The Thrill of Possibility, or Why I Love the Web

Posted on June 26, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Content, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Media, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

One of the main reasons I’ve always loved my career in public relations and marketing is the sense of possibility that pervades the practice. You start with nothing but an idea and you turn it into a campaign that can make something happen that would not have happened otherwise. Every time I’ve ever distributed a press release I’ve had the thought, “OK. Now let’s see what happens.”

Now that we work over the web, the anticipation and excitement of possibility is exponentially greater. With each tweet, blog post, social media release, Facebook post, new web page, free ebook offer, video on YouTube, each and every piece of content created, there is the possibility that life will change in some way. It’s a very motivating thought.

Here’s a short list of opportunities that have arisen or things that have changed in my life and the lives of others thanks to what we’ve created online:

I joined the Jazz in Business group on LinkedIn to connect two passions and met a business consultant/author/speaker/musician from the UK– Peter Cook. We’re networking across the web and learning more about each other’s capabilities. Despite geographic distance I believe that our friendship will lead to business some time in the future. Follow him on Twitter – @academyofrock. Or buy his terrific book on Amazon.

A friend made the commitment a year ago to blog every day. Not only did he grow traffic to his blog more than 10-fold, but last week received a book offer from a publisher who’d been reading his posts.

On LinkedIn I reconnected with a PR colleague who moved to another state a few years ago. The next week she introduced me to a business lead.

One Friday afternoon I dashed off a blog post that was selected for the WordPress Freshly Pressed home page feature out of some half-a-million posts that day. Almost two thousand new people visited my blog as a result, a number of whom became and remain subscribers. A shout-out to all of you. Thanks for reading!

A couple of years ago I created a hashtag #notatsxsw in jealousy of all those who were tweeting from the South By Southwest Festival in Austin with the hashtag #atsxsw. Immediately I got replies from a group of young #socialmedia folks in Chicago who were sitting around having a few drinks and lamenting that they weren’t there either. We began following each other. One guy @joshhersh – @joshicago – just launched an online business www.daycation.com – @mydaycation – which I was pleased to help him promote to my various communities.

Relationships I’ve built on Twitter and elsewhere have led to invitations for guest posts on significant websites – expanding my reach far beyond my own communities.

These are just a few business relationships and opportunities that have resulted from embracing the possibilities of the web. However sometimes the pay-off is REALLY life changing.

 Almost six years ago I sent a quick email to a guy who had a wonderful profile on match.com — and found Jeff Levine www.levinecounseling.com the love of my life!Jeff Levine in his Office

 Who knows what might happen when I hit the publish button for this post. But I’m excited about the possibilities!!!!!!!

What are some of the interesting things that have resulted from your online efforts?

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Social Media: Your Reputation on Steroids

Posted on June 6, 2011. Filed under: Crisis Management, Marketing, Reputation Management, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I was so dismayed tonight – but not surprised — to hear New York U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner’s press conference awhile ago coming clean about his posting of improper photos to various women on social media.

I really don’t want to talk about him. But the whole disgusting affair makes me want to share my thoughts with you about the importance of protecting your good reputation online.Keep your rep angelic

Now consider that my background is in public relations. I’ve spent my career counseling clients about how to communicate their value while maintaining their dignity and credibility. I’ve spent countless hours going over copy, press releases, speeches and other materials to be sure that the chosen words are in keeping with the client’s values and that there’s nothing that could be misinterpreted in a way that would cast doubt on the client’s reputation.

Let’s shift to the online world where we tend to dash off emails and texts and blog posts and where we feel more relaxed than in the more formal communications of yesteryear. Beware. It only takes one off-message tweet or blog post to cast doubt on your positioning, message or culture. Those messages last forever online.

Be in the moment but don’t be impulsive. Take a minute or two to re-read what you’re about to send out to the universe. And listen to your gut. If anything gives you a little raising of the hackles on the back of your neck – EDIT!! Make sure that everything you write is in keeping with your mission, with your audiences’ expectations and your own self respect.

You know, when I am deciding whether to follow someone on Twitter, I go to their profile and read about a dozen recent tweets to see if they have anything to contribute to me and my Twitter stream. Recently I performed that ritual when a new local brand selling a family and environmentally-friendly product followed me.

I scrolled through their previous day’s tweets and found that they re-tweeted a tweet that included a profanity. That tweet communicated bad judgment and lack of sophistication in their marketing. It really turned me off.

But social media marketer that I am, I felt compelled to share a bit of well-meant advice. I sent a direct (private) message that said: Thnx for following. Congrats! Friendly tip…Keep curse words out of your tweets and RTs. It’s counter to your brand image.

I haven’t had a response, but hope they took it in the positive spirit that was meant. My message to you is to make sure to protect your reputation online with every tweet, update and post. We can be open, authentic, and personal. But it’s crucial that we understand where to draw the line online. If you put it out there, it’s out there forever. Make it worthy, make it valuable and do your best to share your finest attributes.

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Give Pieces a Chance: A Case for Integrated Marketing in the Digital Age

Posted on April 14, 2011. Filed under: Communications, Jazz, Marketing, Media, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Here are a few disparate but related thoughts that will roll into the topic of this post – how to make integrated marketing a reality. Today’s musical post is Pieces of Dreams, a jazz standard sung by Sarah Vaughan, backed by the orchestra of Michel Legrand, its composer.

The song title connects to the post title: Give Pieces a Chance. Now, I could have selected the John Lennon/Yoko Ono hit about ‘peace’. But I really wanted to stick with the idea of ‘pieces’ – read ‘tactics’ — and their relationship to successful integrated marketing.

So, the Legrand song seemed to be a better tactical choice in support of my strategic objective – to start a useful discussion about integrated marketing. Also – I believe that true integrated marketing is sitll a dream. And – the song had double appeal because an excellent jazz band Pieces of a Dream – who hail from my home town of Norristown, Penna and used to play at our family’s parties – derived its name from this same Michel Legrand tune.

Call me sentimental! Marketing is about emotions after all! But there’s definitely an intellectual piece first…

Integrated marketing in the digital age. Here’s why I decided to write about it again. Earlier today I read and commented on a wonderful blog post by Jill Adams, CEO of Adams & Knight, an integrated marketing agency. Her post was titled “Stop Chasing Digital Crazes: Tomorrow’s Top Brands Will Be Led by Fusion Marketers – Not Social Media ‘Gurus.’”

After reading her post, what I recognized is that the integrated marketing battle is no different today than it’s ever been — except for the fact that we have many more tactical tools to choose from and that there is more of a willingness to at least consider blurring the boundaries between various marketing disciplines. Historically there have been turf wars for both budgets and bragging rights among various contributors that have negatively impacted results.

Even though I come out of PR, I’ve made it a point to understand the big picture in order to be able to support various marketing pieces with media visibility. ‘Big picture’ is the operative term here because you have to see the big view to identify overall objectives and strategy. Then it’s a question of having a big tool box. No one person can implement all of the important efforts, so we need to collaborate with trusted colleagues who can bring their expertise to bear – everyone with an eye on what will move the ball ahead to the objective.

What will work is different for every project, assignment and initiative, which takes flexibility and ever greater creativity. What’s most important for success is how we think about each effort. THINK!!!!!!! Thinking is at the root of the creative process. It’s not what we know about Twitter or Facebook or a flave of the week digital offering that will achieve success for our brands.

Yes we have to keep informed as never before because everything cycles through so fast. But we have to think about what we want to achieve, what the best tools are to get there, who else we need to collaborate with to make it happen. If we don’t think about the tactical pieces of what we’re doing in terms of the strategic whole, they’ll never have a chance of getting us to success.

Now this post has been very theoretical. Next time I’ll share some recent client projects to give you a more practical view of marketing integration.

Please jump in to share how your strategic vs tactical thinking works – whether or not you’re a marketer.

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Marketing isn’t easy. If you want results.

Posted on November 26, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Communications, Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , |

To make the realities in this post easier to swallow, listen to Sinatra’s swingy version of “Nice ‘n Easy.”

I just had dinner with my friend Mary Kay who’s a research consultant. We were talking about how difficult it seems in these dollar-tight days for marketing companies and consultants to be valued for the expertise they bring to the table. Everybody’s afraid to commit budget these days, and many companies are adopting a DIY or make-do approach. How to make the case to prospects and clients that failing to get the marketing help they need is counterproductive? Especially in a rapidly evolving marketing environment.

Then, like a flash, I remembered a piece of sublime wisdom that I learned from Al the Drain Man, my highly competent plumber – who is a big Frank Sinatra fan and also inspired the musical post today.

Al once shared his mantra with me: Nothing is easy.

He developed this belief over time after countless responses to calls where customers (including me the day he told me this) implored him, “Al can you get over here for fifteen minutes. I just have a simple and easy thing. It’ll take you no time. The sink’s dripping and driving us crazy (or whatever) and I’m sure it just has to be tightened up.”

Al would show up, take one studied look and realize that — counter to the customer’s amateur assessment — he was dealing not with a simple loose fitting, but years of neglect, or the incompetence of the original installer, or an unpredictable shifting of the soil under the house or a thousand other unforeseen problems.

Al would then use his experience to diagnose the real problem and spend the time required to resolve it. Even though it might have taken hours – not minutes – undoubtedly his expertise and skill would make it a faster and better job than were he a less accomplished craftsman.

Because it feels safer, we humans tend to minimize what’s required to resolve a problem or reach a goal. Often a prospective client will say to us, “We don’t have a budget. We’re just a start-up.” This, of course, doesn’t bode well for future success. Or we’ll hear, “We just need a press release (or a web page). Could you do that for us?” Sorry. Not if you really want to accomplish something.

Successful marketing just isn’t that easy. There are more and more moving parts and it can take a skilled marketing or PR practitioner to provide the thinking, strategy and implementation required to get those parts moving in synch. Companies need to plan for marketing and commit realistic budgets in order to compete in a more and more diverse, complex and competitive marketing arena.

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How to Succeed in Magazine Publishing: A Winning Formula

Posted on September 17, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Communications, Content, Entertainment, Jazz, Marketing, News, Nonprofit, Not-for-profit, Public Relations Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

In honor of Moffly Media’s inaugural A-List Awards (read on) today’s musical post is “Shaking the Blues Away” sung by Doris Day. eMail readers need to log-on to listen.

The other evening I had the pleasure of attending an inaugural awards event created by Moffly Media, a local magazine publishing company here in Fairfield County, Connecticut. It turned out to be one more step on a successful path that is keeping the company growing as other publishers are shedding titles and even closing their doors.

The A-List Awards brought back a touch of glamour that hasn’t been seen or felt around here since the onset of the Great Recession. It was done just right; not over the top. And, the awards were perfectly targeted to the advertiser and subscriber base of Moffly’s décor title, atHome Magazine. The well-produced program recognized the top area talent in interior and landscape design and architecture.

It was a great strategic move. And it was handled with sensitivity given the fact that we’re not quite sure we should be celebrating yet. But it sure felt wonderful to all who packed the landmark Westport Country Playhouse. The event benefited a fitting organization – Habit for Humanity of Fairfield County – which made us all feel better about feeling good!

The evening aptly demonstrated the concept at the core of Moffly Media’s success – local community. The family-owned operation began in 1987 when Jack Moffly retired from a 33-year career with Time, Inc. He and his wife, Donna bought the 40-year-old Greenwich Review and ran it as publisher and editor respectively.

They changed the name to Greenwich Magazine. They made it a beautiful glossy dedicated to the upscale Greenwich lifestyle and the singular people who populate the town. Most of all they contributed to the fabric of the community through their personal involvement in its life.

 

Using the same uber-local approach, Jack expanded into other towns with Westport Magazine, New Canaan-Darien Magazine, Stamford Magazine, as well as atHome. In 2007 he stepped down as publisher and turned over the reins to son Jonathan Moffly, who had joined the family business in 1998. Jonathan was involved in the expansion of titles over the years and since becoming publisher has added online, events and custom media divisions.

Moffly Media has been bold in trying new things, yet it’s grown in measured steps that maintain its basic values and leverage its capabilities. If something works, they apply it elsewhere. For instance, a larger-format private label magazine it developed for a client was so stunning that it led to a re-design of atHome in the same mold.

The company hires top people who are knowledgeable about the towns in which they work and/or their areas of specialization. For example, it tapped Camilla Herrera, longtime features writer for the Stamford Advocate, as editor of the new Stamford Magazine when she became available after newsroom cutbacks at the daily. And James M. Gabal, another Time, Inc. vet recently joined to head Custom Media.

The Moffly’s are terrific business people. They know how to add value for advertisers. The A-List Awards are a perfect example, as are the quarterly DesignDistrict evenings they run to showcase advertisers in the towns they serve. Print and online advertising and sponsorships are another way. They understand PR, too, and the behavior required to maintain a stellar reputation.

The Moffly team seems to share a sense of humanity and respect for all its constituents – readers, advertisers and the advertising/PR/marketing agencies who interact with them. They’re good folks. And it’s nice to see good people succeed!

Other publishers – even those who put out national titles – can learn from Moffly Media’s model. Each audience is, in essence, a ‘local community’. Treating them as such works in print, online and in person everywhere.

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A Word to Wise Nonprofits: Avoid the Pro Bono Trap

Posted on September 13, 2010. Filed under: Communications, Jazz, Marketing, Nonprofit, Not-for-profit, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The music accompanying this post is about the inspiration I’ve received from everyone I’ve ever met who has committed to a career in the nonprofit sector. I get chills and tears listening to the lyrics of “If I Ruled the World” by Leslie Bricusse and sung here by the spectacular Tony Bennett.

Over the years, I’ve worked with many nonprofits on their marketing and PR programs. The work that nonprofits do is essential to meeting our society’s needs in ways that neither the government nor the private sector can do as well. I consider having non-profit clients a very meaningful part of my practice. I’m writing this post not to be in any way self-serving, but because we need our nonprofits to succeed more than ever!

Although my fees for nonprofits are at a lower rate than for commercial clients, I do not provide my professional services pro bono. I will volunteer in many other ways. However, I believe that marketing is such a mission critical function that I do nonprofit clients no favor by offering a pro bono arrangement. This is a drum I’ve been beating since the stock market crash of 1987 and again in the recessionary aftermath of 9/11.

The topic came rushing back to mind again last week when a respected colleague of mine told me that she had agreed to provide some pro bono web and graphic design services to a local arts group. However, she gave the executive director one condition: No deadlines. She would have to implement the project when she had time, as she owed first priority to her paying clients. This is reality.

And that, my nonprofit friends, is the pro bono trap. You may need a service performed pronto to meet a grant deadline or to announce an important fundraising event. But as the adage warns, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

When the economy went into the tank in late 2008, many nonprofits immediately cut back or completely curtailed their paid marketing and development activities. So did many for-profit companies to be clear.

During 2009, there were many out-of-work marketers offering free help as a way to keep busy, keep their portfolios fresh or reposition themselves. Admirable that they wanted to turn lemons into lemonade for a good cause.

In 2010, many have either gotten permanent jobs, or transformed themselves into consultants with paying clients.

 As the economy improves, nonprofits that have been relying on board members and volunteers to get the word out about their missions, their successes and their funding needs may very well find that they’ve fallen dangerously behind. Pro bono services are generally provided piecemeal in the best of cases. Overall or longer term strategy takes a back seat.

In addition, the world of marketing and PR has changed drastically in the past couple of years. Just putting up a Facebook page – as some organizations have done – does not substitute for preparing to attract meaningful support using online channels. But doing some serious planning and working with professionals – in- or out-of-house – on execution can create never-before-possible efficiencies of scale.

Savvy nonprofit Executive Directors/CEOs need to make a strong case to their boards of directors that marketing is a specialized skill that can’t just be dumped on a volunteer or junior staffer to ‘make it happen’. It goes hand-in-hand with successful development efforts and needs to be in the budget at a serious level every year.

Likewise, foundations and other grantors must recognize that solid and appropriate marketing can help nonprofits leverage funding and improve service to their constituents. Marketing grants need to be more numerous and more generous.

Mind you, I’m not talking about over-the-top direct mail campaigns that, frankly, I find offensive and have written about in the past. Just don’t regard marketing as a frill. Nothing could be farther from reality. As the funding pie shrinks, when it comes to generating revenue it’s the NFP that thinks and acts like a business that will survive to help those who need its services.

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Back on the Content Wagon

Posted on July 31, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Communications, Content, Inbound Marketing, Internet Research, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Marketing, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Jeff, the love of my life, was practicing his drums this morning to this killer big band tune from George Benson’s Big Boss Band album – “Without a Song.” It struck a chord because content is the ‘song’ of a blog. Enjoy listening and read on for the relevance.

You may notice that it’s the last day of July and this is my first blog post of the month. My days have been full creating content for others and working on a couple of exciting new ecommerce sites that we’ll promote via a content marketing strategy. I, who am thoroughly convinced of the role consistent online content creation plays in business success, fell off the content wagon.

I only created one other piece of content under my own banner this month. It was ‘Working the Web’, the column I co-author for the Fairfield and Westchester County Business Journals with my web development/graphic design partner Bernadette Nelson of Studio B Visual Communication. Ironically the topic was “6 Tips for Getting Over the Content Hurdle.”

What resulted from the column has provided a huge reminder that for my business, content is job one. I’ll share the story, because it’s critical for your business, too.

The first tip in the column is that to begin creating useful content, it’s first necessary to buy in to the fact that this is an important business objective. To support that statement to the Business Journals’ small business audience, I went searching for some recent study data.

Thanks to Google, I found the stats I wanted in the Small Business Success Index, a study created by Network Solutions and the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. I quoted the study in the column.

Working the Web runs in the two Journals’ print editions and also on www.westfaironline.com. Yesterday, it posted online. Within hours, I received an email from Shashib Bellamkonda, Social Media Swami for Network Solutions."Shashi Bellamkonda of Network Solutions"

Remember that the reason this content making for the web works so well is that it’s searchable and findable by people with an interest in certain search terms. Obviously Shashi monitors the web to see where Network Solutions’ content is being disseminated. He found, read – and liked — the column that mentioned the NetSol study.

Shashi emailed to say ‘thanks’ for the mention – and to invite Bernadette and me to write a guest post for Network Solution’s www.growsmartbusiness.com blog. He also tweeted the url to the column to his almost 11,000 followers on Twitter – and is now following my tweets.

The takeaway: Well-made content created for a relatively local audience, once put online, can yield much farther-reaching connections and additional credibility for our businesses.

Given that blog posts are highly searchable and that I’m going to tag this one with his name and the study, Shashi will surely see it. So, thanks Shashi, for helping me get back onto the ‘content wagon’ and for a good idea for this post. Looking forward to writing one for you!!

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Can Good News Sell?

Posted on May 17, 2010. Filed under: Communications, Entertainment, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, News, Social Media, TV, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

You’ll soon learn why the musical post today is the most classic jazz performance of Route 66 by the Nat “King” Cole Trio with the trumpet of Harry “Sweets” Edison — my favorite version of my favorite “road” song.

I hate to think how many years ago I pitched our local daily paper with an idea for a “Good News” section – an antidote to the remaining 95 percent of its content. It was during the former recession of the late 1980’s, early 1990’s. Given my own bad-news weariness and that of many of my friends and colleagues, it seemed to me that people were hungry for reminders that all was not wrong with the world. My idea was turned down flat by the then-publisher. “Good news doesn’t sell,” he said.

As we inch our way out of this latest – and deeper – recession, I’m once again craving some good news, especially after seeing this morning’s news including the inadequate ‘fix’ for the oil spill in the Gulf. But it seems that not much has changed in the commercial media and entertainment world when it comes to the projects they’re willing to get behind; the Susan Boyle story notwithstanding.

I just watched the pilot for a reality/documentary TV show that, unfortunately, you all may not get to see. There are details I won’t get into, but the main reason is that the subject matter is too positive for the subject matter. I’ll explain.

Last week I received an email from an Oklahoma man named Edward Winterhalder, a foremost authority on the Harley Davidson motorcycle lifestyle. Ed found me through my Twitter profile (listen up you skeptics on the value of Social Media for business). My profile states: PR Professional, Inbound Marketing Consultant – and two-up on a Harley Road Glide. The latter qualification refers to my weekend passion – riding behind the love of my life, Jeff Levine, a Viet Nam vet and talented psychotherapist/relationship counselor, on his Harley Davidson.Ellie & the Harley Road Glide

Ed was looking for communications representation for his six books (fiction & nonfiction) and TV concept Biker Chicz. He thought that because I ride, and live in his native Connecticut to boot, that I’d be a good fit. He was right in more ways than one. I’m also a fan of good news.

He’s already produced an earlier pilot, “Living on the Edge,” which he sent along with copies of the books to familiarize me with his work. Except for maybe his first book, everything else he’s created addresses the positive side of motorcycle clubs, something I understand well.

Google Ed and you’ll find about 142,000 references. Unfortunately, most of these focus more on his early motorcycle experience as a leader of the Bandidos outlaw motorcycle club (even though only a small percentage of the group qualify for ‘outlaw’ status.)

Today, Ed is a successful real estate developer, as well as author and TV producer. His books are sold around the world, translated into a number of languages by his publishers abroad. The guy is a talented voice for the millions of solid citizens around the world – including my love and me – who come alive on a bike.

Not only do they love the ride, but they’re a generous group, raising millions of dollars annually for good causes too numerous to mention and just doing meaningful deeds. For example, Jeff rode with the Nam Knights motorcycle club here in the New York area to escort a badly-injured Iraq war veteran from a local re-hab hospital to his home way in upstate New York – a tangible tribute to honor his service and sacrifice.

Yesterday morning, we watched the DVD of Ed’s first TV pilot, “Living on the Edge.” The concept: Each episode follows the members of a motorcycle club somewhere in America, examining the causes they embrace and the good they accomplish. It delves into the lives of members and introduces us to their families and friends.

If you went by looks alone, you’d never guess that cast members in the pilot range from a UPS driver, to a project manager for a high-end residential developer, to a man who repairs communications antennae on towers, including atop the Empire State Building after 9-11 — 1000 feet off the ground. Included in each episode’s cast is a bike-riding corporate exec who gets the opportunity to immerse in the lifestyle of the group.

It was an engaging viewing experience, for sure. Yet the pilot is languishing in Hollywood, despite the fact that Winterhalder is well regarded there. Why? Entertainment executives are convinced that the viewing public would much rather watch motorcycle gang violence than the positive side of the Harley Davidson lifestyle.

That’s one more item to chalk up in the bad news category, but personally, I’d rather buy the good news. Anyone with me on this?

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When NOT to Link it All Together

Posted on February 15, 2010. Filed under: Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

First, take this Musical Accompaniment Pop Quiz. Why did I select Carnaval in Rio by the incredible Brazilian composer/guitarist/vocalist Djavan? It’s a two-part answer that you can find at the end of the post. Hit the play button to listen. eMail subscribers, visit the blog to hear the tune.

Awhile back, via a tweet by Derek Peplau (@peplau), a member of my Twitter community who is passionate about indie music, I learned about blip.fm. In short, this is the music version of Twitter.

All members become ‘dj’s’ and can upload, search for and share – i.e. blip, or re-blip — tunes and DVD’s in just about every music category – along with a few words about each selection. You can follow your favorite dj’s and hopefully build your own group of listeners. If you’re reading this blog, then you can imagine that I made a beeline over to blip.fm and searched for the jazz devotees and some favorite tunes to blip.

First, I watched the action of some of the more experienced dj’s. I saw that when they were on blip, they shared an almost constant stream of terrific music. Really impressive, the musical knowledge and taste of this group! Prolific!!

Now, when I opened my blip.fm account, I had the option to link my blips to my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I held off until I got the lay of the land. Once I did, my decision was NOT to link up these accounts.

The reason was simple: My Twitter and Facebook communities are about other things — Inbound Marketing/Social Media and Family/Friends respectively. Even though the people who know me in all of my communities are aware that I am a huge music lover and that I ride on the back of a Harley with Jeff, the love of my life, they have their own passions and time is precious. I’m not about to fill up their Twitter streams or Facebook walls with 10 or 20 blips in an evening of music they may not necessarily want to hear.

In fact, as I thought about it, it occurred to me that although I enjoy his occasional tweet about something he’s listening to over at blip.fm and have discovered some cool new musicians and bands as a result, Derek isn’t tweeting his whole playlist either.

Although this follows a post that talks about how to link up and use an array of options to leverage your website hub in other online places frequented by your diverse constituents, this advice represents the other side of the coin. Here’s the take-away: we need to resist the temptation to link up all of our social networks. Just because it may be easy to accomplish with a click or two, there’s a thought process to go through to determine that whatever we share with a particular group will be welcome and add value.

If you’d like to, you can follow me or Derek on blip.fm! @elliebecker @peplau

Answers to Musical Accompaniment Pop Quiz:

  1. Carnaval in Rio is in full swing as I write this. So I’m in the mood. It ends tomorrow, Feb. 16, 2010.
  2. Djavan starts with DJ – a tribute to all of my fellow blip.fm dj’s! ;-}
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Take-away From Toyota’s Woes: Smaller Can Be Better

Posted on February 5, 2010. Filed under: Crisis Management, Crisis Response, Jazz, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Please click the audio player right below for today’s tune — Duke Ellington playing Lotus Blossom — and see end of post to learn why I chose it. For email subscribers, please visit the blog to listen.

The largest company in the country that gave birth to the notion of ‘falling on one’s sword’ just gave itself a belated slap on the wrist for the results of abandoning its brand commitment to quality. Toyota president Akio Toyoda finally spoke formally about the company’s woes at a press conference today.

He apologized to consumers and shareholders and vowed that Toyota would refocus on quality, which has suffered — apparently since Toyota’s strategic decision to become the world’s largest motor company. The #1 spot didn’t do General Motors very much good from the standpoint of innovation and quality. It did indeed lose top billing to Toyota, which, ironically, has now dropped to #2 behind Volkswagen-Porsche – the result of global recession production pullbacks.

According to reporting in the New York Times, Mr. Toyoda said, “I deeply regret that I caused concern among so many people. We will do our utmost to regain the trust of our customers.”

He said that he hoped to restore Toyota to profitability and help revitalize the economy of Japan, but he would put restoring trust above profits. That makes sense. If trust is restored, profits will follow.

After reading the Times account, I decided to mosey around the Social Web a bit to see what people are saying and to check what Toyota is doing online to help turn around the situation.

On the Toyota Facebook page, there was a scary war of words going on among some of its more than 70,000 fans. Brand loyalists were chastising those who were concerned or angry about quality issues – even folks who had actually experienced serious accidents as a result of sudden acceleration.

Particularly heated were comments from a few fans with a political agenda who were putting forth the notion that the US government is pursuing the Toyota situation in an attempt to help GM return to the dubious status of ‘world’s largest.’ They must not have read Japan’s transport minister’s remarks, that he suspects Toyota delayed too long, putting profits before safety.

On Twitter, there were far fewer positive comments about Toyota and far more criticism of its delays and its departure from its quality ethic. However it was on Twitter that I found a link to Digg’s announcement that this coming Monday Jim Lentz, President and Chief Operating Officer of Toyota Motor Sales, USA will take part in a Digg Dialogg.

Members of the Digg community are posting questions for Mr. Lentz and he will be asked to answer the ones most-voted-on between now and then. I took the opportunity to ask a question about whether the drop in quality standards would cause Toyota to retreat from the “Let’s be the largest” strategy.

Personally, I’ve never believed that bigger is better. I’ve seen too many tiny client companies make incredibly valuable contributions to the world, their customers and their employees. It’s great to grow and achieve efficiencies and economies of scale, but it’s also critical to have open eyes about what might be lost along the way. If I thought I might lose the very values that define my brand, I’d definitely choose to keep it small. Thanks for the reminder, Toyota.

 Today you’re listening to Duke Ellington playing Billy Strayhorn’s haunting tune Lotus Blossom. A song inspired by this iconic image of Eastern culture seems a fitting homage to Toyota and Japan. Out of curiosity, I just googled Lotus Blossom Symbolism. A result from WikiAnswers® informs me that the Lotus Blossom is a symbol of having come through a hard time, on the way to better times. The lotus begins its life in the muck and mud of swamps and works its way through the water to become a thing of beauty floating on the surface in rarified air. Wow! How perfect is that? Toyota, may you be a lotus blossom.

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