Archive for September, 2011

Rationalizing Time Earmarked For Social Media

social media roi

We already know participating in social media requires time.

But how many of us scrutinize the ROI associated with this time? 

I hadn’t until a friend and colleague asked me the following questions: 

It’s obvious you’ve made a commitment to social media. How do you justify the time? Can you attribute new clients to your social media effort? Do you believe existing clients stay because of your presence? 

All fair questions. 

Let me take a crack at responding. 

At the macro level, social media increasingly serves as a platform for storytelling. With storytelling a core component of the Agency’s brand, it’s logical that I participate in the channel. 

Plus, I enjoy it – no denying the advantages for a closet introvert – which plays into the rationalization. 

Like everyone, I make choices on what I do and don’t do. For example, you won’t find me on Facebook for the simple reason that I think I get more out of other social media platforms from my time allocation. 

Moving to lead gen, social is just one component of our overall SEO strategy. If you plug “tech pr agencies” into Google, we’ll typically show up on the first page. And if you tie a form of this with Silicon Valley, we’ll typically land high on the first page. Hard to say how much social impacts this, but our new-biz pipeline has been robust over the past year and it’s not because of an improved economy.

I also think it’s fair to say that most companies want to work with a “switched on” agency. The fact that the middle-aged head of the agency embraces social media sends a message to the market that we’re not leaving the digital side to the youngsters. Everyone in the Agency participates.

For existing clients, I don’t think our social media presence has a major impact. 

Now, what they do care about is the expertise we’ve gained and continue to gain by engaging in digital media (social as a subset). 

We just built out a campaign for a company where the objective is straight forward – help to move the existing product inventory. Our ability to integrate traditional PR as well as social, SEO, storytelling, owned media, and PPC into a single campaign directly depends on our day-to-day participation in the digital world. 

Here’s the key and what’s great about social media and the digital sphere: The learning never stops. 

When the Toyota recall crisis hit last year, we built a digital property which amounted to a real-time lab to experiment with different SEO techniques. Using a high-profile event, we wanted to see if it was possible to cut through the noise and land on page one, again with the idea of experimenting with various SEO dials. Mission accomplished. Even today if you search on Toyota PR crisis, you’ll see our digital property shows up in the top five results. 

Even our internal infographic campaign called “Storytelling vs Corporate Speak” that ran last week delivered a ton of insights that we can now apply to our clients. And not just on the PR side since the exercise involved areas like coding the infographic to maximize sharing.

That’s how I justify the time.


Translating Infographic On Storytelling Techniques Into Video

We posted our infographic called “Storytelling vs. Corporate Speak” last week.

In brainstorming a communications push behind the infogrpaphic with social media guru Steve Farnsworth, he suggested developing supporting assets like a video.

Rather than put me on video pontificating about the infographic – not good TV, to be kind – we decided to take a more creative approach.

I particularly like the vignette that kicks off “But for some reason, business communication often goes terribly wrong.” Hopefully, we didn’t violate any copyrights by borrowing from Seinfeld. (If we did, I’m sure I’ll be hearing from Kramer,)

Kudos to Sheri Baer and Tom Wohlmut who created the video.

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Infographic: Storytelling Vs. Corporate Speak

Visual storytelling demands a place in any organization’s business communications.

Photos, graphics, charticles – apparently, when it comes to fish, what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas – etc. all provide storytelling fodder.

Which brings me to the infographic.

You could make an argument that the infographic is the new black.

Beyond the visual appeal, infographics push companies to communicate at the industry level.

After assisting clients in creating infographics, we’ve created our own on storytelling.

Specifically, we contend there’s often a gap between the content developed by the PR function and the type of content needed by journalists, bloggers and other influencers.

Our infographic strives to capture this disconnect.

Business Communication
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Business Communication"><img src="" alt="Business Communication" style="border:none;" /></a><br /> <small>The Hoffman Agency is a public relations firm that emphasizes storytelling in <a href="">business communication</a></small>.</div>

Please share your ping-pong additions as a posted comment.

If enough ideas come our way, we’ll create “The Return of Storytelling vs. Corporate Speak” (giving proper attribution to all contributors).

Note: More posts on infographics are captured below (powered by a human; i.e., me)

* White House Takes Every Organization Is Media to the Next Level

* Dressing Up the Drab Company Timeline as a Storytelling Vehicle

* Visual Storytelling via the Infographic


Should a CEO Be Blasted For Dull Clichés?

I’ve been considering this question since August 22, 2011.

That’s when The Financial Times column, “Chief Googler’s ‘amazing’ clichés are dull and void” appeared.

Lucy Kellaway took Larry Page to task for his poor communications on the Motorola acquisition.

Channeling high school biology, she dissected the following statement from Page phrase by bloody phrase:

“Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.”

Look, no one is going to mistake Mr. Page for Faulkner.

But do dull language and clichés leave him wanting as a leader?

I don’t think so.

We ask our leaders to be real.

By all accounts, this is who Page is and how he communicates.

It’s easy enough to find past articles with Page calling out the “Googlers” of the world so it stands to reason he’d extrapolate Motorola into “Motorolans.” In fact, one could argue there’s even a literary dimension, playing off “The Last of the Mohicans.”

I suspect even Ms. Kellaway would acknowledge you don’t have to be an effective storyteller to succeed as a leader.

Hello Bill Belichick (Ms. Kellaway, he’s the head coach for the American football club called the New England Patriots).

No one doubts Page’s brilliance.

Will he inspire the troops – I’m sorry, I mean the Googlers – to greater heights?

Will he deliver the X factor to land and keep extraordinary talent?

Will he make the right calls on issues that depend just as much on instincts as hard data?

Obviously, these questions can’t be answered less than a year into his CEOship.

I do think it’s likely that Page’s communication skills will evolve over time similar to Bill Gates who came to recognize his public persona impacted the Microsoft brand.

We’ll see.

Note: You can find more on Google’s communications in the post, “Storytelling Techniques Behind Google Announcement on Larry Page Named CEO.”

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The Power Of Content Not In The Public Domain

detectiveYesterday’s Wall Street Journal carried the story, “A Kenmore Fridge, at Costco?

No, I’m not tracking the white goods sector with a keen eye.

It’s the sourcing of the story – Sears plans to sell its Kenmore brand of appliances through other retailers – that got my attention.

How does the Journal know this?

Check out the trigger:

According to a LinkedIn job posting, Sears is seeking a chief marketing officer for its appliance line whose responsibilities will include promoting appliance purchases through “external groups,” such as Costco Wholesale Corp., which recently struck a deal to carry the Craftsman line. According to the posting, which was confirmed by Sears, the executive would also “evaluate evolving marketing landscape to identify new, emerging ways to reach current and future target audiences.”

Nothing particularly clever about this.

Journalists have been raking the classified ads in search of the almighty story for years.

And we know journalists increasingly use LinkedIn as a sourcing tool since the folks at LinkedIn spoke at our office last year and revealed a training program focused on the media.

Here’s the point.

The communications function should be putting this same dynamic to use in building one-off stories.

The key lies in creating the right content captured in the following chart


Needless to say, the opportunity for storytelling lies in the upper-right quadrant.

It’s all about the content NOT in the public domain.

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