Tag Archives: DC

What Can Advertising Learn From PR When It Comes to Social Media?

September 18, 2011

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Two brothers

Image Courtesy of Flickr user cgallent

Public Relations vs. Advertising. Earned media vs. Paid media. Huge budgets vs. tiny ones.  Advertising and Public Relations have been engaged in a love-hate relationships for decades. What’s more effective? What offers better ROI? How should they work together? Should they work together?

For years, advertising has been the big brother in this often tenuous relationship. Whether it’s the massive budgets or the Super Bowl ad campaigns, or the allure of millions of YouTube views, advertising always seems to receive the most attention from an organization’s executives. Public relations, on the other hand, tends to operate more in the background. Need to make budget cuts? Take it from PR. Need a job for that intern? Just give him to the PR team – anyone can do that stuff anyway.

Things are starting to change though. Google became the dominant search engine yet it didn’t air a single TV ad until last year’s Super Bowl. Product launches are now done via strategic leaks, keynotes, and even by purposely keeping your customers away. For the first time in 20 years, Pepsi ditched the 30 second, $4M Super Bowl ad, and instead sunk $20M into the Pepsi Refresh project. What’s going on here? Is this the beginning of the end for advertising?

Of course not. But social media has forced some changes to the advertising industry, whether the old-school likes it or not. And if advertisers want to keep up, they would do well to take some lessons from their PR brethren. In many ways, PR professionals are better equipped for successfully using social media – whether it’s their ability to build and maintain real relationships or their reliance on plain language instead of marketing fluff, PR pros have largely adapted to social media better than than the advertising industry. Here are a few areas where advertising would do well to follow PR’s lead:

  • Advertising should always be looked at as a means to an end, not the end itself. In some ways, advertising itself is the goal (see USA Today’s Ad Meter or the press releases that companies issue about their ads) and has led to a greater focus on views, friends, and Tweets than on sales, revenue, or market share. Your ad campaign isn’t successful because it had a million YouTube views – it’s successful because it’s led to increased sales or customer loyalty or some other actual business objective.
  • Be honest. Consumer trust in advertising is low and continues to fall. When it comes to your company, I’m more likely to trust, well, anyone, other than you. Stop with the boastful, deceptive marketing messages and be honest about your strengths AND your weaknesses. If something didn’t go right, tell me why and what you’re doing about it. Don’t gloss over it and try to blame someone else.
  • 50% of 10,000 > 1% of 50,000. PR hasn’t had the benefit of massive budgets like advertising does. Bashing the public over the head with your ads and hoping for one and two percent returns doesn’t work anymore. Instead, spend more time crafting messages that relate directly with the audience you’re trying to reach.
  • Speak like a human being. I’ll take a line from one of my favorite books, the Cluetrain Manifesto – “Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.”
  • Show me, don’t tell me. Stop spending millions telling me how fantastic your product or your customer service is and show me. Virgin America’s advertising budget is less than 10% of American Airlines‘ yet Virgin consistently outpaces the traditional carriers in things like customer satisfaction, customer experience, and customer service. I don’t know about you, but I will often pay more money to fly Virgin America, JetBlue, or Southwest just to avoid having to deal with one of the big carriers.

I'll be speaking on a panel on Thursday, Sept. 22nd at Ad Week DC

PR and advertising are going to continue to work together more and more – each would do well to learn from each other. If you’re interested in hearing more about how social media is impacting the PR and advertising industries, I’ll be participating in DC Ad Week where I’ll be joining John Cangany and Karen Untereker for a panel moderated by Robert Udowitz called “What Can Advertising Learn From Public Relations When It Comes To Social Media.”

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Do You Have What it Takes to Change Government and Create Gov 2.0?

September 8, 2010

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Image courtesy of O'Reilly Conferences on Flickr

As I’ve said many times before, Government 2.0 isn’t about technology, but what that technology enables. When the TSA rolls out an initiative like the IdeaFactory, developing and implementing the technology is the easy part (disclosure: my company has supported the IdeaFactory project).  When the GSA implements the Better Buy Project, getting UserVoice up and running was probably one of the easiest tasks on the whole project.  No, when a government agency decides to use technology to try to become more transparent, participatory, and/or collaborative, the technology isn’t what’s keeping the project leads up at night.  The hardest part of all of these initiatives is figuring how to change the way the government operates.

Managing change in the government is HARD, much harder than in the private sector. Leadership and, consequently, leadership priorities are constantly changing as administrations change. Because of this, employees suffer from change fatigue (if you don’t like how your department was reorganized, wait a year and it’ll change again), middle managers don’t invest in the change themselves, and leaders all too often push forward with their own agendas and goals, current organizational culture be damned. It’s no wonder we’re still talking about how the best way to create Government 2.0 – we’ve been way too focused on the easy part of this, the technology.

But if changing the government is so difficult, then why have some government leaders succeeded in bringing effective changes while so many others have failed?

To try to answer this question, Booz Allen Hamilton teamed with Harvard University Professor of Public Management, Steven Kelman to identify the common methods—the best “leadership practices”—used by successful government executives to transform their agencies and achieve mission goals. By studying 12 federal cabinet and sub-cabinet level agencies from the administrations of former President Bill Clinton and former President George W. Bush, the study determined which organizational strategies worked best for delivering effective, meaningful change in government—and which did not.  More than 250 interviews were conducted with federal agency leaders and their employees, career executives, congressional staff, unions, media, customers, and interest groups.

So, why are some government leaders able to innovate and reinvent themselves and others stagnate?  At this year’s Gov 2.0 Summit in Washington, DC, some of the findings from this study were discussed at the “Do You Have What It Takes to Change Government?” session. If you’re responsible for a Gov 2.0 initiative, here are some of the key findings that you should keep in mind as you attempt to change government.

  • Use a collaborative strategic planning process – This isn’t going to happen via a memo or directive alone.  If you believe that your employees will become more open or collaborative because the boss said so, think again. Involve your employees in the strategic planning process. Sure, it takes a little longer, but you’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn and your employees will have some ownership in the change instead of feeling like they’re being told what to do.
  • Develop performance measures – what does success look like?  Can you explain how becoming more open and collaborative will help your agency/team/department/group/division better achieve its mission?  Ten thousand Facebook fans isn’t a goal – your goals should be tied to your organization’s goals and objectives, and your employees should be judged on their ability to achieve those goals.
  • Be proactive in building relationships with external groups – Your agency doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  Identify other groups who may be impacted, positively and negatively, and proactively go and meet with them.  Talk with them, listen to them, and involve them wherever and whenever you can.
  • Re-organize if you need to – Assess the current organization and determine if you can achieve your goals within the current structure. Are there impenetrable stovepipes? Are there too many layers of middle management? Are there personality conflicts and “turf-guarding?”  Don’t be afraid to shake things up and move people around.
  • Focus on 2-3 goals – The majority of successful leaders in the study had 2 or 3 goals that were action-oriented and quantifiable. Unsuccessful leaders typically had jargon-filled, tactical, action-based goals that described the effort, rather than the outcome. Gov 2.0 goals should be focused on an outcome – improving customer satisfaction levels or decreasing FOIA requests by making more data available online, etc.  Unsuccessful leaders typically use goals focused on an action – “implement a new knowledge management system” or “use social media more effectively.”

Here’s the full presentation as it was given at the Summit:

 

http://www.whitehouse.gov/open/innovations/IdeaFactory
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At the Gov 2.0 Expo – Who’s Making You Successful?

May 26, 2010

29 Comments

Last week, I participated in Tim O’Reilly’s Gov 2.0 Expo held here in Washington, DC and I was honored to be a member of the Program Committee for this event as well as last year’s Expo Showcase and Summit.  With each and every one of these events, I always looking forward to meeting and learning from the Gov 2.0 rockstars – Linda Cureton, Chris Rasmussen, Steve Ressler, Clay Johnson, Macon Phillips, Mary Davie, and so many others – people who have helped pave the way for conferences like this. Take a look at this speaker list and take a guess at where this movement would be without them. I think I get smarter just through osmosis when I’m talking with these folks! Kudos to Tim, Laurel, Mark, Suzanne, Jessica, Alex, and the rest of the O’Reilly team for pulling together another great event.

I'm pretty sure this image is going to be on everyone's Gov 2.0 Expo posts

As I did last year following the Summit, instead of doing a summary post of all that was Gov 2.0 Expo 2010 (I couldn’t possibly do any better than Alex’s fantastic wrap-up post here anyway), I’ll take a more focused view and discuss one issue that really struck me.

Last year, I said I wanted to hear more about the processes behind the success stories.  To learn more about the failures in Gov 2.0.  I think we started to accomplish that this year – the many panel presentations and workshops seemed more conversational and attendees seemed more willing to ask questions.  I heard a lot more discussion about how the speakers handled difficult situations, how they worked with legal, and how they got senior leadership buy-in. While there’s still a need to hear more about the failures of Gov 2.0, I think those discussions are probably more likely to occur in the hallways than on the stage.

What really got my attention as I sat listening to visionary leaders like Todd Park, Linda Cureton, and Jeffrey Sorenson was this post by Robert Shedd – just who makes these people successful?  That’s the question that I started to get more and more curious about as the Expo continued. Who are the people behind these leaders?  Who are the people back at the office making sure the social networks are growing?  Who are the people responsible for implementing these grand programs?  Who are the people telling these leaders they’re wrong?  Who are the people coming up with all of these ideas?  That’s why I loved when Alex Ross told the story of Katie Dowd, Katie Stanton, and Caitlin Klevorick at the State Department (fast forward to the 2:00 minute mark of this clip) who came up with the idea for the Haiti Red Cross text messaging campaign. While Alec was the one speaking and getting the credit, he realized that it wasn’t about him or his ideas – it was about the people actually making these things happen.

As Shedd mentions in his post,

“In much the same way as you need to train yourself to recognize the market ‘pains’ that product opportunities create, you need to train yourself to note who you work best with, what personalities are most compatible.”

For me, any and all success that I or my firm has had can be traced back to the work of my team.  Sure, I may be the one on the stage, but I’m generally not the one on the ground day after day working with the client.  I’m writing blogs – they’re trying to explain Twitter to a three-star general.  I’m speaking at events – they’re trying to do more work while still staying under budget.  That’s why I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to some of the other Booz Allen folks you may have met at the Expo, but whom you might not know well…yet.

  • Thank you Jacque Brown for never being afraid to tell me when I’m wrong or when I’m being a real dumbass.
  • Thank you Matt Bado for always stepping up to handle things when I’m out of the office
  • Thank you Michael Dumlao for being the right side of my brain – everything you create always looks fantastic
  • Thank you Tim Lisko for being the social media conservative who also understands the benefits
  • Thank you Grant McLaughlin for always believing in me and providing me the top cover that I need to make things happen, even when it sometimes puts you in a tough spot
  • Thank you Walton Smith for always being open and collaborative, regardless of any internal politics that may exist
  • Thank you Tracy Johnson for being able to take some of my crazy abstract ideas and figuring out ways to make them work
  • Thank you to the many many others back at my company who have helped turn an idea into a true program

Please take this opportunity to go back to your blog and write a post on who makes you successful.  Highlight the work of someone who works with you, someone who has helped get you to where you are today.  Give them the attention and recognition that they deserve and leave a comment here with a link to your post.  Who has helped you turn an idea into a successful program?

*Photo courtesy of James Duncan

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Will I See You at the Gov 2.0 Expo?

May 25, 2010

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Download our Gov 2.0 Capabilities Brochure

I’ll be at the Gov 2.0 Expo this week and I’m hoping that I’ll see you either there, or at one of the happy hours/tweet-ups that will surely be occurring.  If you’re the least bit interested in social media or the future of our government, I’d highly encourage you to register and come down for at least a few sessions. There are more than a hundred GREAT sessions taking place, but if you can’t get to all of them, consider participating in one of these ten hidden gems too.

If you are able to make it down to the Convention Center, make sure you stop by the Booz Allen booth on the Expo floor and say hello to me or to one of the many members of our team who will be attending the Expo as well.  Booz Allen is proud to be one of the Platinum Sponsors and I’m one of the members of the Program Committee – needless to say, everyone here at my firm believes very strongly in the principles of Gov 2.0 and has for some time now.  From our work with the Military Health System to U.S. Pacific Command’s All-Partners Access Network (APAN), Booz Allen has long advocated the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration with all of our clients.

Grant McLaughlin and Walton Smith, two of our Principals, recently gave a short preview of what they will be discussing at the “Innovations in Gov 2.0” session on Wednesday.

Here are some of the projects we’ll be highlighting over the next three days:

Military Health System (MHS)

To strengthen relationships with its nine million beneficiaries and numerous stakeholder communities, the Department of Defense Military Health System (MHS) partnered with Booz Allen Hamilton to leverage social media (MHS Social Media Hub) to help MHS address service members’ healthcare concerns, collaborate with stakeholders, support combat operations, and enhance its capacity to reach and influence diverse audiences.  If you’re interested in learning more about our work with MHS, find Don Jones at the Expo or read more here.

U.S. Pacific Command All-Partners Access Network (APAN)

Booz Allen is working with PACOM to create APAN, a secure platform to foster collaboration and communication between government agencies, international partners, and non-government agencies.  The U.S. Pacifc Command (PACOM) operates in the Pacifc Rim with numerous actors (military, civilian, government, non-government) who must all cooperate in crisis and disaster response situations, joint exercises with foreign militaries and other events where open information flow is essential to success.  APAN has file sharing applications, wikis, blogs and calendaring tools to coordinate schedules. The system also supports mobile applications and integrates public social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as sophisticated geospatial systems, such as Open Street, to create detailed maps of damaged areas. The system is designed to handle extremely secure communications, while also interacting with  the general public and disaster relief workers  and organizations. If you’re interested in learning more about APAN, talk to Walton Smith at the Expo or learn more on Bill Ives’ blog here.

U.S. Navy Chief of Information Office (CHINFO)

Booz Allen partnered with the Navy’s Emerging Media Directorate within CHINFO to develop a strategy for providing guidance to all Navy Commands on how to successfully integrate social media into their Public Affairs activities. We worked closely with the Navy Office of the Chief of Information (CHINFO) Emerging Media & Integration Team to develop a plan to:

  • Integrate and optimize CHINFO’s use of social media as engagement tactic
  • Achieve greater understanding of the use of social media among 300+ Public Affairs Officers
  • Foster and align use of social media by commands and commanders (400,000+ Active Duty & Reserve personnel)
  • Achieve recognition for the Navy as a military/government leader in social media

To learn more about what the Navy’s doing with social media, check out the Navy’s social media directory and SlideShare account. Or find Commander Scott McIlnay or Tracy Johnson at the Expo.

DHS First Responders Communities of Practice

Booz Allen is working with the DHS Science & Technology Directorate to build and manage the DHS First Responders Community of Practice – a platform that serves the nation’s 2.8 million emergency first responders (e.g., fire, emergency management, law enforcement). Launched in December 2009, the First Responders CoP is designed to decrease duplicate efforts across the various first responder communities and disciplines.  Users can connect with other first responders, create and join communities, create, share and edit documents, blogs, and discussions.  In addition, users can add “expertise tags” which allow them to easily find someone with specific expertise and view and connect to other users with similar expertise.

To learn more, make sure you attend Jose Vazquez’s presentation on Tuesday evening, or find Alexis Fabbri or Walton Smith on the Expo floor.

Meet our People

Stop by booth 309 (I think) to talk with our experts on privacy, cybersecurity, social media, Enterprise 2.0, identity and more.  Make sure that you follow all of our Booz Allen attendees on Twitter too!

Want to Work for Booz Allen?

Make sure you stop by our booth and find Annie Chae (@anniechae), one of our lead recruiters and one of my favorite people.  She’ll be able to answer all your questions about working for us.

Even if you have no interest in the work that we’re doing, make sure check out the full program schedule and try to come by and get to know some of the people who are driving this transformation in the way our government operates.

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