Wednesday, December 5, 2007

PR for everyone

Yesterday I read a spiffy article in Wired magazine about microcelebrity. It's not a new concept, but the term is. It refers to a person who is not well-known except to a few dozen, hundred or thousand people on the internet. The most common examples are bloggers or persons who post often on well-read forums.

Here is the article.

The same trend happens on Facebook and MySpace. Jim posts a bunch of photos online from a party and tags Joe in one of them. Some of Joe's friends who don't know Jim go check out the photos and some more of Jim's photos, and maybe his profile, too. Jim has some funny posts and memes on his blog, so a few people subscribe. Suddenly Jim is well-known to several people he has never met. The article quoted a woman who one day stumbled across a forum of 125 members (the creation of which she'd had no knowledge) about her blog. It happens.

How does this relate to PR? With our Facebook, MySpace, Xanga, LiveJournal, Blogger, Webshots, Shutterfly accounts and an increasing number of personal Web sites in addition to a person's presence on any number of forums and online games, everyone has a more well-known image to maintain than he thinks or knows about.

All these networking sites and web behaviors are most common in our age group, and the article pointed out that 20-somethings also handle microcelebrity best of any group as well.

We dress up to look good when we go out to the club, the bar or the house party because we know someone there will be taking photos, and we don't know where on the web they'll end up. We carefully select the privacy settings on our MySpaces and Facebooks so that only our friends can see the party photos, so our parents can't check up on how we're spending our college funds, so future employers can't search us and read about that hook-up. We post to our blogs on protected settings so as not to incriminate ourselves for the entire world of the web.

We're more visible than ever and naturally adapting to practice personal PR daily for our images. Most of us don't realize we're doing it. I hadn't ever thought about it before reading the article, but looking at my web presence, postings and settings, I realize how very carefully I moderate my image. And when I start applying for a job in the spring, I'm sure I'll be even more critical of what the world sees of me.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


Diversity Issues at work:

Often at Sears we have customers who call and ask for someone who speaks Spanish. I panic. I don't speak a word of Spanish and don't know what to say. I stumble over a "Uno momento?" and put them on hold. Then I desperately call and page every department, searching for a Spanish-speaking associate, only to have the customer hang up for being on hold for so long. Or even back.

It hasn't been as bad in recent months because we have 3 Spanish speakers on staff - at least one is usually in the store. But 3 out of 80 or more employees really isn't enough to serve as many Spanish-only speaking customers as we have. None of our managers speak any Spanish either.

With high turnover and a smallish applicant pool, we can't require anyone to be bilingual for a job, but it would help a lot.

It's a lucky thing Sears feels like small-time business in the Golden Triangle Mall because I'm sure no PR firm could get away with such an inability to serve and communicate with its clientele.

Too bad I didn't minor in Spanish, I guess.


If Steve Jobs really wanted to apologize:

I'd like to sincerely apologize to all Apple consumers for making you feel cheated by the iPhone price drop. It was our intention to provide a quality product to as many people as possible, not to alienate a smaller group. I would like to rectify the situation by offering a $100 rebate voucher to those who bought the iPhone in the 2 weeks preceding the price drop, and I encourage all our customers to write to us on the Apple forums with suggestions about how Apple can best serve you in the future. I want to open the lines of communication with the Apple community and promise the best service we can provide for current and future products starting today. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Morality Quiz

I consider myself politically moderate and usually score as such on internet quizzes and the like, but I scored much more liberal than I ever would have imagined on the morality quiz. 3 of 5 morality aspects match liberal values- harm, authority and purity. But I match conservatice morals in fairness and loyalty. Makes sense since I was raised Catholic; those are the values more ingrained. You grow up, choose your own beliefs and move in a different direction in harm, authority and purity beliefs.

Gotta see if I can get my sister to take the quiz.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Order Shmorder


Truth- in advertising/hype, in customer expectations of exclsive value (justice, too)
Humaneness- fairness to all customers, not just late-comers, no consideration for loyalties, patronizing/contempt for customers
Stewardship- bad brand experience puts Apple in a poor light, uncharacteristic move for the company
Freedom/Liberty- infringement upon customer right/expectation to exclusively own product, apple rights to pursue high sales/stocks, customer freedom to walk away
Justice- value discarded, loyalists mistreated, rebate solution inadequate

PC users have hated Apple for ages. iTunes alone couldn't mend the rift, but coupled with the iPod, it seemed to work. The world loves the iPod, and no Mp3 player can compete. Apple's brand image with the iPhone had an amazing opportunity to springboard off of the love for the iPod, to bring over more and more PC loyalists.

And Apple did, but at what cost?

Who cares about the long-time Apple consumers when there are so many new customers to be had? Good job, Jobs. You got those customers, and you got the profits. You got lots of brand new, easily swayed and bought consumers, and you lost the diehards who would forever buy only Apple products.

These new consumers will always buy the best product on the market, which or may or may not be from Apple in the future. And the formerly loyal Apple-only consumers will now do the same.

Enjoy those long-term outcomes, Jobs. Enjoy.

A late start...

Does everybody matter?

Yes and no. While everbody should matter, and everbody does matter to somebody, no one matters to everbody, especially not the "little people" in corporate America's supply chains.

Realistically, those at the bottom of the chain, the workers and children in China and Mexico, are replaceable and matter little unless they can gain the publicity to bring a complaint against the company. Numbers and cameras can matter, though individual people do not.

It should be a value in PR to always remember these "little people" and their importance to the foundation of our company, to take responsibility and to act accordingly in their interests, too.

Whether this corporate responsibility is based on its intrinsic value to people or whether it is useful in gaining publicity and customers (Starbucks, anyone?), it at least helps to make things a little bit better for the people at the bottom.