Why Comparing Letterman to Don Imus and “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Doesn’t Work

By now we’ve all heard about David Letterman’s confession that he had consensual sex with several female staff members of “The Late Show.”  He publically confessed to his actions on Thursday night’s show in front of his audience who at times both laughed and applauded.  

While no action from advertisers on the show have been taken as of yet, Andy Donchin, director of media investment at Carat, a unit of Aegis Group PLC, says that “we have to see how this thing develops.”  Specifically, many analysis’s are waiting to see if advertisers decide to pull from the show just as P&G, GM, Amex and Staples did after Don Imus’s racists remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, or Yum Brands did after “Dog the Bounty Hunter’s” racial slurs.  

However, comparing the Letterman on-air confession with the Imus and “Dog” remarks isn’t a plausible comparison.  Family values aside, Letterman’s actions were consensual and legal. Although they probably greatly hurt his wife, there is not a large contingency of the general population that is negatively affected by his remarks. 

As a comedian, Letterman is paid to poke fun at people and that includes himself.  Although he has said that this is the last he will say on the subject, you can bet that with the popularity of extramarital sex as a reoccurring theme with most high-profile individuals, this certainly won’t be the end.  

As commentary and reactions continue to amass there is still time for advertisers to pull out, but my prediction is that they won’t.  Letterman’s ratings are just too good. And who knows – this may be just the boost the show needs.

Are you ready for some football?

Fantasy football is in full swing, but this year the dynamic of keep track of you players has changed as team owners can use twitter to track their players, and also get the latest updates from the micro blogging site. Twitter has become so prevalent, that the NFL had to release a policy about athlete’s using it before and after games. The policy states:

Players, coaches and football operations personnel can use Twitter, Facebook and other social media up to 90 minutes before kickoff, and after the game following traditional media interviews. The use of social media by NFL game officials and officiating department personnel will be prohibited at all times. The league, which has always barred play-by-play descriptions of games in progress, also extended that ban to social media platforms.

fantasy-football1

While fantasy football to some may seem like a stupid game that takes up way too much time, it’s a $1.5 billion industry with close to 30 million active players. Additionally, leagues have been formed on Facebook, and there are even social networking sites just for fantasy football. For those of you who do play, here are several ways to use twitter to help your team win your league’s super bowl.

Many of your players have twitter accounts and following them may be actually like coaching your team. To find if any of your players are on twitter go to: twitter-athletes.

If you have a twitter account, do a search for fantasy football or #fantasyfootball to see what people are saying about fantasy football.  What’s pretty cool is that there are so many tweets that you can do the same search a little later and get completely different results.

Many broadcasters and fantasy football websites have accounts on Twitter, and they’re all posting their thoughts, opinions, and articles.  A good list of people and websites in fantasy football is on the WeFollow directory.

You can also pose questions to your followers who may also have teams and have “insiders knowledge” about who start or sit each week. Just think about the millions of people whose thoughts you can read in real time-on how players are performing, any recent injuries or other game time updates. It really adds an interesting element to the game. Also polling your followers may just help you make your decision an easy one. Just don’t blame them, when they get knocked out on the first play or throw 5 interceptions. This game isn’t science, which is why it’s fun!

So as I enter Week 3, I’m 1-1, but hope to complete a big trade this week, which should put me in place to win this year’s championship. Good luck to all!

Serena Double Faults in Public Eye

Serena Willams at US Open
Serena Willams at US Open

For Tennis fans, this weekend’s bizzare behavior by Serena Williams was tough to swallow.    The former U.S. Open Chamption shocked fans with an expletive-laced tirade after being called for a foot-fault just two points from losing her semi-final match with Kim Clijsters.  After the (some say inconclusive) call was made, Serena went after the line judge, pointing her racket in the woman’s face and threatening to “shove this (impolite french word) ball down your (impolite french word) throat,” in a nearly minute long tirade.  Really?  I’ve seen better manners at an Eagles game with battery-packed snowballs.  The outburst, coupled with her temper tantrum earlier in the match when she smashed her racket on the court, cost Serena the match when the officials issued a point penalty that ended the game.   Serena’s behavior cheated Clijsters out of a “true-win” that was righfully hers and regrettably watered down Clijster’s victorious return to tennis following the birth of her child.

You can view the video of her outburst below:

What followed the match was even more bizarre.  After the game, under the stadium, an overprotective handler tried to cover a CBS camera and prevent him from seeing Ms. Williams exit the locker room.  The cameraman managed to catch Serena smiling and chatting with her older sister, Venus.  Given Serena’s number of  years in the public spotlight, myriad sponsorships, meetings with President Obama and presumbably, lessons on good sportsmanship,  one would think that someone on Serena’s team would advise her to give an immediate public apology.  Not so.  Instead, Serena gave a smug post-event press conference in which she appeared not to understand the magnitude of her actions.  She issued a blase  apology on Sunday night, but without much conviction.

Serena Williams Post SemiFinal Press Conference

In the end, Serena has been fined $10,500  total by U.S. Open officials, the highest possible fine that can be issued for unsportsman-like conduct.   She deserved to be disqualified (even McEnroe was never so outlandish),  and any fallout that ensues to her public reputation is of her own doing.  Her conduct was completely unacceptable, and for an athlete of her caliber, inexcusable.

A Little Social Media Homework

It’s great to see so many companies getting on board with social media.  Nearly everyone at some point in the last year or so has seen the power of social media – whether it was connecting with an old friend via facebook or writing a blog entry with content that made it into the mainstream media.  

It is, however, a bit disappointing to see so many companies jump on board without first doing their homework, and as a result now face a failed (or failing) social media strategy.  Here are a few questions that your company should address before deciding to start any social media strategy, whether it’s a blog, facebook page or twitter: 

Do you have a dedicated person whose job responsibility it is to maintain your blog (or other social media outlet)?
The #1 reason for a failed social media strategy is lack of maintenance.  Most companies go gangbusters in the beginning, posting as much as possible, but after time, sometimes just a few weeks, posts begin to slow, until finally the last update was six months ago.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, not maintaining a blog is worse than never starting one in the first place.  Not only does it show a lack of dedication but it also reflects poorly on the company as a whole.  A sort of black eye.  To prevent this from happening, a person or persons should be assigned to the maintenance of the decided upon social media outlet, posting and updating regularly.  This is a task that needs to be built into a job description, not added as an aside during a meeting. Maintenance of social media takes time, a surprising amount of time, and needs to be taken into consideration from the beginning. 

Do you have a plan in place to promote your chosen social media?
So your company has a blog that’s the most informative in the industry.  The only problem is no one is reading it.  There is more information on the web now than ever before (and will be even more in 30 seconds), so how do you direct target audiences to your information?  A plan should decided on and in place from the beginning.  Maybe your company has a twitter or facebook account and every time a blog post goes up it’s automatically posted and tweeted out.  Creating a dedicated email blast to appropriate audiences giving them a tease of the post and directing them to where they can read more is a great way to increase visibility.  Another tactic to give legs to a blog is to let other, similar blogs know about it, and ask that they link to it. This is especially effective for blogs that already have a high readership.  You can also link back to and refer to older posts in more current posts, which is particularly beneficial for those who are newer to the blog.

Do you have a company policy in place about who can post and what they can and can’t say?
If your company’s social media outlet is updated by more than one person, intended content should be made clear from the beginning as well as what is considered inappropriate.  Although some of the most interesting blogs stir a little controversy, you need to ensure that it’s controversy that you and your company are comfortable with. Some companies go as far as creating a social media handbook.

How will you keep your information relevant?
Your company may have decided to start a blog because someone had a great idea that was relevant at the time. However, that trend/topic, etc. is old news now, and the blog is getting stale. Or, there’s just a lack of ideas or inspiration to keep up weekly or daily posts.  There should be a plan in place to gather new and interesting content.  This may include creating RSS feeds on certain topics that might be relevant for commentary, or setting aside 20-30 minutes a day reading other blogs on similar topics that might spark ideas. Again, time is a necessary component in keeping a blog relevant.   

A comprehensive social media strategy can be a great thing for a company, but answering these questions first is essential for long-term success.

Maven Promotes Jimmy Rollins Basebowl Charity Tournament

On August 17th, Maven handled media relations for the 4th annual Jimmy Rollins Celebrity BaseBOWL Tournament at Lucky Strike Lanes in Philadelphia.  Hosted by the Phillies’ 2007 MVP Jimmy Rollins, the star-studded event included Chase Utley, Cole Hammels, Ryan Howard and others to benefit the Jimmy Rollins Family Foundation & The Arthritis Foundation of Eastern Pennsylvania.

The tournament raised more than $200,000 this year with over 400 guests attending. Media highlights from the event included all major local broadcast affiliates including CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and Comcast Sportsnet; The MLB Network on Sirius/XM; Philadelphia Magazine; and the Philadelphia Inquirer & Daily News. Check out two of the Maven ladies in Philadelphia Chit Chat and Philadelphia Magazine. The media coverage in the Metro is featured below along with some photos from the event.

Media coverage secured in the Philadelphia Metro
Media coverage secured in the Philadelphia Metro

Megan, Rebecca, Jessica & Sarah working hard at the event
Megan, Rebecca, Jessica & Sarah working hard at the event

Jimmy takes questions from the media
Jimmy takes questions from the media
welcome
Guests are welcomed to the event sponsored by Maven

Jokes, Jokes

It’s Friday after a long week so here is a cartoon that struck me a funny, and come on we all need a laugh now and then:

twittercartoon

As an avid twitter-er, I can relate to this cartoon. Now that we have Twitter, Facebook and a whole gaggle of applications at our fingertips, thoughts have been reduced to 140 characters and activities summed up by twitpics. Not that I think my followers are hanging on to every character I tweet, but it is fun and somewhat comforting to share in the interconnectivity of social networking.

We all remember the confusion and Armageddon when Twitter was down for a morning (yes JUST a morning and people freaked out- “but how will my followers know what I had for breakfast?”). If you don’t recall, Twitter was attacked (so dramatic) and the site was down- here is a NYT blog post about it. As much as I poke fun, I was one of those people feeling in the dark that morning. I was not wondering what @mikegross144 was doing at the moment though. I was missing my usual stream of RT-ed news articles, odd findings, area events and hilarious commentary. It is a living and personalized daily RSS feed of anything and everything from friends, icons, strangers and the lovable weirdos- and I think it is here to stay.

Oh and by the way- I had a muffin for breakfast.

How do you leverage social media using PR?

So you’ve created a facebook page, Twitter account and you’ve started a blog and downloaded the latest i-phone application. But now what? Will the right people see the content you’ve created and if so, can you keep them engaged in your brand?

While designers continue to create tools to compete and keep up with the latest social media craze, marketers struggle to determine how to leverage their brand amongst all the social media clutter. To properly utilize the widgets, pages and other tools that you’ve created, you have to make sure you have a strategy behind it all, and you’re likely to need a little public relations. To truly gain leverage from social media, we’ve identified a game plan to help you gain awareness for your brand. Maven has created a social media 101 presentation as well.

Before your start social networking, create a plan. It’s important to set clear, measurable objectives for your social media plan. Why should your brand create or even take part in an online community? How will that brand be represented in these communities? What is the goal of engaging in social media? Is it to receive feedback from an exclusive group, drive traffic to your web site or raise awareness? No matter what the reason, define the “why” before the “what”.

Get a grip on what tools your target audience is using. Now that you have the why, it’s important to look at all the tools and figure out what’s appropriate for your brand. In order to do this, it’s important to look at who your target audience is. Will they read a blog that you create? Are your customers using Twitter and facebook? Will photos and videos help them to better engage with your brand? Do some research to see what the statistics for each tool show on who the users are. LinkedIn for example may be more appropriate for a professional audience compared to facebook or Myspace. You need to fully understand your target audiences and why those audiences are important to your company’s success.  This step is often overlooked, which can result in a disconnected campaign, product launch or PR fiasco.

Once you’ve done your research, determine how many of these tools you can actually manage. Good PR strategies usually employ a number of diverse tactics to reach target audiences, including incorporating social media to build online communities, thought leadership and meet influencers. Social networking has become such an important marketing tool for companies, that now jobs are being created to maintain a company’s brand proactively and reactively. That said, managing these tools is a full-time job, and most companies don’t have the resources to do that. Therefore, prioritize which tools are most important to reach your target audiences and concentrate on those.  However, don’t forget to regularly stay on top of other social media tools to see what the public is saying about your brand.

Maintain your brand. While easy access and interconnectivity are huge advantages of social media, control is something that is hard to maintain. You may have strong messaging, the best brand identity and the most innovative content in cyberspace, but if you don’t know where your target audiences are talking to each other online, you’ll never get their attention. Likewise, if that same target audience is bad-mouthing your brand online, than you’re likely to see things spiral out of control. Therefore engaging your fans and followers to help shape your product or service can be invaluable.  Comcast is a great example of a company that reaches its customers complaints directly through @comcastcares on Twitter. Rather than shying away from negative comments, Comcast addresses them directly by answering their questions and concerns rather than letting unhappy customers fester. While you might not be ready to executive your strategy, the first thing you can do is reserve your space in facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. so that someone else doesn’t try and misrepresent your company or create a name that dilutes your brand.

Manage the crowd but don’t control it. Some of the best brand interactions throughout social media communities are those that are organic. The point of a community is not to be directed by the brand manager, but rather to create a comfortable decentralized space that allows all members to interact and be their own authors.  That said, it is important to have a community leader that helps generate and guide the conversations among members of the community who is transparent and authentic and knows how to allow the community to develop its own identity.

Measure your impact. While it can be difficult to truly determine your ROI from your social media presence, there are few checks and balances that can help you to better understand how effective your campaign is working. A few examples on Twitter are an increase in followers, direct messages and retweets; web traffic can be analyzes using Google analytics; blogs can be measured by the number of comments or references to posts on other blogs; and the increase in customer and employee engagement which can be determined through surveys or questionnaires. Remember for maximum ROI, “build communities” instead of “doing communications.”

Much has been written about social media recently, including an article in the New York Times that discusses the impact social media can have on smalls businesses. The article can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/23/business/smallbusiness/23twitter.html?_r=1

All a Twitter…

twitter

Everyone has heard about it and rolls their eyes when people reference it. As a one time eye-roller myself, I have seen the error of my ways.

Yes, the world is all a twitter over twitter. If you have no clue what I am talking about just google it so you are not the only one at the table in the dark. Thinking about tweeting but don’t know how to start? Check out this article from Mashable about 5 steps for beginners or get all the information from the New York Times.

Personal twitter accounts can be endlessly entertaining by posting relevant news article, events, personal reflections, random facts, etc. all the while keeping tabs on hundreds or thousands of people entertaining tweets. You can even follow your favorite celebrities inner most thoughts- go to www.wefollow.com to find a few.

Companies have caught on and harnessed its power- which, to me, is the most interesting part of this whole phenomenon. Here are some articles I suggest checking out:

4 Ways Companies Use Twitter for Business

ReadWriteWeb.com

Contests and Giveaways Move To New, Fast Terrian of Twitter

The Wall Street Journal

While you are at it, watch Kevin Spacey on Letterman talking about twitter, then follow him @KevinSpacey!

Is there a formula for viral marketing campaigns?

After reading this article with examples of the movie industry’s attempt at viral marketing, one must wonder: “How to?”  Some campaigns deemed successful are ones with clear-cut plans.  The other half seemed interesting on paper, but crashed and burned when applied.

How then do you attempt a viral campaign with chance of success?  Is there a formula to follow?  Dan Goodswen proves that there is definitely precedent to follow.  For the film industry specifically, there are aspects of certain campaigns that seem successful.  For films, it seems that if the viewer is questioning if something is true or not “the buzz” increases.  Call us conspiracy theorists, but examples like Blair Witch Project, Fight Club, and the Dark Knight fit the mold. Toeing the line with the ‘is it real?’ question creates hype.  Thinking outside the box is not necessarily better.  The Da Vinci Code tried games and puzzles on the internet, a campaign deemed too ambitious to be successful.

Now, viral videos are less underground.  We wake up to infectious and creative videos featured on the Today Show, videos are forwarded to our inboxes, and websites like Digg and Stumbleupon tell us what people everywhere are looking at.  What is so great, is that if your campaign is good, there are people tweeting until they are blue in the face fingers, and people will hear about it.

It is easy to connect youtube videos with viral campaigns but what else is out there?  Hershey’s used sponsored house parties, luring nearly 150,000 guests.  HBO series True Blood created fake beverage ads and a vampire-human dating site, causing viewership to grow 66% over the course of the first season. (Source:  http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/135/spread-the-word.html)

These numbers are impressive, no doubt.  Back to deciphering a formula, the answer for one constant success story is still at large.  The only consistency appears to be that any successful viral marketing campaign needs to ‘go big or go home’ in this pass/fail grading system.