Archive for January, 2012

Google Invests In Traditional Media To Tell Its Story

Google is getting serious about advertising in traditional media.

It seems like whenever I watch TV or pick up a magazine, I come across a Google ad.

At first, the ads focused on Google+, which makes sense. With so much at stake in social networking and Facebook’s head start, Google wants to accelerate its position.

But it turns out Google’s advertising dollars have been earmarked for other areas.

What I find particularly interesting is Google’s decision to address the issue of privacy through advertising. No doubt, Google’s PR machine has privacy high on its radar. Yet, the company also wants to control how this story is told; hence, the use of advertising.

Here’s one of the print ads (in The Economist) that addresses privacy:

google ad

Pretty darn persuasive.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the crisp storytelling and clean language.

OK, saying they use  “tiny crumbs of stored information called cookies” might be stretching the metaphor, but that’s a quibble.

The simplicity of the story carries through when you click on

google goodtoknow

And you can watch the theme repeated in a video that touts, yes, a simpler privacy policy.

How would this campaign play out with earned media?

I’d say not so well.

The simplicity that serves as such an asset in the ad, website and video becomes a liability with journalists. There’s no room to add value in the form of an explanation or context. It’s all already there.

Of course, the issue of privacy brings with it multi-dimensional complexity.

But I think this specific story is probably best communicated in advertising and owned media. 

Note: If you enjoyed this post, the human bot claims you might have a similar experience reading “Storytelling Techniques Behind Google Announcement on Larry Page Named CEO” and “Advertising Gets Narrative.”

Disclosure: We support Google in Asia Pacific. I don’t have any special access or information related to Google’s advertising or how the company communicates on the issue of privacy.


New York Times Delivers Crisis to Apple CEO


It will be fascinating to see how Tim Cook responds to this first crisis since taking the CEO reins at Apple.

I don’t think today’s expose in the New York Times, “In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad,” will go gently in the night.

Unlike the spike of hoopla around Foxconn (supporting role in this story) the U.S. media will keep the scent of a trail that leads to the iconic Apple.

The bigger question involves the American public. Will they care enough to make noise?

I don’t think bad press will spook Cook.

But if we start seeing demonstrators adding a new design element to the exteriors of Apple stores, I suspect that would get Mr. Cook’s attention.

Reading the 5000-word piece, I was reminded of what Jill Abramson, executive editor of the New York Times, said on Charlie Rose last year when asked to define “fit to print.”

Fit to print is, is it legitimately newsworthy and also is it interesting. Sometimes I’ll pick a front-page story just because I think people will find it interesting …

I’m guessing Abramson didn’t agonize whether the Apple story rated real estate on the front page. Classic storytelling underpins the piece.

A couple final points on the business of storytelling—

For those of us who want the New York Times to become a profitable enterprise, it’s reassuring to know the marketing people and editorial talk to each other. To run the story right after Apple announced earnings – they assumed the company would continue to print money; the record profits of $13.1 billion were a delicious bonus – ensured Michael-Moore-grade contrast.

It’s also worth noting that the New York Times collaborated with the China paper Caixin so the story was published in Chinese as well. Furthermore, a cross section of the posted comments from Chinese readers were translated into English and run in The New York Times.

Pretty darn interesting.

Note: 9to5Mac reported that Tim Cook sent out a company-wide email to counter the story. It makes sense that he would immediately swing into action on the internal communications front.

No comments

How Social Are The Global PR Agencies?

sociagilityThat’s the question that The Holmes Report set out to answer.

To put science behind the quest, Holmes engaged Sociagility which measured each global agency’s social media footprint. 

Sociagility uses what it calls the PRINT social media performance measurement methodology

The PRINT Index measures five attributes of social media performance – popularity, receptiveness, interaction, network reach and trust – across various social channels. 

Here’s how the data played out.  

pr rankings

“We’re No. 9″ has a nice ring to it, particularly taking into account we’re above mega-shops like Weber Shandwick and Burson. Big – Weber Shandwick’s revenue comes in at $525M and Burson registers at $435M – doesn’t necessarily mean better. 

It also turns out we ranked highest in the popularity score. I hope to find out more about how we took the popularity gold when I talk with Sociagility on January 30 (not that I’m complaining). 

As pleased as I am with the data, I would be remiss if I didn’t repeat our internal mantra - 

Social media is not the prize. 

It’s one of many tools to help clients fortify their online presence.


Revisiting The Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have A Dream” Speech


The holiday celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. prompted me to dust off the “I Have Dream” speech.

It’s a revealing exercise to read the text of the speech rather than watch and listen to the speech.

King was such a gifted orator, you get the feeling he could recite the owner’s manual for a Prius and the audience would be out of their seats with emotion.

Yet, when you strip the speech down to just the words, the storytelling still offers unmatched verve.

While the section framed by repeating the words “I Have a Dream” forms the guts of the speech, my favorite passage is the following metaphor:

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check – a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

Powerful stuff.

Words do make a difference.

No comments

Wing Wah Egg Roll Cookies Get No Love From South China Morning Post

When it comes to reviewing egg roll cookies, Janice Leung at the South China Morning Post plays rough.

Here’s a breakdown of her narrative on the Wing Wah product:

Don’t get too excited about the retro red and violet tin.

Always good to set expectations from the outset.

Known for its classic Chinese pastries such as mooncakes and the flaky wife’s cake, Wing Wah egg rolls are a disappointment.

I don’t know. Your son or daughter getting a C in math a disappointment. A cookie, not so much.

With a colour reminiscent of cardboard, the layers are hard and rolled much too tightly.

Nothing worse than an uptight cookie.

Each bite requires effort, which is not repaid by the taste.

Like the way Ms. Leung brings a sensory dimension to the review.

The sweetness is overwhelming and there is no aroma to speak of.

Lo be it for me to defend Wing Wah, but I’m not looking for smell in my cookies.

It’s also the most expensive of the five. Avoid.

And that’s an order.

No comments

Next Page »