Category ArchiveBusiness and Economy
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.
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!
Google has ruled the search engine market for quite some time and it still holds 65 percent of the search engine share. The emergence of Bing has created another search engine option but it only accounts for a little over 11 percent of searches in the United States. Although Google is firmly in control of the market, Bing has been accepted as a legitimate competitor, pushing Google to evaluate and update its product.
Google recently unveiled an edited version of its logo, new color scheme, the inclusion of images mixed with its search results, and most dramatically, a column appearing on the left side of search results. This column allows users to refine their searches, resembling Bing.
By continuing to evaluate itself, Google is positioning itself to keep a hold on the market. Google’s renovations may be necessary because BingHoo, a combination of Bing and Yahoo is expected to be unveiled later this year. The merger would combine Bing and Yahoo’s market share, giving it around 30 percent, putting it closer to Google.
Every business must recognize the need to continuously improve. There will always be improvements to be made and if you don’t make them, someone else will beat you out of the market.
Now is the perfect time to become an entrepreneur. That’s right, I said now.
With many older, established organizations running low on capital and funds, failed business models are being washed away. There’s room for fresh, new ideas. Obviously, it takes more than an idea to make it in this economy, and Ann Arbor is lucky enough to have three economic developers poised to incubate your burgeoning idea.
This driver of economic growth relies on collaborative efforts to build workforce and development initiatives. Automation Alley hosts networking events and skill-building exercises. Every level of business leader can find opportunities at Automation Alley. The Alley has created the Entrepreneurial Initiative of Southeast Michigan (EISEM) to highlight regional entrepreneurs. EISEM holds a bi-monthly forum with keynote speakers and local startups in order to extend each business’ message with customers and investors. The next forum will be held at Detroit’s TechTown on August 13. Please visit automationalley.com for more information and events.
This heavily lauded economic development corporation, headquartered in downtown Ann Arbor, strives to realize the tremendous amount of potential pouring forth from surrounding communities (U of M, EMU, tech groups, etc.). Like many economic developers, SPARK hosts networking events throughout the area and looks to educate and refine start-ups to their maximum potential. Entrepreneurs can open an account with SPARK and set up a profile to advance their networking potential on their website: www.annarborusa.org.
The Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest
The GLEQ extends their economic vision throughout Michigan, inspiring venture capitalists and entrepreneurs throughout the state. GLEQ provides a tremendous database of educational resources to member companies. Unique to the GLEQ is the competition they hold for new participants in two categories; New Business Idea and Emerging Company. Cash prizes are awarded to top finishers. Read more about the GLEQ and their competition at www.gleq.org.
Many other economic organizations exist in Michigan with the mission evolving from education purposes to inspirational efforts amidst these economic downturns. While the auto-industry reassembles and reinvigorates, the work of economic developers and venture capitalists cannot be overvalued. Ross Perot said, “Most new jobs won’t come from our biggest employers. They will come from our smallest. We’ve got to do everything we can to make entrepreneurial dreams a reality.” And for that reason, the time to explore your entrepreneurial spirit is now.
Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Clean Tech &Corporate Communications &Ecofriendly &Entrepreneurs &Environment &Marketing Communications &Sustainable Transportation &Technology PR Insights &Thinking Green 17 Jun 2009 10:02 am
On June 12, 2009 Main Street played host to the 9th Annual Mayor’s Ann Arbor Green Fair. Underneath the lush green leafy canopy of Ann Arbor’s city center, local eco-friendly vendors and businesses gathered to discuss, exhibit, explain and sell all things Green. Booths lined both sides of downtown Main Street between Huron and William with companies both large and small, profit (Whole Foods) and non-profits (Friends of the Allen Creek Greenway) encouraging visitors to focus on environmental-sustainability for the future. BikeFest, with tutorials and ideas on bicycle transportation was also included in the festivities.
The annual Mayor’s Ann Arbor Green Fair signifies the growth and opportunity the Green Industry represents in our current economic climate. The traditional preservation communities made their appearance at the Fair, but also notably present were industries that do not immediately suggest “environmentalist”. Examples of these include: The Bank of Ann Arbor, Amtrak and Ann Arbor division of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). As a casual onlooker and job seeker, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of activity towards Green initiatives. Also particularly interesting is the governmental support of eco-sustainability. In addition to the Mayor’s continued backing of the Fair (scheduled in the heart of Festival season by the way), Washtenaw County showed off their ecological commitment with exhibitions on weatherization, water resources and environmental health. More on Washtenaw County’ s Green initiatives can be found at their homepage.
“Going Green” is no longer just a fad, but a serious consideration for any business leader or those looking for business or jobs. The sophistication of green-centric organizations was on display at last week’s Fair. A list of companies and businesses that appeared at last week’s Fair can be found here. The city of Ann Arbor listing for the event can be found here. In order to take eco-friendly businesses to the next step in terms of impact and economic stability, I believe it is time for these businesses to enlist traditional marketing and public relations expertise. The audience is ready to listen. Attendance of the Green Fair was bustling and curious. Each booth attracted three to four visitors and musical acts entertained at each corner. The Green Fair even out-paced the turnout of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s First Night gathering just 5 blocks north. “Going Green” is no longer simply the way of the future, but as the Green Fair showed, the future.
If you’re at all into Social Media you know about Twitter; but do you know how you can use Twitter to effectively market your company?
One company using Twitter to their advantage is Kogi BBQ, they are a Korean-Style taco vendor that sells their food out of a lunch truck, and they are using Twitter to their advantage. Kogi “tweets” the location of their two lunch trucks throughout Los Angeles as well as extra items not mentioned on the menu. Kogi has only been around since November but is already one of the most recognizable names in the country. They have close to 24,000 followers.
Another company out in Los Angeles using Twitter is The Westin Bonaventure, a hotel in the heart of LA’s financial district. Recently they gave away rooms to twenty-five followers. This created such a buzz that media outlets such as USA Today and The Los Angeles Times picked up the story. Obviously, all their followers knew about it and around 100 of them retweeted the news as well. In an interview with the PR firm responsible, an estimated twenty million impressions were generated from this campaign. Twenty million impressions resulting from a single tweet, you can’t ask for anything better.
As you can see, Twitter can be very powerful. If used correctly, it’s a great way to reach the masses in expensively. Find a unique way to grab people’s attention, and the rest will follow. Twitter is free and easy to use, so if you and your company aren’t already using Twitter, it’s about time to start. Happy Tweeting.
Moviegoers were graced with a glimpse into the world of journalism in April with the premiere of two top-notch press-centric films; State of Play and The Soloist respectively. The investigative reporting and journalistic flair of newspaper writers drive the two films. State of Play and Soloist are just the latest in a long line of movies centered on the cunning investigations pivotal to the newspaper world. Remember All the Kings Men? Citizen Kane? Or The Pelican Brief? While the most recent cinematic journalism adventures are far from the first to feature press writers, might they be two of the last?
As newspapers continue to search for new business models, the “Watchdog” function is changing or disappearing. New forms of social media have accelerated the public’s demand for news. Whereas reporters once had weeks to cover an in-depth story, the editorial calendar has shrunk significantly. Instead of investing in investigations guarding public interests, newspapers are forced by high print and distribution costs to watch over their pocketbooks.
Some of the best movies of this generation are marked by newspapers in some way. If newspapers continue the current downward spiral, it will definitely be reflected at theaters…but how much remains to be seen. Five years from now, Denzel Washington may be on stage accepting an Oscar for portraying a Twitter-er. Or M. Knight Shyamalan might be directing a horror flick about Facebook. Enjoy the likes of The Soloist and State of Play while you can. Journalism has been celebrated in our society for many, many years, but the changes on the printed page are usually reflected on the reel.
Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Blogging &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Corporate Communications &Leadership &Marketing &Public Relations Tools &Social Media &Technology PR Insights 24 Mar 2009 04:26 pm
“What’s on your mind”? With this simple query that appears on the front page of Facebook profiles, Facebook has thrown down the gauntlet. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has had Twitter on his mind for a while now, and struck back at the up-and-coming social networking site two weeks ago. The much anticipated and incredibly hyped Facebook profile changes appeared on browsers everywhere on March 13. How BIG were these changes? As you can see here, the evolution of Facebook’s façade earned Zuckerberg an invite to appear on Oprah. Clearly, dorm room tech geeks aren’t the only ones noticing the social media frenzy.
Where’s all this buzz coming from? Well, Zuckerberg’s changes mark the latest chapter in the clash between Facebook and Twitter. Twitter has built its reputation on simplicity since CEO Evan Williams launched the site in 2006. Zuckerberg threw subtleties aside when he joined the 6 million on Twitter with a username of his own (thezuckerberg), apparently researching the micro-blog from the inside. (For those scoring at home, add “Espionage” to the list of professions social media has transformed.) The most obvious examples of Facebook’s robbery: When users sign on to Twitter they are greeted with the eerily coincidental question, “What are you doing?”. Facebook’s revamped look helps companies develop a presence on the site beyond the traditional “Fan Pages”. With Facebook’s improved business-oriented functionality, look for Facebook’s membership to spike in the upcoming months.
In the past six months, Twitter has really found its stride attracting celebrities, musicians, politicians, professional athletes, news agencies, businesses, and even President Barack Obama (username: BarackObama). This diverse, informational, and entertaining Twitter population was growing so much (752% In the last year!!) that Facebook looked to purchase the site last year to the tune of $500million in stock. Twitter and Williams rebuffed the offer, proclaiming that “Twitter is just getting started”. Facebook’s offer and subsequent rejection is even more astounding when you discover that Twitter is not a revenue-generating machine. Perhaps these are the changes Williams’ and his team foresee.
What’s the next step in this titanic clash of social media giants? It’s hard to speculate, but definitely fun to watch. Stay tuned.
About Eiler Communications &Ann Arbor, Michigan PR Firm &Business and Economy &Business of PR &Electronic PR &Leadership &Marketing &Media &Michigan Public Relations Firm &Public Relations Tools &Social Media 20 Mar 2009 03:51 pm
Are you a thought leader? Thought leaders are credible, insightful industry professionals (often heads of companies) with the expertise to comment on industry trends and issues…basically, the leaders of thoughts. This is highly desirable brand position requiring a focused public relations (PR) effort and a commitment to hard work.
Thought leaders provide insight and vision and therefore, are “go to” sources for members of the media often providing quotes and commentary for news coverage. Highly visible examples include Steve Jobs of Apple, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Larry Page of Google, Richard Branson of Virgin Megastores, or Mark Zuckerburg of Facebook. These leaders provide insight of global scale due to their product’s popularity around the world. It is also possible to carve out a niche for your company’s product or service locally or wherever you define your target market.
A few thought-leadership tips from www.skmarketing.com, a Minneapolis based business-to-business marketing agency:
1. Availability: Respect the hectic schedule of the journalists and other members of the press and return all calls ASAP.
2. Preparedness: As a thought leader, you are expected to possess wisdom and a familiarity with a wide variety of topics in your field. It is advised that you prepare talking points prior to any media engagement/interview.
3. Be Opinionated: Donald Trump might be the best example of this type of thought leadership. Thought leaders are expected to bring something new to the conversation without sitting on the fence. Be bold, compelling and dramatic.
4. Persistence: Create your own fortune through thought leadership tools. Examples include determined press releases, knowledgeable speaking engagements, effective social media, white papers, by-lined articles, and/or case studies.
Eiler Communications has practiced these skills for over twenty years, establishing brand messages and thought leadership strategies for local and national businesses. David Mielke, Dean of Eastern Michigan University’s College of Business, is an example of a local thought leader Eiler Communications works with consistently. Mielke has established a voice in the business community writing articles in the Ann Arbor Business Review and on www.MLive.com, often times commenting on the current state of business ethics. Mielke also serves on a number of economic and business boards.
So, are you ready to be a thought leader?