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Silos, silly season, social: Inflating or informing the target audience?

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Open, honest, sustainable communications in multiple universes

The target audience is expanding as fast as the digital universe.

In one and two posts, I touched on how the target audience is vast and how writing and strategizing for those audiences is changing.

Abandon good journalistic practices and you’re bound to upset someone: Even just stating an opinion.

What’s your strategy? How many groups do you want to appeal to?

Beware someone doesn’t put a new frame around the picture you’re trying to paint

But how will you stop them? Better yet, you shouldn’t be trying to stop them. You should be encouraging the discussion by representing your organization, company, etc., yet you have to consider that those voices are really allies. The target audiences that don’t agree with your philosophy aren’t enemies. They are the best feedback money can buy. Together, you’ll communicate better.

Listen. Learn. Offer your messages.

In a recent post, I blogged about how Kelly Heinrich reframed and tactically subverted Apple’s Siri ads to advance her own cause. Fair game. She’s speaking for her organization and about a tool she uses, and how she feels about what may have gone into that tool.

In the post-Facebook IPO era, best practices are more important than ever. When you read media that gush with nothing but too-good-to-be-true positives, you might wonder:

Now, what inspired this piece?

Don’t do the disservice of thinking of your target audience as if they were “sheeple”. They’re not.

Audiences are alternate and expanding universes in themselves. Ever-changing. Ever-moving. They are chaos-out-of-order and order-out-of-chaos. The ultimate shape shifters … and I mean this in a complimentary way.

When audiences start feeling suspicious about what they’re reading or hearing, damage ensues.

The iSky’s the limit

Right now, there is rampant speculation on how many iPhones Apple will sell first week despite a delay in availability. The avalanche of information is often highly speculative. There’s a fair share of Apple criticism going on, too — especially, at the time of writing, on Google+, much of it centring on innovation, litigation and old-fashioned satire.

The media’s full of talk. But there’s less talk about how many hedge fund managers are in and out of Apple stock and other variables. The momentum may continue. Then again, now that my dog has an iPhone, you have to wonder how many bones the market can bare.

Humour aside … (I have no dog).

When we are heavily vested in something, does it make our thought processes clearer? The momentum may continue.

But for how long? How many stories do you remember that never end? The markets can be a collection of short stories.  What everyone aspires to is the collection of stories, or the novel that can sustain the reader (investor, stakeholder).

Ask Warren Buffett. When it comes to long-term track records, long-term thinking and valuation, very few can trade demonstrated philosophies with Buffett.

More suprising? … Buffett wonders why more don’t live his own philosophy.

The short-term hype machine and the damage done

When you talk about the kind of hype Facebook and Apple (have) generate(ed) at times, you really have to think about the variety of audiences, how that hype might be interpreted in the future, how some audiences might take issue.

How some audiences might become active.

Amongst all the noise, are critics starting to look more interesting and is Apple itself looking less interesting?

When hype gets to a volume so loud that there’s barely room to hear all the different voices pushing positive news, some begin to wonder if the creative thought process has died. Never make a promise you can’t keep. The problem is, as hype sets in, sometimes those you wanted to recruit as influencers will make the promises you can’t keep for you.

Promise something to the digital universe and you better deliver.

Deal with the world the way it is, not the way you wish it was.

— John Chambers

Silos, silly season and social continued:

The hydra upon you: Hype and its dangers for public relations and marketing

Heavy is the crown: Is Apple its own worst enemy?

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Reputational blowback?: Apple’s litigation strategy affects its own brand and reputation

Samsung brand on the upswing

Polling by YouGov shows that Samsung has already recovered from the recent Apple v. Samsung verdict. Actually, Samsung’s “buzz score” rating has surpassed Apple’s.

Sustainability and reputation issues are dogging Apple.  Many took to Facebook and Twitter to fling abuse at the company, some saying that the brand had become everything it had once stood against.

Have you “heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or by word of mouth,” asked YouGov. The company then assigned a score depending on responses positive or negative.

YouGov’s charts are clear evidence that Samsung’s brand has risen and Apple’s has fallen.

It’s hard to gauge what effect this will have long-term, especially considering the momentum Apple has behind it, but it’s clear that its brand has taken a beating. In an August 28th post, Siri, What’s “sustainability”?, I asked questions about Apple’s strategy: Specifically, that they don’t seem to be speaking to the broader audience that now is focused, like a laser, on Apple.

On September 6th, Forbes wrote about Apple’s dive suggesting Apple’s secret talks with Google might have been strongly motivated by the reputational blowback from Apple v. Samsung, which is looking more and more like a strategic mistake.

Clearly, Apple’s campaign of aggressive litigation added to consumer’s concerns: Not to mention the sustainability of their supply chain. But is Apple listening?

Is the pattern of immense hype (hype that may have slipped out of their control) generated by Apple in the media going to increase the volume of blowback? Is Apple at or close to its zenith in profitability, or, from an investor’s point of view, the ascendency of its stock price?

Credit: Forbes

“Apple has turned into the exact product they were against in the 1984 Super Bowl Ad.”

— Twitter user

Meet the new boss. More litigious than the old boss?

Sentiment against Apple was overwhelmingly negative post-verdict. Some have seen this coming for a long time. The hype is so extreme right now as the iPhone 5 is released that it’s impossible to know what the fallout from Apple’s own self-induced reputational damage will be.

Tech consumers change their minds in what looks to a long-term investor the blink-of-an-eye. The media, while generating an immense amount of hype is also giving birth to stories that portray Apple as Goliath, a big bully, unfeeling, unthinking and a poor listener.

Apple has followed a pattern of knowing it’s right when it comes to business strategy. So far, that strategy’s worked very well, but what leadership should consider is gravity.

The weight

The gravitas of investor and consumer sentiment accumulates and acts like a social David. And we all remember what David did to Goliath. In fact, didn’t Apple base its marketing strategy on being the “little guy” taking on Goliath?

Now, David pulls back his digital sling of zeroes and ones. Take a look at how Apple’s been trending on Google+, (at the time of writing).

There’s also the fact that it looks like both HTC and Samsung will sue Apple over LTE and try to block the iPhone 5. He who lives to litigate dies by litigation?

Meanwhile, HBR points out that Google’s spending on R&D, despite what many may think, dwarfs Apple’s as a percentage of revenue. Perhaps Apple’s just giving the people what they want: Perception of innovation over actual percentage of dollars spent on innovation.

If word-of-mouth is the greatest form of marketing, the social cybersphere is talking loudly, it’s consumer-generated (though more research is needed on these consumers), and it seems to be sounding off against what it perceives to be a heavy distortion field placed over the marketplace. Perception is reality.

Regardless, satirizing Apple has become a popular sport. When will their be an app for that?

If the new standard for the anti-Apple forces is: “Innovate don’t litigate”, then Apple in pursuing an aggressive strategy of litigation may have undone some of the reputational capital it’s worked years to build. Heavy is the crown.

But also, heavy is the hype. Apple may be going down a different yet parallel road that Facebook knows all-to-well. There’s a fine line between exceptional marketing and public relations and creating the Frankenstein monster.

Still, there’s a lot of momentum for Apple. But we’ve learned that out-of-control hype can be a double-edged sword. We’ve also learned that when stock performance doesn’t meet the enormity of expectation the decline can be huge.

Facebook’s decline of 50 per cent was pretty much as large as that of BP. And Facebook didn’t leak any oil.

Still, Apple has concrete numbers.

Does Apple Marketing and Public Relations feel ecstatic about a brand that convinces people old is new (see Jimmy Kimmel)? Does this soaring rocket of hype escape Earth’s atmosphere or like Facebook fall back held by the force of gravity?

Maybe the question is simply:

Is Apple its own worst enemy?

Jimmy Kimmel Confirms People Love the New iPhone 5, Even Though They’re Being Pranked With an iPhone 4S

Apple releases iNothing  – Video

Amidst all the hoopla: Dell, IBM vs. Apple — Surprise, surprise

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Dell and IBM continue to beat Apple over six months

Reality check:

Amidst all the hoopla over Apple earnings, what many have missed is that, if you look at a six month chart of Apple in comparison to Dell and IBM, Dell and IBM have outperformed. In fact, Dell is the standout at an almost 30 per cent return, nearly double Apple’s return.

With the Apple marketing machine and great earnings, Apple’s still not outperforming Dell and IBM. Hmmmm …

Of course, it will now take $40 billion dollars of new investment to show a 10 per cent return on Apple.

Will Apple’s size slow it down? Will Dell and IBM continue to outperform?

One thing’s for sure, it’s tough to stay on top and over the last six months investors have seen more reward in Dell and IBM.

Stay tuned.

Written by johnrondina

July 20, 2011 at 4:36 pm

When reality becomes perception

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Reputation and brand: Facebook strikes a blow — against itself

I blogged about social media and a potential backlash to use of private information in “Three digital considerations for the year(s) to come”.  In an interesting twist, “Facebookgate” is a signpost of what not to do on the road to establishing great reputational capital for companies. Not only is use of private information important but immoral tactics employed to “go negative” against competitors reveal the emperor as naked and scared.

Facebook was trying to expose Google for privacy issues through public relations firm Burson-Marsteller. Considering Facebook’s own past issues regarding users’ privacy concerns, the hypocrisy of this tactic is thick and hard to digest. Equally hard to digest is Burson-Marsteller’s use of tactics that have been described as “shadowy”. Burson-Marsteller’s former UK chairman says executives involved in the escapade acted like “backstreet spin merchants”.

Terence Fane-Saunders, ex of Burson-Marsteller UK, soundly criticised his old employer on his company blog, aptly titled:  “What on earth has happened to Burson-Marsteller?”

Obviously, grubby tactics  like those displayed in the Facebookgate case have done a lot of damage to the public relations industry in the past. Such tactics as those employed by Burson-Marsteller have led to the portrayal of public relations practitioners as hacks.

Amazing that such tactics still see the light of day. Facebook is now left with its brand highlighted in the media beside such less-than-brand-enhancing labels as “furtive”, “smear campaign” and “creepy” to list but a few. Not exactly words that most companies would revel in being associated with.

And, of course, every mention of Facebook adds mention of Burson-Marsteller’s involvement and bad public relations practices.

Companies would do well to pay attention to the fallout from such tactics. Perception may be more important than reality, but, in the case of Facebookgate, reality has had an enormous impact on perception. The problem is, in the Facebook case, reality was far worse than almost anybody perceived.


Blogger Soghoian speaks about Facebookgate

Privacy issues: Update on “Three digital considerations for the year(s) to come”

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Is Big Brother following you?

Security issues revealed regarding iPhone

In a piece I wrote a little while ago, “Three digital considerations for the year(s) to come”, I discussed how privacy concerns may continue to gain momentum in our increasingly digitized world. I focused on social media, however, the mobile tools that enable such communication are important.

The Guardian recently published an article, “iPhone keeps records of everywhere you go”, which could be explosive in its revelations. You can watch the video of researchers discussing the “tracking” here.

Coming in the face of RIM being criticized as the most secure mobile network, how will iPhone users respond to Apple? What about policy-makers? How will consumers considering an iPhone purchase respond?

Apple marketing used to use the image of “Big Brother” to portray the competition (Microsoft) in a less than flattering light. But you can’t argue against the fact that this data-gathering of user information seems a lot like the “Big Brother” Apple once targeted in its advertising.

So far, Apple has “declined to respond”. However, communications best practices would suggest that a response should and must come soon.

Will corporate decision-makers take a chance on a product that has such a security flaw? Will RIM’s more secure network look more appealing than ever for the enterprise market?

Will iPhone users look at their phones differently? Will they think differently?

Update: Senator Franken chairs committee on mobile technology and privacyApple and Google have been “invited” to discuss issues related to tracking software and smartphones

Making rain in the mobile device market

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RIM reports Q3 — Who was listening?

Research In Motion Ltd.’s earnings should not come as a surprise. Apple’s success is obvious. It’s almost impossible to escape Apple hype. Is the mobile device war over as some analysts have said?

Who will be the rainmaker?

The other day I was down on a street corner on Bay Street. It was a warm day, and I watched the people hurrying along.

Several paused to check their mobile devices. While this was in no way a scientific study, I noted that every person I saw checking their mobile device was using a RIM product. Every one of them.

Every person writing on their mobile was using a RIM product. I was waiting for someone and stood there for about ten minutes. During that time, the only devices visible were RIM products – in the centre of the financial cyber ether in Canada, during a ten minute window of mobile device observation, the only thing I saw was branded RIM.

Without a doubt there are iPhones around, but there were none around at that moment.

Then RIM began a long line of disappointments ending in recent guidance. New announcements at RIM are about preserving the enterprise business. RIM is the most secure device out there. But what will the consumer demand? Is it about security?

Once RIM started issuing profit warnings, analysts that had previously supported RIM flipped in a hurry.

The future?

The space is going to be ruthlessly competitive. I haven’t even mentioned Google’s Android, a discussion for another day. Apple’s not getting the headlines it was in the summer, but the company’s still experiencing strong sales.

Of course, the focus should be on the future rather than the past. But let’s take stock for a moment …

So, who’s the winner right now?

The consumer.

Choice benefits the consumer, and competition drives innovation. Like many things, it pays to survey the market with an unprejudiced eye and use a device for the way it can most benefit you.

Some have said that the mobile device war is over.


Maybe, it’s barely begun …

Remember when everyone was talking about the death of Apple before the Microsoft cash injection into Apple (many don’t even remember this! See here.) And a few years later, what happened? Apple became an enormous corporation.

Things change.

The tablet war is just starting. Mobile devices and the sector are liquid. Hold on to your hats. It’s going to be raining mobiles and tablets in the very near future, and Apple, RIM and Google are all going to be major precipitation in the device storm.

But who will be the rainmaker?

Written by johnrondina

December 21, 2010 at 3:13 pm

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