Monthly ArchiveJune 2010
It is a well-known fact in business that it is far more cost effective to retain existing customers than to recruit new customers. However, the state of Michigan has been trying to recruit “new customers” for decades by showering big incentives on companies from other states or countries to invest here. Instead, Michigan should take up “economic gardening” in their own backyard as suggested by the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM).
Economic gardening is the cultivating of existing small to mid-size businesses and growing them into much larger organizations. A majority of local business owners admit that they sometimes feel ignored by the state. This is attributable to the fact that the Michigan Economic Development Corp. has been focusing its efforts on searching for outside investment, not helping small, local Michigan businesses grow.
It is for this reason that the SBAM is a strong advocate for economic gardening. At SBAM’s annual meeting this past Thursday, the group educated its members and the candidates running for governor on the reasons why the state should be pursuing this strategy. They shared the success stories of the various pilot programs they are running with 24 companies across the state. SBAM plans to follow up with a white paper and a plan for fully implementing economic gardening by September.
Between the years 1995 to 2007, almost all of Michigan’s new jobs came from small firms with less than 100 employees. While at the same time, employment at companies with 500 or more employees declined by 15%, or 230,000 jobs. According to these results from the Edward Lowe Foundation and the SBAM, it makes far more sense for Michigan to expand from within by focusing on the small, homegrown businesses.
A current concern of the average American citizen is monitoring the content of their online profiles. In a culture where an angry post or an inappropriate photo is made available for everyone to see, it is difficult to imagine having limited Internet access due to government censorship. However, this is the existing situation in China where the government has been monitoring online content since the introduction of the Internet years ago. While U.S. citizens are censoring what they put online, the Chinese government is censoring what their citizens can access.
The Golden Shield Project, more commonly referred to as the “Great Firewall of China”, operates as a censorship and surveillance program by the Ministry of Public Security division of the government of China. The Great Firewall of China blocks website content and also monitors Internet sessions of individuals. While it is hard to find an exact number, there are rumored to be as many as 30,000 government officials working as Internet police agents. These Internet police ensure that any critical or questionable material is deleted within minutes. The government expects all Internet service providers, businesses and organizations to abide by Great Firewall of China censorship policies.
To better illustrate the present conditions in China, Internet powerhouse Google pulled out of China last January after having trouble adhering to the strict censorship policies. Google decided that it simply was not feasible to censor all their search results. A few weeks ago, China released a White Paper on Internet usage and its future for Chinese citizens.
The overall message of the paper is that China is attempting to embrace the Internet and all it has to offer. They are aiming to be “a leader in global evolution by monitoring and regulating the Internet”. According to the document, nothing that “subverts state power, undermines national unity, infringes upon honor and interests or incites ethnic hatred and secession” is allowed. Also banned are a majority of social networking sites, terror-related sites, gambling sites, rumor-spreading sites, sites that support superstitious ideas and sites with vulgar or adult material.
As an American citizen accustomed to my First Amendment rights, the Chinese government’s Internet declaration seemed oxy-moronic. It came as a surprise that a government would allow for their World Wide Web to have kinks in it. One of the beauties of the Internet is that a majority of its content is user based. Censoring this content and restricting what is shared results in a bland, less enriched pool of resources. Is it possible for a country to attempt to embrace the Internet while at the same time control it?
As oil spills into the Gulf of Mexico, destroying land, ecosystems and livelihoods, social media is in the forefront. Whether it is the general public demanding a resolution, government officials seeking containment and public support or BP trying to restore its image, social media has spread the latest oil spill news faster than ever before.
Within hours of the British Petroleum and Transocean rig explosion, media personnel and the general public used Facebook and Twitter accounts to pass word of the explosion with friends and followers. Many of these social media users wondered who was to blame, what would happen to the fish and sea creatures calling the ocean their home and what affect the spill would have on those who fished for a living. Outrage and concern has continued to resonate throughout these social media sites following the explosion on April 20, 2010.
Thousands of BP critics have launched social media attacks for BP’s failure to prevent the disaster and its inability to stop the flow of oil. Hundreds of Facebook pages exist asking the public to boycott BP, while a fake BP Twitter account making fun of the company has reached a popularity well beyond that of the company’s actual Twitter account.
At the same time, the public has been posting and tweeting ways for others to help relief efforts in the Gulf. Posts telling people where and how to make donations have circulated the Internet.
The crisis communication carried out by the company is something that should be carefully observed. BP’s president, Tony Hayward, made several statements that have caused public outrage. Hayward belittled the scope of the situation in May and suggested that the environmental impact of the spill would be minimal. The company has yet to admit to doing something wrong but claims they are taking responsibility for clean-up efforts. In public relations, the best thing a company can do is to be completely honest about screwing up. BP was not.
The lack of interest and concern BP has shown is evident. The oil spill was a fantastic opportunity for BP to use social media as a communication tool right from the beginning. The company has made some effort to be active through social media- it has a Facebook page, Twitter feed and a channel on YouTube, which cost $250,000 to brand, according to Taylor Buley of Forbes.com . However, the problem is not what outlets of social media BP is using, but exactly how they are utilizing them.
BP should be using their Twitter feed and Facebook page as a forum for discussion as well as a way to answer questions and concerns from the general public. Instead of providing customer service and giving feedback, BP merely gives updates to what’s new in the Gulf. Courtesy of BP, there are plenty of informational videos about cleanup efforts and claims made against the company, but there is no channel of communication in which the public is asked for suggestions about the oil spill.
The company’s social media outlets have become a place for bashing the corporation instead of a forum for people to voice their opinions about a possible solution.
BP’s lack of care for the public’s input is apparent in their social media campaign, and it is a taking a toll on their reputation. If social media is going to be used during a crisis, in order to be successful, it needs to be facilitated so it is clear that the company is listening to its customers.
Jaclyn Klein and Rachel Krasnow
Eiler Communications has been providing pro-bono PR services to Operation Never Forgotten (ONF) since 2008. ONF is a national non-profit, non-partisan awareness campaign to commemorate fallen heroes, wounded warriors, deployed troops and the families that love them. The organization helps bridge the gap between our military and civilian world through public service announcements (PSAs) which can be seen and heard in the Mall of America and International airports across the country, on highway billboards, through television commercials and on the radio.
ONF has had to recently turn down troops and their families’ requests for PSAs due to an overwhelming workload and shortage of funds. Realizing that they were only scratching the surface to ONF’s mission and what our heroes deserve, the organization solicited Eiler’s expertise in social media marketing. Eiler is hoping to capitalize on a donation opportunity for ONF presented by Chase Community Giving. Through a Facebook voting application, Chase is giving away $5 million among 200 deserving charities. We need your help to ensure that ONF secures a spot in the top 200. Anyone can vote by simply clicking the link- Vote Now. Polls close July 12. Please help this worthy cause!
Ann Arbor, MI, June 17, 2010 — In a day and age where people are leading parallel lives via the Internet, it’s not shocking that researchers are frequently finding new trends pertaining to social media. It’s also no surprise that with so much new information available to the public, controversy surrounding Internet privacy has surfaced. Eiler Communications finds that with the social media being such an important tactic for marketing, it is imperative that company employees manage their online content. Failing to do so not only puts your personal reputation at stake, but your company’s as well.
“As new media is evolving as another public relations tool it is imperative that clients are educated on proper usage,” explained Larry Eiler, Chairman of Eiler Communications.
With that said, the younger half of the millennial generation has been accused of putting too much information about themselves on the Internet. However, new research from the Pew Research Internet and American Life Project suggests that part of this age group (18-29) is savvier with regulating their online content than their elders.
Not just bosses and friends are interested in checking out your photos, lifestyle approach and posts online. Given that the younger millenials are putting a ton of information on display, they are limiting what other people can see. They are more likely than any other age group to remove names from photos with beer cups and delete embarrassing rants with friends.
The study done by Pew found that 44 percent of young adult Internet users limit their personal information online, while only 33 percent of users ages 30-39 claimed they did the same. The numbers lessen as the ages of users increase. In the same study, 71 percent of 18-29 year-old social networking users surveyed said to have changed their privacy settings, almost 20 percent more than those surveyed aged 50-64. The youngest age group also beat out the other age brackets in other categories such as deleting unwanted comments and removing names from photos.
At Eiler, we endorse monitoring your online content. Although privacy settings differ with each social networking sites, and some privacy policies can be complicated (Facebook). It’s an area worth looking into. Just because young Internet users have grown up using social networking sites doesn’t mean that older users aren’t capable of limiting their personal information too.
It seems Internet users ages 18-29 are motivated to manage online content because they are likely trying to find a job, internship or other work-related gig. This means that these users are consistently aware of what content their potential employers could find. In fact, 26 percent of working Internet users have employers that instill policies about online content.
If you’re not changing your privacy settings out of caution, do it for love. The Internet makes it
simple for everyone to do scouting reports. People are checking up on their love interests. According to a study done by McKinsey, 1 in 8 of couples married in the U.S. in 2006 met online. Pew’s study shows that 16 percent of all Internet users search online for additional information about somebody they are dating or in a relationship with, and about one-third of those using dating Web sites check out their dates online as well. If you wouldn’t want your potential mate to see it, it probably shouldn’t be online.
Hats off to the young millenials; they’re keeping their content controlled- and it’s for their own benefit. Let’s commend them and copy them. It won’t hurt.
Uncategorized 09 Jun 2010 03:25 pm
With the Re:NEW Michigan survey showing a continued growth in the use of social media for business marketing, speculation around the future of social media marketing is only natural. According to Forrester Research’s most recent Interactive Marketing Forecast, social media marketing will grow at an annual rate of 34%. This is faster than any other online marketing and double the rate of all other online marketing techniques. Can you see your business utilizing social media 34% more? What will social media look like 5, 10 or 15 years from now?
Uncategorized 03 Jun 2010 09:33 am
College campuses have always been a breeding ground for innovation. It is unlikely to find a group of people more receptive to change clustered in one area. Facebook, for example, made its debut on college campuses, and now everyone and their uncle (literally!) seems to have their own page. An upcoming trend deserving of closer watch is the use of e-readers in education.
Last fall, Kindle DX, Amazon’s e-reader geared towards e-textbooks, was run through pilot programs at Arizona State, Case Western Reserve, Pace University, Princeton, Reed College, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. This initiative was undertaken by the institutions in an attempt to eventually defray textbooks costs and reduce the amount of paper used by each student. The Kindle DX was very well received. Students were able to access and transport all their textbooks in one portable 10.3 oz device as opposed to carting a heavy backpack full of high-priced books all over campus.
After discussing the issue with my college students peers, I found them to be extremely interested in the idea of purchasing an e-reader for textbooks as well. With the ever-rising cost of college tuition, adding an extra $700 per semester for textbooks leaves students feeling outraged and open to a technological device that will save them money in the long run. A Kindle DX retails for $489, and e-textbooks average around $50, well under about half the cost of traditional, in-print textbooks.
The issue presents a chicken and egg type paradox, however. Students will not purchase an e-reader until they are ensured that all of their needed textbooks are available in digital format. While at the same time, textbooks companies will not release e-textbooks until students start purchasing e-readers. According to the National Association of College Stores, the textbook industry brings in an average of $6.5 billion dollars annually, and these publishers are not yet ready to relinquish control over how their content is sold and displayed.
For now, the e-textbook industry, with the potential to revolutionize the educational world, is at a standstill. It is up to the publishers to take the next pivotal step because it is doubtful that money-conscious students will do so.
Using Facebook used to be so simple. I would log in, check my news feed, write on my friends’ walls and post photos without worrying about everyone knowing where I lived, what my interests were and how I felt at that very moment.
Another issue: your status updates and wall post aren’t just for your friends’ eyes. If you post something that says, “I hate the police!” your post will show up on a specific Facebook page for police. We’ve got to be more careful than ever. The problem is that we’re so used to be able to share our information; it’s hard to start putting it on lockdown.
Yet, we don’t pay for Facebook (but rumor has it we may have to start paying soon). We don’t own Facebook, either- so we have the right to complain? Has Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made it too hard for us to privately create content or are we making it too easy for our content and profiles to be taken advantage of?