December 6th, 2013
Mack hates ties. They are expensive, uncomfortable, attract soup spills and represent a musty, long ago era. When Mack worked in PR, he added a “tie surcharge” to his invoice if clients insisted he wear one on the job.
So you can imagine his delight at a recent Guardian story about how the British civil service, led by the often-
tieless Prime Minister, may stop wearing ties. Seems the national neckwear of jolly old is going the way of the dinner jacket top hat and cravat.
Perhaps it’s the digital era that’s sweeping old conventions – from buying daily newspapers and renting DVDs to wearing ties – aside. Mack, for one, welcomes the tieless age.
November 28th, 2013
Photo courtesy of entrepreneur.com
A US TV host and bank have recently learned how quickly a social media message can turn around and bite you. Hard.
Melissa Bachman, a TV host and producer posted photos of herself on Facebook and Twitter posing behind a dead male lion she killed in South Africa.
Within hours, a furious online reaction forced Ms. Bachman to deactivate her Facebook and Twitter pages. “You, lady, are what’s wrong with the world”, was one sample tweet. Bachman was cut as a contestant from National Geographic’s Ultimate Survival Alaska show last year after 13,000 protested, calling her a “heartless trophy hunter”.
When JPMorgan Chase bank asked Twitter users to send questions to #AskJPM it didn’t go well. The bank gave up six hours later after receiving 6,000 nasty tweets such as “Can I have my house back?” and “Is it true “JPM stands for Just Pay More?”
The social media misstep is the latest woe for the bank currently facing at least eight US Justice Department investigations.
November 21st, 2013
Photo courtesy of St Lucia Star
The era of the personal computer is powering down. Steve Jobs predicted it three years ago and in 2012 more than 120 million tablets were sold, seven times the number sold two years earlier.
Sales of tablets will surpass those of PCs by the end of 2013, according to market research firm IDC. Mack uses a tablet at home, often to purchase goods and services. He’s not alone.
According to Stats Canada online shopping is up 24% in Canada compared with last year and the average Canadian now spends $1,450 online per year.
The top five online purchases, by percentage of users, in Canada are:
- Travel arrangements – 58%
- Tickets for Entertainment – 52%
- Books, Magazines and online newspapers – 42%
- Music – 35%
- Memberships or Registration Fees – 35%
Mack’s going to spend some time on the tablet this evening. He’s thinking about a trip to somewhere warm.
November 15th, 2013
Gus - photo courtesy of Leo Reynolds
Climate change is not good, especially for polar bears. The big whites face an uncertain future in Canada’s Arctic as global warming increases the number of ice-free days – which keep the bears away from seals, their primary food source.
Fortunately, the world knows about the plight of the polar bears thanks to extensive social media campaigns and internet sites such as explore.org which live-streams amazing video of polar bears awaiting the freeze up of Hudson Bay near Churchill, Manitoba.
Another polar bear named Gus, a longtime resident of the New York Zoo, became an internet sensation for his swimming. He would swim for up to 12 hours a day, every day, in his watery habitat in Central Park.
Gus died this summer at the age of 27. An animal behaviorist, hired by the Zoo, concluded Gus swam because he was bored.
Mack hopes the polar bears of Hudson Bay won’t have to take up Gus’s swimming habit to get the food they need to survive.
November 7th, 2013
Foster Family / Star Ledger
A week ago Larry G. Foster, a former journalist and PR executive at Johnson & Johnson, died at the age of 88. He was one of Mack’s PR idols.
Larry Foster was the man who, more than 30 years ago, reinvented the way most organizations deal with crisis. In 1982, police in Chicago connected a string of deaths to cyanide-laced Extra Strength Tylenol capsules that had been tampered with at various retail outlets.
Consumer panic ensued and the crime threatened to kill off the Tylenol brand. Larry Foster reacted with a strategy now the model of corporate crisis management: put consumer safety first, respond to the media quickly and be entirely honest.
J&J pulled all its Tylenol ads and spent more than $100 million to recall more than 30 million bottles from the market. Then the chairman of J&J appeared on national TV to explain the steps the company had taken.
Foster’s strategy worked. J&J reintroduced the brand two months later in “tamper-resistant” packaging and within a year had recaptured 30% of the then $1.2 billion pain-reliever market.
October 31st, 2013
The other day Mack’s teenage daughter announced she was “over” Facebook. Seems she isn’t alone with her rejection. The latest semi-annual report on teens from Piper Jeffray reveals that Facebook’s popularity among teens has dropped to just 23% from a high of 42% just a year ago.
Twitter, another social media platform, has become teens’ new BFF, growing to 26% of the market. Instagram has developed into another popular social network platform with teens, tied with Facebook as the #2 choice.
Meanwhile the University of Illinois reports much of Twitter’s traffic is dominated among a small subset of 15% of Twitter users who produce 85% of tweets. Mack suspects his daughter and other teens account for a sizeable chunk of this busy 15% of tweeters.
Image courtesy of Moma Propaganda
October 24th, 2013
Mack spent three months travelling in Europe as a student and like generations of Europe-bound students before him, he got most of his news from the International Herald Tribune (IHT), the English language newspaper printed in Paris and distributed in more than 135 countries.
But last week there was bad news for old International Herald Tribune. The New York Times Co., which took control of the IHT a decade ago, has rebranded it as the International New York Times. It’s the beleaguered company’s latest attempt to hang onto readers who, as part of the digital upheaval facing all old media, are fleeing to online news competitors.
Ironically, the International Tribune was founded 126 years ago as the European edition of the New York Herald, a one-time rival of the New York Times.
October 16th, 2013
Two years ago, Mack attended a Social Media conference in Las Vegas. As the saying goes, most of what happened there is supposed to stay there but he brought back some information.
Such as, when a presenter asked an audience for anyone under 25 to stand up, then asked those standing to remain on their feet if they were in charge of their organization’s social media. All but a couple of the two dozen of under-25s sat.
Back then social media was still a new and unknown activity which many firms left in the hands of their youngest, and often, newest employees.
That was then. Nowadays social media communications and marketing are better understood and handled. According to LinkedIn, job postings for social media-related jobs have increased by 1,300% since 2010.
The top five social media job titles on LinkedIn according to users are:
- Social Media Manager
- Social Media Marketer
- Social Media Coordinator
- Social Media Specialist
- Social Media Consultant
October 1st, 2013
Paper is often identified as the endangered species of the digital age. Online and mobile banking, contactless payments and chip card technology will make paper money obsolete. Printed newspapers, squeezed by online classified and display ads will eventually die off.
But Mack isn’t so sure. Two recent bits of news caught his eye.
• The Payment Council of UK notes that the volume of cash payments rose by $200 million pounds in 2012. The recession is a key factor in the cash’s comeback, says the Council, as people return to cash to better monitor their spending.
• The Washington Post has been bought by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million US. The Post, of Watergate fame, was the symbol of the golden age of newspapers, when ad revenues flowed and the paper had a daily circulation of more the 800,000. But digital ads have slashed revenue and the circulation is below 500,000. It gets worse. In 2005 Don Graham, then owner of the Post, sold his stake in a small start-up called Facebook. Bezos, poster child of the digital generation, believes newspapers have some future.
September 18th, 2013
One of Mack’s colleagues thought last week’s post about first responders’ high pay was a tad bitter. She might be right. Perhaps the return of the rains momentarily dampened Mack’s usually sunny disposition.
So here’s some good news about jobs. A just released study by the SFU PR program reveals that social media is increasing PR job satisfaction. Thanks to the 24/7 demands of social media, Vancouver public relations professionals are working longer hours—and they don’t seem to mind.
During a survey of more than 100 people who identified themselves as communications, marketing, or PR professionals, researchers found 53 per cent of respondents were working more—especially after hours.
But of everyone surveyed, 84 per cent said that their job satisfaction had either increased or remained the same with more social media responsibilities.
While the results surprised the researchers, here’s how one grad of the PR program put it: “I have to admit, the flexibility of my role, and company, is definitely a perk. The benefits are that I can literally take my clients with me anywhere—my home office, a cafe, or on a trip out of town. I recognize that few can say this about their jobs, and may not want to, but it’s something I enjoy.”
Early in 2013, the PR program secured funding from Telus to produce a video based on the survey results. It began airing in September 2013. An infographic summarizing the research is also available.