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Recap – August Event

Missed creative director of Warschawski Thomas Neuberger‘s presentation on Social Media & the Integrated Marketing Campaign? Here’s just a quick sampling of what he had to say…

  • Traditional and digital communications are all tools in your toolbox.  Social media is just one of these important tools. Be sure to keep this in perspective when planning your campaign.
  • The secret to using all your tools (traditional & digital) is brand clarity.
  • Brand, marketing and public relations opportunities all focus on your primary, secondary, and tertiary target audiences. As the cycle repeats itself, you continue to strengthen the power of your brand. This is integration in action!
  •  The text book definition of a brand is the “expectation of someone or something that delivers a certain feeling.” This expectation is created through communication and reinforced (or weakened) by the experience.  What Thomas wanted us to understand is that ultimately “Brand is about making a fundamental emotional connection with your audience.”
  • Seventy percent of all brand-based decisions are made at the emotional or subconscious level. Great branding inspires loyalty beyond reason. Examples: Dunkin Donuts coffee, McDonald’s coffee and Starbucks.
  • Brand is not about the logo, collateral material, packaging, tagline, advertising – these support the brand.
  • Main questions to ask: What does your company want to make people feel or think about themselves? How do you want to stand out? How do you want to be remembered?
  • Companies who have gotten it right – TOMS Shoes, Southwest and Levis. We also talked about one big “Uh-Oh” involving social media: the 2009 Skittles Twitter campaign. For a time, Skittles lost control of its brand when it turned its home page into a Twitter page resulting in tweets having nothing to do with the colorful candy  (If you’re unaware of the case, Google it.).
  • Some statistics: 43% of peer to news sharing comes from social media. 27% of frequent sharers generate 87% of all news shared online. It’s this 27% that can become your brand champions/ambassadors.
  • Most of all, social media isn’t a one-sided conversation. It is about developing a connection with your target audience.  Don’t use social media as just another platform. Use it to start a conversation.

The program ended with a great Q&A where we discussed other campaigns successes, as well as a few failures. Thanks again to Thomas Neuberger of Warschawski’s for sharing the morning with us.

Want to hear more about this and other relevant PR topics? Mark your calendars for the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Chesapeake Conference scheduled for November 3, 2011. This year’s event titled The New Face of PR will be co-hosted by the Maryland, National Capital, and Central Chesapeake Chapters. Registration & details coming soon at www.prsamd.org.

How Would You Handle Toyota’s Crisis Communications?

“Quality was [Toyota’s] differentiator and now it’s their Achilles heel,” says Brenda Wrigley, chair of the public relations department at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Her comments appeared in a Forbes article this week, which draws a partial comparison between Toyota’s handling of the current PR crisis involving faulty accelerator pedals to Johnson & Johnson’s text-book handling of their 1982 PR crisis involving Tylenol bottles that were tampered with and poisoned. (J&J immediately recalled 20 million bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol from store shelves and replaced them with new product in tamper-proof packaging, sending a clear message to the public that it values consumer safety over profits.)

Over the past two weeks, Toyota has issued recalls on millions of cars, stopped production of eight of its models at plants across the globe, and ordered dealers to pull cars off their showroom floors. The problem with the accelerators isn’t entirely new, but it has rapidly escalated into a crisis. Some critics say that Toyota, in its aim to be the world’s top car manufacturer, has outgrown its quality control measures, thus undermining the essence of its brand.

What do you think? Are Toyota’s current crisis management efforts sufficient to maintain consumer confidence in a brand that has been synonymous with quality? What message is the current recall and halt on production sending to consumers? Is Toyota’s handling of the problem comparable to J&J’s handling of the Tylenol crisis? How would you handle the current crisis?

Visit Toyota’s Web site for official information about the recall.

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