Building Corporate Reputation via Online and Offline Media Relations Strategies

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  • Without a doubt social media is changing the way things are done. Marketing is in a sense being turned on its head.
  • The reach of social media is phenomenal. (talk thru slide #s). It has captured a fundamental want in the human psyche, the need to connect, share thoughts, and get references. It is a universal trend.
  • In Asia Pacific, the numbers here speak for themselves. And this is also the case in almost every other major country in the world. Facebook continues to be the 1000 Lb gorilla in social media, but in many non-english speaking markets, local social networking sites hold considerable influence, e.g. Mixi in Japan, Xiaonei in China. People are not only engaged in social media and networking, they are also spending a lot more time on social networking.
  • So let’s delve a little more into the psyche of the social networker, whom we term Generation V. Unlike previous generations, Generation Virtual (also known as Generation V) is not defined by age — or gender, social demographic or geography — but is based on demonstrated achievement, accomplishments and an increasing preference for the use of digital media channels to discover information, build knowledge and share insights. The definition of Generation V derives from the recognition that these common behaviours, attitudes and interests are starting to blend together in an online environment.When doing business with Generation V, marketers will need to attract online personas by creating multiple, engaging  online destinations and provide tools for Generation V individuals population to socialize and express their different personas. By creating these destinations, marketers can gain a deeper understanding of Generation V. Marketers should provide, or connect to, online destinations from selling-focused sites and community forums to brand-aware, persistent, 3-D virtual worlds to get customers to their sites and promote socialization in the community. From there, marketers can lead prospects to products and services while gathering relevant information about their future wants and needs.By 2010, more than 60 percent of Fortune 1,000 companies with a Web site will connect to or host some form of online community that can be utilized for customer relationship purposes.Gartner predicts that by 2010, more than 50 percent of companies that have established an online community will fail to establish mutual purpose, ultimately eroding customer and company values. Virtual worlds raised $594 million in 2008
  • This is pretty self explanatory but the main point here is that as communications practitioners, we should always be mindful of our basic premise, use only the tools that will best reach out to your target audience. The key word here is integration. We work with many clients in the B2B space, and with all the hype around social media, obviously many have called us while developing their plans to assess if a social media component makes sense in their campaigns this year. In all honesty, and I will be quite controversial here, we’ve actually come to the conclusion that a few companies needn’t take the plunge just yet. Their target audiences are just not engaged in social media. Now should they keep monitoring the social media-sphere to assess trends? Certainly! This of course is different in the case of consumer brands, youth brands and organizations catering to a large Gen Y population. In this case, look at your program in totality. Social media is just another tool for you to reach out to your target audiences.
  • Who are your target audiences, how are they getting their news, what’s the platform to best get their attention? e.g. Catalog company, potential clients vary greatly in their practices. In China, they’re making buying decisions wholly online; in Singapore, it’s a different mix, they look at catalog but then do their buying and other research onlineExtra points for #2: Singapore – bloggers hold big influence; for FMCG, FB groups make sense; main point is to know where your target audiences are going, which social media tools they are usingMeasurement: Start with the measurement, what goals do you want to achieve, find best measurement tool to track the results and take it from there
  • So I’m not sure if this has been covered before but generally Singapore’s social media scene is pretty fragmented. The blogosphere is quite active and blogs that offer some form of socio-political commentary get a decent following. For example, refer to point 1. Singaporeans enjoy a good laugh at certain policies, you just need to go to Mr Brown or Mr Miyagi to get a few funny spoofs on say, the ERP or the COE prices. The general take is that mainstream traditional media offer the official view. Blogs on the other hand, echo the feelings of the man on the street. You will see later in my presentation that while Twitter, Facebook all have decent following, the blogosphere is most advanced and this is where most of our clients have spent their time and money. Again, if you are an FMCG company, tweets and dedicated facebook pages may work better for you, depending on your target audience. It really depends who you are touching.
  • Real live example: Client in the components catolog business; in the past – our counsel in the traditional PR world: send out less releases, focussing on more newsworthy ones; in the new digital world, the more news out there, releases, corporate info, whitepapers, the more search rankings are boosted. Marked contrast... How do we marry the two worldsNext case study, show a clear cut social media campaign by Friendstar targeting Gen Y audience
  • Bloggers have big influence in Singapore, Google realises this and has over the years developed a healthy relationship with them.
  • Although effective, traditional PR outreach has its limitations as the launch of these two new services were announced merely two weeks away from each other. The Agency saw this as a good opportunity for Google to jump onto the social media bandwagon to engage directly with its target publics, otherwise known as Internet Natives or Generation Y. The key objectives of this digital media plan is to expand Google’s reach to target consumers directly and create buzz in the online social media scene – a place that has become part of the masses’ daily lives. In addition, it is also to position Google as a company that gathers genuine, direct and instantaneous feedback on its products and services by way of social media chatter. Instead of merely using social media tools (i.e. Google blogs) as an avenue of pushing information to the public, it seeks ways for improvement through this platform.
  • Besides inviting media and bloggers to the launch event, the agency also seeded FB, IM and Twitter updates about the launch of SV in SG, urging their contacts on these platforms to try it out – refer to the screenshots in later slides for this.Some of the media and bloggers, having gotten the invite, have already started tweeting about it, wondering what Google is launching. So the Twitterverse was abuzz with Google mentions and the like. During the event, media and bloggers also tweeted live about the event and Street View. The agency participated in the Twitter conversation by retweeting interesting tweets or sharing further information on SV with fellow Twits. This is not done officially in the name of Google or Google’s PR agency but rather having the agency engaging with the Twits naturally and casually, like friends and fellow Twits.
  • Based on agency recommendations, Google Singapore developed a localised press site of Streetview resources that media & bloggers can access. Initially Google Singapore was a tad hesitant to put up a website as it’s a lot of work but based on the feedback obtained from the agency’s interaction with media and bloggers, they decided to go ahead with it. The press site is very well-received by the media and bloggers alike who were happy that they were able to obtain all the info they need from one single location.
  • Blogs and Blog AggregatorsThe Agency identified key technology bloggers who were prominent in the blogosphere, and actively engaged with them to foster good relationships. This encouraged them to attend Google media events and write about it on their blogs, they will then send their respective blog entries to blog aggregators to generate more coverage.
  • Facebook and IMThe Agency took it upon themselves to create more buzz online through the use of Facebook and IM, in their own personal capacity. Facebook is a social media platform that allows one to have maximum privacy control, while creating communities for each user.The Agency decided that it is easier to tap on each employee’s Facebook account and publicize the new features on Google Maps to create a viral and multiplier effect through the web. This is a much efficient and effective way as compared to creating a new group or fan page, because it is time consuming to attract sign-ups/fans who will also question the authenticity of the group/fan page.  IM is highly private as users have all means to decide who gets to be on their contact list. In this aspect, the Agency used our personal IM accounts (i.e. Google Talk, MSN, Skype, Yahoo Messenger) to include short snippets about Google Maps’ new additions. TwitterHelmed as the latest and fastest growing social media platform today, Twitter is an excellent tool for viral messaging. Instead of using an official The Hoffman Agency Singapore or Google Singapore Twitter account that would bring forth questions on authenticity, the Agency created a fictitious female tech geek who goes by the name Nana G or @techrhyme. In a male-dominated technology environment, females are very well-received as girls are usually deemed less technically-savvy as compared to males. @techrhyme proves this otherwise and shares her personal thoughts and experiences, together with pro-Google and technology tweets.  @techrhyme is also a crucial factor to success on Twitter, in a bid to remain neutral while speaking in Google’s favour. Any representations from The Agency or Google would be too biased. Twitter is also used to maintain relationships with key bloggers who are also active on this micro-blogging site.
  • The agency also recommended for the client to go beyond traditional broadcast media, engaging with online media and bloggers who like to post videos on their sites.
  • The agency also seeded FB updates about the launch of SV in SG, urging their contacts on these platforms to try it out – refer to the screenshots in later slides for this.
  • With the success of HA’s blogger campaign Google has decided to extend its community outreach further. In Singapore, HA has now started an engagement program to reach out to a broader audience. It is now working with schools, real estate agents and travel portals in a bid to introduce relevant applications and to gain a better understanding of the market’s level of interaction with Google tools.
  • Google Maps was first launched in the US in early February 2005 with the idea of making a user-friendly mapping technology accessible to consumers and business users for free. Since then, different versions of Google Maps have become available in over 30 countries, including the UK, Japan and China.In July 22, 2008, Google decided to launch Google Maps Hong Kong as part of its ongoing commitment to deliver tools and applications customized for local users.Blogger involvement: Google knows the growing importance and influence of a new breed of communicators: the bloggers. As more and more users turn to the Internet to get news and information, and as Web 2.0 continue to increase in popularity, Hong Kong’s blogger community has become a key factor to the success of Google’s local campaigns, including the Google Maps’ launch.Bloggers were invited to an informal dinner with Google’s marketing and engineering teams. They were divided into small groups and each group was joined by a Google spokesperson, who engaged the bloggers in a casual yet intimate conversation about the company and its products.A skit, done in Cantonese, showed two Google engineers demonstrating different scenarios where Google Maps can be incorporated in one’s daily activities. An interactive demo kiosk was set up at both the media conference and the blogger dinner, where local partners, such as PCCW, OpenRice.com and HKTDC showed how they integrated Google Maps into their web sites. At the demo kiosk, the journalists and bloggers were invited to experience Google Maps first hand.
  • With the groundwork established, HA then initiated a two-way engagement between Google and key bloggers. By keeping bloggers in the loop about company news — offering product previews, organizing meetings and holding exclusive events — HA helped Google to grow its number of blogger contacts and also strengthen its relationship with them.
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