BLOGS: Wag The Dog

Monday, July 27, 2009, 12:41 PM

Monday's quick reads: Bernanke, blog leaks, and social media engagement

1.) Bernanke goes barnstorming (The New York Times) -- Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, is on a publicity campaign with a message: the central bank is here to help, and it is not as mysterious or menacing as people might think.

2.) Leaks grow in the world of blogs (The Wall Street Journal) -- The recession, combined with new technology, is sparking new skirmishes between employers and employees over leaks of sensitive or confidential information.

3.) Branding strategies may need updating (San Jose Business Journal) -- An expert says that working with legal counsel means that a brand will fare better down the road. If you choose strong and distinctive marks, you can often put more “distance” between your brand and others that come along later, stopping others from imitating you more closely than they otherwise might.

4.) Study: Financial success tied to good use of social media (ReadWriteWeb) -- A new study released by Wetpaint and the Altimeter Group shows that the brands most engaged in social media are also experiencing higher financial success rates than those of their non-engaged peers.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009, 2:29 PM

How Fortune Brands got ahead of bad news

(Credit: Fortune Brands)

We've blogged before about the value of getting ahead of bad news in order to put your company in a position of relative strength.

Fortune Brands, the producers of Knob Creek bourbon whiskey, has done just that. Fortune launched an aggressive ad campaign this week announcing that - believe it or not - they've run out of bourbon.

You may be wondering how that's good news, when their inaccurate forecasting could pinch wholesalers, retailers, and customers in a tough economy. Yet Fortune turned a potential mea culpa into an opportunity. Fortune ran ads in The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere announcing double digit growth in demand for Knob Creek, thanked customers for the explosion in popularity, and promised that the next batch would be on shelves in November. The bourbon maker even mailed "Drought of 2009" tee shirts and empty bottles to loyal fans.

Fortune took what some would consider an embarrassment and positioned it as a milestone achievement. The strategy is not without risk, and I wouldn't advise every industry to execute the same way (memo to power companies: don't celebrate power outages), but it should remind us that opportunities sometimes await those who get ahead of bad news.

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Tuesday's quick reads: public trust in corporations, ghostwriting, and the personal touch

1.) Amassing a massive audience is rarely the right strategy. (Advertising Age) -- In the world of social media, scale is everything. Media darlings Twitter and Facebook boast, what, 30 sextillion members? It's enough to cause marketers to practically foam at the mouth. But is scale really everything?

2.) Survey: Trust in corporations increasing modestly. (Politico/Public Strategies) -- A new polls shows that trust in government has decreased since March, while trust in businesses has generally improved. Voters are also more inclined to believe business (68%) will play a larger role than government (32%) in the nation’s economic recovery.

3.) Lest we forget, a personal touch still matters. (Advertising Age) -- Marketing blogs are often trumpeting "digital-this" and "social networking-that." The Twitterverse is constantly buzzing, and Facebook updates come faster than e-mails. A writer asks: what happened to the personal touch?

4.) Senator probes medical journals for ghostwriting (Medical Media & Marketing) -- Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked eight journals to provide information about their medical ghostwriting practices and policies, in an effort to “shed light on the role companies may play in the dissemination of information about their products through medical literature.”

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Monday, July 13, 2009, 3:14 PM

Monday's quick reads: Stanford endowment, United Airlines,

1.) A PR problem for Stanford endowment (San Francisco Chronicle) -- According to Forbes magazine, Stanford's $17.5 billion fund is the biggest investor in a "tough talking" Texas firm, NC Ventures, which specializes in buying bad bank loans at pennies on the dollar, "then going after the borrowers." That means, increasingly, those defaulting on their home loans. Which, in turn, can create a PR problem for a certain type of investor.

2.) Smashed guitar, Youtube song - United is listening now (Los Angeles Times) -- An unhappy passenger's catchy Youtube video has caused PR headaches for United Airlines.

3.) Why strategic planning and corporate communications should work in harmony (Council on Public Relations) -- Chief executive officers, senior strategists and communications professionals share many similar views when it comes to corporate strategy, but they must collaborate more effectively to achieve optimal results, according to a new study.

4.) Reactor LLC to test social media's effectiveness (Kansas City Business Journal) -- A Kansas City design and branding agency is trying to answer the elusive marketing question: What is the return on investment for social media?

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Monday, July 6, 2009, 11:20 AM

Monday's quick reads: Twitter imposters & Washington Post controversy

1.) Washington Post caught in controversy (The Wall Street Journal) -- The Washington Post was caught up in a controversy Thursday when a political-news outlet revealed that the newspaper promoted private sessions where lobbyists could meet with Obama administration officials and reporters and editors from the Post in exchange for payments of $25,000 to $250,000.

2.) Washington Post apologizes (The Washington Post) -- Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth said that a hasty time frame, haphazard planning and miscommunication led to the release of a promotional flier that inaccurately described the newspaper's plans for a series of sponsored "salons" with influential insiders.

3.) Companies must cope with Twitter imposters (The Wall Street Journal) -- Twitter users have caused an uproar by impersonating celebrities on the popular micro-blogging service. Businesses, too, are targets of fake Twitter profiles -- sometimes from competitors.

4.) Nonprofits outpace corporations on social media adoption (New Communications Review) The nation’s largest nonprofit organizations have outpaced corporations and academic institutions in their adoption of social media, for the second year in a row, according to a new research study, “Still Setting the Pace in Social Media: The First Longitudinal Study of Usage by the Largest US Charities.”

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