We get it. It’s a busy time of year. You may be trying to get everything done so you can take time off over the holidays. Or maybe the client is insisting on a “funny parody” to promote an event or product. Whatever it is that’s pushing you toward any of these clichés, resist—and instead insist on a little more imagination. Be firm and say “no” to:
- Any parody of any line from “A Visit From St. Nicholas.” Commonly referred to as “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” Clement Moore’s poem has been parodied to sell everything from mobile phone plans to men’s underwear. (Nothing says “Christmas” like a pitch to package the family jewels.)
- It’s beginning to look a lot like… We love Meredith Willson’s holiday song, but we don’t love it as an intro to the weather forecast or copy for a department store sale. It’s tired and uninspired. So, no. Just no. (And helpful tip: “a lot” in any context is two words: a and lot. Never alot.)
- The white stuff. While we’re mentioning weather, please just call it snow.
- The Grinch who stole… the money for the homeless shelter, the donated toys for tots, the wise men from the crèche—just fill in the blank. Sad stories all, made all the sadder by the same words we heard and read last year. And the year before.
- ’Tis the season. This is, hands down, the laziest of holiday copy writing. Whether it’s promotional, sales or news copy, anyone older than 12 who uses “’tis the season” is guilty of gross lack of imagination. ’Tis the season? ’Tis the reason you’re fired.
You’re probably thinking, “Wow, what a Grinch!” But no, we’re not stealing anything other than the opportunity for taking the easy way out in holiday copywriting. The principles that work all year round, work especially well during the holidays: tell a story, keep it simple, make it personal, know your audience.
One other helpful tip—no one actually likes fruitcake.
Corporate image building is like filling out your data sheet at the doctor’s. But instead of again reminding your primary care physician that you’re allergic to NyQuil, always wear a seatbelt, and have no family history of the vapors, you’re reinforcing in your customers’ minds what makes your business compelling.
One of the surefire ways to build your corporate image is via online reviews. We all know that when customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction are posted for the universe to see, customers either will flock to your Small Engine Repair &VCR Rental or avoid you as fast as Keira Knightley shuns sugary soft drinks.
But not so fast. According to the Oxford University Press Journal of Research, a survey of 344,157 Amazon ratings of 1,272 products in 120 product categories found that there was “a substantial disconnect between the objective quality information that online user ratings actually convey and the extent to which consumers trust them as indicators of objective quality.” And to further damn with faint praise, “Consumers heavily weight the average rating compared to other cues for quality like price and the number of ratings.”
The good news: a handful of positive Yelp or Amazon ratings could make your company or product look like a winner. The bad news: this so-called “illusion of validity” is – well – an illusion, and can sometimes require crisis management.
David Streitfeld, who covers technology for The New York Times, recently wrote, “In May, Yelp issued 59 new Consumer Alerts, which are notices it puts on a business’s page that it has been caught trying to pay for better reviews. Among those cited were a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and an emergency room in Humble, Tex. Lifehacker.com recently took on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, arguing their way of compiling reviews was ‘fundamentally flawed.’ FiveThirtyEight.com reported that ‘men are sabotaging the online reviews of TV shows aimed at women.’ (Why? Because they can.)”
In other words, while most online costumers still put a heap of trust in online reviews, mistrust is beginning to blossom across the land.
The Knight Canney Group’s advice: Make sure the concept of complete and competent customer service is part of your company’s business plan and mission statement, and respond quickly, completely, and politely to less-than-stellar online reviews (and while you’re at it, compliment the positive reviewers).
Oh, and don’t pay for good reviews.
GARTNER NAMES AIZOON ONE OF 5 “COOL VENDORS” FOR 2016
MAY 5, 2016 | LEWISTON, ME – The analysts and researchers at Gartner Group, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company have announced their list of “Cool Vendors in Managing Operational Technology in a Digital Business” for 2016. Leading the list is aizoOn, parent company of aizoOn-USA, based in Lewiston, Maine.
Gartner’s “Cool Vendor” status is highly regarded in the tech industry and each year, Gartner’s list is widely anticipated. Gartner conducts extensive research on emerging companies in the Information Communication Technology sector.
“We are thrilled to see aizoOn recognized on the world stage like this,” said Rob Dolci, President of aizoOn USA. “Garnering the Cool Vendor designation gives C-level executives and IT decision makers like CIOs and CISOs added confidence in our ability to help them manage operational technology (OT) securely as industries become more and more integrated into digital enterprises and the Internet of Things (IOT), with the ensuing need to stay on top of the cyber security game.”
In its report, Gartner explains why aizoOn is cool:
“AizoOn is cool in the context of managing OT in a digital business because of its ability to deliver holistic digital technology solutions, drawing from many diverse practices in IT; engineering; business innovation and process design; information management; and strategy and organization in an interdisciplinary way.”
“Every competency and proficiency extolled in Gartner’s report regarding aizoOn can be found here with us at aizoOn USA,” said Dolci. “This is an exciting moment for us.”
The Gartner report acknowledges aizoOn’s core competencies:
- Big Data storage and analysis
- Industrial automation
- System engineering and embedded systems design
- Connected products
- Process re-engineering linked to digital business strategy and innovation
- Organization and change management
About aizoOn USA: aizoOn USA is an advanced technology company that solves challenges with innovation. aizoOn USA comprises researchers, engineers, mathematicians, and software developers who design, develop, and support the software and the systems that create safer, secure networks; smarter factories; well-managed warehouses; and seamless supply chains. aizoOn USA is backed by parent company and global technology consulting firm aizoOn Group with locations in Italy, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States.
How can a whole country be PR and marketing savvy? The country in question is Iceland. It helps that the entire population is fewer than 333,000, and that more than two thirds of that population is concentrated in the business-centric capital of Reykjavik and its immediate environs. Despite centuries of seclusion from the rest of the world, modern Iceland may be the most connected place on Earth. Nearly 97% of the population can access the Internet and is busy spreading invitations to come visit and invest.
More than one million people—nearly three times the country’s population—now visit Iceland every year.
Recently, I was one of them. A business trip with lots of pleasure thrown in, found me in Iceland for six days. From the quirky and appealing factoids displayed on in-flight screens by Icelandair.
(“Despite their obsession with modern technology, 80% of the population believes in elves, trolls, and ghosts.”) to the visitor-friendly, multi-lingual service economy, Iceland is on a mission to make visitors—and investors—feel welcome. (WOW Airlines may have the PR edge, however, with its co-promotion with Tinder. “Flirt your way to Iceland.”)
As the country emerges from its 2008 financial collapse, there is still uncertainty regarding the pending lifting of capital controls. The controls are credited with stabilizing the currency, but also are blamed for hampering foreign investment. That investment is beginning to increase.
In the meantime, it seems that public relations and marketing in the realm of encouraging tourism and investment has become everyone’s business.
A visit to the Iceland Ocean Cluster is a prime example. The creation of Dr. Thor Sigfússon, its founder and CEO, the Iceland Ocean Cluster is all about creating greater value in marine-related industries, but it does so primarily by connecting people. Yes, there’s research, invention, and innovation, but those efforts are allowed to incubate and prosper, by making the right connections through networking, tours, and consultation. Investors find what excites them, what’s compatible with their interests and industry, while entrepreneurs find the means to realize their vision for adding value to the marine economy.
What they do at the Iceland Ocean Cluster is covered by media outlets as diverse as Iceland Fishing News Magazine and HA Magazine on Icelandic Design and Architecture.
And Sigfússon has exported his idea to the U.S. He and a local business partner in Maine will open the New England Ocean Cluster House in 2016.
With the possibility of an Arctic route opening a shorter more direct trade path to Asia (thanks, I’m afraid, to the warming climate), Iceland is poised to connect to the rest of the world in ways it never has before. The country with the oldest parliamentary government (est. 930 by its Viking forefathers) is turning out to be the newest big thing.
A couple of years ago, American Greetings issued a web video that went viral. A fake advertisement was placed for a position that required 24/7 commitment to “the associate,” able to do a lot of heavy lifting and bending, a degree in medicine and finance, as well as an ability to cook, clean, and drive a car. Of course, the position, already held by billions of people, was “a Mom.”
We wouldn’t presume to compare ourselves with your saintly mother—so instead think of us as your Uncle Jack-of-all-trades. The services offered by many public relations firms, including The Knight Canney Group, encompass everything from crisis management to corporate image building to executive thought leadership. Not to mention the staples of media and public relations.
Smart leaders are smart enough to know what they don’t know and that there should be someone around who does know. For instance, do you know—
- How to navigate or how to mitigate a public relations crisis?
- How to get media coverage for your corporate excellence?
- How to reach a government official with your problem?
- How to be viewed as a leader in your area of expertise?
- How to persuade people to vote for your issue, to pay attention to your product, or believe in your cause?
If you don’t, it’s okay—as long as you understand their importance and the value of bringing in someone who does.
If you badly cut yourself, you wouldn’t sew your own stiches, would you? (Unless you’re Sly Stalone). Sometimes, you need to bring in a consultant to stop the figurative bleeding as well.
An unexpected crisis can do irreparable damage to your image. Thoughtful, careful, and expedient management of a crisis can keep you from losing years of hard work to a momentary change in circumstances. Would you know what to do in the realm of crisis management?
Establishing a network of media contacts takes time and effort. Do you know how a public relations campaign could amplify your story beyond paid advertising?
Businesses, non-profits, organizations, and individuals can all benefit from professional public relations consultants. Let us let you focus on doing what you do best.