Friday Wrap #78: PR spam, social media ROI, recruiting bias, ethical misstep, and more

Posted on November 29, 2013 11:16 am by | Instagram | Crisis Communication | Ethics | Marketing | Mobile | PR | Social Media

Friday Wrap #78I hope all of my American readers enjoyed a warm, restful and rewarding Thanksgiving Day. My readers are among the most important parts of my life for which I gave thanks yesterday—along with my family, friends, and colleagues. I’m also thankful that the communications profession continues to provide so many opportunities for commentary, experimentation and significant contributions to employers and clients everywhere. The holiday didn’t stop me from accumulating the usual mix of stories during the week, even if the flow of news was a bit subdued thanks to the impending celebration. As usual, you can find all the stories I curated during the week at my link blog,

Above the fold

How bad is PR spam?

Pretty bad. Lazy practitioners blast press releases and other mind-numbingly bad content to countless number of reporters and other influencers using databases provided by companies like Vocus, Cision, Business Wire and PR Newswire at a horrific clip, leading many to discard them without even reading the headline, cursing as they do. Despite the increasingly vocal disdain, marketers continue to unleash these uholy barrages. Now, The New York Times’ consumer advocate, David Segal, is calling on his journalistic colleagues “to combat PR spam by contacting the media database companies that list journalist email addresses and ask to be taken off their list.” Writing in his CyberAlert blog, William J. Comcowich calls this “a loud wake-up call for PR firms that rely on media lists to contact reporters via email.” In his column Segal implored companies to ensure their PR agencies use better strategies than the spray-and-pray approach that has gained so much traction. Writes Comcowich, “It takes quite an extraordinary level of irritation for a consumer advocate of a major national newspaper to write his weekly column on the subject of PR spam — suggesting that it is an issue that PR professionals need to address. (Segal’s editors must also have been irritated enough with PR spam to approve the column.)”

Marketers’ social media missteps are a blinding flash of the obvious

Social media marketing isn’t having nearly the impact on sales you might expect, according to research from the Financial Times, and the reason should come as no surprise to anybody who has been paying attention. According to a Gallup Business Journal report by Ryan Darby and Jake Herway, 91% of businesses report that social media has no real impact on their sales.” Fewer than half of customers report that social media influences their buying behaviors. For all the money and other resources companies are pumping into social media, why these paltry results? Because most marketers are using social media as just another channel for one-way, broadcast advertising. That’s the blinding flash of the obvious. There are other reasons social media isn’t paying off to the degree companies expect it to. For example, only 40% of consumers say they use social media with the expectation of engaging with companies. For the rest, it’s just a virtual version of real-world socializing with friends and family. “So corporations should be considerate and tactful about inviting themselves into social media sites.”

Companies discriminate when candidates post their religion on social sites

Even though U.S. law forbids companies to discriminate against job candidates based on factors like religion, it’s not uncommon for companies that screen candidates via social media to display bias against candidates who share that information via social media. “‘we found robust evidence of discrimination among certain types of employers,’ said Christina Fong, senior research scientist at Carnegie Mellon,” which conducted the study, according to a Business News Daily piece posted to Mashable. “Our survey and field experiments show statistically significant evidence of hiring bias originating from information candidates shared on their online profiles,” Fong said. “‘Both by itself and controlling for a host of demographic and firm variables, our Muslim candidate was less likely to receive an interview invitation compared to our Christian candidate in more politically conservative states and counties.,’” according to Fong.

Below the Fold

Corporate culture vital to success but mismanaged, study says

An organization’s culture is vital to its success, according to a vast majority of respondents to a study from the Katzenbach Center at Booz & Company. Eight-four percent of respondents ranked culture as critical, and “60% said culture even outranks strategy and operating model in order of importance,” according to a report on Bulldog Reporter’s Daily ‘Dog. How much attention are companies paying to culture in light of its importance? “More than half said a major cultural overhaul was needed, and 96 percent of respondents said some change to company culture was required.”

Ethics violation serves as another object lesson

Typhoo Tea has been caught employing dodgy ethical practices in an effort to get its product back on the shelves at England’s Sainsbury’s grocery stores. The company reportedly hired Intelligent Marketing Solutions, which in turn emailed its field staff, asking them to use “Twitter, Facebook, email or phone,” paying a fee for each call and letter sent imploring the company to return the product to store shelves. “The brand that buys its way back on to the shelf is likely to have paid a high price to be able to demonstrate its unpopularity for a second time,” according to PRWeek.

McDonald’s earns praise for web menu design

I don’t talk much about design here, but I had to share Fast Company Design‘s ebullient praise for the way McDonald’s has handled its listing of menu items at its website. “Color. Clarity. White space. Typography. It’s the visual balance driving any good art exhibition or magazine. But we’re not talking about either today. We’re talking about the McDonald’s Full Menu Explorer. It’s the complete McDonald’s menu, laid out entirely on a single page of their website.” Take a look.

Pepsi’s monitoring of VMA reveals insights into Millennial use of second screen

Pepsi, one of the sponsors of the Video Music Awards, watched the online behavior of Millennials viewing the program and found that, during pivotal moments, consumers 18-26 switched from viewing their TVs to their second screens (tablets and smartphones), while those 27-34 stuck with the telecast. An Adweek story reported, “‘The younger group already had their hands ready and immediately went to social media to start talking,’ said Chad Stubbs, senior director of marketing at PepsiCo.”

Starbucks among list of worst-handled crises

Of 20 companies in the UK experiencing crises this year, Wonga, News UK and Starbucks were deemed the worst at responding to the issues, according to a survey conducted by Populus. Wonga, a lender, was found to have responded poorly to stories about its payday loans by 55% of the 2,025 survey respondents. Half thought Starbucks’ response to headlines about tax avoidance was crummy, making it the third-worst, behind New UK and its phone hacking scandal. The story is in PRWeek.

And a few more…



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