The Good & the Bad of #Sandy

Hurricane Sandy has effected many people on the East Coast, including myself this past week.  Not only was I not able to use my apartment in New York City on any normal level, but I was prevented from even going home to avoid it, because my home is in New Jersey.

When I realized the extent of what Hurricane Sandy was to bring upon us in the tri-state area, I decided to make it my mission to learn all that I possibly could about the storm before it was to hit. I logged on to my Twitter and constantly checked both my news feed and the news feed for the hash tag #sandy.  Among many very interesting news facts, I also found numerous fake photographs of #sandy circulating the internet. The most ridiculous I thought, was an overly photoshopped one of the Statue of Liberty and the ascending “hurricane”.

Anyone with any sense of reality can look at this photo and understand that it is no where near real or accurate.  I found that more than 30 people in the time I was looking at the #sandy news feed ‘retweeted’ this photo to their followers.  Among this were about 7 other photos later verified to have been absolute not of Hurricane Sandy.

On the up side however, there were some people using the #sandy hashtag for good!  For example, Con Edison has been posting tweets fairly frequently since Monday about the status of electricity for millions of Americans down the east coast.  They have tweeted about who will be gaining power back and when, they have been tweeting right to their customers, and they have been tweeting in a timely manner.

@dogsanddiapers These areas will be restored by this Satuday.

@preemiedad1015 We understand how frustrating this is for everyone affected by #Sandy. We promise we are working 24/7 to get all back asap

@mattmecs Neighborhoods will be restored in clusters, but all lower/mid Manhattan should be back by this Saturday 11pm

Con Edison has acknowledged that they have angry customers and are trying their absolute best to reach them any way possible; via newspaper, magazine, telephone, email, and even Twitter as well.

As can be seen, Twitter can be used for good and for bad, as we already previously knew. As for the hurricane, I think I will not be the last to say I am certainly not sad to see it go, and am looking forward to all the Americans effected to get back on their feet.

Best Buy – Best Creativity in Customer Service

For this blog entry I have chosen to evaluate a case of customer service and what the company did well, or not so well in some cases.  In this particular case however, Best Buy treated customer service as a very important aspect of their business, which many companies do not come even close to doing.  I have more stories than I can count of absolutely dreadful run-ins with terrible customer service with company’s that clearly could care less about customer complaints.  Some of the many i’ve personally dealt with are, Cox Cable, National Grid Electric, Buckley Heating & Oil, Comcast, Verizon Wireless, Tobi Clothing and the list goes on! In this case, Best Buy gave their employees a voluntary opportunity to interact with customers via Twitter and help them with issues, respond to complaints, and even rave over great products. According to the case study “the community grows to 2,200 employees within 3 months. They respond to over 13,000 customers on Twitter answering questions, concerns, and opinions. The Twitter feed @twelpforce now counts over 40,000 followers and the number of questions averages 100-125 per day” (http://barnraisersllc.com/2011/12/25-digital-social-media-case-studies-prove-customer-service-roi/).  I think this is a great success for them because they offered a voluntary option for their employees and it appears as if many of them were more than willing to participate.  In addition, it takes work – that  normally would have to fall on people who work for corporate and may not be as familiar with situations, and puts it in the hands of the people who are on the floor with the customers and the products.  Not only that, but upon visiting their ‘twelp force’ page, I found that they answer questions often and even in Spanish!  Three things I believe they could do that would even further improve their customer service would be:

1:  Allow employees who participate in this ‘twelp force’ to answer tweets while at work, if they are not able already.  Because this will increase frequency of responses to the tweets.

2: Do competitions via the Twitter page with coupon incentive or even giveaways to increase the use at which people will be willing to participate.

3: Put in interactive media centers in the Best Buy stores; allowing customers to participate in the Best Buy social media world while shopping!

A Toast to the Courage to go Viral

In September of 2011 Carlsberg beer decided to make a video to go viral that was really more of a social experiment with pretty positive results.  The concept of the social experiment was as follows:

– a person walks into a movie theater and sees there is only two seats available, smack dab in the middle of the theater requiring maneuvering through people to get to the seats

– the catch is that the people to maneuver through are all stocky, tattooed biker men scowling at you as you attempt to get to your seat

– if you were brave enough to sit down in the seats regardless of the other people in the theater, everyone would start applauding you and toast you with an ice cold Carlsberg beer

Although the social media experiment showed that not many people were brave enough to go through with it, it was a fun way for Carlsberg to get their name out there as a fun loving, courageous beer.  The results of the viral video were 11 million views on YouTube and an all around 4.3% increase in sales of the beer.

The link to the video, which is really quite entertaining, is on the word Carlsberg.

I think this is a perfect example of a companies successful viral video campaign because not only does it use a fun social experiment to get the video recorded, but the people part of the experiment get a free beer just for being willing to sit in the last two chairs in the theater! I wish more companies were willing to employ such fun and different ways to get publicity because we as consumers would get a lot more free stuff as a result!  In addition, something like this makes me want to buy a product so much more than if I saw a clever commercial on TV or an advertisement on the side of a New York City bus.  Only thing I can say is I wish I had wandered in to that movie theater during this campaign!

Social Media Complicates PR Profession Forever

I believe that the rise of social media has made PR professional‘s media relations activities more difficult because the amount of news and the sources providing them is limitless nowadays.  With news coming from unknown sources and anonymous ‘tweeters’, the lack of filter within the social media world can cause problems for anybody in search of news and especially for those with careers involving it.  In the past, reporters or PR professionals would seek out their news and facts from trusted sources, often off a list of trusted sources they have used for possibly years.  When they would seek these people out they were available to verify the validity of these facts pretty easily.  Nowadays, if someone posts an anonymous blog or tweet, not only do the PR professionals have to seek out the publisher but then they have to find out the validity level.  In addition, the nature of what social media is nowadays has allowed for pretty much anybody to become a self proclaimed reporter.  That means greater amounts of biases to deal with and greater amounts of opinions to sort through to get to the facts.   Not only that, but stories are really no longer exclusive to the harder working journalist or the reporter with more connections.  Stories are breaking on twitter before television and breaking on a consumer level before the newscaster level.  This changes the inherent body of work that a reporter or journalist must do forever.

 In addition I believe that just simply getting a job in the PR profession is at least ten times harder, if not more, than it was before the rise in social media.  When PR in relation to social media was just beginning to make its presence known to the world, people familiar with the field were sought after and paid well to do what they do.  Nowadays, it’s impossible to get heard with everyone tweeting, face-booking, blogging and whatever else they may do.

 

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Small Businesses Changed Forever By the Little Blue Twitter Bird

Post #1 – Response to the Rise of Digital Media

As a 22 year old student of this Public Relations & Corporate Communications program I have found myself trying to recall what it was like before cell phones, before Facebook, before Twitter, before it all. Although my knowledge is limited because I was so young, the ripple effects of this rise of digital media are vast.  

Chatting with my 12 year old cousin the other day, I found it alarming that she spent most of her time on her ITouch; ‘instagramming’ her painted toe nails and what not.  In January of 2012, The Wall Street Journal released statistics for social media saying that Facebook users average 405 minutes per visitor, Twitter 21 minutes per visitor, Pinterest 89 minutes per visitor and so on.  These numbers are surprising considering the year I was born (1989), NONE of these things even existed!  The rise of digital media has allowed for everyone to have a voice, any company to get free advertising, any headhunter to find their perfect candidate and any 12 year old to post pictures of their newly painted toe nails to the world.

But what else has it done?  I believe among countless other things, it has forever changed the lives of small business owners.  No longer do they have to pay per line or per small paragraph to have their business advertised in a newspaper or magazine; they just have to tweet their services or offerings and people know exactly what they would or should go to that business for.  Say the company does not have a Twitter or does not like their services? They can simply create a Facebook, Google Plus account or countless other platforms to display their offerings.

I have recently completed a year’s work in a small, chain boutique centered in New England.  Throughout this year I learned many things as manager and head of social media communications, but the most important thing I learned was how the rise of digital media changed very the foundation of small business.  I was specifically compensated in addition to my pay as manager for completing social media tasks, another aspect of the rise of digital media that did not even exist in the years I was young.  There was no social media in existence and therefore no jobs in association with it to be compensated for.

Although to many people I am sure this is such a small aspect, such a  spec of the size of digital media as a whole, if that’s what you are being paid for, it is the world to you!

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