Hope for Better Conversations

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by Beth Harte and Geoff Livingston

So we know what we don’t want to hear about any more. How about increasing the volume on some conversation that push people to think or act more mindfully, bettering our professions, our societies, and our day-to-day lives? Our last post was tongue in cheek, but this one is full of hope (and a little humor, too). Here are 10 current or would-be memes that could better our online conversations.

1. Stakeholders Are Smarter Than Most : Wouldn’t your job would be 100% easier if you let your customers/donors and/or volunteers do their job? And that job is to participate in a relationship with your organization as extended members of the enterprise, either as customers, donors, volunteers, or brand investors. Let’s take it one step further shall we? How about letting stakeholders sit at the heart of your organization so that they help to design (or at least influence) the products and services they want to buy. (Was that you shuddering at the thought?!).

In Greg Verdino’s new book ‘microMarketing’ (a book we highly suggest you read), he shares the story of Lauren Luke. Lauren Luke is a young makeup entrepreneur that created a following using social media tools and eBay. Even now that she is recognized globally (her line is now carried by Sephora), she still keeps her customers (not the media, not herself) at the heart of her business. They help pick colors, names, etc. and they are extremely loyal to Lauren. Imagine that? Customers that are loyal. Hmmm.

2. Citizen Journalism: It’s so promising, and there are great examples emerging periodically. Having experienced this personally with CitizenGulf, it’s a great way to move from pitching to providing seriously valuable information. Further, good citizen journalism – if encouraged – can help with the general degradation of content quality we are seeing across all media. How can citizen journalism be encouraged, bettered, and more widespread? Besides, who doesn’t want to be (or maybe be with) Anderson Cooper?

3. I Screwed Up, So?: Why is it when it comes to social media (and marketing & PR) we only hear self-patting back echos? It’s doubtful that corporations and agencies score a perfect 10 every time. Mistakes, or their cousin, flops, are always made (Pepsi, anyone?). Perhaps if people were more open to admitting that sometimes mistakes come from trying to do something different or innovative they’d be more empathetic and less tempted to skewer a brand in a meme. How about having the guts (being nice there) to publicly fail? Even better, how about an effective apology?

4. Using Open Government Data: So the Obama Administration is opening up all of this data, and generally civilians, nonprofits and businesses are not using it. While this may be as far as the mighty O can deliver on open government, civilians and the private sector can do more. This open data represents an incredible resource from a semantic, societal and general pragmatic basis for online media. So how can we create better analysis, applications and uses for this fantastic data? While there are initial thought leaders starting to discuss and use this data, we could stand for much more conversation… and action.

5. Culture Shifting: Unfortunately, the days of office politics are far from long gone. There are just some people (a lot of them!) who can’t see beyond their own insecurities and needs in order to be a part of something larger than themselves. Anyone who has been neck deep in social media knows this to be true. Customers could care less about personal issues, they have their own problems. There are companies and nonprofits trying to lead the way to culture shift change, why aren’t we hearing more about it? Is it too soon? This evolution from industrial silos to networked structures is the future. Let’s talk about it!

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6. Better Crowdsourcing: As soon as the vote for me meme ends… Wait, let’s shift it towards better crowdsourcing. By far, crowdsourcing is the most difficult of social media strategies to master. Even some of the industry’s leading thought leaders seem to have a hard time getting down to actual mechanics and experiences. We’d like to see a lot more conversation about what does and doesn’t work with crowdsourcing and why.

7. Marketing 3.0: Given that some marketers don’t even get Marketing 1.0 (‘cause you know, anyone can be a marketer), it’s with hesitation this one is even mentioned. Marketing 3.0 is about getting to the level where our stakeholders are today (as we know, they aren’t sitting back waiting to receive your marketing campaigns). If you are still focused on what products and services you want to bring to the market, you’re still at 1.0. If you are focused on social media, you’re at Marketing 2.0. If you see the whole customer (and no, sCRM isn’t the way to do it) as people — not just consumers — Marketing 3.0 is where you want to be.

In addition, Marketing 3.0 organizations have aspirations to add value to the world as a whole, not just to their bottom-line. They in essence want to be responsible citizens, not just cause marketers. Example: The Body Shop.

8. The 2010 Election: It’s going to happen with or without us. And most people are groaning. But elections represent a period of innovation in communications, and there are inevitable experiments and successes that occur. How are the GOP trying to leapfrog the Democrats sensational social networking success in 2008? Will it work? Why? How will the Democrats counter? Arm chair communicators should celebrate and talk about the Super Bowl of PR that’s about to occur.

9. Augmented Reality: Talking about toys, er, tools, seems to be inevitable online. So maybe we can talk about the next game changer instead of Steve Jobs, for crying out loud. We’re so over Mister I Don’t, er Do, Flash. Once augmented reality goes mainstream, it will change the way we interact online, and in reality. This means a paradigm shift for communicators. We should be talking about this, seriously.

10. Your Turn. We thought the right thing to do since it is supposed to be a conversation is open source our last meme. What do you think the conversational market place is missing and why?

The El Show Episode #35: The Effective Apology

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Episode 35 of the El Showfeatured business book author John Kador, who most recently authored Effective Apology, a guidebook to apology. This was timely given my panel at DC Week this Friday on Public Failure as well as the ongoing BP crisis. Richard and I talked with John on a wide variety of topics.

Here’s the breakdown of Episode 34:

  • Why John wrote the book
  • The five Rs of an effective apology: Recognize acts, take Responsibility, demonstrate Regret, make Restitution, promise not make to Repeat
  • Act your way into in effective apology, you can’t talk it
  • BP stumbled into apologizing, and initially tried to minimize the situation
  • How spin lacked factual communications and hurt BP
  • Obama’s approach to the oil spill from an apology perspective
  • The Citizen Effect/Geoff Livingston mission to the Gulf to benefit local fishermen
  • The BP advertising decision, and whether it was welcome
  • We don’t know if the apology will be accepted
  • The fantasy of a cover-up and how it betrays relationships
  • Face your mistakes directly and clean it up quickly
  • How lawyers can really mess up a situation (Exxon Valdez)
  • Recent apologies: Jim Joyce vs Tiger Woods
  • The humility of a good apology

Download or listen to the El Show Episode 35 today! Also available on iTunes!