Category Archives: Corporate Communications

BAD IDEA Jeans…

During the time I lived in Switzerland, I was exposed to this hilarious BAD IDEA Jeans commercial from H&M (first video clip shown below).  The unexpected, hilarious setup and slogan became something of a mental ‘earworm’ for me and when I came back stateside soon thereafter I frequently added ‘jeans’ in expressing my opinion about any bad idea scenario.

(For example, someone named Jones from a suicidal religious cult hands you a plastic cup of grape Kool-Aide to drink = “BAD IDEA Jeans”)

So here’s the commercial I knew:  H&M’s Rocky Jeans: BAD IDEA Jeans (early-to-mid 1990s)

So fast forward about a decade…It wasn’t until my second husband (of immense TV and comedy knowledge) caught on to my bad idea…JEANS!… expressions and asked if I was referring to the SNL skit, one of his favorites that featured the star cast of Phil Hartman, Bob Odenkirk, Kevin Nealon, David Spade and Mike Myers.

Here’s the commercial he was referring to:  Saturday Night Live – Bad Idea Jeans (Season 16)  [Due to copyright isssues, I can only refer you to a separate URL address rather than embedding it directly in this post.]

However, I was completely unaware of any similarities between my awesome H&M commercial and this alleged SNL skit and responded hotly that it must have been a parody of the original European commercial.  (The cartoon bubble above my head probably read: “like, I like totally saw it in Europe and -like – you know, it’s just, like, way cooler over there..”)

But after some deep Wiki research (LOL), we concluded that the SNL skit appeared during the 1990-1991 Season 16 of Saturday Night Live and that….helas, my ueber-cool Euro commercial could not have debuted in the movie theaters there for me to see before the summer of 1991. Given that it appears that they were both conceived independently at around the same time – no inferiority short straw findings turned up in my investigation of their originality and coolness.

But which one do you find funnier?  Please let me know in your comments as an unofficial poll to determine which commercial is: 1) funnier, 2) more memorable?  Thanks in advance and enjoy these two cultural takes on humor in branding!!

Which Social Sites are Best for Which Marketing Outcomes? This is a great highlight article for PR & Communications, too!

This is more than just a Marketing article…
This infographic connects specific social media activity to a direct business result (based on 4 dimensions, incl. customer communication, brand exposure, etc.) Great visual to help your clients understand pros/cons of each platform and maximize the desired results!! Enjoy –

Which Social Sites are Best for Which Marketing Outcomes?

 

Understanding the New Risks of Corporate Communication Leaks

Great post in Harvard Business Review from David Gordon and Sean West (“C0uld WikiLeaks Expose Your Corporate Brain?”), where they identify the real risk behind corporate communication leaks – especially pertinent to those of us in public relations and communications.  According to Gordon and West, the risk is now less likely to come from the exposure of a single, unprofessional email between executives and more likely to come from online (Wiki) ‘data dumps’ that risk business-wide exposure of company-specific strategies and processes.

This is an especially critical point for corporate clients; it’s a timely cue to extend corporate vigilance to the big picture of protecting volume data. As data mining tools and algorithms gain in sophistication — and competitors have greater economic incentive to profit from information insights,  volume and proliferation no longer offer secure cover against IT researchers and data analysts.  Profitability, competitive advantage and communication regarding strategies and activities…all are now vulnerable to exposure even in bulk data packages.

What are your thoughts? Please read the original article and feel free to share back your comments on the accuracy/inaccuracy of their assessment. You can read the original article here: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/12/could_wikileaks_expose_your_co.html

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Congratulations to Edelman International for the Employees’ Choice Award!

Glassdoor.com published the results of their 2010 employee surveys in a report, “The Top 50 Companies to Work” – and Edelman came in at number 5!! ( http://www.glassdoor.com/Best-Places-to-Work-LST_KQ0,19.htm ) Even better – Forbes used the same report to write their own “In Pictures: Top 15 Companies to Work For” presentation on Monday, still featuring Edelman in the top five!! ( http://www.forbes.com/2010/12/14/best-places-to-work-employee-satisfaction-leadership-careers-survey_slide.html?partner=comcast )

Edelman:  Pioneer Thinking, Ethical Business Practices, Global Presence and Proud Employees! Congratulations!!

Turning Crisis Communications into Cracking Comedy on Day 80 of the Gulf Oil Spill

In the words of super commedien, Mel Brooks: “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

Today was Day 80 of the ongoing oil spill catastrophe and in light of the profound mismanagement surrounding the Gulf, it is ripe…it’s due…it’s high time for some pointed parody on the subject.  In other words, it’s pumped past the tragedy and become the open sewer that we have to laugh at in order to maintain perspective.

But I have a strong preference for intelligent parody…not one-liners, or even one-two-punch liners. I prefer well-constructed, tight and textured satire and coincidentally I received an email from the Flight of the Conchords today with the following recommendation:

Here’s a video for the people who still sign into myspace (mainly just bands plugging their bands to other bands). It’s one of our favourite comedians: John Clarke and his Aussie mate.

Enter the veteran satire and comedy team of New Zealander John Clarke and Aussie Bryan Dawe.  Starting in 1989, Clark and Dawe introduced weekly mock interviews to Australian television. Clarke would take on the persona of a politician or prominent figure, though never attempting to imitate the voice of the subject as in traditional mimicry, and be interviewed by Dawe. Incidentally one mock interview concerning an off-shore oil spill in 1991, with Clarke portraying Minister for Shipping Bob Collins, is noted for Clarke’s repeated references to the ship whose “front fell off.”  (Wikipedia)

FOC sent out the recommendation today to the team’s latest video, where Clarke and Dawe give a thorough explanation of BP Gulf crisis management.  It’s great! It’s hilarious! So, with appreciative thanks to Flight of the Conchords, here’s the link (and video) for you to enjoy:

Clark and Dawe on the US Gulf Oil Spill

More information is available on the Mr. John Clarke website here…or, you could just Google them.

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Pioneering Presentations: Creating Art Through Technology

On the subject of public speaking and innovations to the mediums of presentation, a lot of focus has been given to David Byrne’s creative genius and artistry with the Microsoft application, PowerPoint. Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information, as he calls it, has been featured in many art exhibits since its debut several years ago and has now been reproduced in a DVD and companion book for purchase. His PowerPoint creations are particularly inventive for creating, in Jungian terms, a new neural pathway for our collective conscious…contriving a liaison between creating pure, specious art executed through a rational Microsoft application.  It’s so brilliant and unexpected, it’s almost an oxymoron in and of itself — creating abstruse, ethereal concepts within the boundaries of a defined executable script!!

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Wow, breaking barriers in conceptual thought…I hope he rewarded himself with an afternoon off for having single-handedly reset the thresholds of Cartesian philosophy!  This is, of course, above and beyond his tremendous musical legacy, mind you. [In sharp contrast, sometimes I feel pleased with myself just if I make it over to Costco…or finish all of my laundry!]

But just as almost every new conceptual thought is constructed on the shoulders of our philosophical forefathers, David Byrne’s radical art nouveau opened a critical path to re-thinking the presentation of ideas and concepts through the platforms and applications of pc technology.  Enter Gapminder.org, founded in 2005, a Swedish organization that has re-engineered the presentation of statistics into beautiful, moving pictures. This powerful translation of statistics into an evolving story – right before your very eyes – not only translates statistics into language-based concepts, but imparts the lay spectator with access and a sense of ownership to the concepts and  – the story!

Let me phrase this in a different way: cast your mind back to high school, the English Literature class in your Senior year…what was the most difficult book you read? The one that was so hard for you to grasp…do you remember? The words, sentences, syntax and chapters were there, but it was just so hard to see the meaning behind it all!  Was is The Stranger by Camus, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera or Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky?  Then (Heavenly Father be praised), your teacher let you watch part of the movie adaptation – and all of a sudden, the emotions, the motivations, the sequence of events – i.e. the story – came flooding out of the TV and straight into your brain!  A bolt of lightning blazed through your mind and – presto!  The cerebellum processed all of the details in the novel, linked them to the center of your limbic system and emotional comprehension and…. you finally just GOT it!!

That’s what Gapminder’s proprietary technology does with statistical data, in almost the reverse-but-same method of David Byrne’s art-through-technology creation — the Gapminder group makes technology translate into moving art!  By taking the measured, defined data, inserting it into an executable technological application and revealing the art and story behind the statistics they have found a way to “unveil the beauty of statistics for a fact based world view” !

Here is a paragraph from their mission statement: Gapminder is a non-profit venture promoting sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by increased use and understanding of statistics and other information about social, economic and environmental development at local, national and global levels. We are a modern “museum” that helps making the world understandable, using the Internet.

This video presentation by co-founder Hans Rosling is a must-see and it will completely transform your thoughts on effectively presenting statistical data.  Set aside several minutes and watch his video, entitled “Debunking Myths About the Third World.” Enjoy!

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Debunking myths about the “third worl…”, posted with vodpod

Crash Course on Crisis Communications

One of my favorite brand communication blogs that I’d like to share with you is Biz Growth Live:  Bringing Your Brand To Life. Krishna De is the owner/author of this blog and she regularly features great print and digital content for best practices in the marketing sphere.

But she also has an internet talk radio feature wherein she posts interviews with top marketing and communications experts – and I wanted to share the recent Crisis Communications radio show from January of this year that she conducted with Jim Walsh of Walsh Public Relations in Ireland.

Mr. Walsh was a contributing author to the recent book, “Crisis Communication: Practical PR Strategies for Reputation Management and Company Survival,” and the interview captures several essential, introductory points on navigating crises.  If you don’t have enough time to listen to the entire interview, I’ve compiled the points into a ‘cliff notes’ summary below for your use.

So, if you’re not already an expert in the area of crisis communications, make this high-points summary (here below) and interview your first stop!

blog-talk-radio-pic_walsh-interviewbgl1

1) As it pertains to brand management, the perception of your brand is very often the reality.  People judge the value of your brand based on their knowledge and experience of it.

2) Not all companies benefit from having an individual head up a company brand. For some of the large firms, the totality of the company has better brand value.

3) Unlike during the course of normal business, crisis dynamics have a very different personality and quickly devolve into an “us vs. them” situation. For that reason, crisis management should be treated as the process above and around crisis communications.  In other words, it’s important not to get caught up in specific phrasing and word choice deliberation to the detriment of operations during a crisis media maelstrom.

4) Every company should perform some crisis risk assessment – what’s likely or unlikely to happen, and then plan accordingly.  But keep it simple: one phone call, step-by-step task outlines and emphasize consistency.  Then put the prevention measures in place. No crisis response effort can surpass the benefit of having great prevention in place.

5) Establish a cross-functional team to head up crisis management and communications. The planning and implementation will benefit from having a full view of the organization’s needs and operations.

6) Avoid any communication vacuums with the media. Move fast and fill in all gaps, even if it’s just a real-time account of what’s happening (or what’s happened) to-date.  Otherwise, media will rush to fill in vacuums with speculation and and that can lead to potentially negative, uncontrolled perceptions of your brand.

7) Given the 24/7, 365-days-a-year aspect of online media, part of crisis communication should be delegated to watchdog, diligence activities. The first thing to do when brand reputation might be in question is to locate the source of the criticism, identify it, create an appropriate message and disseminate the message to your audience.

“Non-Profit Capitalism”

This article, “Non-Profit Capitalism,”  from The Economist describes a unique positioning by “Do Something”, a non-profit group that recuits teenage volunteers.  This non-profit firm engaged in an activity that had been heretofore reserved for ‘for-profit’ entities: they launched an IPO with the ROI described as, “a significant social return on investment.”

Although the article focuses on the financial motivations behind this activity (helps bring in some long-term financing, thereby minimizing the stress of putting on short-term fundraising events), what I found particularly compelling was the cross-over aspect of their strategy –   a clever blend of non-profit benefit dressed in for-profit speak and technique.  By blurring the mental/organizational separation of non-profit and for-profit, they’ve been able to translate their value proposition to much greater exposure (and financial opportunity) in capital markets.  I would like to congratulate their innovative thinking!

But it also leads me to a rhetorical question. Given that an IPO is such an extremely well-used and well-known practice in the for-profit world, to the majority of the non-profit orgs in the world, then – why is the idea of using a for-profit technique so foreign, so taboo, or so alien? Certainly there are millions of executives who have crossed-over between the for-profit and non-profit environments, so why isn’t there more acceptance for blending the best of both worlds’ tools and techniques to the benefit of non-profits?

All in all, I would suggest that non-profit organizations recruit more professionals, executives and MBAs with for-profit experience – and then the financial benefits that Do Something received would become the norm, rather than the ‘unique event’.  Any non-profit service entity would benefit from the (for-profit) hard-line perspective of  financial and results-oriented accountability to one’s donors, because – at the end of the day – non-profits are competing for the financial resources in much the same way as any for-profit business.

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