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LEVICK Weekly - Mar 15 2013


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Miracle Workers How Utilities Can Generate More Goodwill
Z-Pack Pfizer Can’t Assume that Science Will Trump a Scare Story
Livestrong Life After Lance is Possible—Telling the Small Stories Will Yield Big Results
The NYC Soda Ban Another Solution in Search of a Problem
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LEVICK Weekly - Mar 15 2013

  1. 1. EDITION 31Weekly March 15, 2013 Miracle Workers How Utilities Can Generate More Goodwill
  2. 2. 03 Contents 04 Miracle Workers How Utilities Can Generate More Goodwill 08 Z-Pack Pfizer Can’t Assume that Science Will Trump a Scare Story 10 The NYC Soda Ban Another Solution in Search of a Problem 12 Livestrong Life After Lance is Possible—Telling the Small Stories Will Yield Big Results 15 Blogs Worth Following 16 LEVICK In the News 17 SIGN UP for LEVICK InsightsCOVER Image: An electric utility is an electric power company (often a public utility) that engages in the generation, transmis-sion, and distribution of electricity for sale generally in a regulated market. The electrical utility industry is a major providerof energy in most countries. It is indispensable to factories, commercial establishments, homes, and even most recreationalfacilities. Lack of electricity causes not only inconvenience, but also economic loss due to reduced industrial production.
  3. 3. Mir a c le Work W hen the lights went out on Super Bowl XLVII last month, America’s electric utilities were provided a far behind banks four years into an economic downturn is a particularly telling stat. The anecdotal evidence is just as compelling. stark reminder of the marquee reputational ers In July 2011, a public utility, PEPCO (Potomac challenge they face. Despite the fact that En- Electric Power Company), rose to the top of the tergy New Orleans restored power to the Super American Consumer Satisfaction Index’s (ACSI) Dome in just 34 minutes, the dominant narra- list of the “Most Hated Companies in America.” tive across social and traditional media was That’s not a list of just power companies mind the problem, not the solution. The task was as you; but of all companies doing business in the immense as it was complex, and it was carried U.S. At the same time, consumer advocate offic- out under the most difficult of circumstances. es—such as Illinois’ Citizens Utility Board and Nonetheless, the restoration effort barely cre- California’s Utility Reform Network—are pop- ated a ripple in an outage conversation that ping up across the country. Earlier this year, out-trended Beyonce’s half-time show and ev- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo voiced his ery other Super Bowl-related topic, including desire to disband the Long Island Power Au- the game itself, on Twitter. thority (LIPA) due to delays in repairing infra- Utilities across the country work similar mira- structure ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. cles every day; most are similarly disregarded Now, consider that all of this is happening de- How l by consumers who have come to expect perfec- dwil tion from the public and private power indus- tries. Most of us have little to no understand- spite the remarkable acumen that most utili- ties demonstrate in their customer engagement strategies. They are out in front of most other ing of what it takes to keep the juice running. industries in terms of Search Engine Optimiza- M ore Goo It’s not something we think about until we’re Utilitie s C tion (SEO), as utility messaging on pricing, emis- forced to live without it. The miracle is now sions, storm preparedness, and other signifi- routine—and when breaks in the routine in- cant issues often claims top billing on Google. evitably occur, we have astoundingly little pa- Many of them leverage social media during tience for utilities that perform flawlessly the outages to provide consumers with timely, de- other 99.9 percent of the time. tailed, and highly localized information about Such fickle consumer attitudes are apparent restoration efforts. Their websites are content- in the numbers. According to J.D. Power’s 2012 rich and focused on consumer needs. nG Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfac- ener ate Clearly, many utility companies put a great deal tion Survey, utilities score a paltry 625 on a a of thought into consumer outreach and reputa- 1,000-point scale. That puts them nearly 100 tion management. So why is the industry still points behind banks, insurers, and other his- so reviled? Why don’t we cut utilities torically unloved industries. To be lagging so Richard S. Levick Originally Published on Fastcompany.com04 05
  4. 4. Weekly tell, consumers what it really takes to keep Utilities have a powerful story electricity flowing on sunny and stormy days alike. I’ve spent time on dozens of utility web- that simply isn’t being told. They sites around the country and am amazed by are the engine that makes every the overwhelming number that use clip art. aspect of modern life possible. Nice pictures of smiling people, and hardly After all, most Americans love and trust Apple any of them of real. Pictures are how we com- and thus give it time to fix its mistakes. Aren’t municate. So the goal should be to use this ex- the companies that provide the power that lets traordinary opportunity that technology has Apple be Apple entitled to the same? provided to relay a message in an emotional way that gets customers saying, “That’s my They are, but only if they understand that like utility company.” a light bulb, television, or computer turning on, brand loyalty doesn’t just happen on its own. L It also means optimizing these emotional nar- ratives for online search just as aggressively Richard S. Levick, Esq., President and CEO of LEVICK, as those related to rates and other issues. And represents countries and companies in the highest-stakes global communications matters—from the Wall Street it means personalizing these stories with the crisis and the Gulf oil spill to Guantanamo Bay and the same targeted social media outreach strategies Catholic Church. that utilities deploy to provide personalized more slack for outages that are often caused Utilities have a powerful story that simply isn’t updates during outages. The single factor that by forces outside their control and resolved as being told. They are the engine that makes ev- significantly moves the needle of customer quickly as possible? ery aspect of modern life possible. They are satisfaction for utilities is localized messaging the first responders on the front lines when There is the fact that media attention often falls (e.g. “your power in your neighborhood will Mother Nature wreaks her havoc. They are the on the worst of public utilities, the ones that in- be returned within four hours”). Technology men and women who take considerable risks crease rates and don’t invest in infrastructure now allows utilities to do this adroitly. Why to protect our comfort and convenience. These for years upon years. But there is a larger factor not do it during peacetime, instead of just dur- are the narratives that will establish tangible at play. For the most part, the public doesn’t ap- ing the storm? consumer connections and put a human face preciate the hard work, fast action, and profes- on that flick of the switch. And that level of fa- Familiarity breeds understanding, and under- sionalism that ultimately saved the Super Bowl. miliarity is precisely what’s needed to earn and standing, in turn, breeds trust. When consum- We don’t see the utility worker toiling atop a maintain higher levels of public trust. ers begin to better understand all that utilities cherry picker in high winds and driving rain and the people behind them do, the more they to restore power to a blacked-out community. These messages need to be front and cen- will appreciate the millions of tiny miracles We aren’t exposed to the stories of expertise, ter, and disseminated in ways that maximize utilities enable every day. More important, they courage, and sense of service that makes the their impact. will be all the more willing to provide utilities miracle of light happen; so those factors aren’t First and foremost, that means integrating the with the benefit of the doubt when they fall there to diminish our anxiety and frustration use of web video to show, rather than merely short of the perfect performance they demand. when it doesn’t.06 07
  5. 5. -Pack TZ his week, the U.S. Food and Drug Ad- that new. It may, in fact, be something doctors ministration (FDA) issued a warning have known about and taken into consider- that Pfizer’s popular Z-pack antibiotic ation all along. Even before the FDA issued its (also known as Zithromax or Zmax) may cause warning physicians probably did not prescribe sudden death in some patients with preexisting Z-Packs to patients with heart problems heart conditions. All that said, Pfizer needs to be careful not to as- Z-packs are prescribed nearly 60 million times sume that the scientific facts alone—no matter ience a year and are often requested by name by pa- how well they are presented—will effectively t Sc e thar y tients who understand just how powerful and address the brand risk. Winning the scientific effective they are in treating bacterial infec- battle is a necessary defensive move. But the ssume Sto n’t A Scar tions. Any suggestion that such a popular and war will be decided emotionally. er Ca p a effective medication might have adverse side When the public hears the words “suddenPfiz Trum effects is therefore newsworthy—and high- death” leading the nightly newscasts, no profile media from the Today Show to World Will amount of scientific evidence will entirely elim- News Tonight ran wild with the story. inate their anxiety. Instead, the public needs to y Dail It is important to note, however, that newswor- be reminded of why Z-Packs are so popular in VICK tt on LE thy items are not necessarily true. The possi- the first place. Why taking them is worth what- artle lishe d David B Pub ly inal bility that Z-packs might cause irregular heart- ever slight risk might be involved. Orig beats in a small number of patients makes for a Pfizer needs to aggressively communicate the great scare story. But it does not mean that the benefits of its antibiotic in order to ensure that vast majority of people who take the pills have they outweigh the apparently very slight risk to anything at all to worry about. a very small percentage of the patient popula- As is often the case, the context is buried deep tion. This is especially true in the online and under the sensationalism. The FDA warning social media space, where wild rumors and ex- shows correlation—that a statistically signifi- aggerations about the latest medical scare are cant, although apparently still rather small, the rule rather than the exception. number of patients who took the drug suffered It is a rock solid principle of risk communica- the potentially serious side effect. But that is tion that most people perceive a risk as less se- not the same as demonstrating actual causa- rious if it is associated with a clear benefit. As tion through the rigorous and replicated sci- such, this is truly a situation in which the best entific testing that would prove how the drug defense is a good offense. L might actually cause the side effect. David Bartlett is a Senior Vice President at LEVICK and a Moreover, the side effect referred to in this lat- contributing author to LEVICK Daily. est round of scare stories turns out to be not all 09
  6. 6. The NYC W hen a New York City judge halted Mayor As consumers have learned more about nutri- Michael Bloomberg’s attempt to ban the tion and demanded healthier choices, the food sale of soda beverages over 16 ounces at corner and beverage industry has obliged—without stores, bars, restaurants and theaters, the rul- limiting choice for those who may prefer larger ing represented a victory for consumer choice. servings. That fact notwithstanding, the indus-Soda Ban try is currently working with regulators to craft The proposed law was aimed at sodas and oth- even stronger standards that balance the need er sweetened soft drinks that are presumably to inform with the desire to market. contributing to America’s obesity epidemic. Like Mayor Bloomberg’s other salvos against In fact, when it comes to choice, soda brands trans-fats, cigarettes, salt, and even loud music, provide the perfect context for how the indus- it was essentially an attempt to force healthier try is slanting toward healthier options. Right lifestyles on NYC residents by regulating con- now, for example, they’re offering a flood ofAnother Solution in Search of a Problem sumer behavior. That’s why the judge rightly new drinks that cater directly to the health-con- struck it down as “arbitrary,” “capricious,” and scious—and consumers are rewarding them Gene Grabowski a prime example of government overreach. for it. Meanwhile, you can hardly find a high- Originally Published on LEVICK Daily fructose soft drink any more in high school But despite its obvious constriction of consum- vending machines that today are stocked with er choice, the ban’s most significant flaw was water, juices and vitamin drinks. that it simply isn’t needed. There is ample evi- dence that consumers who are well-informed Like so many other attempts to limit consumer make healthier decisions. When presented freedom, New York City’s proposed soda ban with a wide array of nutritious options, they was a solution in search of a problem that is make even healthier ones. Right now, the best addressed with consumer education and food and beverage industry is al- the free market. ready making progress on both New York’s soda ban defeat won’t deter activ- fronts—and in ways that ists, plaintiffs, regulators and lawmakers from don’t deprive New York- launching similar attacks in the future. But, as ers of a Big Gulp once long as the food and beverage industry stays in a while. ahead of the curve on issues of health, nutri- Food and beverage tion, and choice, it will be well-positioned to labels are among the contain the mischief of politicians. L most informative and Gene Grabowski is an Executive Vice President at LEVICK transparent you can and a contributing author to LEVICK Daily. find on any shelf. 11
  7. 7. Weekly W ith every miscast step Lance Armstrong takes in his continued Livestrong doping scandal, Livestrong finds itself in a unique and perilous position. The charitable foundation, with its benevolence in regard to cancer research and fundraising, cannot yet escape the specter of its disgraced founder, former CEO and spokesman. In order to do so, Livestrong must continue to distance Life After Lance is Possible—Telling the itself from Armstrong’s now tattered legacy. The organization took its first major step last Small Stories Will Yield Big Results week by revealing a new logo which severs Armstrong’s name from the Livestrong brand. However, a full transformation will be an Ryan Stanton uphill climb and require much more than a Originally Published on tweak to a logo. A simple search engine que- ry for “Livestrong” yields nothing but con- nections to the fallen cycling hero, proof that these efforts will need to be carried out for a prolonged period of time. As potential litiga- tion looms, it is likely that Armstrong will con- tinue to generate headlines that distract from Livestrong’s message. Just weeks after Armstrong’s public confession on Oprah, he further damaged his reputation by refusing to cooperate with the USDA’s in- vestigation, forcing Livestrong’s leadership to pursue an aggressive strategy to distance itself from the former icon. Key to this effort will be CEO Doug Ulman, and his ability to convince stakeholders that the page has been turned on the Armstrong era. If Livestrong is to escape Armstong’s shadow, its leadership must contin- ue to emphasize their cancer support services 12Aspen Photo / 13
  8. 8. BLOGS worth following Weekly Thought leaders Industry blogs Amber Naslund Holmes Report Amber Naslund is a coauthor of The Now Revolution. A source of news, knowledge, and career The book discusses the impact of the social web information for public relations professionals. and how businesses need to “adapt to the new eraAspen Photo / of instantaneous business." NACD Blog Brian Halligan The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) blog provides insight on corporate and effectively highlight all the good work they corporation would its investors; reclamation of HubSpot CEO and Founder. governanceand leading board practices. do in local communities. Telling these small their trust is paramount to the survival of the Chris Brogan PR Week stories will remind individuals, licensing part- organization. Chris Brogan is an American author, journalist, PRWeek is a vital part of the PR and communications ners, and corporate donors that Livestrong is industries in the US, providing timely news, reviews, The next step of Ulman’s campaign should be marketing consultant, and frequent speaker about an effective organization built for the long- social media marketing. profiles, techniques, and ground-breaking research. to explore the hiring of a new spokesperson. term. David Meerman Scott PR Daily News This individual should be highly-recognizable Livestrong should look to the Susan G. Komen and affiliated with cancer survival. Over time, David Meerman Scott is an American online PR Daily provides public relations professionals, marketing strategist, and author of several books social media specialists and marketing foundation for guidance. The non-profit with a a new spokesperson, along with a modified on marketing, most notably The New Rules of communicators with a daily news feed. similar mission rebounded strongly after a con- logo and name, will come to represent a viable, Marketing and PR with over 250,000 copies in print in more than 25 languages. troversy surrounding the exemption of grants given to Planned Parenthood. Komen’s strat- trustworthy and transcendent brand that is more than a mere extension of one individual. Guy Kawasaki BUSINESS Related FastCompany egy is one Livestrong should strive to emulate. Often, it is not the crisis that defines a brand. Guy Kawasaki is a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Emphasis must be placed on the fact that it has bestselling author, and Apple Fellow. He was one Fast Company is the world’s leading progressive Last long enough and any company is bound to of the Apple employees originally responsible for business media brand, with a unique editorial raised over 500 million dollars to fight cancer, marketing the Macintosh in 1984. focus on business, design, and technology. experience one. It is how a company responds and again, put a face or faces to the life-saving to a crisis that distinguishes the trustworthy Jay Baer Forbes support this money has generated. from the non-trustworthy, the successes from Jay Baer is coauthor of, “The Now Revolution: 7 Forbes is a leading source for reliable business To accomplish this, Livestrong must continue the failures. Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and news and financial information for the Worlds More Social." business leaders. taking advantage of the current spotlight in The bottom line is that Livestrong is a force for Mashable order to communicate their transformation. Rachel Botsman good and has raised millions of dollars for cancer By treating the current crisis as an oppor- Social Media news blog covering cool new websites services. With a few proactive steps, there is rea- Rachel Botsman is a social innovator who writes, consults and speaks on the power of collaboration and social networks. tunity, they can insulate and strengthen the son to believe they can survive and move on. L and sharing through network technologies. Livestrong brand from unavoidable bumps down the road. Livestrong is a non-profit, and Ryan Stanton is a Director at LEVICK. He is also a contribut- Seth Godin ing author to LEVICK Daily. benefactors should be treated as a for-profit Seth Godin is an American entrepreneur, author and public speaker. Godin popularized the topic of permission marketing. 14
  9. 9. IN THE NEWS ArticlesMedill News Service | March 15, 2013 SIGN UP for LEVICK InsightsProposed Ban on Energy Drinks Gives Makers the JittersMiami Herald | March 15, 2013New headache for Miami-based Carnival Cruise LinesInternational Business Times | March 13, 2013With NYC Mayor Bloombergs Large Soda Ban Out, Exploring Other Ways Government CanFight Obesity First Name: Last Name:Sports On Earth | March 13, 2013The Price Of RightNew York Post | March 12, 2013 E-mail Address:Carl’s Peek at Dell Books Boosts SharesFox News | March 12, 2013Matt Lauers Attempts to Shift Blame for Ann Curry Ouster Misguided, Experts Say SUBMITNew York Times | March 8, 2013Man Who Helped Image of Wal-Mart Steps Down