going to stay simple, what about experimenting with the visuals?
What about animation?
My blender infomercial was better quality than some so perhaps there are improvements ahead.
What about not coercing interested customers to listen to other offers?
What about not overcharging on shipping?
I think it's time for infomercials to take a step up. Since they have proven to be somewhat successful at selling despite a lack of quality and frustrating customer service, imagine how successful they could be with a new and improved makeover.
What if infomercials were a pleasure to watch and a pleasure to order from?
If you have ordered from an infomercial, I would be interested in hearing about the process and if the product panned out to be what they said.
I was watching Jay Leno one night and I believe it was Carmen Diaz who said she adores infomercials and orders from every one of them.
I have to hand it to her for sitting through what is usually a cheesy story line and even more so, sitting through the ordering process.
And I marvel that infomercials seem so unchanged by advances in marketing and technology.
The last time I ordered from an infomercial (several years ago), I ended exhausted from being coerced into listening to other offers in order to get what I wanted and then I ended up cancelling the sale because of the exorbitant shipping charges. I had forgotten my experience until I tried to order a small blender from an infomercial this weekend.
Of course, this was no ordinary blender. It grinds coffee, blends fruit smoothies and mixes up an omelette. Each item takes 10 seconds and the couple demonstrating it can move through all this food prep quickly because the blender comes with multiple blades and jars.
The innovative twist on this blender is that when you need to do different functions such as chop ham, grate cheese and stir eggs for an omelette, it does them all at once.
We do a lot of blending in our household from protein shakes to soups so this gadget seemed very handy.
Then I found out it cost $99.00.
Then I found out that for $99, I would also get an additional blender, a juicer and an extra 21 piece set with all the cups and blades at no additional charge.
Well, that seemed pretty good, so yes, I called to order the items.
A pleasant voice answered the phone and verified that I was calling for the special for $99.00. She proceeded to go through a list of additional offers: for additional cups, another $10 or so, for additional blades, another $15, for something else, half off if I ordered today.....
That is when I recalled my previous experience ordering from an infomercial.
I asked her if we could skip the upgrades and options. No, they just came up on the screen. She had no control. How many would there be? She didn't know. I'd rather cancel the sale I said.
She then figured out how to skip the upgrades and go to the shipping screen. When I found out the shipping charges, I cancelled the sale.
Twenty minutes later, they called back. What if they lowered the cost to $106? I figured that was about $7 for shipping. I said yes.
We completed the transaction and after giving them all the details of address and billing, I learned that I would get my products in FOUR weeks.
This process did not inspire confidence in the product or company.
I don't have a good feeling about what I'm going to get in the mail or if I will ever get it.
Can't infomercials do better?
Allyson Lewis: The Seven Minute Difference: Small Steps to Big Changes
She has many good ideas that are simple and easy to implement - and they all take 7 minutes. (*****)