Perspectives

Perspectives on communications management in a socially-connected world

Experience makes us better - a birthday retrospective

Experience makes us better - a birthday retrospective

Today, Integrated Media Strategies is officially four years old, although in real terms, activities began in 2011.  Birthdays provide a milestone in time to think back at where you came from and what the road ahead might bring. Used strategically, reflection has the ability to improve what's working further, cut what isn't and improve practices and habits.

I'd like to thank all my clients for choosing my company; I now count many of you as not just colleagues but also as friends. I've always tried to give the best possible service, along with options and my reasons for a course of action or solution. For my ‪#‎smallbusiness‬ clients, this approach has been empowering, because it has allowed them to factor that thinking into their other strategic decision-making.  Giving options and their implications has also been especially important when I have been called in to consult on and troubleshoot failed communications approaches.

My company has clients here in NC, in various locations in the US, in Canada, the UK, and Africa.  Among my successes I count a statewide advanced manufacturing workforce development initiative that attracted more than $1.8 billion in new capital investments and expansions in rural counties. That project also saw these areas create more than 6,600 jobs - a massive ROI for their communications budget.

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Taking the PR pain out of two-factor authentication failures

Taking the PR pain out of two-factor authentication failures

Two-factor authentication is a method of enhancing the security of web logins to your site. It separates a website login with another form of identification that a user has such as an email address or better, a mobile phone, which will presumably be in the user's possession.  If you have a website that uses it for customer-facing applications, make sure that your process is capable of managing authentication at peak times.

An example of poor management of this process is Nationwide Insurance, with whom I have personal experience. In the course of the past few months, Nationwide Insurance has twice had failures with its authentication.  This type of failure drives frustration levels up among customers because it is time wasting and that is unnecessary.  Moreover, it occurs at a time when people are parting with cash. While they are waiting - in my instance more than half an hour for two failed login attempts plus a phone call - customers are tempted to search for a competitor who wants their business.  Requiring a phone call is standard, because it enables the provider to validate the account.

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Years of work at risk

Years of work at risk

A communications project with which Integrated Media Strategies was involved for four years is at risk.  The visibility our communications afforded the initiative attracted more than $1.2 billion in new investments and expansions to North Carolina in the advanced manufacturing sector and helped create more than 6,000 new jobs.  You could have read about it on the website, but the website is down, returning a Fatal error.

At the heart of the project was a website that supported the advanced manufacturing training departments of 10 community colleges. The statewide training initiative showcased the specialized equipment, close collaborations with industry, instructor credentials, and technical curricula.  It also provided successful examples of how graduates and students were placed as interns in the workplace at facilities across the state. This information gave industry a risk-free method to find candidates for advanced manufacturing positions - a win-win for both candidates and industry. In the same way as complex multi-axis machine tools need maintenance, so too do websites based on database-driven content management systems.  

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Twitter Impersonator

Twitter Impersonator

I discovered on Twitter today that Integrated Media Strategies' account has been impersonated.  Our account name is @coherentmedia. The impersonator is @zobugelexuci.  I have reported the fake account to Twitter both in my personal capacity - because the tweets on that account are mine - and in a professional capacity, because that account is contravening my copyright through the use of my logo and tagline.

It brings up a few points - the first is to do a regular review of your accounts.  At least annually is a good idea. We do so more regularly, but many small businesses don't build the time in, period. The second is to check if you are receiving unusual email.  The internet can turn up strange activity, but by this I mean if you are getting out of the ordinary requests to connect on social media, follow up and check to see the source, or why. Often it will be innocent, but if not, it's worth catching it before it can do real damage. 

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Marketing speak made easy - explaining those abbreviations and acronyms

Marketing speak made easy - explaining those abbreviations and acronyms

Abbreviations and acronyms make our lives easier by packing a series of concepts or processes into a suitcase that is then easier to manage - but only if you know the term.  If you don't, you're being handed the equivalent of a communications dead weight.  Since much of the work we do is helping organizations and small businesses with communications change management and implementing communications programs internally, we watch our language.  Usually the concepts are easy to grasp once you understand the terminology, and at that point the abbreviations or acronym become a useful shortcut. Included in the table below are also some social media acronyms suggested by readers of this blog that have been prompted by Twitter's 140-character limit to pack more into that compressed method of messaging.  Click on the Read More for a table of acronyms and abbreviations and their explanation.

 

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Starting social media at your organization

Starting social media at your organization

Many organizations which Integrated Media Strategies has helped know they need a plan to get set up their social media, but aren't sure where to start, or even why, other than everybody else seems to be doing it.  Social media for B2B makes good business sense, particularly when allied with content marketing. Content marketing is a marketing approach that uses the online content for marketing and social media provides a powerful mechanism for distribution and discovery that extends the visibility of your website.  It can also be highly cost-effective.

But many companies and organizations, both large and small, don’t know where to start when trying to build a social media presence.  Assisting organizations set up and successfully manage the content workflows for effective social media use is something Integrated Media Strategies does. Here are some pointers.

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Making video work for content marketing

Making video work for content marketing

Blogs are well-established as an effective means of content marketing, particularly if they are shared using other mechanisms.  They provide a range of advantages to organizations who wish to provide more information about their products and services, or their approach to corporate culture or social responsibility.  But multimedia capabilities of smartphones and simplifying of non-linear digital video editing has seen an explosion in the use of video.  Video can show rather than tell and if the producer has access to good imagery, can be far more vibrant than a text-based blog offering.  YouTube is now the #2 search engine and organizations need to develop a plan for integrating video into their content marketing.

There are disadvantages to video content marketing that should be taken into account.  As sexy as a video may be, if it isn't found, it's irrelevant, and if its distribution isn't maximized, the cost/minute ROI ratio is high. 

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The skydivers guide to communications risk management

The skydivers guide to communications risk management

In the course of the hundreds of formation skydiving jumps I did and competing at two national championships, I learned a few lessons that I now apply professionally in business communications.  For people who's only exposure to skydiving is the movie 'Point Break', it may come as a surprise that it's not like that at all.  Don't expect to exit an aircraft and 'naturally' get it right.  Skydivers proportionately spend a lot of time preparing for jumps to get them right - to stack the odds in favor of getting a complex 3D maneuver come together and work.  Because screwing up has real and immediate consequences, skydivers have developed simple, easy-to-remember best practices that have given the sport a good track record for safety despite the inherent risk.  These best practices translate effectively to crisis communications. 

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Doing content marketing cost effectively

Doing content marketing cost effectively

Content marketing can be a very effective method to boost the visibility of an organization and strengthen business outcomes.  In a world in which specialization is an increasing fact of life, the terms and phraseology that may be common to one group is often gibberish to others. 'Content marketing' is an example by itself.  It's a term web, SEO and digital marketers will be familiar with but may mean nothing to people outside the communications and marketing field.  It basically means using content posted to the web to grow an organization's visibility and rank with search engines like Google, Bing, etc.  Acronyms are also often industry specific, so 'SEO' stands for 'Search Engine Optimization', which is getting web pages ranked as highly as possible by search engines.  Content marketing uses the specialized language common to an industry sector or service niche and turns it into an asset for web marketing, showcasing an organization's strengths and capabilities and why clients should do business with them.  

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The art of marketing specialized workforce programs for economic growth

The art of marketing specialized workforce programs for economic growth

North Carolina's biotechnology industry is a success story, built on 30 years of steady support for its development. It is ranked as the third-largest cluster of biotech, pharma and life sciences companies in the U.S., following only California and Massachusetts. It generates almost $60 billion a year. But in the early 2000's, biomanufacturing and biopharmaceutical companies in the state were facing difficulties. The state's capability to train sufficient numbers of workers with the specialized skills and knowledge needed to work in complex, highly-regulated biopharmaceutical manufacturing environments was limited. Companies were poaching each other's workers, driving up the cost of business and limiting the companies' ability to expand. This also negatively impacted companies that had a patent clock ticking down. These workforce challenges were costing billions.  The post below outlines how the team at Integrated Media Strategies played a key role in addressing this challenge and helping North Carolina to grow its economy. 

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