Announcing Our Partnership with Innovatory Solutions and WE Labs

We are happy to announce that today is our first day in partnership with Innovatory Solutions at WE Labs in Downtown Long Beach. This endeavor brings together Amara Omoregie, Lincoln Bauer and Ted Sieving as managing partners of a creative marketing and business development agency that will draw on the talent and experience at the WE Labs coworking location on Broadway. By providing Long Beach’s businesses, government, established and aspiring entrepreneurs with access to local artists and creative services, Innovatory Solutions will bring authenticity and originality back to Downtown and Greater Long Beach. Amara put it best, saying “Long Beach has so much talent and is capable of so much, all with its own unique and amazing identity. It’s time to start believing it by building businesses and campaigns that speak to and about our community in authentic ways. Local is authentic. Long Beach is authentic.”

 
Lincoln goes on to explain the efforts to champion local business and emerging brands from this area, stating “we don’t sit around and wait for opportunity and change, we actively seek both out.” To this end, Innovatory Solutions will offer two monthly sessions to develop the entrepreneurial culture in Long Beach and will be participating in I Week this October. In addition, Lincoln Bauer hopes to develop a strong brand incubation program to select businesses this year. All brands that work with Innovatory Solutions will benefit from the over 30 combined years of experience that these three managing partners brings to the table and the support of dozens of working professionals that Innovatory Solutions will partner with. The sky is the limit for this collaborative agency and we are proud to be joining the journey.

Tinder’s Three Prong PR Problem

On Tuesday, August 11, someone in the Tinder company utilized the company Twitter account to go on a “Twitterstorm” in response to a Vanity Fair article that uncovered some pretty unsavory uses of mobile dating apps like Tinder, Happn, Hinge, OkCupid, and more by members of the Millennial group. Without making predictions of how well Tinder will perform in the next five years, I have noticed that they have a pretty serious problem; their public relations. At Chapman University, I took a course in public relations where I learned a simple perspective on who is served by a company or brand’s efforts in public relations. My professor, Allen Levy, taught us that to be successful in PR, you have to nurture your relationships with three groups: your workforce, your customers, and potential customers (aka the world community at large). So, for instance, when it comes to your labor force, if you make sure that they are trained and equipped to do a job that they are proud of they become a word of mouth ambassador for your brand (and the opposite being very much true as well). As for your customers, keeping them happy by being accessible and providing them with solutions for their problems is the most important thing you can do to keep their loyalty and business. Finally, by maintaining a reputation of quality and esteem with the world at large, over time you may gain their dollars, but more importantly they won’t have a reason to question your value.

In the wake of the Twitterstorm, early on  August 13, Tinder announced that CEO Chris Payne (hired in March, with experience at eBay, Microsoft, Amazon and many others) was being replaced. So, who is being placed at the helm in these uncertain times? Former CEO and founder, Sean Rad. I repeat, former CEO and founder, Sean Rad, is taking his job back from Chris Payne after being demoted to president in November 2014 on the heels of a sexual harassment lawsuit that ended his friend’s career as CMO at the company. So, this may seem like old school, reaction-based management (and it is) but it may be more indicative of a lack of genuine leadership that can poison a company. High levels of turnover are not unusual at tech companies (ahem, Amazon), but this type of hire-fire-hire environment has led to some volatile conditions that affect loyalty and brand sentiment in the top tiers of the labor force and can make it difficult to attract a replacement squad further down the line. Maybe it’s NBD for the majority shareholders at InterActiveCorp (IAC), who in June announced plans to take their Match Group (containing Match.com, Tinder and OkCupid) public with an IPO, because Tinder is only a little fragment of their total investments in internet services and is becoming a bit of a black sheep.

I don’t doubt that there is talent at Tinder and a future for their app; I doubt they have a strategy for approaching their public relations proactively. That might sound harsh, so I’ll back it up a little. Their off-the-cuff “Twitterstorm” (which you can read in its entirety) started with a brief tweet eerily similar to the hyper-sexual communications that those interviewed in the Vanity Fair article reported as typical in their experience:

Littleknown

The message changes about 13 tweets later, but not the inflammatory tone:

Itsabout

Then 20 posts later this melodramatic martyr remark surfaces:

Sowearegoing

Dealing with negative press is difficult, but a professional public relations department works on their reputation consistently to ensure that they keep their customers happy and to gain consumer trust. In order to do that in this case, they would be better served to follow up in a manner that would discover to what extent this environment may exist and then act on it if it is not in line with the environment that they want to provide to the Tinder community. Why didn’t they point out that their users are able to report members of the community that send “harassing or offensive messages” along with the other safety issues that they may be exposed to on the platform? Afterall, educating the consumer is the responsibility of the brand and this could have been seized as an opportunity to strengthen a perceived weakness. Why didn’t they ask people to reach out directly to them via a feedback link to show that they are listening? This would give them an opportunity to highlight positive feedback and control the narrative. What they did instead was demonstrate an attitude of arrogance and insouciance towards critics who believe their product to nurture unfulfilling social experiences.

This reaction may not be damaging to their current members, who will probably come and go naturally, but could be a turn off to the world at large. This is the third, and equally important demographic, that good PR practitioners address in their strategy to maintain a good reputation and strong presence in the market. If it is true, as GlobalWedIndex has reported, that “about 62% of all location-based dating app users are male” and Tinder wants to increase their female presence on the app to better serve and retain their male membership, it’s important to pay attention to what they can do to draw in the ladies. This could even present an opportunity for them to explore the possibility of horizontal growth. If they do their due diligence and discover that there is a group that is being underserved due to the environment that their users are creating on their app, they could begin targeting a whole new segment of users that need a solution to mobile dating with a different purpose in mind. Given their access to innovators in technological development, and the billions they could raise when they go public, they could truly be sitting on a goldmine. The emergence of dating sites that target people looking for a particular result in mobile dating (such as J Date, Christian Mingle, Farmers Only, heck even Ashley Madison) hints at how specific people are when it comes to their expectations from service providers. No matter what their findings, once they do the data collection and analysis, they will have a convincing argument for their investors and a clear path for their evolution that will attract new users.

Was Vanity Fair unfair? What would you have done differently if you were on the Tinder team? Does this sound like a publicity stunt to you? Do you second the reactions that fans of Nancy Jo Sales are putting out there on Twitter? What do you think the future holds for the mobile dating industry? There are a lot of different ways to interpret the leadership changes Tinder is going through, their approach to understanding the market, and their public reaction (labeled a meltdown on AdWeek online) to Vanity Fair. Our job, is to practice the type of PR that we are confident in and encourage other entrepreneurs to do the same.

 

Re-branding: Depend® Takes It Down To the Skivvies

Necessity is the mother of invention. Judging by the amount of time and money (a reported $2 million to spokeswoman Lisa Rinna) Depend® has spent on re-branding themselves this last year, they must have decided it was time to recreate themselves. They did so with a great amount of enthusiasm as they started their “Drop Your Pants” campaign around July of 2014.

Essential to the campaign is a new way of looking at their product, wearable adult incontinence solutions. These “adult diapers” are the thing of over-the-hill parties and gag gifts meant as a not-so-subtle joke. Our reaction to them only perpetuates the embarrassment that people feel when they make a purchase of these products. That’s why the “Drop Your Pants” campaign battle cry is #NoBigDeal.

Whether or not this is a slogan that will work, the people at Depend® are sweetening the campaign with a little PR twist. They are diligently cranking out shareable content for social media and have made a promise to donate $1 per social share of their content with the hashtag #DropYourPants or #Underwearness. To date their website says they have reached over a million shares.

What do you think about this? What would you do differently?

depend

Tweet, Google or Die

I started out in Marketing when this new-fangled platform, Facebook, began to arm wrestle with MySpace for market share of what would become known as the millennial. Today, many of the brands we work with in the fashion, music, food, sports and entertainment industries are chasing after this core group of consumers seen as the “next” baby boomers by the Pew Reasearch Center.  With nearly daily changes in the social media sphere, what do you need to know at a glance to keep up?  I’m about to tell you.

  1. COUNT ON CHANGE MORE THAN THE ADVICE YOU READ

That’s right, even my advice will become out-dated and that’s why I make it a habit to constantly research what’s trending, changing and updating. Having said that, here are my findings this week.

  1. TWITTER: NOT JUST FOR TWEETS ANYMORE

This elusive network has changed since it went online in 2006. In my opinion, their 2014 move to beef up their in-app photo sharing to include multiple image uploading and friend tagging was made to keep them from losing market share to the titans of image sharing: Facebook and Instagram.  Now, they are going after video (even though they already own Vine) and I think it’s a SMART move. WHY? I personally believe that Twitter is the best place to go when you want to be low-pro. Millenials in particular are looking for a place where they can hide from their family and employers to be themselves without restriction. This network is like the new “burner phone” because now that they can get all their needs met on this network, they may start to rely on it over Facebook. Instagram’s fluid posting to Twitter also makes it desirable.

What does this mean for brands? If, as Twitter reports, there are 288 million monthly active users on this network and there are 500 million tweets sent per day, you could reasonably assume that their users are checking in to the app almost twice a day (PS. they report 80% of active users engage on mobile). With the add-on of video services, I would predict that this number goes up and the app becomes more attractive to that generation. This is a network to keep investing content in.

  1. GOOGLE+: DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK, YET

So, having just taken the reigns of the social media platform Google+, Bradley Horowitz somewhat hinted at changes to the tangly, underused network that every Gmail user is instantly and irrevocably signed up for. I have always disliked this facet of Google+ most. The execs at Google, as we know, want to know everything about us and are using your Google+ account as a universal tracking code of sorts to gain insight into YOU. In doing so, they made it compulsory to have a Google+ account which falsely inflates the “profile” of their network. In addition, they tried to make certain ‘signature’ differences such as using the “+1” term to replace “like” and the “+” prefix to a tag instead of the “#” that we were all used to. It seems as though their plan is to demystify the user experience for Google+ (including Hangouts) and spruce up what they are now calling “Google Photos and Streams.”

So what? I don’t know yet! They are doleing out information and updates little by little but I’m not sure what can save this platform which was a latecomer in social media and has more users than we probably know what to do with. Actually, with user names in the estimated of billions and only 540 million active users, it seems they are trying to figure out what to do with us also. One thing is for sure, don’t count them out because they aren’t going down without a fight and since they aren’t tSocialhe IT girl yet they have the most room for growth.

 

Photo from Pixabay.com

8 Content Calendars (and Advice on How to USE All of Them)

I didn’t realize how universal (in the marketing world) the struggle to find the ideal content calendar system is.  We run into this issue with our clients, sure, but we thought it was because there wasn’t an understanding of the marketing process on the client side.  After reading Kevan Lee’s article this month, I realize that there are as many ways to create this organizational tool as there are brands in need of them.  As Lee says, the calendars serve one purpose, to keep you from getting stuck head down in the creation of content and allow you to look heads up at the BIG PICTURE.

Some people are satisfied with an Excel spreadsheet format; perhaps one that helps plan on the different social media channels, others find the need to differentiate between target audiences/personas, while there are some who need to focus on selling periods and production dates.

But, if you ask me, I find Excel spreadsheets to be really icky.  Because things never seem to stay the same in a thirty day period, I prefer something that is easier to drag and drop (without having to reformat)!  That’s why I idolize the Basecamp calendar tool and peddle it like a ladies’ hysteria tonic in the Victorian age.  It wasn’t until I read this article that I realized that similar software exists, like ProofHub, which reminded me of the one that I had abandoned in favor of the Basecamp I love today, Trello.

Still, others prefer to have a tactile calendar.  I’ve even heard of people using wall sized calendar systems, like this one from 17thandRiggs.com (below), that is essentially a huge set of stickers that you put up on your wall and use in conjunction with chalk.  However, there is no need to invest in this type of solution!  As one reader pointed out, the website print-a-calendar.com lets you type in key dates directly into a calendar that you can print out (it can even pop in standard holidays).  Once you have this printed you can pencil in dates and move them around, use color-coded Post-it notes, stickers, etc to plan out content.  I imagine you could even laminate the sheet and use a wet erase marker to present to your team members.

calendar-wall-stickerThe format is NOT as important as the activity of creating a calendar that helps you see the big picture and maintaining it to stay on track to your goals.  Start by plotting out seasonal and annual events be they social, sporting, cultural, or your custom business milestones (semi-annual sales, charity events, quarterly surveys, etc) as suggested in my previous blog on the subject of content calendars.  Whatever you do, remember you don’t have to stick to the same calendar system from year to year.  It is an ever-evolving document and with these 8 suggestions, you are never stuck.

 

Main Image from BufferApp.com, a great resource for content marketers of all stripes

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