Dr. M. C. Porter, APR – Opus Magnum - Page 2
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Dr. M. C. Porter, APR

Newsroom, OCB Commentary, UST MBC

Beware Email Impersonators

Social media gets maligned for infringements on privacy, but for all its transparency there are still mirrors among the glass walled maze that offer reflections that are not genuine.  If so inclined, with just a few minutes and fewer dollars, I could cloak myself with a new email address on a privately owned domain (say: lindseed@4evrjunge.com) and begin sending email to brand managers claiming to be Lindsay Lohan offering “endorsements” for free product.  After getting a Coach purse, a set of fascia Skull Candy headphones and a 12-pound bag of grapefruit Jelly Belly candies, my digital masquerade could dissolve long before anyone files a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov), a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center.

So, if a firm gets a cryptic email from a pseudo-celebrity, what should be done?  In most cases, nothing.  However, let’s just say, the person claims to be someone with a Twitter following of a couple hundred thousand people who just might look at your product if a tweet mentioned it.

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Newsroom, OCB Commentary, UST MBC

Happy Halloween: May the force not force you

Recently while teaching a class, technical difficulties developed with the audio in the room after I launched a YouTube video of the VW commercial with the kid dressed as Darth Vader.  While fiddling with wires, I realized the class was still engaged in the video.  The story in the images works even without the synchronous Star Wars music because of the many symbolic elements:  the costume, the context, the expressions of the actors and the mannerisms… especially the mannerisms.

This week, in passing, my wife mentioned that a number of political yard signs in our neighborhood had been defaced overnight.  The issue was the marriage amendment, and no matter the side with which you align or which version of the signs were marred, it tells a story.  The story is that some individuals believe so much in the rightness of their own position that it becomes fair for them to supersede the right to free speech of others. This lone perpetrator with a can of spray paint does significantly minor damage by comparison to similar extremist pundits on both sides who attempt to succeed by obliterating the voices of others by force.  Continue Reading

Ethics, Newsroom, UST MBC

Ethics Month

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) designates September as Ethics Month for its members.  As the ethics officer for Minnesota PRSA, my responsibilities to the chapter include advising the board of directors and serving as a guide for any member with ethics-oriented questions. This month represents a time to highlight for the greater business community the standards of professional practice those of us in PRSA commit to maintain as members.

The foundations of the PRSA Member Code of Ethics begin with shared values. Those that may be perceived as most important to those outside our organization are commitments to: Advocacy – to serve the public interest as advocates for the multiple stakeholders impacted by the actions of the organizations we serve; and Honesty – to adhere to the highest standard of accuracy and truth in the messages we deliver, at all times.

Can behavior in Social Media be policed? Who’s in charge if you can? Can there be an ethics code in such a wild and woolly atmosphere? Are there any ethical expectations in social media beyond those already described in the PRSA code of ethics?

These questions and more are considered in three podcasts about ethics and social media with Jim Lukaszewski, President of the Lukaszewski Group Division of Risdall Public Relations, and member of the  PRSA national Board of Ethics and Professional Standards (BEPS) and Dr. Mike Porter, Director of the Master of Business Communication Program at the University of St. Thomas, and Ethics Officer for the Minnesota chapter of PRSA.

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Local business, Newsroom, OCB Commentary, UST MBC

Impact of Communication: Stop the Dominoes From Falling in your Customer Experience

Normally I’m a DIY guy, but Renewal by Andersen made it more cost effective to have our new French doors installed than to do it myself.  Plus, the deal includes free service calls for 10 years.  So, when we recently found the doors were binding, I made a call to the service number listed on the firm’s Web site.  A pleasant woman answered and happily forwarded me to “service scheduling.”  This is when the first domino started to lean…

The next voice on the line suggested I had called the wrong number, and gave me another. The domino made contact with its neighbor.

On calling this number, I immediately realized it was for Andersen directly, even though the firm keeps Renewal separate from an operational standpoint.  I could sense the lean of domino two.  As it fell, I was directed back to Renewal, at a third number.  The pleasant woman who took my call informed me that she was at a national call center and it would require my local service center to schedule an appointment.  After providing my zip code, she gave me a number to call.  While hanging up to prepare to dial for a fourth time, I realized she had given me the number dialed for call number one.  The only choice was to dial and tip the next domino. Continue Reading

Newsroom, OCB Commentary, UST MBC

Strategic Planning: Use Strategic Planning to “Get the Word Out”

In a recent request from Kohnstamm Communications  for a response to the Star Tribune “Ask the Consultant” column, the inquiry came from someone with an online service attempting to “monetize” blogging with a “free” service.  While there may be a way to appropriately deliver such a service, the web site and offering of this company were amateurish, clunky and seemed a bit shady.  The question, however, was legitimate: How can I get the word out?

In this case, it needs to start with a legitimate product, service or mission (for you non-profit types).  That being established, define the audience.  For this recent request, the site appeared to be suggesting the service to a completely undifferentiated audience, and when you try to send a generic message to everyone, you get no one to listen.

So, once you’ve defined target audiences, before trying to “get the word out,” strategic planning would dictate that there must be something appropriate for the audience to visit once they hear about the “deal” and show up at your web site.  It’s not rocket science, but our questioner has a site that reminds me of the first ones we cobbled together by writing code line by line, using trial and error, back in 1994… seriously.  Depending on the audience and the offering, it may not take a sophisticated or complicated site to accommodate your persuasion and call to action, but it needs to at least look somewhat professional.

On the other end of the spectrum, Axl’s Closet put out an online coupon code in the middle of July good for $20 in free kid’s clothes – no additional purchase required, and free shipping.  Word got out!  However, the viral traffic nearly shut the site down, and made it very difficult to complete an order.  Do I know this from a news article?  No.  My wife was caught in the frenzy.  Still, even though many frustrated people now exist, how long can they stay mad at Axl for running out of free stuff.  Plus, the site has VERY cool products for kids.  Pricy, but cool.  Will we be back?  I bookmarked the site, which rarely happens anymore.

So, the key things about getting word of mouth happening for your online presence – have something worth talking about, and start the conversation with the right people.  That means people who represent active voices to your key audience, about things directly related to your offering.  Then, be prepared for prospects to arrive.  Unless you have the coolest stuff in the category, you may only get one chance.  Make it count.

Of course, explaining this in under 500 words over-simplifies things, a lot, but it highlights the core strategy.

Entrepreneurship, Media, Newsroom, OCB Commentary, UST MBC

Ask the consultant: How do I build a strong local customer base?

Question

Scrubadoo.com is an e-commerce site through which we sell brand-name uniforms for both the medical and restaurant industries nationally. My question is about winning the local market. It would be incredibly helpful for us to build a strong local customer base to help stabilize revenue and provide a platform to continue to expand nationally.

Unfortunately, this has proven much more difficult than I expected. Do the experts have any advice on tips to win local support?

BRETT BROHL
SCRUBADOO.COM

Answer

If you want a local customer base, the first thing you need to do is create a “local” presence for your online business. That begins with some basic search-engine optimization (SEO) with the local market in mind. In doing a Google search for “scrubs Minneapolis” the first page lists seven resources — with street addresses (after the paid ads).

You could also use some help in overall search engine marketing, since searching “scrubs apparel” delivers a number of local businesses mixed in with online retailers, but Scrubadoo is not listed on the first six pages.

This post was originally published in the Star Tribune’s Ask the Consultant column, read the rest of the answer there.

Newsroom, OCB Commentary, UST MBC

Opus Magnum: It’s about time!

In a debriefing conversation with Scott Rader about his teaching the UST MBC course “Communication Technology” via the Internet, an unforeseen development occurred.  Scott informed me that on a student peer-evaluation of final project presentations (which I attended), one student noted that I had been “nasty.”  We were both somewhat confused.  Having attended as an observer, and other than contributing some comments extending discussion during Q&A, I said very little.  Then it dawned on us that I had been made timekeeper for the presentations.  Each group was to have 20 minutes to deliver their prepared presentation, and then field questions for 10 minutes.  A few of the groups got pressed for time at the end.  I simply gave them a “time’s up” sign, and didn’t indicate they could spill over.  I was silent, but clearly firm that the presentation had to end at that point.

As made clear in these posts before, I’ve been in the communication business a long time.  In those years, ad sales reps never offered an extra few seconds in television time because I couldn’t make my point in a 30-second spot.  No potential client allowed me to leave late for lunch.  No student thanked me for dragging on past the end of class, even though the “bell had rung.”  No one ever applauded and thanked me for going long on a luncheon presentation. Continue Reading

Newsroom, OCB Commentary, social media, UST MBC

Who holds the keys to your Social Media dashboards?

Recently a friend was lamenting the difficulties associated with the recent departure of two employees from the nonprofit she runs.  She indicated that the pair left under less than amicable terms and days later her remaining staff found themselves locked out of administrative access to the organization’s Facebook page.  Further, one of the individuals had maintained a blog on Blogspot for the organization, which abruptly disappeared, including years of archived postings.

So, here I sit thinking about this, mind racing with thoughts – effectively speechless.  Certainly, no one condones such vindictive behaviors, and most people exiting a firm (even when disgruntled) wouldn’t stoop to this level.  But clearly some succumb to the temptation when left with absolute power over these electronic extensions of the organization’s brand. Continue Reading

Media, Newsroom, social media, UST MBC

Ask the consultant: Advice for creating a blog?

Question

I’m a massage therapist with decent writing and technical skills. I’m considering a blog for marketing and educating clients about massage therapy. As a first-time blogger, what’s the best way to approach this project?

SARAH SNIDER
New Feeling Therapeutic Massage

Answer:

As someone who has published a blog monthly since 1999, I understand the purpose of the blog you are suggesting — assuring you and your practice remain top-of-mind when clients need massage services. For the marketing-oriented blogger, start with two key elements: audience and content.

You need to know your target for a couple of reasons: how will your blog get in front of them; and what are their needs/interests (which leads to content). Continue Reading