Archive for January, 2009

Misjudgment or Transparency? How a Single Tweet Caused a Stir With a Client


It’s entertaining to watch how the PR industry self-spins, in this latest dust up regarding a tweet by James Andrews, an executive who works at Ketchum, a well known PR agency.

James is accused of bad form, and his company had to backtrack when he posted this tweet on the way to visit his client Fedex: “True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say “I would die if I h ad to live here!” it caused angst with the ‘location sensitive’ client, and they issued this comment, apparently on this blog (update: this may have been an email from Fedex to Ketchum), after it was run up the Fedex flagpole. (via David, and Peter)

Mr. Andrews,

If I interpret your post correctly, these are your comments about Memphis a few hours after arriving in the global headquarters city of one of your key and lucrative clients, and the home of arguably one of the most important entrepreneurs in the history of business, FedEx founder Fred Smith.

Many of my peers and I feel this is inappropriate. We do not know the total millions of dollars FedEx Corporation pays Ketchum annually for the valuable and important work your company does for us around the globe. We are confident however, it is enough to expect a greater level of respect and awareness from someone in your position as a vice president at a major global player in your industry. A hazard of social networking is people will read what you write.

Not knowing exactly what prompted your comments, I will admit the area around our airport is a bit of an eyesore, not without crime, prostitution, commercial decay, and a few potholes. But there is a major political, community, religious, and business effort underway, that includes FedEx, to transform that area. We’re hopeful that over time, our city will have a better “face” to present to visitors.

James, everyone participating in today’s event, including those in the auditorium with you this morning, just received their first paycheck of 2009 containing a 5% pay cut… which we wholeheartedly support because it continued the tradition established by Mr. Smith of doing whatever it takes to protect jobs.

Considering that we just entered the second year of a U.S. recession, and we are experiencing significant business loss due to the global economic downturn, many of my peers and I question the expense of paying Ketchum to produce the video open for today’s event; work that could have been achieved by internal, award-winning professionals with decades of experience in television production.

Additionally Mr. Andrews, with all due respect, to continue the context of your post; true confession: many of my peers and I don’t see much relevance between your presentation this morning and the work we do in Employee Communications.

(Signed as a personal message by a member of the FedEx Corporate Communications team)

Apparently, some took offense, and tweeted and an interesting exchange started to happen, as the conversation ensued also on twitter. James then stood by his guns, explained his stance and apologized and helped explain what happened on this own blog (followed by a post by his own wife).

A few takeaways

  • While showing a bit of misjudgment, (there are many other ways he could have expressed his opinion) I’d rather hire someone who was honest and transparent first. Gawker agrees
  • Fedex employees need to have some fun with the online conversation, the reaction was a brutal and excessive, but it’s clear that this was a trigger for other axes to grind.
  • Personal opinions must be kept in check when it involves clients and customers.
  • Twitter is often taken out of context, it’s happened to me. Intent isn’t always clear.
  • The PR industry likes to spin it’s own top, and I’m adding to it right now.
  • James Andrews is better off for this, and I admire him for weathering this storm.
  • Rule of thumb: (fitting, if you tweet from a mobile device). When you tweet, you’re publishing, don’t say anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face, and assume that your current and future boss, wife, and mother are reading it.

    Thanks to Jennifer Doctor (update: who calls for context of the situation) for spurring me along to comment on this topic.

    UJpdate: I like Eric’s take on this, and suggests that James didn’t represent himself well as a PR professional, regardless of anyone who should have an opinion.

    The Obama Generation


    Yesterday, Stephanie Agresta brought nine tech and business students from Iowa’s Luther College (blog) to meet me at our Foster City office for some Q&A about the business world they’re about to enter. This day, Jan 20th was the first day Obama has been in office, and he’s already made some significant changes within his first hours in the oval office.

    We had an interesting conversation, we talked about creating career websites, starting blogs, and how to represent yourself in a professional way. We discussed how sharing online is likely permanent and you should assume your boss, your mother, and your future wife/husband will read whatever you say online. How they should start preparing for the job market, and some practical tips to use social networks to find jobs.

    These juniors and seniors are about to enter the workforce, and they’ll have experienced this in a different way then any previous generation has. What’s so different? they’ll always have been in the workforce and known that:

  • Their President was always their Facebook friend.
  • Their President was always the top Twitter user as far as they can remember.
  • Their President has always addressed them on Saturday mornings on YouTube.
  • They’ll be connected to their friends to discuss topics and join causes in social networks.
  • The “Mall” won’t just be about shopping but also refer to the Washington Mall.
  • Blackberry’s are the new scepter of power, and a status symbol.
  • Soon, they’ll remember how they can voice their opinion on websites like the isn’t just a destination site, but will become a place to have two-way conversations with peers and the administration.

    Not all of these things are always cheery for them, as they graduate the impact of the recession may cause them to compete against others that are far more experienced and may be able to outbid them. They may understand what ‘change’ and ‘hope’ means but may not remember what the country is trying to escape.

    Back to you, what are the other characteristics of this Obama Generation especially as it ties back to the internet?

    Webinar: Social Media Across the Enterprise


    Hopefully you’ve noticed my journey lately, to understand how social computing impacts not just one aspect of a company, but how it’s going to be an ‘overlay’ across the entire organization, in fact, nearly two years ago, I created this graphic in 2007 which demonstrates how social computing can be applied across an entire customer lifecycle. Maybe you noticed that in 2009 your CIO will start to sniff out the different business departments deploying social technologies, and may want to consolidate.

    Spiksource and Intel have made it possible by working with Forrester to sponsor this webinar on Leveraging Social Media into your Business Strategy, Feb 5th 10am PST where we won’t just talk about how social media impacts marketing –but thinking bigger to the whole enterprise. I’ll be joined by Six Apart’s Michael Sippey, and Jive’s CMO, Sam Lawrence. See you there!

    Update: Joseph has taken some notes from the webinar, thanks! also, the recording is now available.

    How Did You Participate In The Inauguration?


    Are you old media or new? Progressive or traditional? Were you present in DC or were you participating using TV and being online?

    President Barack Obama’s inauguration was an interesting event, why? It wasn’t during normal evening showtimes when people would watch on TV, as a result, people found other ways to consume the event –even using iPhone apps. Secondly, although an American event, it has implications to the rest of the globe, it’s not just a limited audience.

    In my world, I watched it at 830am at home on HDTV, while streaming other pieces on I watched Current TV (got annoyed with the hip hop music and ridiculous tweets) and turned on CNN. I was on twitter (see charts), chatting and commenting about Aretha’s magic bow and how to be yellow mellow, and was reading the hundreds of tweets coming in every 30 seconds on Tweetscan, Summize (it couldn’t keep up) and Tweetdeck.

    Over on Seesmic, there were discussions from those who were watching –and it cascaded to many other social sites, at the end of the ceremony, I changed my Facebook stats to read “Jeremiah is mellow yellow” and received several replies in a matter of minutes –one from my kid sister, who says I’m old for using email.

    Tell me how you experienced the inauguration? Did you use mainstream media? Was it a social event for you? Did you create your own commentary and share with others?

    Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: Jan 21, 2009



    I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an industry analyst. By creating this digest (I started this over a year ago) it really helps me to stay on top of the space I cover.

    I’ve created a new category called Digest (view archives). Start with the Web Strategy Summary, then quickly scan the succinct and categorized headlines, read text for my take, and click link to dive in for more.

    Subscribe to this blog in your feedreader, or use the email subscription box in the right column. Or you can subscribe to this digest tag only and not receive my other posts.

    Web Strategy Summary
    It’s important you track LinkedIn’s movement as they truly become an enterprise web service, their announcement partnering with IBM is a key step in their opportunity to become the future intranet of any company. Various community vendors have had some partnership announcements such as Pluck and Lithium boasts a large revenue gain over this past year. Social Networks reflect life, and we’ve seen a bump in activity around Obama’s inauguration.

    Partnership: Linkedin integrates with IBM’s Lotus
    Perhaps the most important news of the week, but overshadowed by election news is LinkedIn’s partnership with IBM which extends it’s social graph info to Lotus collaboration and community suite. Why is this important? It means that workers can now connect with people outside of work to get jobs done –the network has expanded significantly.

    Politics: Inauguration spurs social network activity
    RWW reports how the live player at CNN connected to Facebook connect helps to spur social interaction online –no one is watching by themselves now, it’s all one connected community.

    Feature: LinkedIn launches polls
    In a way to better understand the community, LinkedIn’s polling feature will help brands and others understand what’s top of mind for it’s members.

    Revenues: Lithium has 100% revenue growth
    Always a good sign: Lithium boasts that their “100% percent growth in new monthly recurring revenue in less than one year” as a result of growth in the community space.

    Privacy: Chinese gamers must reveal names
    Online games in China have exploded, which has caused changes in culture, both good –and bad. As a result, a movement to force gamers to share their real names online has been put in place.

    Partnership: KickApps Integrates Meebo And Yahoo! Maps
    Media savvy KickApps launches some key partnerships with Meebo, Yahoo Maps, and combines video players to allow brands to extend the experience of Meebo and Yahoo, but to also make community sites more engaging.

    Layoffs: Mzinga cuts 6%
    As with many tech companies, startups are a reality, Mzinga cuts 6%, which could mean good news for long term sustainability, but could challenge their ability to execute against their goals. Interestingly, I didn’t see an announcement from Mzinga folks (although they left a comment last week)

    Future: Social Networks of the future? the car

    Thought leader David Berkowitz interviews Ford executive on how the car (using Sync technology) will soon become a social network hub and node.

    Culture: 10 top social network annoyances
    Thank god, someone finally made this list, #1? MySpace Kitsch. Someone needs to create a ‘de-bling’ app.

    If you’re a social network, or widget company, I want to know of your news, send me an email, or leave a comment below. Help me stay up to date.

    Hungry For Social Networking Stats? Then you should see my collection of Social Networks Stats for 2008 and 2009. Bookmark them, then share it with others as I continue to update it.