Personal Correspondence + The Internet = Public Correspondence

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Monster.com

One of the responsibilities for many corporate communication professionals is to handle response from the non-media public to issues of branding, marketing and community The ability to treat each inquiry with care is important not only for the satisfaction of the inquirer, but for the very real possibility that a corporate response from anyone about anything is likely to bounce its way across the Inter Nets and into the eyeballs of thousands.

An example of  a great inquiry response from online job bank company Monster to a question about a song used in their latest commercial found on a forum dedicated to music in advertising:

Thanks so much for your interest in the music used in the Monster commercial, “Daybreak.”

The music is an original composition, created by Cherry-Tate Music Productions in New York. It was created solely for the commercial and is not available for other purposes at this time.

Sorry.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

Roy Elvove

Director, Corporate Communications

Concise, empathetic and not at all pedantic. In honour of the NCAA tournament starting today, I’ll award 64 Stractical points to Monster for paying attention to the little things in corporate communications.

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No Crossing The Blog Line

Apologies all around for not posting this week. Sometimes life happens.

Mark Cuban, the polarizingly (not a word) charismatic owner of the Dallas Mavericks has decided to ban bloggers from the locker room, creating a clear separation between newspaper reporters and bloggers. As of now, the only person affected by this ban is Tim McMahon who blogs for the Dallas Morning News. McMahon has written a few scathing articles recently about the state of the Mavs and many believe this policy stems from a grudge. Cuban denies there is bad blood and insists that the policy is put in place so that he would not have to grant media access to any and all bloggers who wanted in the locker room.

Questions raised:

– What defines a blogger vs. a journalist? Tim McMahon, as an employee of the Dallas Morning News is subject to that paper’s code of ethics where as Stractical abides by zero codes. We’re both bloggers though. If I started printing these posts and stapling them together, would I be a journalist?

– If this is truly a grudge response from Cuban, is it safe to say that he’s never heard the phrase, “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.” I guess that should read “Never pick a fight with people who have WiFi access and a laptop.”

Mark Cuban

Student faces expulsion for Facebook study group

Interesting and troubling story coming out of Ryerson University about an engineering student who is being threatened with expulsion for administering a Facebook group that included some quiz answer sharing. I’m not going to deride the university for refusing to comment on an ongoing investigation or even praise the student’s representatives for going on the offensive, but we just can’t talk about social media and digital communities without emphasizing that we’re still figuring this whole space out.

Facebook

McGuinty 180s, calling for smoking ban in cars with children

 Daulton McGuinty

Changing your mind in politics is never easy; flip-floppers I think they call them. PRtists know that spinning a reversal only leaves you dizzy so why not opt for a policy of openness, honesty and frankness. To that point, we award 16 (for the magical age in which second-hand smoke will go from illegal to merely frowned up) to Ontario Premier Daulton McGuinty for taking the piss out of an opinion adjustment:
The announcement marks a reversal for McGuinty, who once called such an idea a “slippery slope” toward a nanny state that infringes on individuals’ rights.

He says he was convinced to act by mounting evidence that smoking in cars is much worse for children than in a home. The premier also credited the doggedness of Sault Ste. Marie Liberal MPP David Orazietti, who introduced a private member’s bill banning smoking in cars with kids last year, and lobbying from Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best.

“I changed my mind,” McGuinty said this morning at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. “I think it’s the right thing to do for our kids.”

Changing one’s mind is human. People (voters) like human. Weaseling out of a decision by re-writing history is political cliche. McGuinty also picked the perfect location, Sick Kids Hospital, to make the announcement. The story is now about improving the health prospects of Ontarians, not Daulton’s loosing estimations of civil liberties.

“It’s for you…”

Stractical would like to stay away from the cavalcade of slung communication tactics known as the Presidential primaries/election. Not because the Hillary vs. Obama vs. McCain vs. talk radio topic is uninteresting or doesn’t illustrate sound communications lessons. It’s just that, well… once you dive into the deep end of political communication, you may not be able to swim back to the ledge.

But.

Piggybacking on the last post, we just couldn’t help ourselves from talking about the flipside of earned-media-from-paid-media strategy. The Toronto Star reports on Hillary’s new attack ad playing in Ohio and Texas. The premise of the Cold War-style ad is that a phone is ringing and its an emergency (red phones = serious)…

“It’s 3 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep, but there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing,” says the narrator in Clinton’s ad.

“Something’s happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call, whether it’s someone who already knows the world’s leaders, knows the military – someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world.”

The commercial plays up Sen. Clinton’s experience but in a way that can only be described as heavy-handed. And while getting her commercial picked up by credible, unpaid news outlets should be a coup for Hillary, a controversial attack ad was bound to be cut to pieces by the media. In political reporting, anytime there is an attack, they assign space for a rebuttal. And since attack ads play out as unpopular (even if they might sway voters in the end) Obama gets ample earned media space to deride the tactic. Her media money = his good press.

The lesson? Be prepared to defend your advertising to the media. If there’s controversy, you’ll rarely get the last word so make sure the first words are powerful. And ensure that your integrated strategies are similar in tone and message. If you’re going to release an aggressive ad, pro-actively communicate why it’s aggressive. Using paid media for PR purposes can be a terrific strategy, especially when trying to create news value where there is little. But remember that any paid-media exposure can stir up media coverage, positive or negative.