Friday, January 27, 2012

Grow smart

There are two dimensions to growth: proficiency and expansion.

Do the same thing over and over again and you'll become more proficient at it.

Do something different on a regular basis and you'll expand your knowledge and skills.

Most companies – and people – must do both. The trick is not to expand before you gain proficiency.

A specialized expert is more valuable then a mediocre generalist.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What's next

We interrupt our regular blogging for this commercial announcement.

Yesterday, I launched my new business, OBX Thinking.

It's a product development and communications consultancy that creates customized project teams by bringing exceptionally talented people together at just the right time based on a client's specific project needs.

Got it?

Four factors have come together to make this vision (which I've had for some time) possible now
  1. Near universal high-speed internet access 
  2. The rise of social networks
  3. A wealth of supremely talented people who have chosen, for one reason or another not to work at a traditional agency, design firm or corporate environment
  4. Clients who understand that no single resource is right for every single project
So for the first time in the history of this blog, I'm asking for something. 

If #3 describes you, get in touch with me. There's work to be done. 

If you're #4 and have a project that doesn't exactly fit within your existing resources or are looking for a different point of view, feel free get in touch with me. 

The OBX Thinking website – while a work in progress – has enough information on our philosophy and capabilities to get you started and has all of our contact information.

Thanks for your attention. We'll resume our regularly scheduled blog content tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


How could this possibly have turned out badly?

Last week McDonald's ran a promotion asking people to share their favorite stories about the hamburger chain on Twitter using #McDStories.

In just two hours McDonald's was forced to shut down the campaign but not before people shared some stories that were less than complimentary.

"#McDStories worked there for one month-unhygienic staff; managers, plus my boyfriend got a hair in his burger the day before I started-Sign!"

"Memories of walking into McDonalds: the sensory experience of inhaling deeply from freshly-opened can of dog food #McDStories"

"I haven’t been to McDonalds in years, because I’d rather eat my own diarrhea. #McDStories"

While a lot of people enjoy McDonalds and a lot of people have good stories, there are some who don't. There are some who think McDonald's is evil. There are some who'd rather McDonald's not be around.

And that's where McDonald's made their fundamental mistake. They forgot the old adage, "'Dog bites man' isn't news, 'Man bites dog' is."

Rick Wion, Social Media Director for McDonald's is quoted as saying less than 2% of the total tweets that day about McDonald's were negative.

McDonald's may have had 10,000,000 favorable tweets, but you're only ever going to read about the bad ones in the paper. Nobody ever writes news stories about all the planes that don't crash.

So just a few negative tweets was all it took for this to become a firestorm of bad publicity and a case history for how not to do social media marketing.

The lesson here?

You can't control what people say, but you don't have to give them a megaphone and put them in the middle of a crowd.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

That sinking feeling

Why do companies make this so easy?

Here's a tip.

When your cruise ship sinks, traumatizing thousands of people and killing dozens more, after refunding their money, offering a 30% discount on their next booking is probably not going to get them back on board.

I get that the people at Costa Conciere Cruises would like those passengers to come back, but my guess is not too many of them will ever come within ten miles of the ocean, much less set foot on another ship ever again.

Making this offer at this time isn't just dumb. It's insulting and it's driving those passengers who may have accepted a more thoughtful offer right into the arms of the class-action lawyers.

So now not only is a legal tidal wave headed their way, they're also being swamped by bad publicity. And people in the general public who may have been considering cruising have gone from thinking, "Cruise ships may not be as safe as I thought." to, "Cruise ships may not be as safe as I thought and they're run by heartless bastards. I think I'll go to Club Med."

This isn't easy, but after the obvious step of refunding their passengers' money, executives at Costa Conciere should have done nothing but listen and help the people who made it off the ship get back to their lives as quickly as possible.

Excuses, explanations and half-hearted offers have only helped to make matters worse.

This is one of those rare cases where, when it comes to PR, the best thing to do was nothing.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Game on

Now that the NFL Conference championships are over, it's time to turn our attention to the Super Bowl. No, I'm not talking about the game, though it should be a good one.

You may not have noticed, but the hype for the Super Bowl began last week when VW released this teaser commercial to whet everyone's appetite for its sequel to last year's excellent commercial, The Force.

I'm not a huge fan of teasers. I figure advertising is supposed to sell a product so you ought to spend your time and money advertising that product. Advertising created to hype advertising is usually an exercise in navel gazing. My one exception is for Super Bowl ads.

It's important to get as many of the over 300 million people who will be watching the game to sit still long enough to view your $3.5 million 30-second epic.

In addition to teasing the spot, it also directs you to a microsite where you'll be able to create and send Star Wars themed invitations to your Super Bowl party. You'll have to follow them on Facebook to take advantage of that offer, but it's something to keep the conversation going.

This is a nice effort. And if it's any indication of the spot that's coming from Deutsch, I'm looking forward to it.