Archive for April, 2009


obama-logoToday I want to change things up a bit (no pun intended) and take a focus on the revolutionary campaign of Barack Obama who utilized social media tools like no other presidential candidate has in the past, by making it an interactive experience.  In my mind, Obama largely won the election because he was able to connect with the American public (particularly the youth) through the Web 2.0 applications.  His website is both updated often with additional content to keep the user coming back for more on a regular basis.

What makes this so revolutionary in the world of politics is these are the people who really truly need to be connected to the masses.  Politicians have yet to fully understand the enormous benefits of Web 2.0 when it comes to communicating their campaign goals/objectives to their voters.  It wouldn’t be difficult to predict within the next year or two there’s going to be a massive growth in the number of politicians with blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, etc.   One of the biggest problems facing politicians is connecting with their constituent base and what better way to do that than engaging them on a platform that more and more people are becoming familiar with, which is Web 2.0 based communication applications.

But blogs didn’t only help to connect Obama to people it also helped newspapers.  An article in Advertising Age entitled, “One-way media lost the election as cable, interactive dominated,” back in November stated that during Election Day, CNN, MSNBC and Yahoo News were up 50%, 103% and 50% respectively.  These stats are of course a great increase but pale in comparison to the growth of political blogs including: The HuffingtonPost, Politico and Real Clear Politics which gerw 474%, 344% and 489%, respectively from the previous year.  It’s easy to see how blogging is begining to chip into traditioanl forms of one-way media, and best of all they can be managed by people just like your or me, as long as we’re willing and able to find the right information.

An article from Ragan Communications identifies the steps the Obama administration used to keep constitutents informed and educated, which ultimately made it a huge success.  This article is a great way to sum up the last couple weeks of posts because it outlines all the most important criteria and guidelines for what makes a blog solid i.e. constant feedback, great use of video, passionate employees, etc.  Basically a lot of the topics we’ve been covering the last couple weeks so if you’ve missed any of the previous posts this would be a great article that summarizes important content to get you up to date.

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usa_today_logoIn this week our company focus we’ll be looking at how one paper is coping with decreased sales in a time where many are predicting the fall of print newspapers. USA Today has taken advantage of the digital age by utilizing blogs to reach consumers in a niche market. Notice that I said blogs not blog, for USA Today has a variety that covers topics anywhere from politics and current events to airline travel and golfing. They even have an “Idol Chatter” blog where they discuss the recent developments on American Idol, so they have literally taken the idea of targeting a niche market to the top degree.

What’s great about the way USA Today utilizes the social medium of blogging is the ease of availability and user friendliness. The user, who in many cases might not be considered as adept to using these tools as many of the younger generation take for granted, has the ability to access the various blogs in a fairly straightforward and simple way.  The Today’s online managing editor, Chet Czarniak, believes the blogs serve three purposes the print medium couldn’t convey.  Chet knows blogs will allow readers to 1) delve deeper into the stories 2) stay on top of breaking news (previously not possible with print) and 3) engage and interact in new and exciting ways not only with the writers, but with other readers.

Hopefully other newspapers will soon get the hint that they to have a more interactive marketing approach when it comes to reaching their publics.  USA Today is helping to set the standard for one newspapers will look like in the future, which are places where readers and writers will be able to develop relationships that will ultimately lead to more personable accounts of issues and stories that may very well affect all of us.

To see a full list and description of their blogs check out the article from Ragan Communications on “How to pitch USA Today’s bloggers.” Hope the article was of interest.  See you all soon!

mcdonalds_logo_tmThis week our company focus will be on the fast-food giant McDonald’s, which I’m sure all of us have had a personal relationship with at some point in the past, whether we enjoyed it or not.  Often our experience depended on the customer service, which in many instances, at least in the world of the fast food industry, can make or break your dining experience.  In the case of McDonald’s, their employee base numbers around 750,000 individuals, with each and every one coming from a different background and often from varying arrays of life from all over the country, and more accurately the world.  McDonald’s has surely mastered the art of the quick bite and now they are in the midst of trying to conquer internal communications with their new employee blog StationM.

StationM is a project designed in order to reach the type of employee that doesn’t necessarily sit in front of a computer all day at work, like many other companies have the luxury for their employees to have.  McDonald’s, on the other hand, realizes that a vast amount of their employees do not have access to a computer until they are home, with family or friends, so they created an employee blog in which, although much conversation focuses on the day-to-day comings and goings of the job, also has a familial feel to it, for everyone on it has something in common, they work at McDonalds.

StationM is fostering a medium for employees from all parts of the McDonald’s family to chime in and make their voices heard.  Although a company as big as McDonald’s might often be overlooked when it comes to organizational management due to their vast success, they have taken it upon themselves to utilize the up and rising social media tools to help connect the people that have made them one of the most well known and profitable businesses they are today.  StationM seems to be a growing center for discussion that has already made strides to fix employee problems with the way things run.  Ultimately, these types of conversations will lead to happier and most likely more productive employees.

From an article on PRWeek entitled, “McDonald’s adding variety of voices on staffs comm site,” we see that as part of their communications strategy, Station M decided they would add bloggers from different geographies.  George Hradecky, internal communications manager for McDonald’s USA commented on the strategy citing how it would be a more authentic representation of the company’s restaurant staff.

From the perspective of the blog management functions, the corp. comm. team will select the topics for the posts, while the bloggers help to fuel the content arising around daily issues at various restaurants.  This sounds like a great way to manage a blog, by having corporate communicators control the overall themes, allowing the lower-level employees, who have the real-world McDonald’s experience, control the content most likely to resonate with employees.

Hope you all enjoyed the article.  See you soon.