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Posts Tagged ‘American Express’

Here’s a Hotel Group’s Take on Brand Journalism

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SWEET necklace, bro

This morning, amidst all the talk of the FTC and native ads, Rafat of Skift made us aware of a hotel group that’s launched its own branded journalism venture. The post links to a site created by EVEN Hotels, an IHG offshoot which bills itself as the “first wellness hotel brand.”

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American Express and TripAdvisor Want to Keep Your User Reviews Honest

I'm dreaming of more money.

Oh yeah, she’s a member.

Online reviews are important. Online reviews are completely unreliable. Today is Wednesday.

Here’s one more undeniable fact: American Express has teamed up with TripAdvisor in a noble attempt to keep user reviews as honest as they can possibly be. The project might not be quite as revolutionary as it sounds, though.

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How Can Brands Master the Art of Building Social Movements?

So it’s the 21st century, and lots of brands want the public to know that they’re invested in the most powerful social movements of the day — be they environmental, ethical, or cultural. We also know that audience engagement is often the most important element of a successful social media-powered PR campaign. Social@Ogilvy recently conducted a study and published a white paper on the phenomenon, and we had a chance to talk to the firm’s “Global MD” John Bell about its conclusions.

What inspired you to conduct this study?

Our original motivation came from working with major brands on the idea of creating a movement around a major issue that both coincides with business goals and serves the larger social good. The Pepsi Refresh project, for example, not only benefited the company but also the communities that received funding. The “members project” from American Express was similar.

We’ve been designing big social programs for a while, but when considering the word “movement” we asked: how big is big — especially when the idea is centered around a brand?

What were the study’s parameters?

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6 Brands Taking Social Media Strategy Beyond Facebook

SephoraWe found ourselves intrigued by last week’s Forbes post on “Why Facebook Can’t Be the Center of Your Social Strategy”, because we’re fairly certain that every PR/marketing pro would love to work with a social media platform less infuriating than the big FB—a platform that grants brands a little more in the way of control and allows reps to more clearly demonstrate the benefits of a given project to clients.

According to author Rob Tarkoff of Lithium Technologies, some of the most socially successful brands have moved beyond Facebook by establishing their own “on-domain customer communities”. In other words, they encourage fans to participate in social media forums located within their own websites.

Tarkoff writes that “The most cutting-edge B2B and B2C brands are placing bets on on-domain, owned, social media hubs where they can control the brand, guide the experience, and drive real business outcomes.”

Sounds great–so who are they? We’ve chosen to highlight six:

  1. American Idol
  2. Sephora
  3. American Express
  4. Google AdWords
  5. BMW
  6. Starbucks

Click through for details on each.

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Driving Brand Journalism Through Social Media (Pt 3)

Over the past two days, we brought you posts on the intersection of brand journalism and social media (co-written by Tim Gray, content strategist at online marketing/web design firm Blue Fountain Media). Today we conclude the series by reviewing distribution issues and offering several more examples of “owned media” sites that get the new PR equation just right.

The final step in the three-part journey from traditional PR to brand journalism:

3. Achieve Maximum Participation

In order to succeed as a brand journalist, you must be an expert in your field—not just a producer/distributor of goods, services and press releases. Your best content will reach across social media by appealing to readers who’ve never heard of your brand but have a vested interest in the products you offer.

Create content that can be re-used and re-purposed as often as possible. Write multimedia stories that can simultaneously serve as tweets, Facebook updates, blog posts, and sharable video files. Hit all avenues at once for optimum exposure. And, again, facilitate interaction by explicitly encouraging followers to “tell us what you think in the comments.”

  1. Making the most of all social media channels will boost your traffic numbers while building your reputation as a trustworthy source of information. The larger “conversation” will ultimately revolve around those who create original, high-quality content—no matter which channels they use.

Social Key: You should encourage every member of your team to promote all your content across multiple social media channels—but you also need to make sure you don’t repeat yourself too often. Followers will quickly tire of a rep who just re-posts the same material in different venues. At the very least, you should learn to update, alter and re-frame your material to make sure it’s still fresh for your audience.

For example, if a follower tweets a story that you ran a couple of weeks ago, re-tweet his/her message and add a comment. This simple act may re-kindle interest in a post that no longer shows up in your followers’ feeds but remains relevant.

If you don’t have any original material at a given moment, share something from a source you follow that you believe your own audience would enjoy. Small touches are still touches.

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Creating a ‘Breakout Brand’ Through PR Outreach

A recent survey commissioned by rbb Public Relations and performed by IBOPE/Zogby International received a bit of media attention over the past few weeks, and with good reason: its most significant revelation was the fact that “83% of consumers would pay more for a product/service from a company they feel puts them first.”

The survey concerned the phenomenon of “breakout brands” that achieve the enviable goal of customer loyalty and steady market share by dealing directly with their customers rather than playing a never-ending game of Battleship with their competitors. And its list of 2012’s “Top 10 Breakout Brands” ran the gamut from universally-beloved names like Apple and customer service leaders like Zappos to controversial brands like Chick-Fil-A.

What led rbb to commission this survey? While researching older marketing strategies, founder Christine Barney noticed that brands no longer followed the classic “challenger” approach typified by the Avis tagline “We’re only No. 2 in rent a cars. So why go with us? We try harder”. This Don Draper-style message may have worked in the 60’s, but it’s no longer relevant. So how have branding strategies evolved?

Barney lists three primary traits of the “breakout brand”:

  1. They lead by putting the customer first, not distinguishing themselves from rivals. Customers don’t care about brand fights.
  2. They use market research and knowledge of their customer base to anticipate their customers’ desire. Did the public realize they wanted tablets before the iPad arrived?
  3. They communicate in ways that go well beyond traditional customer service, developing “rich feedback loops” with their customers.

Can any brand break out? Theoretically, yes—“breakout” does not necessarily mean new. Barney also lists three distinct types of breakout brands:

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How Will the Public React to American Express’s Crimes?

The card that pays you back…after screwing you over.

Nothing hurts a brand’s public relations image more than charges of dishonesty, greed and manipulative behavior. This is exactly the PR mess American Express finds itself mired in today after agreeing to pay $85 million to customers it exploited–in addition to $27.5 million in civil fines.

Yep, that’s a $112.5 million penalty for treating its own customers like dupes. Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, explains in this Washington Post article that American Express violated laws designed to protect consumers “at all stages of the game — from the moment a consumer shopped for a card to the moment the consumer got a phone call about long overdue debt.”

As PR professionals, all we can do upon hearing this type of news is to throw up our hands and bang our heads on our desks. This is beyond inexcusable; it’s inexplicable. American Express, an iconic and trusted brand, must know better than this. The American people are fed up with corruption, particularly in financial institutions, and this type of news can eradicate decades of good will earned by consistency, diligence and hard work. American Express has come too far to act so recklessly toward the very people who allow it to be profitable.

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Is ‘Brand Journalism’ the New PR?

PR professionals: Do you consider yourself content providers? How about reporters? Bloggers? Are we getting close? OK, here’s the question of the day: Instead of struggling with media gatekeepers to win coverage and attract wandering eyes to your brand, should you simply become the media? Instead of providing access to key personalities and emailing quotes for a big story, why not just tell the story yourself?

According to Blue Fountain Media strategist Tim Gray, the best way to promote your brand through content is to create it—he sees the PR industry moving quickly in that direction, and Bazaar Voice’s 2012 “social trends report” backs him up.

Of course you’ve heard about the ways in which an increasingly interconnected media world makes traditional advertising less effective than ever; most viewers/readers will skip those pesky sponsored messages when given the choice. The appeal of creating your own content delivery system is obvious–and more than a few brands have started doing just that.

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Voting Starts to Preserve New York City Historic Sites

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch and George Washington were at the Metropolitan Museum today to unveil the 40 historic places selected from across the city’s five boroughs that will contend for preservation funding. It’s been put to a public vote with ballots cast online today through May 21.

Historic preservation is a popular cause nationwide, and Partners in Preservation, a collaboration between the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express, is backing the effort in six U.S. cities. As Bob Tierney, chairman of New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, pointed out, “Preservation is good for the environment, and the greenest building is the one you rehab, not the one torn down for new construction.”

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American Express Seeks Take-Charge Director of Communications

Here’s a job we’d like to file under “must apply.” American Express has an opening for a director of communications, a newly created position that will report to the company’s CMO.

The gig is for a pro who can spearhead a multi-dimensional and multi-channel communications program, which will inform, educate, engage and inspire employees. You’ll be creating and executing an internal program for American Express workers, while collaborating with other departments on deepening understanding of branding initiatives. Of course, you’ll also develop external messaging with the office of the CMO. Read more

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