Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Pepsi Spot Is Brilliant

Every human in America, seemingly, has piled on in the unending criticism of Pepsi for its “tone deaf, ” “inauthentic” spot featuring Kendall Jenner. I think the spot is brilliant.

What did Pepsi hope to accomplish with the Kendall spot? I wasn’t privy to their team’s planning sessions but my guess is: To generate buzz, to stir emotions and to build brand name awareness. Bingo, bingo and bingo.

The controversial spot features a well-known celebrity who walks away from her photo shoot to participate in something more meaningful. Which cause are the marchers supporting? That remains vague. Is it a “resistance” march? Is it a campus “free speech” march? Is it a “Black Lives Matter” march? Doesn’t matter. People who might’ve marched (or wanted to march) for any cause during the last couple of years are likely to pay attention to the spot.

The payoff comes when Kendall hands a can of Pepsi to a security person. (Maybe a policeman, maybe a campus cop, maybe a private hire—not a threatening hard ass with a billy club.) It’s a nice gesture.

The blowback was instantaneous. One imagines the Pepsi team knew the spot would be polarizing, but not to what degree. In short order, the spot was pulled. But we have seen it again and again on social media and on TV news shows. Exposure was not unlike those Super Bowl spots that are “banned” because they are too controversial or racy. Those “banned” spots then get millions of views on Youtube, as has the Pepsi spot.

The Pepsi spot was parodied this weekend by SNL. An op-ed in the New York Times called it “a spot that says that racialized police brutality is really a big misunderstanding that can be solved with a soda and a Kendall Jenner fist bump.”

However, comments on the K-104 website (KKDA-FM, a Hip-Hop radio station in Dallas/Fort Worth) include these remarks: “BEAUTIFULLY DONE PEPSI, YOU TOOK ON A RELEVANT AND SOMETIMES SENSITIVE ISSUE & MADE IT POWERFUL AND NOT OFFENSIVE,” “I dont see anythin wrong with it… i love it and i am black,” and “Blends all cultures and it’s about togetherness.”

According to several analyses I read about the Pepsi spot, it was not “genius” like that “I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke” spot from 1971.

I recall many of us, back in the day, thought the Coke spot was a bunch of “Up With People” mindless “feel good” pap in the midst of the ugliness of the Vietnam War, the Nixon/Agnew regime and unrelenting racial tension in America. (I think the final episode of Mad Men may have something to do with the current renewed affection for the Coke spot.)

To me, the Pepsi spot, despite its many perceived flaws, reflects the culture and vibe of its day more accurately than the Coke spot did.

Once again: Did the Pepsi/Kendall spot generate buzz? Yes. Did it stir emotions? Yes. Did it burn the name “Pepsi” into the nation’s collective consciousness? Yes. But will it help grow Pepsi’s market share? Let’s check back in a few months and find out.

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Rule Number One: Be Skeptical

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When we consume information, it helps to be skeptical. It’s a good idea, of course, to be dubious of anything that comes from extremist organizations. Not just their “fake news” but also items that seem plausible.

We should also be skeptical of news and information we receive from the “mainstream media.” Whether it’s a hard news report from Washington or a puff piece in the neighborhood paper, numerous factors determine the content that’s delivered.

Questions worth asking: Is the reporter a friend or nemesis of his/her source? Did the subject of an upbeat item spend ad money on the outlet? Did an editor remove a key element of the piece because somebody took her/him out to dinner? Did a PR person offer an exclusive scoop in exchange for a prominent placement? We can’t know the answers, so everything we read, see and hear should be subject to that healthy skepticism.

No matter the source of information, it’s important to consider that there is no such thing as absolute objectivity. All of us are subject to influences of our upbringing, our schooling, our past and current professional relationships, as well as personal friends and acquaintances.

Mass gullibility is not a new thing. Mistrust of news media is not a new thing. Nor is mistrust of elected officials. (Remember the Maine!)

It’s often necessary to get info from multiple sources in order to obtain the full scope of an issue. The New York Times may play up a certain aspect of global warming, for instance, whereas the Wall Street Journal may try to poke holes in the NYT’s version of facts. The exact truth may lie somewhere between their respective takes.

As a consumer of information, you should be able to know what is being shared as factual information and what is labeled as comment or opinion. Print and online outlets generally do a good job of differentiating. Broadcast and cable outlets sometimes fail to make clear which is which.

In these days of extreme polarization, an open mind can help you get the full picture. Certainly, many individuals will always be steadfast in their beliefs and their prejudices. Some people will believe anything they hear from conservative-leaning outlets and others will put full trust into anything they get from liberal-leaning outlets.

Wherever you receive your information, be it a trusted source or one you view with caution, maintain your healthy skepticism as you determine your own version of the facts. As they used to say on the X-Files, the truth is out there. You just have to find it.

For more on determining the validity of news we receive, you may want to check out these thoughts from NPR Morning Edition anchor Steve Inskeep. Click HERE to link to his article. Even if you perceive NPR to have a particular agenda, you may find his “finder’s guide for facts” useful.

(photo credit: Bruno Meyer Photography; http://www.flickr.com/photos/55293868@N08/31907319405; http://photopin.com; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0)

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Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years?

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2016 saw many celebrity deaths. With each obit, we flashed back. To Ziggy Stardust, Growing Pains, Star Wars and others.

It’s easy to languish in memories, good and bad, of days gone by. Classic rock, classic movies, Throwback Thursday on Facebook and other time trips are fun. But don’t get carried away.

Today, let’s think about tomorrow, not yesterday. What do you want to accomplish? And when do you want to achieve these goals?

Often, plans are made for a vague “someday.” What are your plans for the NEAR future—this month, this spring, this year?

Do you have specific results in mind? A certain sales or salary level? A career change? A new place to live? A trip to Hawaii? Early retirement?

Do you have a strategy to get there? (No, I’m not going to refer you to a financial advisor—they will find you.) Are you continuing your education? Are you putting as much as you can into your 401-K, Roth plan, etc.?

Are you reaching out to individuals and organizations that can help you advance your career or refer you to new clients?

Are you carefully monitoring your personal health? Your future only happens if you stay alive to experience it.

Learning from the past is important. But being stuck mentally in your glory days can keep you from having a happy future.

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” I’ve always thought that was a dumb job interview question. Because most any answer a person gives can be interpreted in a variety of ways. It is, however, a good question to ask yourself. And to answer honestly.

When you have your answer, don’t wait four-and-a-half-years to start reaching your five-year goal. Start today.

 

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Is Facebook The New TV?

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Last summer a friend who was about to launch a big venture asked me to give her a quick assessment of major social media channels.

I made this analogy: Twitter is like AM radio. Instagram is like FM radio. Facebook is like TV.

The news, views, noise and chatter that fill my Twitter timeline are similar to what I hear on AM radio. News, political talk, sports talk, intelligent commentary and idiotic commentary. It’s all there on the AM band and on Twitter.

On FM, most stations play music. There’s less talk, generally speaking. While AM has more information, FM has more entertainment. Instagram is a pleasant alternative to Twitter with its focus on the visual. Food, babies, dogs, cats, landscapes and other lighter fare rule. Yes, politics and commentary do appear on Instagram, but more of the posts in my feed are non-controversial.

Facebook is the big dog because so many people go there on a daily basis and because it is, for many, a better advertising venue than Twitter and Instagram. Facebook delivers the noise and chatter we find on Twitter and the AM radio band but also features

Additionally, Facebook has been more successful with its Facebook Live streaming video than Twitter has been with Periscope. The video aspect provides Facebook with TV’s key element.

Much of the news and other info delivered by traditional broadcast media (whether via over-the-air, cable, streaming or satellite) has been verified to some degree, whereas info shared on social may be rumor or hearsay. This fact explains why Twitter is often the best source for immediate news, though not necessarily for accuracy in those early tweets.

Whether these analogies are valid or are just the result of goofy thinking on my part, my main message to my friend was each social channel has its own characteristics. Content that has value on one may not necessarily work as well on another.

The best way to learn about social media channels is to use them.

 

 

 

 

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I Want Less!

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Here’s what I want in 2017. For me. For the world. Less. Fewer.

I’m already using less hair gel and less laundry detergent. Working on less sugar and salt.

Planning on less Facebook, Twitter. I’ll let you know how that works out.

Fewer words. Shorter sentences and paragraphs. Judicious editing.

Let’s have less whining. Please. And less snark. Unless it’s really funny.

Less redundancy. Too much of what I read/hear is the same stuff posted, shared, spoken yesterday/last week/month/year.

Less regret. What’s past is past.

Less fear. Of people and ideas that are different.

Less arrogance. Be proud but don’t be obnoxious about it.

Less FOMO. If I miss something today, I’ll catch up later. Or maybe… I’ll just miss it!

Less coffee. Wha…? Interesting concept. Ain’t gonna happen.

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Blindsided, Via Social Media

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In football, a left tackle protects a quarterback’s blindside. Sandra Bullock explained this in the opening of the movie Blindside, the story of Michael Oher, a young man who became a left tackle at Ole Miss and in the NFL.

Another Ole Miss left tackle, Laremy Tunsil, was himself blindsided last week. Just minutes before the NFL draft began, on his own Twitter account, a video was posted showing him smoking via a bong hooked up to a gas mask. The presumption is he was smoking weed.

Soon after, on his own Instagram account, screen shots were posted that purported to show text messages from Tunsil to an Ole Miss coach in which Tunsil asked for money.

Here’s How It (Might’ve) Happened

Who did it? As a projected high (no pun intended) draft pick, Tunsil had already hired and fired agents, lawyers and other advisors. It is now believed one of those dismissed (and disgruntled) individuals did the deed.

After these social posts, the Ravens, who drafted Oher in the first round in 2009, chose not to select Tunsil with the sixth overall pick. The Giants, picking tenth and needing offensive line help, also passed, due to the posts. The Dolphins nabbed Tunsil with the 13th overall pick.

Some Takeaways From The Incident

  1. Always know who has access to your social media account passwords. If someone other than you is posting on your behalf or that of your organization, pay attention to what they are posting.
  2. Change passwords frequently.
  3. If you leave your phone unattended, use a lockout code to prevent unauthorized access.
  4. Young people in college are likely to smoke weed and/or drink.
  5. People with extraordinary talent and/or extreme physical attributes can get away with certain misbehavior.
  6. Despite dropping down in the draft, Tunsil is still a first round pick who is likely to earn tens of millions during his NFL career.
  7. Of all the players taken in all the rounds, he is the one who has received the most attention, even more that the top pick. Yes, much of that attention was dubious (doobie-ous?), but it all adds up to name recognition.
  8. Don’t blame this episode on “social media,” like ESPN’s Jon Gruden who said, “This whole social media scene makes me sick!” Blame it on the human (or humans) who did it.

 

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Learn How Much You Don’t Know

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In 2009, I participated in the St. Louis Public Relations Society chapter’s training program for PR certification. I attended sessions all over town and gathered knowledge and wisdom from a number of PR pros. I picked up and studied the suggested textbook. Yes, I learned a lot. I was unaware of the full scope of public relations. I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew.

Last month I took a course in Web Analytics at University of Missouri/St. Louis (UMSL). As a result, I am now certified in Google Analytics. I learned how analytics can reveal a wealth of information about traffic to websites. In addition to exercises on the Google dashboard, I had the chance to use Adobe’s Omniture analytics setup.

I may not be ready to be a lead analyst, but I now know enough to be a contributing team member. After completing the course, though, I realize there is much more about web analytics that I still do not know.

Even More To Learn!

This month I took a Social Media Strategies course at UMSL. I am now a Hootsuite Certified Professional.

I’ve been a Facebook admin and have used Hootsuite Pro for several years. Although I knew a lot about social media going in, the course revealed many areas I had not ventured into. I learned new ways that Hootsuite can help me and my clients. I gained insight about best practices for Facebook and Instagram. Again, I learned how much I did not know and how much more there is to be learned.

It feels good when you receive significant enlightenment or have an “aha” moment. My younger kids, both digital natives, have given me useful computer tips, generally without condescension. But every time they share, I am also made aware of how much I don’t know. Always and forever, there is so much to learn.

 

 

 

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