Friday Wrap #203: PRSA blasts “alternative facts,” Samsung sets a new crisis standard, audio surges

Shel Holtz's picture

Friday Wrap #203

I extract items for the Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing.


PRSA officially slams “alternative facts”—Good for PRSA (of which I am a member) for its official statement rebuking the White House for making false statements and labeling them “alternative facts.” The Public Relations Society of America issued a statement arguing that the behavior reflects badly on all communication professionals. President Jane Dvorak wrote, “PRSA strongly objects to any effort to deliberately misrepresent information. Honest, ethical professionals never spin, mislead or alter facts. We applaud our colleagues and professional journalists who work hard to find and report the truth.” The takeaway: It’s not like PR isn’t already saddled with the perception that we spin facts and promote lies on behalf of clients. We are on a long road toward the rehabilitation of our image, and the behavior of the press secretary and other members of the administration aren’t helping. It is important that we stand up for ethical behavior. I am also dismayed that we have not seen a similar statement from IABC. Read more

Samsung’s Note 7 apology hits all the right notes—Samsung has earned universal praise for its comprehensive (if tardy) report on the causes behind the exploding Galaxy Note 7 smartphones. The press conference covering the phone’s flaws “was apologetic and thorough, with a level of disclosure clearly meant to close the book on a very chapter of company history,” writes Engadget’s Chris Velazco. “Over time, though, expect to see the narrative surrounding the company change. Samsung won’t just be the company that made exploding phones; it will be the company that made exploding phones but embarked on the road of redemption and still made shareholders loads of money along the way.” The takeaway: Candor and transparency are the new currency of crisis communication (not to mention day-to-day behavior) in business. Samsung’s example demonstrates that it pays off. Pay attention to this when your lawyers try to shut down a comprehensive explanation of a failure. Read more

Stories come to Facebook’s mobile app—Snapchat grew its user base in large part on the strength of its Stories concept. A lot of those users abandoned Snapchat for the more familiar Instagram when Instagram copied the concept. Now Instagram’s owner—buoyed by the success of Stories—is bringing a Stories-like feature to the Facebook mobile app. Facebook Stories is undergoing a test now in Ireland but will roll out more broadly within the next few months. The takeaway: Facebook insists adoption of Facebook Stories is meant to ease the path to sharing photos and videos, but it is also clearly a shot across Snapchat’s bow. Read more

Slack to launch a big-business version—Slack for Enterprise will be launched next week as the $3.8 billion company seeks to take on competitive threats from Facebook and Microsoft. The takeaway: An enterprise version may make it easier for companies to migrate from organically-built Slack networks to something more universal within the organization. I love Slack but I would be more inclined to recommend Facebook Workplace based on the testimonials I have heard from companies using it. There’s not much room for more competitors in this space. Read more

Journalists join Slack group on FOIA and Trump—Here’s a use case the folks at Slack may not have anticipated. More than 1,500 journalists have signed onto a Slack Channel designed to help them better cover President Donald Trump and his administration. Among the uses to which it’s being put: getting assistance with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The takeaway: This kind of activity will give Slack its biggest boost over Microsoft Teams and Facebook Workplace, neither of which can be embraced organically as a work-related tool in this manner. Read more


Influencer content accounts for a fifth of media consumption—Nineteen percent of the media consumers consume is made up of influencer content, according to a recent PR agency survey. Nearly 60% have made a purchase based only on an online influencer recommendation, and that number grows to nearly 70% when you limit the data to Millennials. All consumers over 16 spend 72 minutes daily consuming influencer content; with Millennials focusing on it for 87 minutes. The takeaway: As the role of the influencer continues to grow, look for more nuance in the categories and metrics applied to the practice of influencer marketing. Read more

Audio content marketing surges—The demand for audio content is exploding. Fueled by podcasts, the interest in audio goes well beyond podcasting, including home digital assistants. Gartner projects that 30% of web browsing sessions won’t involve screens within three years, “with ‘voice-first interactions’ potentially taking over much of the legwork.’” There’s also Facebook’s Live Audio, which BBC World Service, Harper Collins, and others are using. The takeaway: This piece is worth a read for its focus on strategizing audio rather than getting carried away with it. Read more

Local government relies on social media—Nationwide, local governments rely on social media to get information to constituents despite challenges around funding and other issues, according to a Quick Poll by the Public Technology Institute. The survey found 85% of local government agencies using social media to report to publics, but 63% said they don’t have an enterprise-wide social media strategy and 88% said they don’t have a specific budget for their social media activities. The takeaway: Social media is an accepted conduit for reaching specific audiences. It’s time to stop viewing it as a second-tier channel. That means local governments need to move beyond the in-between phase in which they seem mired and focus on using it effectively rather than just using it. Read more

Buy buttons haven’t taken hold—Twitter did away with its buy button and Facebook killed off its version a while ago. The buy buttons in use at Instagram and Pinterest aren’t doing well. The reasons, according to Digiday, is that “transactions have been clunky, inventory has been mismanaged and consumer intent was never properly understood.” The takeaway: I have never used a buy button. Have you? Read more

Personas may be on their way out—Smart marketers have been developing personas to detail the characteristics of different categories of customers. These days, they’re too simplistic, according to one CMO. According to CMO magazine, there has been “a surge in the number of companies disappointed by the lack of a significant increase in response and engagement from their traditional persona-based segmentation.” The problem has been exacerbated by a more complex customer journey. The solution is no longer personas. It’s personalization. The takeaway: “Marketers must now make a profound shift toward ‘human data,” according to this article. That’s something for which most companies are not set up; they’re not even exploring it. Those that do will have a distinct competitive edge. Read more

CEOs live in fear of a Trump attack—While a Trump Administration could lead to lower taxes and fewer regulations, CEOs are worried that they could become the target of a business-damaging and career-ending Trump tirade. Several are making pilgrimages to the White House in order to make friends with Trump in the hopes that it might avoid problems down the road. The takeaway: I wrote about this several weeks ago and got pushback from a number of people. It’s nice to see The New York Times validating my belief that Trump represents a whole new category of crisis for businesses. Read more

Turning a Trump crisis to a marketing advantage—It has happened before, as with Vanity Fair which, when attacked by the President of the United States, quickly produced a banner touting itself as the magazine Donald Trump doesn’t want you to read. Subscriptions skyrocketed in response. Now, Dippin’ Dots has taken the same approach to reports that White House Press Secretary has been public in his grudge against the company. When Spicer’s tweets were republished, the company’s CEO wrote an open letter to him that produced coverage in “over a dozen tier 1 media” outlets.” Additionally, Dippin’ Dots has been trending on Facebook. The takeaway: A crisis strategy doesn’t have to be limited to damage control. If a company can make hay out of a public spat with the White House, as long as an analysis doesn’t predict longer-term repercussions, then by all means, take advantage of the situation. Read more

Original research a vital part of B2B marketing—A survey of B2B executives about content marketing found original research and data are more effective than other kinds of content, with nearly 75% of respondents saying they have created such content and 18% saying they consider it the most effective, more than any other category. Research reports also ranked as the most difficult to produce. The takeaway: Content marketing should always create value. In B2B marketing, insights that will help a buyer make better decisions will be highly valued. Original research may be hard to produce, but the cost-benefit outcomes clearly support companies making the investment. Read more


Facebook’s latest News Feed tweak focuses on video—Facebook is making yet another adjustment to its News Feed algorithm, this time ranking videos that appear in your News Feed based on a “percent completion” metric. Videos watched at least halfway through are labeled “compelling.” Longer videos that are deemed “compelling” will be ranked very favorably, since watching that much of a longer video requires greater commitment. The change will be rolled out over the next few weeks. The takeaway: It’s possible longer videos have been penalized in the News Feed, so you can expect to see more of them as the updated algorithm rolls out. That’s good news for marketers who have produced longer-form video in response to consumer interest. Read more

Livestream supports simultaneous broadcasts—Livestream has announced that higher-paying customers will be able to livestream video content simultaneously to YouTube, Periscope, Twitch, and other services that support the Real-Time Messaging Protocol. Facebook’s terms of use prohibit simulcasts that include Facebook Live. The takeaway: If you can share your live stream to more than one platform, why wouldn’t you? Fish where the fish are. Read more

Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality

Get ready to network socially in VR—Facebook bought Oculus because Mark Zuckerberg firmly believes the future of social networking is in Virtual Reality spaces. You can get a taste of what he has in mind in Oculus Rooms, available now only for Gear VR users. The app lets you engage with your Facebook friends in three different modes, including your own virtual apartment. Mashable calls the environments “surprisingly stunning.” The takeaway: It still reminds me too much of Second Life, but I’ll have to give it a try. If you’re one of my Facebook friends and have the Gear VR headset, maybe we could meet there. Read more

Developers invited to Google’s Daydream VR platform—Google has opened its Daydream Virtual Reality platform to all developers following a pilot period with only a small group of developers able to build Daydream apps. The takeaway: As new Android phones are released with Daydream capabilities, the availability of more apps will propel uptake and make VR a compelling pastime for more consumers. All hail the virtuous circle. Read more

Academic adoption of VR on the rise—The number of VR head-mounted displays (HMDs) per university has increased 500% in the past six months, from 1.5 per university to 5.6. that means only 18 students need to share a headset versus an earlier count of 51. Another study found only 3.3% of the 3D modeling community believes the VR industry is all hype, while 43.1% think it’s the future. The takeaway: The popularity of VR will get its biggest boost from niche industries that adopt it. Universities and 3D modelers are just two of the communities where its use is growing at a steady clip. Read more


Emojis shaking up the social media world—They still provoke disdain in the business world, but emojis are having a significant impact and “platforms are starting to develop in ways that specifically respond to this communication phenomenon.” They provide marketers and advertisers with more sophisticated data and enable users to convey “complex emotional reactions or thoughts in short, tiny packages.” The takeaway: Resistance is futile. There is no reason—none—to avoid the use of emojis in business communication. Read more

Emojis characterize Instagram accounts with large follower counts—An analysis of 20,000 Instagram profiles and 6.2 million posts reveals that accounts with a large number of followers use emojis more frequently than smaller profiles. Overall, Instagram saw a 20% increase in the use of emojis last year, indicating the use of emojis is spreading. Posts with emojis earn a 17% higher rate of interaction than those without. The takeaway: Even if you’re not ready to embrace emojis for work communication, company Instagram accounts can certainly benefit from them. As noted in the research, the accounts with large numbers of followers could well be using emojis in order to get closer to their audience, which is always a good idea. Read more

Applying metrics to emoji viewability—The increasing adoption of emojis is leading to a need for a way to measure the icons just like other online content is measured. Emogi, a messaging startup, has come up with a metric for assessing how consumers use emojis and stickers with a focus on viewability (i.e., how long emojis are seen by users). An impression is counted when someone opens an emoji keyboard. The takeaway: Don’t laugh. More and more brands are creating custom emojis and, like everything else, marketers will want to assess the effectiveness of the effort. Read more

Mobile and Wearables

Google tests Instant Apps—If you hate downloading an app before you can use it, you’ll love the idea of Instant Apps, which open when you tap them without installation required. Google is testing a few from BuzzFeed, Periscope and a few others in order to collect feedback. The takeaway: If apps could open without requiring download and installation, usage could soar and start to hobble (for a while, anyway) the adoption of chatbots that function within messaging apps. Read more

GenX and Boomers use mobile for social—While Millennials use their mobile devices to engage in social media more than any other generation (78%), a majority of GenXers and Baby Boomers also spend most of their social media time on mobile devices. For GenXers, 69% use smartphones for social media while 63% of Boomers do. The takeaway: The shift from desktops to mobile devices—especially smartphones—is not going to slow down. Be sure to factor the fact that mobile devices are the dominant interface to the online world into your communication planning. Read more

Fake News

Facebook gives more control to media outlets—Facebook has announced changes to its Trending news feature designed to make it easier for media outlets to decide which of its stories are included in the section. Among the changes: Topics included in the Trending section will be based on the number of outlets that post articles about the same story rather than how many people are talking about it. Trending topics will feature a publisher’s headline instead of a general topic name. And instead of tailoring topics for each user, everyone in the same region will see the same topics. The takeaway: These are good moves. I hope to see the results reflected in my Trending news, which is sometimes maddening. Read more

World Economic Forum addresses fake news threat—While the World Economic Forum wrapped up its annual Davos meeting last week, an effort to address fake news is set to continue with a group of more than 20 members set to tackle the issue. The Global Future Council on Human Rights will delve into the governance of large internet companies, how algorithms can act as a “form of de facto governance,” and how to go about limiting online misinformation, political propaganda, and extremist content. The takeaway: The more minds working on this, the better. Some coordination among the various efforts would make sense. Read more

Cutthroat Caring

Coors makes an environmental pitch—In a new “sustainability marketing” effort, Coors will customers to recycle beer cans while touting its own environmental bona fides. Among its sustainability activities is a decision to store its vinyl billboards rather than send them to landfills. That vinyl material is being used to make cooler bags for beer it Coors will give away. Damaged beer kegs are being converted into barbecue grills Coors will use for in-store marketing displays. The takeaway: With a majority of consumers now paying more for products from companies that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability or other causes, brands will need to compete on that basis. We will see more sustainability marketing, though brands need to be careful not to engage in hyperbole that doesn’t live up to its actual practices. Read more

Most people are loyal to caring brands—Companies should focus on “wantedness,” according to a new study that found 79% of consumers want brands to demonstrate that they understand and care about them before they consider buying that company’s products or services. Further, 88% of U.S. consumers “want to engage with brands that are setting new standards in meeting their expectations.” Nearly 90% of consumers are loyal to brands that share their personal values. The takeaway: Caring is the new competitive edge. Caring about the environment, societal issues (like social justice), communities, employees, and customers will each have metrics developed around them soon. The companies that can prove they care the most—not just pretend to—will beat the crap out of their competitors. Read more

This week’s wrap image is courtesy of the Missouri National Guard’s Flickr account. Spc. Derek Gray wraps excess chain used to secure vehicles to trucks.



Feedback Form