Le Meme du Jour: How the Obama Administration Will Change Things

At the request of my pal and blogger extraordinaire, David Wescott (wow – I’m not one line into this post and already I have used five French words – touche!) I wanted to offer some thoughts and open up a discussion thread for how the Obama administration may change “things.” I have put “things” in quotes because I want to keep the floor open for comments and ideas.  Since I get to go first, here’s my thinking:

Social media, social media, social media.

Am I clear?  Good.

Just last week, I did a Media Bullseye Radio Roundtable on “the First Internet Election,” and while we are several months away from getting hard numbers, one can draw a dotted line (in pencil) to social media and voter turnout.  Don’t put it in pen, yet because we don’t have any hard numbers yet. This morning’s Boston Globe reported that voter turnout was NOT at an all time high:

Turnout in last week’s election increased from four years ago but fell far short of some forecasts largely because many Republican voters either stayed home or left blank the presidential section of their ballots.”

So what will change?  Well, by now, we have all seen Change.gov, “..for the Office of the President-elect and Office of the Vice President-elect, as recognized by the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended (3 USC 102 note).  There’s a first and an indication that President-elect Obama will turn more to delivering information to an increasingly Internet-savvy populace via social media.  Cool.  But here’s what I wonder.  You can’t just go and register a political site (let alone build it) in a day, so someone was working on this puppy for a long time.  Within the government, because that is the only way that you can get a .gov domain.

Quick bipartisan note:  The Republicans have a site, too: Republican for a Reason.

Second,  the Wall Street Journal reported in November on how President-elect Obama made tremendous use of many social media tools during the election, including Twitter, Facebook and email and text alerts.  As someone who draws a paycheck from Uncle Sam, this is harder to do from within government, but I think that President-elect Obama at least grasps the concept that government can be more efficient by delivering information to the populace via social media tools.

Well, memes are supposed to be short, so I’ll stop here and leave it to other, smarter minds to continue to conversation.  So consider yourself tagged:

Start memming, folks.  And the one, super-smart guy who I left off of my list is my pal, Jason Falls, who last time I tagged him for a meme, wrote “My Hatred of the Memes is Overcome Only by my Liking the Memer.”  Lesson learned, Jason.  One bitch-slap is all I need to get the message.

C’est bon!



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Twitter and the Electoral Hangover

I have a love-hate relationship with politics, and I get jazzed about social media.  In the Media Bullseye Radio Roundtable I did last week, all of us predicted that we won’t have solid analysis for probably a few months in terms of the “youth vote” – what so many people are attributing to the rise of social media.

I have been watching the tea leaves a little, and thanks to Neville Hobson’s Tweet today, discovered that according to Valleywag, Obama’s Twitter account has gone silent since Election Day.  So before you guys start jumping all over me about transition, etc., don’t think for a minute that President-elect Obama was himself tweeting over a cup of joe (the plumber?) in the morning.  Valleywag says:

He didn’t even use Twitter to announce his transition website, change.gov — and what is Twitter for, really, if not spamming your friends with your latest URL? There’s no better sign that his 127,196 followers have been pumped and dumped.”

What I found equally interesting is that Newt Gingrich now has a Twitter account.  By all accounts in the use of social media, the political Left is WAY ahead of the political Right, but the next two years are going to be interesting.

Imitation is the best form of flattery.


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Lou Capozzi: Why the World Thinks America Sucks

As a devotee of Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson’s “For Immediate Release” podcasts, I listened to a recent episode in which their soon-to-be correspondent, Eric Schwartzman, was interviewed.  He mentioned the name of his podcast and blog, so I subscribed in iTunes.

And that’s where it went south.

I want to be clear about this post:  it is in no way intended to denigrate Eric’s body of work (impressive) or even the podcast.  But I could barely believe what I was hearing from Eric guest, Lou Capozzi, Chairman Emeritus of Publicis Public Relations and Corporate Communications Group.

Eric interviewed Lou on about his luncheon keynote at the PRSA International Conference on restoring America’s connections with the world.  This took place in Detroit at the end of October.  So, caveat #1:  I was not there to hear the speech and #2) Mr. Capozzi was presumably limited in the amount of time that he had on Eric’s show.

The premise of the podcast was the issue of America’s declining reputation throughout the world, one week away from the presidential elections (hmm…).  But I have to tell you, as I was listening to the podcast while driving to work and I had several of those moments in which I stared at my stereo in the car thinking, “did he really just say that?”

Here’s what I thought was bat-shit crazy:

Immigration People Suck

  • Mr. Capozzi first stated reason why people don’t like America/ns anyway is “our visa and immigration policy.  We make it very difficult for people to get into this country.”   Mr. Capozzi cites long lines at immigration and even the “..tone, very threatening and foreboding” of the workers who process people.Mr. Capozzi:  with all due respect, you might remember the incidents of September 11, 2001.  You sound like someone who must travel a lot and lines in immigration counters and surly immigration workers are, in my mind, a given.  But I would much rather wait in long immigration lines than let someone in who is going to fly a plane into my building in Washington.  It’s the cost of doing business, literally.He also says “if you are in McDonalds and you are trying to get your guy in from Dubai, you’ve got your hands full.”  (stare at stereo moment).  So if I get it right, getting an executive from one international city to another constitutes and company “having [its] hands full?”  One would think that more pressing matters like the state of the global economy would constitute having one’s hands full.  Getting Bob from Accounting from Dubai to New York?  THAT is having your hands full?  Second, presuming that people don’t like America because we don’t have shiny, happy people at America’s Front Desk, I can’t imagine that a) the percentage of people who travel to this country is so significant that they go back to their home countries, trash us and spread the word so that entire countries hate us.  What I heard was a Chairman who is tired of waiting in immigration lines projecting this sentiment to one of the reasons why people hate America.

There Has Been a Broad Cooling Towards American Culture

  • The above are Mr. Capozzi’s words, not mine.  “Music and art used to be a beacon, and American culture is not as widely embraced as it once was.”  I will caveat this statement by mentioning that I was not able to attend the PRSA conference at which Mr. Capozzi spoke, but upon what is this premise based?  Music sales?  Box office numbers in foreign countries?  Where’ the Beef?

The “Ugly American”

  • (Stare at the stereo moment).  “The third thing is the ‘ugly American.’ Picture the guy in Bermuda shorts with a camera and his hat turned to the side walkin’ down the Champs Elysee. We just aren’t as sensitive as we need to be to the way that we conduct ourselves.”  Ok.  So the world hates America because of our Bermuda shorts and the way that we wear a baseball cap?  Come on.  Come up with a better reason than this.  Say that we should learn a few phrases in French.  Say that we could or should study some French culture before traveling to Paris.  But to state – and I quote – “Picture the guy in Bermuda shorts with a camera and his hat turned to the side walkin’ down the Champs Elysee” is beyond oversimplification.  It’s just downright stupid.  Maybe Mr. Capozzi could offer American tourists some sartorial advice, but one must think that the Chairman Emeritus of Publicis Public Relations and Corporate Communications Group likely has more spare cash to spend on clothing that is, presumably, less offensive to our French brethren out for a stroll on the Champs Elysee.

Globalization Sucks

There is a broad perception out there that globalization has been fueled by America…Our reputation is really in trouble.”

  • (stare at stereo moment). Mr. Capozzi states that companies like Coca Cola, McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken have led the charge that American is fueling globalization, a concept that “is not accepted universally.”  Mr. Capozzi, I would assume that a veteran of 40 years in the PR business and now the Chairman Emeritus of Publicis Public Relations and Corporate Communications Group, would understand that law of supply and demand.  If we build a KFC in Moscow and they reject it, the basic tenets of capitalism will kick in, no one will go there and the store will close.  To state that the “Kentucky Fried Chicken effect” is why people hate America is, a best, naïve, and at worst, stupid.  If people do not want American products and services, they won’t buy them.  Period.  And one more note:  for your employees’ sake, I sincerely hope that none of the agencies in the Publicis Group have as clients Coke, KFC, American Airlines, Nike or any other of the global brands that you malign as the cause of why people hate America.  If they are, you just shot yourself in the loafers.

WAIT- Globalization Doesn’t Suck – When I Benefit From It

What I found amazing about this is that Mr. Capozzi then talks about the importance of diversifying his international portfolio of agencies: “We weather downturns in an economy with upturns in another.”  Through globalization of your business.

Eric,  I mean no disrespect to you whatsoever in this post and understand completely that it is  your job to ask questions in a podcast – and no necessarily unscripted follow-up questions.  I further caveat what I am about to say by stating that I sincerely hope that Mr. Capozzi offered some statistics to back up his assertations.  But here is why what his guys said makes zero sense to me:

  1. He denigrates American culture and states that it is in decline.  How about iTunes sales?  How about box office numbers?  How about Web site hits?  Without hearing hard statistics to back this up, it is pure supposition.  And Mr. Capozzi also waxes poetic about the “cultural goodwill tours, like when Louis Armstrong when to France.”    In under two minutes, I Googled Louis Armstrong, found You Tube videos and also grabbed “What a Wonderful World” on iTunes.  We have this thing called the “Internet” now which I think comes on computers.
  2. When I looked up contact information for the Publicis Groupe, I’ll give you three guesses where they are headquarted…ok.. time’s up. The Champs Elysee in Paris!! By denigrating the “ugly American…in Bermuda shorts walking down the Champs Elysee” this reeks to me of pandering to the corporate masters.  I guess you need to stop going out for lunch, Lou.
  3. The Publicis Group has, according to their Web site,  “44,000 employees in 196 cities in 104 countries,” and you are criticizing globalization?  Globalization is paying your salary, Mr. Capozzi, and you just bit the hand that feeds you.   And as I mentioned above, you should pray to God that none of your employees represents any of the global brands which you denigrated in your interview.
  4. At the end of your interview, you mentioned depending upon the digital portions of your agency portfolio.  The Publicis Web site is a mixture of French and English – not in separate parts, but together.  Fox example, the English search game me “resultats” including “28 Octobre 2008” of “Third Quarter Revenue.”  How do you expect clients – or any client – to think that you take social media or even basic Web site development seriously if you cannot even separate French and English on your own site?
  5. Finally, and the point that scares the hell out of me, is that Mr. Capozzi is on the Board of Directors for Business for Diplomatic Action, “…a private-sector a-political non-profit directed by “preeminent” [quotations added for sarcasm] communications, marketing, political science, global development and media professionals. BDA’s mission is to enlist the U.S. business community in actions to improve the standing and reputation of America in the world. The organization is leading the private sector effort to provide constructive business solutions for public diplomacy programs and initiatives.”

So to review, BDA:  your Board member suggested that:

  • If we change the way we look and act, lose the Bermuda shorts and baseball caps turned sideways, people will like us better.
  • Immigration people suck and are surly.  If they were nicer, people will like us better.
  • Globalization sucks, yet you have made your fortune out of climbing to the top of – umm..a GLOBAL agency.”
  • Many of your members, including representatives from Microsoft, Cola-Cola, McDonalds and Pepsi, all sit on BDA’s Board, elbow-to-elbow with the guy who just threw your companies under the bus.  The next get-together should really be interesting if they heard this podcast.

Dear BDA:  you need better than this.  I have a few ideas beyond sartorially challenged “ugly Americans.”

My contact form is here.


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Good Social Media = Good Marketing Basics

Once again, smart people like Todd Defren write smart blog posts.  I began this Sunday morning (like other propeller-heads out there) by perusing my Twitter feed and my favorite blogs, searching for some writing inspiration ok…ok..it was AFTER the sports section).  It did not take long.

In Todd’s post “Content Marketing: Think MULTI Media,” he lays out some thinking that I believe is at the (“INTERSECTION” – shameless blog self plug) of good social and multimedia thinking overlaid with the new marketing fundamentals that you have to deliver meaningful content to your target audiences in pieces that they can choose.

Summarizing what Todd’s sports-dad buddy said:

In other words, you may need to create a white paper and/or a podcast and/or a videoblog and/or a webcast of the same content because different types of prospects will have different engagement preferences. “

“Engagement preferences,” to me, means a couple of different things.  One of which is some people like to see video (if you are interested in seeing an excellent demo of the Google Android phone, check out what Neville Hobson did), and others like simply to receive the information in a language that they can understand:

It all starts with a “content asset audit.” With an average tenure of just under two years, most corporate marketing executives can’t even find most of the content on file at the corporation, much less map it to a strategy. Think, ‘random acts of content.’

“Once content assets are cataloged, marketers need to map assets into a sequential lead nurturing ‘curriculum,’ i.e., moving prospects through a series of content-focused engagements – each of which signify a higher degree of complexity/value and a closer proximity to sale.”

I read this as, it’s “figure out the information and format that people want, and give it to them in pieces that interest them.”

This is critically important.  Just this week in my day job, I spent quite a bit of time developing a new way of measuring our media coverage.  Thanks to Katie Payne’s excellent thinking, I am basing much more of my analyses on the fact that most people don’t read stuff anymore — they scan. That’s why a headline is more important than the first paragraph which is much more important than the 12th paragraph.

My take-aways?

  1. Understand your audiences
  2. Segment them
  3. Develop multiple forms of content that are likely to appeal to them, based upon some research
  4. Spoon feed them digestible forms of content
  5. Rinse, lather, measure, repeat.

Another great post, Todd.


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