October 20, 2017
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Richard Edelman calls for industrywide ethics principles -- In the wake of the Bell Pottinger scandal in the UK, Edelman CEO Richard Edelman "called for the PR industry to adopt a new set of ethics principles superseding those of trade associations." Edelman called out the Arthur W. Page Society, PRSA, and IABC, whose codes of ethics "do not safeguard ethical behavior" and "can't prevent what happens in the soft underbelly" of PR. The four principles to which the entire industry should adhere -- which Edelman calls the "PR Compact" -- includes accuracy, transparency from clients, engagement in the free and open exchange of ideas, and a required universal online ethics training course for all PR staff. Takeaway: There is no doubt the industry needs to adopt this approach and my association, IABC, needs to help make it happen. Until there are teeth behind the requirement -- that is, companies can be sanctioned and staffers lose their jobs for violations -- it's still something ethical firms will embrace and unethical firms and practitioners will ignore. Read more
Twitter introduces new rules to deal with hate and abuse -- Twitter is rolling out a new set of rules to address growing criticism over the freewheeling hate and abuse users spew over the network (arguing that it's all about free speech). Twitter's new approach features "expanded features like allowing observers of unwanted sexual advances—as well as victims—to report them, and expanded definitions, such as including 'creep shots' and hidden camera content under the definition of 'nonconsensual nudity.' The company also plans to hide hate symbols behind a 'sensitive image' warning, though it has not yet defined what qualifies as a hate symbol. Twitter also says it will take unspecified enforcement actions against 'organizations that use/have historically used violence as a means to advance their cause.'" Takeaway: Whether this addresses concerns or has a real impact on the issue remains to be seen. As Wired notes, it falls short of outright bans of accounts that cross the line. Read more
Vox Media pitches "Explainer" format to advertisers -- Vox's explainers are one of the news site's best features. These objective overviews of topics in the news are ways for users to get up to speed without having to read through multiple articles. Vox hopes advertisers will see the value in the format, adding up to 10 new staffers to work at the company's Explainer Studio on work for clients like Spotify, the NFL Fantasy Football League, and Ben & Jerry's (which will explain ice cream's effect on the brain). Takeaway: Brilliant. Great content wins and I have been promoting the idea of explainers for some time. Of course, you don't need Vox Media to create them. Read more
- A survey finds most Internet users are responding positively to Twitter's plan to expand from 140 to 280 characters. Thirty percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat support the move compared to only 13% strongly or somewhat oppose it. The majority, 58%, don't know or don't care. Read more
- WhatsApp has launched a location sharing feature that lets users share their whereabouts with their friends using end-to-end encryption so they can "control who you share with and for how long." WhatsApp location sharing will compete with similar features on Snapchat and Google Maps, along with Apple's Find My Friends app. Read more
- Burger King has produced a series of ads using old tweets from Wendy's customers upset that the company had done away with its spicy chicken nuggets. Simultaneously, Burger King is advertising its own spicy nuggets. Read more
Facebook rolls out Explore Feed -- All mobile and desktop Facebook users are getting the new "Explore Feed," which offers wider content variety beyond posts from friends and Pages. What you'll see in the Explore Feed is selected algorithmically, based on your past likes and shares. Takeaway: Facebook says it's responding to user demand for easier discovery of relevant content from pages they're not yet connected with. Marketers should figure out who's discovering their content and tweak their Pages to make it more likely they'll be discovered by the audiences they want to attract. I haven't seen whether boosted content will be favored, but several reports are calling this an opportunity for marketers to regain organic reach on Facebook. Read more
Auto-destruct updates come to Facebook -- In an effort to get more users to post text-only status updates, Facebook is introducing a "temporary profile status" feature so users can post updates that disappear after a set period of time. A maximum of 101 characters can be used in a temporary update and users can decide whether they appear in the News Feed or only in their profile. Takeaway: Temporary updates are still being tested with small groups, but it's undoubtedly a move to bring young Snapchat users back to Facebook, since the permanence of posts is one of the factors that has led to their defection. Read more
Facebook testing a resume feature -- Another test by Facebook allows users to list their professional experience and education, mirroring one of LinkedIn's most prominent features. You can do this now, but it means prospective employers would also see the rest of your Facebook profile. The feature being tested "appears to combine all the relevant information into a single, professional-looking package -- away from personal photos, status updates, and other Facebook posts people might not wish to share with recruiters and the wider world." Takeaway: With its broad range of groups, company pages (that are far more used than LinkedIn's company pages) and a much larger user base, Facebook could easily take on LinkedIn, especially since a lot of people who try to get engaged on LinkedIn are confounded by it. And remember, Facebook already has @Workplace, its enterprise version of the social network. Read more
- A Facebook beta test is letting brands study users' posts and comments in order to better craft and target marketing to them. Read more
- Facebook has acquired tbh, an anonymous app that has been a hit with teens in middle school and high school. The app, which lets users participate in anonymous quizzes, was downloaded more than 2 million times in its first month in the App store; 5 million users have exchanged over 2 billion messages. Facebook apparently wants all those defecting teen users back. Read more
- Facebook is offering support for subscriptions to Instant Articles. It's a test involving a limited number of publishers like The Boston Globe, The Economist, and The Washington Post. Read more
- Facebook Live now includes a screen sharing feature, which will put a lot of companies producing third-party software for Facebook Live screen sharing out on the street. A Share Screen" button now prompts you to allow Facebook to add an extension to your browser (so far, just Chrome). "Once installed, you can determine what you want to share by window/application. You can even stream specific tabs." Read more
CEOs are increasing their social visibility -- Research from consulting firm Grisdale Advisors finds that 66% of C-suite survey respondents say they are increasing their use of social media professionally; among them, 70% regularly create and share original content. These socially-active executives use social media to get news as well as to communicate and engage with employees, customers, and influencers. Their activities are split almost evenly between Facebook (71%) and LinkedIn (70%). Takeaway: Leaders must get comfortable with and take advantage of social media. Now you have data to let your recalcitrant leaders know they're in the minority and that their competitors are most likely ahead of them. Read more
Another risk of being socially responsible -- A study from three universities finds CEOs of socially responsible are 84% more likely to to be fired than CEOs at companies that aren't when the companies experience similarly poor financial performance. Similarly, those socially responsible CEOs are less likely than their peers to when the company succeeds financially. According to Notre Dame management professor Tim Hubbard, one of the study's authors, "I like CSR [and] want to encourage it. But the results are what they are. Takeaway: Firing a CEO is a board action and, according to the report, when a socially responsible company underperforms financially, the board is inclined to blame the very visible CSR investments. The cure is for shareholders to hold the board accountable for ensuring some company resources are directed to socially-responsible activities and to consider these a cost of doing business. If a new CEO is shy about taking the same steps as her fired predecessor, longer-term trust, purchase decisions, employment decisions, and investment decisions could turn against the company. Read more
Instagram polling more popular with influencers than brands -- Instagram's interactive Stories sticker that lets users poll their audience is a hit with influencers, though few brands have reached out to the influencers they work with to use the feature. Takeaway: Dumb, dumb, dumb. Not only do polls engage users, it provides actual data. Marketers need to use polling (judiciously) on their own brand Instagram accounts in addition to working with their influencers to use them. Read more
An influencer could make a toy more desirable to your child -- Among the army of influencers on YouTube are children who share videos of themselves unboxing toys. That led MGA's CEO to develop toys that just beg to be unboxed -- and they became breakout hits without a single TV commercial. YouTube videos by kid influences have featured toys from all the major toy manufacturers (including my former employer, Mattel), leading these companies to focus heavily on them. Mattel even has a director of video engagement; Mattel has quadrupled its investment in influencers over last year. Takeaway: When I worked for Mattel, the company was taking tremendous heat for the He-Man animated TV series, which children's advocacy groups declared were half-hour commercials aimed at influencing toy purchases. Children's advocacy groups will eventually catch wind of this current practice, especially since these young influencers can receive 2-3 toys every day and spend so much time producing these videos (which generate income) that they are home-schooled. Somebody is going to make a fuss about this. On the other hand, are you aware of who's making videos that influence consumers in your company's line of work? Read more
- Activate co-founder and Managing Director Michael J. Wolf is out with his annual slide deck looking at the immediate future of tech. The most important trends for 2018 include smart speaker battles and digital assistant wars, VR and AR moving from entertainment to a computing platform, influencers and media brands ruling web video, and news brands beating fake news. Read more
- If you thought that influencer marketing trend was peaking, guess again. Advertisers are "placing paid media to amplify influencer content beyond the individual’s social accounts. This turns to be a cheaper alternative to branded content purchased from major publishers, said agency executives." Read more
Artificial Intelligence, Smart Audio, and Chatbots
Paid search could become immoral in the age of voice tech -- Traditional Search Engine Optimization practices are rapidly becoming obsolete as search shifts to image and voice search. Search Engine Marketing -- or paid search -- is under even greater threat. It's not a big deal when Google shares some paid ads on a search engine results page that features 10 organic results. But when voice search delivers just one answer, it is likely to be seen as immoral if that result is one for which a brand paid. Takeaway: The upending of SEO isn't being talked about much as the decline of traditional search gains momentum. It will be more important to produce structured data that accommodates voice search than to insert the best keywords and other time-honored SEO techniques. When someone raises SEO at your organization, make sure they're talking about the SEO required today -- and tomorrow -- than that of yesterday. Read more
Voice strategies for brands -- With 33 million voice-first devices in circulation by the end of the year, brands need to figure out how to establish a presence. Among them is developing a unique voice or audio logo that people recognize the instant they year it. Most brands are waiting for paid opportunities, though companies need to understand that most applications won't drive sales but rather focus on getting people to use a brand's offering, like Tide's Stain Remover Nestlé's voice cooking instructions. Takeaway: The article reiterates what I've been talking about since the Amazon debuted its first Alexa device, the Echo: We're moving toward a whole different approach to connecting with customers, and it will all be about being of service to them while being instantly identifiable when your brand is found via voice search. Read more
What can AI do right now? -- Compared to the things some people fear about AI, its current capabilities are limited. Popular Mechanics runs down its current capabilities, including voice recognition, identifying spam (and keeping it out of your inbox), making Netflix content stream faster and more smoothly, helping your smartphone batteries last longer, and giving rise to facial recognition. Takeaway: The short article is a good primer on AI's uses as well as how to be part of its future ("Building AI systems means learning to code"). Read more
Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality
Facebook plans to get to a billion VR users -- Facebook wants to reach another billion-user milestone, this time getting them onboard with VR. While the public embrace of VR has been painstakingly slow, the chief of the company's Oculus business, Hugo Bara, thinks the Oculus Go headset will help inspire uptake. (The headset ships early next year.) Enterprise adoption is also part of Barra's path to 1 billion. Takeaway: The lower-priced HoloLens headsets, that offer the more appealing and utilitarian Mixed Reality, may erode the potential user base for the Oculus Go. Or perhaps neither will excite the public the way many have been predicting. It could be that wearing headsets just isn't most people's cup of tea. Read more
Blockchain's threat to Google and Facebook -- Most of Google's search revenue comes from its ability to target you based on the data is has collected about you. Ditto Facebook. In a white paper, Datum proposes a way for users to own their own data. Blockchain is at the heart of the proposal, allowing people who, for example, post an image, to choose to share, monetize or destroy it. Under the simple model, you create your content, store it on the blockchain, and make it available to buyers (like Google or Facebook) based on your terms (and in exchange for whatever you and Google agree they will pay for it). Takeaway: Another blockchain feature that fits nicely here is that you only have to expose as much about yourself in this transaction as you choose to; you are not only in control of your data, but also your identity. Read more
- IBM and a network of banks have started using cryptocurrency and blockchain to move money across borders throughout the South Pacific, allowing companies and consumers to send money to other countries in near real-time, a process that normally takes days. Read more
- Blockchain could help the ad industry deal with its fraudulent content problem and improve transparency in the advertising marketplace. Blockchain can link multiple processes, connecting contract creation, delivery verification, and accounting, all while making the entire process auditable. Read more
A New Model for Employee Communication, Part 15: The Strategic Narrative
If there is a no-brainer element of the employee communication model, the narrative is it. Communicators are at heart (or, at least, we should be) storytellers. The strategic narrative is the company story. If there is any element of the model where communicators can take a lead role, it's in telling the company story in ways that inspire others to share it. Narrative is the first of four enablers of employee engagement, the second of the four overlapping circles at the heart of this new model for employee communication. Read more
The latest from the FIR Podcast Network
- Neville Hobson joined me for the October edition of the monthly Hobson & Holtz Report. This month’s topics covered a proposed Magna Carta for Artificial Intelligence, a connection between CEOs mangling English and falling share prices, what PR needs to do to look after its own reputation in the wake of the Bell Pottinger scandal, new studies add to the body of evidence supporting companies taking positions on social and political issues, an app in the UK is enabling activists to influence votes at party conferences, and a pair of crises (from Facebook and Unilever) were both completely avoidable. Dan York reports on a Twitter boycott that led some people to try out Mastodon and a podcast app that includes in-audio search. Listen
- Doing data-driven marketing correctly means understanding your data sources and working collaboratively with marketing and creative types to benefit from this knowledge. On FIR B2B episode 82, Paul and David talk about ways to improve your campaigns and keeping them fresh and interesting, and what Amazon is doing to spur competition for its new HQ2 site selection. Listen
- Terry Fallis' career in communications reaches back to those days. But he left them behind to be an early pioneer in social media (He was the original co-host of Inside PR). And along the way, he began writing. Six novels later, he's an award-winning best-selling author who advises executives and public figures on how to communicate effectively in the era in which we all have a voice. Joe Thornley chats with his partner in the latest episode of Inside PR. Listen
- Kaushal -- an alum, faculty member, and a current student of Symbiosis Pune -- stopped by the Digital India studio so Suresh and the team recorded a podcast with him. Listen
- October’s Circle of Fellows panel — an hour-long conversation among a group of IABC Fellows — explored the role of communications in change, how to prepare a workforce for change, how communicators can support leaders and employees undergoing the change process, and the changing nature of change itself in the modern workplace. Listen
- In the latest FIR Interview, I spoke with Dr. Sandhya Pruthi, the Mayo Clinic’s chief medical editor and associate medical director for Content Management and Delivery, and Jay Maxwell, senior director of Health Information, about the development of the Clinic’s new First Aid skill for the Amazon Alexa platform, how it works, how they measure its effectiveness, and their approach toward preparing for a voice-enabled world. The interview includes a brief demonstration of the Clinic’s Alexa skill. Listen
On the Calendar
- I'm speaking at the Social Media #Mashup at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, which will be held October 23-25.
- On November 1, I'll present a pre-conference session on the four key focus areas from my new employee communication model at the Great Places to Work conference at Genentech in South San Francisco.
- On November 9, I'll deliver a virtual presentation to the Bose employee communication department on my new model for employee communication.
- On November 16, I'll present the opening keynote address as well as a breakout session at the Library Marketing and Communication Conference in Dallas.
- On December 4, I'll be in Cambridge, MA, speaking at an Intranet Best Practices conferences at IBM's offices.
Shel Holtz is a top-rated speaker and ready to elevate your next conference
My presentation at the IABC World Conference ranked in the top 10 this year and I can bring those same skills (and great content) to your next conference, whether it's internal or external.
HC+T provides a full range of services for large organizations, from speaking and training to communication audits and strategic plan development.
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