Truths and Myths About Online Reviews

corporate image building, online reviews, The Knight Canney Group, David Streitfeld, Rotten Tomatoes

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. recently took on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, arguing their way of compiling reviews was ‘fundamentally flawed.’ 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.

The Future Is Software – This Week, Anyway

This week Microsoft and Apple made it clear that software is the new hardware. For the time being.

Microsoft is buying the business-oriented social network LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in cash, and Apple is pivoting away from its slow-selling laptops, tablets, and smartphones to focus on improving its software.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called the purchase of LinkedIn key to the company’s corporate image building – a way to reinvent productivity and business processes. “How people find jobs, build skills, sell, market, and get work done and ultimately find success requires a connected professional world.”

LinkedIn has more than 433 million members in 200 countries, which means Microsoft will now own one of the largest social networks in the world.

That bold move is almost matched by the decision of the notoriously-proprietary Apple to allow outside developers access to some of its key apps, including Siri and iMessage. The thinking is that an infusion of fresh innovation will make the iPhone seem, well, fresh again.

Corporate image building aside, the moves by Microsoft and Apple are also smart public relations strategies that allow the companies to prove they can expand beyond their hardware offerings and more fully welcome software developers (Apple) and social media (Microsoft).

Both companies suffer from software that is – as the tech folks like say – “buggy,” so there’s some heavy lifting to be done before LinkedIn fully integrates with Microsoft and outside developers fully integrate with Apple’s closed culture. And it remains to be seen whether Apple and Microsoft can leverage these public relations moves to create more value.

Given that 60% of LinkedIn’s $2.9 billion in revenue comes from services sold to HR departments, that only 25% of users use the service each month, and that just a sliver of users pay for LinkedIn’s premium service, where does Microsoft expect to find growth?

The New York Times reported on Monday that “Apple is under pressure to fix its software and online services, which have become increasingly important to consumers. Apple has a lot of catching up to do … [because most of its] noteworthy … features [are] already offered by other internet companies, namely Amazon and Google.”

Microsoft and Apple have plenty of cash to devote to the secret sauces that will make these initiatives pay off. But tech consumers can be fickle – just ask Blackberry, MySpace, and whoever invented QR codes and laser discs – so neither venture is a sure thing.

The Knight Canney Group is betting, however, that Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella are – to paraphrase Lady Gaga – optimists, spontaneous, and ready to take the rapidly-evolving, software-centric tech world by storm.

Wireless Partners Announces Expansion of High-Speed Internet Access for Downeast Maine through partnership with Premium Choice Broadband

Premium Choice Broadband expands its territory via Wireless Partners 4g LTE network in Washington and eastern Hancock counties

BREWER, ME | February 22, 2016 – Wireless Partners, LLC today announced a new partnership with Premium Choice Broadband that allows Premium Choice to reach more customers in more parts of rural Maine.

Premium Choice Broadband currently serves customers in Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Hancock and Franklin counties. By joining with Wireless Partners, Premium Choice can now resell wireless capacity from the Wireless Partners 4G LTE network throughout Washington and Hancock counties. Premium Choice Broadband is also expanding and now offering fiber, cable, wireless broadband, including a new project to provide wireless broadband at Brunswick Landing.

Founded in 2007, by President and CEO, Bill Varney, Premium Choice Broadband is a leader in providing high speed Internet access to Maine’s rural areas. The company also sells a variety of tablets and other hotspot data devices.

Wireless Partners CEO Robert Parsloe said, “We are excited to work with Bill and his professional team at Premium Choice. Now, businesses and homes will benefit directly from utilizing our expanded network and will have the immediate ability to travel and have coverage throughout our network in Washington and east Hancock counties.”

“We’re looking forward to working with Bob and his team,” added Varney, “What they’ve accomplished in support of Verizon Wireless will benefit our new subscribers and us. With this agreement, we are opening an office in Pembroke and look forward to extending our products and services.”

Over the past year and a half, Wireless Partners has invested more than 5 million dollars and has been working with local business, government, and customers, to install new sites of coverage and expand the breadth and quality of service in Down East Maine along the route 1 and route 9 corridors. “This new partnership with Premium Choice Broadband is one more step in helping insure increased access to quality, high-speed Internet access for Maine businesses, families, and visitors alike,” said Parsloe.

As one of 20 companies working with Verizon Wireless to bring better service to rural areas through the Verizon Wireless’s LTE in Rural America Program, Wireless Partners has constructed 13 new towers in the region and installed its equipment on another 19 existing towers.   Additionally, Wireless Partners has agreed to further expand its current network to bring 4G LTE coverage to even more locations in Washington and Hancock counties in 2016.

Media Contact:

Jill Valley-Orlando, The Knight Canney Group


About Wireless Partners, LLC – Wireless Partners is a trusted, proven provider of carrier-grade wireless telecommunication solutions. We design, build, own and operate advanced 4G cellular networks for unserved and underserved rural markets. Today, Cellular Communications is an essential utility of everyday life. These essential services support better economic opportunities, safer communities, and provide high-speed broadband Internet access.

About Premium Choice Broadband – Founded in 2007, Premium Choice Broadband is a leader in broadband development in the State of Maine.  With headquarters located in Brewer, Maine, we are local Maine people working to provide high-speed Internet to Maine’s rural areas.  Starting with only 5 broadcasting locations around the Bangor area, Premium Choice has expanded to over 67 broadcast locations spanning from Rockwood to Deer Isle, covering roughly 7,000 square miles.  Premium Choice has also expanded its additional home services and now offers Cable Internet, Fiber, DSL and VoIP Phone services.

Key Voices in Science, Technology, Business, and Industry Warn American Innovation Requires Active Leadership

American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Leaders convene on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to support 
Innovation: An American Imperative 

WASHINGTON, DC | OCTOBER 20, 2015 – Now is not the time for the United States to rest on its past successes as an international leader in advancements in science, technology, engineering, and innovation. That is the message that four industry leaders and key members of Congress delivered today at a public symposium on Capitol Hill. Led by Norman Augustine, retired CEO of Lockheed Martin; Jeannette M. Wing, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research; Roger M. Perlmutter, Executive Vice President, Merck &Co., Inc., and President, Merck Research Labs; and John D. Evans, Vice President, International Science and Technology, Lockheed Martin, all took up the call to action to compel the federal government to return to consistent, sustainable funding for basic research, and recommit to restoring the United States as a leader in innovation. The speakers urged support for the goals and policies set forth in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences report, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream. That report, in turn, led to the creation of Innovation: An American Imperative, a call to action signed by ten CEOs and chairpersons, plus more than 300 organizations, colleges and universities, businesses, and nonprofits from across all 50 states. Each expressed their belief in the importance of federal funding for basic research to America’s future productivity, prosperity, and strength. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Chris Coons (D-Delaware), and Gary Peters (D-Michigan), and Representative Randy Hultgren (R-Illinois 14th) spoke prior to the symposium. “The U.S. is now in 10th place in in R&D investment among Organisation for Economic Co-operation nations as a percentage of gross domestic product,” said Augustine, who also is co-chair of the Restoring the Foundation commission. “At this pace, China will surpass the United States in R&D intensity in about eight years. Do we really want to watch that play out?” Among the policies cited today that would help America retain its position of leadership are:

  • End sequestration’s deep cuts to federal investments in R&D
  • Make permanent a strengthened federal R&D tax credit
  • Improve student achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)
  • Reform U.S. visa policy
  • Streamline or eliminate costly and inefficient regulations
  • Reaffirm merit-based peer review
  • Stimulate further improvements in advanced manufacturing

Today’s event was sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Battelle, the Coalition for National Science Funding, the Coalition for National Security Research, the Council on Competitiveness, the Energy Sciences Coalition, the Task Force on American Innovation, The Science Coalition, and United for Medical Research.