Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

Two Super Bowl lessons from GM February 10, 2012

I realize I’m late on this topic, but if the NFL fans, players and sportscasters can continue replaying the Super Bowl, so can I.

Lesson #1

By now, the feud between GM and Ford is no secret. GM’s Chevy Silverado commercial that aired during the Super Bowl took a direct stab at the safety of its competitor, Ford. Here is the ad:

The ad runs for 38 seconds before any mention of their competitors. The funny thing is that even without the stab at Ford, it was a really good commercial. It poked fun at the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse and the fact that, as Zombieland proves, Twinkies will survive the Apocalypse (unless they go bankrupt). Why not leave it at that?

Instead, Ford has taken offense to the advertisement and formally requested that the video be taken down. According to the Wall Street Journal,

“In a statement, Ford said, ‘We do not agree with some of GM’s claims in their ad, particularly around durability. What’s important is that Ford is proud to be the best-selling truck in America for 35 years, the best-selling vehicle for 30 years and the only brand with more trucks on the road with more than 250,000 miles – demonstrating just how durable our trucks are in the real world.'”

As much as both parties would like to believe their advertisements had a direct impact on consumers’ choice in which vehicle they were going to purchase, the truth is, there are a lot of factors that drive that decision. Despite hurting their competitors feelings, this particular ad ranked 12th on USA Today’s Facebook Super Bowl d meter scores. Not too shabby.

Lesson #2

I had the opportunity to be in Indianapolis the weekend before the Super Bowl and visited the NFL Experience, presented by GMC.  I was really impressed with GMCs booth inside the NFL Experience- so much so that my boyfriend deemed me a big dork for how interested I was in their advertising efforts.

We were drawn in by a GMC girl who encouraged us to sign up to get a bracelet that allowed us to get three different NFL player’s autographs. The line was short so we said sure. We answered a few quesetions on an iPad about all GM vehicles. The questions attempted to identify what car we wanted, when we wanted it and would we like more information? Yeah, yeah… we just wanted autographs.

We then were handed a post card with two questions on it. We had to go read about the Yukon and Acadia to answer the question and receive our bracelet. I thought that was genius. They pulled us in with something we wanted, got our information and forced us to interact with the cars they had on display. Smart.

The autographs were in a larger tent because the line was so long. Here, the same promotion was going on as in the other area, but we got to skip it and turn in another card to see if we won a prize (we did not) and then waited in a short line to get our time splice photo taken (mine is here).

They then asked if we wanted to share our photo via social media. Uh… duh! I posted my photo to Facebook and Twitter using their iPads again. Instantly, I promoted GMC to everyone I knew. Smart.

We never got the autograph we did all the work for, but did have fun at the photo opportunity. Plus, we found James Laurinaitis in another area of the tent signing autographs and, being from St. Louis, it was more exciting to meet a Rams player than a Colts player.

I think GM had a great presence at the Super Bowl and even though the low blow to Ford was completely unnecessary, their advertisements that day, and at the NFL Experience, were successful. Or, maybe I’m just a social media/marketing dork.

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Customer service best practices:Online support January 8, 2012

Have you ever spent time in a call center or worked in any form  of customer service? Everyone says you should work at least one service job in your life to better appreciate what those people go through. Usually, this refers to restaurant services, but I’d have to argue that retail services is equally as challenging and does not result in a tip at the end of the experience.

I know this statement is unfair because I have never worked as a server, but I think it is important to recognize retail customer service as a demanding field as well. It’s easy to complain about something, but it’s even harder to listen to the complaint and resolve it with a big smile on your face.

It started when I was 17. I was working at Toys R Us on Christmas Eve and was faced with a very unhappy customer who accused me of being blind and racist when I literally exchanged no words at all to her. How do you listen to someone throwing drastic accusations at you and manage to still smile and offer to assist them with their needs? It’s not easy!

Knowing what it is like to be on the other side of customer service doesn’t necessarily guarantee you will be an angel when you have your own problems as a customer. You know the feeling. Your furnace broke, your computer froze  or your Christmas gift didn’t show up  on time, or at all. It’s time to talk to someone, but the dread of waiting on hold on the phone or in line at a store makes you re-think your situation and in turn, gives you more time to spend with your problem making your angrier.

I think the most brilliant move in customer service is the ability to chat with a representative online. My first attraction to this method is that I don’t have to wait long to talk to someone! The representatives are extremely timely. I also like the fact that you can surf the net while they type and entertain yourself. They can also send you to helpful links which is less confusing in type than over the phone. I also like that I don’t have to talk to a person. I think typing something calms me down and I don’t get as worked up about my situation; that may have something to do with the surfing the net component as well.

I recently contacted Sony to question why my three month old computer was freezing and going blank. It’s funny because you can always pick out their scripted phrases like: “I’m sorry to hear that,” “Thank you for confirming,” and “I understand your frustration.” Here is an excerpt from my online support chat:

My representative was very helpful and listened to my questions. I have also used online support with Charter, Sprint, Dell and an apartment complex- to name a few. Not only does online chat support ease the pain of customer/company interactions, it also benefits a company’s sales. Answering a question before the potential customer leaves, and the ease with which it can be answered, increases the chances that a person will purchase something for the first time. It also can relieve a customer’s anger so they might return again.

When given the choice, I always turn to online chat support to resolve my issue before calling, emailing or putting on shoes and visiting the store. What is your preferred method of customer service?

 

Naughty or nice? December 6, 2011

I would say the following story classifies me as both nerdy and a little naughty, but hopefully Santa is not looking.

The story begins on my birthday. I was excited to spend my birthday weekend in Chicago and was taking the Mega Bus both ways. At a rest stop, a girl told the bus driver that the bus was leaking on her. He said there was nothing he could do and she switched seats.

At the time, I was annoyed because I remembered my brother’s first Mega Bus trip where the air conditioning went out during the summer and someone complained causing them to arrive three hours later than anticipated. I was not in the mood for that! So that was that. She got a little wet and we moved on.

After my weekend, I got on the bus headed back to St. Louis and somehow managed to get my own seat even though nearly every other seat was filled. I was excited! I plugged in my phone and programmed Daniel Tosh into Pandora and commenced chillaxin.

After our rest stop, the bus started moving again and I was minding my own business when the bus litterally POURED water out from the air conditioning! Stunned at first, I suddenly realized what was happening and quickly stood up to see water still pouring out from above me! I grabbed all of my belongings and asked to sit with the kid right behind me as it stopped raining.

The seat was wet, I was wet, my purse was wet, my phone was wet… get the idea?

Knowing the bus driver’s answer from the previous trip up, I did not say anything to the driver since there was nothing she would do. The next day, I was thinking about how social media has changed customer service and while seeing what other companies do to engage their consumers on Facebook I decided to test Mega Bus.

They failed.

I posted this on their Facebook Fan Page:

I didn’t want to sound completely obnoxious, but wanted to complain enough that it would solicit a response. I pressed enter and waited. They posted pictures right after I posted, but no response. They liked other people’s posts, but still no response to mine. They even did another full post today, but nothing in response to mine. I’m disappointed.

After dealing with this from a business stand point through my internship, I understand how annoying it is when people post silly complaints on your company’s page, but I also know how quickly and effectively we dealt with every issue. We had HootSuite and Buddy Media set up to monitor what people were posting and saying about us on Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, we checked it with our own eyeballs constantly!

That was my naughty deed, but my nerdiness is shown in how much I care. Social media is a great tool to better your customer service but if all you are doing is pushing your product and not actually listening, it is not effective.

 

 

Facts and fictions of “The Social Network” October 15, 2010

It is fall break for Missouri State University and midterms are over! After spending hours studying “The Social Media Bible” by Lon Safko for our midterm, it was nice to come back to St. Louis and not think about social media or school.

And then I watched The Social Network and my social media obsession began again.

I thought that “The Social Network” was a good movie but the because it includes both fact and fiction, I was left not knowing what to believe. Determined to find out, I immediately grabbed my computer and started researching.

The movie is based on the book “Accidental Billionaire” written by Ben Mezrich. Without Mark Zuckerberg’s support, Mezrich managed to write a story portraying Zuckerberg’s life by gathering information from The Harvard Crimson newspaper and co-founder, Eduardo Saverin. A review in The New York Times said the book was “nonfictionish” and that “‘The Accidental Billionaires’ is so obviously dramatized, and so clearly unreliable, that there’s no mistaking it for a serious document.”

I then wonder, how a movie that claims to portray person’s life but is actually made up of partial fabrications is allowed to be produced. Obviously Zuckerberg does not need any more money so there is no need to sue, but if I were the creator of Facebook and was portrayed to be an angry and obesseive person in a movie I would be frustrated. Then again, Zuckerberg reported to Mashable that, “We build products that 500 million people see… If 5 million people see a movie, it doesn’t really matter that much.” Clearly he is not concerned about an effect of the lies.

David Kirkpatrick blogged on the Daily Beast and explained which aspects of “The Social Network” were true and false. He claims to be an expert on the subject after studying Zuckerberg for over a year to write his book “The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World”.

A few highlights from Kirkpatrick’s blog include:

  • “Zuckerberg may be the least angry person I have ever met.”
  • Zuckerberg is and has been dating someone since before The Facebook first launched.
  • The Winklevoss brothers were real, though did not have as important of a role in Facebook as the movie leads to believe.
  • “Zuckerberg did wear Adidas sandals all the time, even in winter.”
  • “There really was a zip line from the chimney on the house in Palo Alto that enabled the guys to fly into the pool.”

I encourage you to visit this link for the full story because it is three pages long and includes links to other sources disputing “The Social Network” facts as well.

I definitely enjoyed the movie “The Social Network”. Seeing the coding and complicated thought process the Facebook team experienced in the creation of this amazing product was very insightful and something I hadn’t considered.

I definitely recommend “The Social Network” to you, and now you know how to discern the facts from the fiction!

 

 
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