AP Spins Story. FleishmanHillard Spins Obamacare. Taxpayers Lose.

20 Oct



In Illinois, we are using $33 Million in federal grants to pay public relations firm FleishmanHillard to advertise and promote Obamacare.

The Associated Press article promoting this story would be a funny read if their journalistic integrity wasn’t so pathetic and the situation wasn’t costing taxpayers so much money.  And, yes, it actually is an AP article, not a story from The Onion as I first thought.

Check out this nonsense:  “The campaign would use Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to convince young people to buy health insurance. It would be part of an ad blitz with TV, radio, billboards and other paid advertising.”

So Illinois is broke…no money for schools or anything else, but we can get $33M in federal money to spin what I thought was already the “law of the land”.

 There are not enough 20-Somethings signing up for Obamacare, so the new plan is to hire a bunch of 20-Somethings to Tweet and post about it. Of course those guys won’t sign up for Obamacare either, put they will gladly be paid to tell others why they should. Hope and Change, my Millennial friends! Hope and Change!

My favorite gem in this one-sided AP report: “Now, nearly three weeks after the launch, the social media campaign is underway, but it’s muted. Paid advertising is on hold. With technology problems plaguing the federal website, state officials decided there’s no reason to boost traffic now.”

No kidding! So spend money promoting something but don’t actually promote it yet.  


Could someone at the Associated Press actually question something, sometime?

If the AP had any REAL journalists left, here are a few questions they might want to ask:

1) Why does the US need to advertise to young people to get them to something that they are now forced by law to do?

2) Is there not a more effective way to spend tax dollars than paying a huge global over-priced PR firm to Tweet to Twenty-Somethings and ask them to sign up? Private corporations cannot budget for this as it is not cost effective.

3) For those workers at FleishmanHillard who are being paid to do this work: have any of them signed up for Obamacare?

4) If the government website is technically not capable of handling more traffic, then why not stop the whole PR program for now including the fees paid to FleishmanHillard?


16 Oct



4 Steps to Running a Good Contest on Facebook Since the New Rule Changes

6 Sep

3D Facebook

Last week Facebook updated their terms to allow for contests to be executed outside of Applications and on your brand’s Timeline using Likes, Comments, and Messages to enter. Every one-person agency and self-named social media “expert” has been posting and shouting about how this is greatest thing ever and that you should run out and do promotions in this manner as soon as possible. After all, now it’s easy and you don’t need a pesky third-party.

But just because something is easy and you can do it yourself, does that mean it will accomplish a business goal?

(For those self-named social media “experts” and “gurus”, a business goal is something that grown-ups use. It has more to do with revenue than Likes. More on that later…)


Which do you want: more Entrants or more Customers?

Before running out to do the first contest that comes to mind – be aware of a few things. First, by doing a contest via Likes, you’re making winning easier for non-committed consumers to win. These are people who will dog pile onto your contest, maybe win something, but will never be a customer of your brand, store, or business.


Missing in Action: Emails

Second, do you know what your brand page and your local pages will really miss? Your customers’ email addresses! If you start doing promotions only on your Timeline and not using an application, you can’t collect email addresses or other desired data from your fans and customers.

We’re social media focused here at Engage121, BUT we do know the value of a customer’s email address. You still want to be able to collect these for newsletters, announcements, or future plans. What’s the value of a Facebook Like? I don’t know, but it’s less than an email address!


Don’t create temporary Fans

Lastly, by not requiring a Fan-Gated entrance to your app for the contest, you’re diminishing the likelihood of gaining a new Fan. Consumers may Like your status update once to enter the contest but never actual Like your page or engage with you further.


Solution:  Let’s do both!

Run your contest as an App and hit your Timeline with it often! Here are four steps to success in the new Facebook dynamic:

1. Run the contest as an Application on your Facebook page. Here’s an awesome example of a successful just-finished contest from our friends at Scooter’s Coffee.

2. Talk about it, share it, and promote it frequently on your Timeline so your fans know it exists.

3. Create good content in the contest: I always recommend against being too self-promotional in your status updates. So the contest itself should be interesting on its own add some value to your fans’ day. If it’s not, then maybe rethink the contest!

4. Advertise:  Along with sharing the contest as a status update, think about spending some budget on some well-targeted ads too!


Senator Marco Rubio to Address IFA

26 Aug

Marco Rubio

The International Franchise Association has just announced that Senator Marco Rubio of Florida will join an impressive lineup of keynote speakers at the IFA Public Affairs Conference in Washington, DC on September 17.

Mr. Rubio represents a new generation of political leader who will be moving our country forward and is also very hard to cast in a predefined label. Like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, Mr. Rubio is a post-label politician; they’re pro-business and economically conservative, but they are by no means part of the old establishment when it comes to other issues.

I don’t know if Marco Rubio will be president someday (we can’t get that lucky) but it’s a sure thing that he will be a leader on many issues that affect American business, especially franchises and small business owners. From taxes to jobs to immigration reform to healthcare, Mr. Rubio will be a constant voice of reason and logic for decades to come.

If you’re a member of the IFA, you can register for the event now and sign up to meet with your member of Congress to discuss these important issues as well!


5 Things to Ask a Social Media Expert, Guru, or Ninja

8 Aug


In case you’re being pitched to by a social media expert or you’re thinking of handing over your company’s money to a social media guru, here are some things to ask them. Oh, and I included social media ninjas too because you never know when they will strike!


1. Did your studies of the ancient guru or ninja arts take place on a remote mountaintop in Asia or at Florida State?

2. How long ago did you stop being a PR Guru?

3. Does that gmail address on your business card mean you’re too cool to have a real company email?

4. How much of your clients’ revenue increases are a direct result of your work? The metric I’m looking for here is called US Dollars.

5. According to Twitter, you have fewer followers than I do. Or anyone in my company. Or most of the consumers with whom we intend to engage.  So, uh, how long have you been an expert?



Social Recommendations Just For You…Not Me

6 Aug



I am not a fan of the overuse of content choices served up “just for you” based on various algorithms.  Your news and entertainment choices should not always be made by popularity with the masses or what your friends like. I just don’t get that. I love my family and friends dearly but, good God, they have bad taste in music. As do most people except you…right?

And Facebook ads are now based on content that your friends like. While I see the marketing value in the perceived endorsement, I see less relevant ads coming my way.

I don’t even like suggestions based on my own previous selections on iTunes, Amazon or other services. iTunes’ Genius is my nightmare. And while Pandora and others offer a great service and a tremendous amount of music for free, the basic premise makes me want to argue with the algorithm more than enjoy the tunes. No, just because I listen to a lot of Elvis Costello doesn’t mean I want to listen to Culture Club. Ever.  As Johnny Slash would say, “It’s a totally different head. Totally.”

Speaking of great TV characters, television also poses recommendation challenges. There are so many great shows out there that I don’t have time to see. Do you have that colleague or friend who bugs you constantly because you’re not watching his current favorite show? That’s how many apps present themselves to my eyes.       

So instead of socially-smart pages recommending more content, I really could use an app to slow down time!



What’s The Value of A Facebook Like? Who’s Asking?

1 Aug


Some ridiculous and reckless newbies in social media monitoring have been promoting an actual dollar amount for the value of any Facebook Like. A recent “study” published the value at $174.17. This was produced by some self-proclaimed social media “experts” who will be selling used cars 12 months from now.

I see similar nonsense coming from small PR agency owners who joined Twitter last year and now want to spin you toward the idea that they do more that press releases. 

$147 is the value of a Like? Why not just say a Like is worth $1,000?  Sure, let’s go with that.  That will make the CEO happy.

The truth is that a Like for Company A has much different value than a Like for Company B.


Social Values Overall

Let’s take a step back and look at all online recommendations and endorsements (if you can truly call “Likes” one of those). A positive review on a ratings & review site may be of great value to a hotel property, but much less to a retailer with a low-cost, hot product. A lousy rating on Yelp may scare people away from a local pizza franchisee but may not matter to a higher-end restaurant.

Take a further step back and look at an old yet still popular social media channel called the telephone:  What’s the value of a phone call? I estimate somewhere between 2 cents if it’s an unwanted opinion and a billion dollars if someone is calling to acquire your company. 

 meh facebook


Ferrari Posters on Your Wall

Pop quiz guys over 30: did you have a poster of a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or Porsche on your bedroom or dorm room wall back in the 80s or 90s? Millions of boys had them in order to indicate which car they would pick up as soon as they had the means, as Ferris Bueller would say. 


But how many of those cool young dudes now own a Ferrari or Lamborghini? Probably not many. The 2013 version of the sports car poster is a Facebook Like.

Ferrari’s Fan Page on Facebook currently has over 12 Million fans. I submit that those are 12 Million guys who do not own a Ferrari. Based on my own Facebook friends who I can see Like the Ferrari page, this is true. Seriously, if you guys had a Ferrari, you would not be on Facebook liking the page! A Like for a local sandwich shop may correlate much closer to a customer than that for Ferrari.   

This commoditizing of Likes is doing is missing the whole point of engagement with a customer. If we’re merely counting Likes, then we’re measuring our current reputation, brand equity, and cool factor. For those of us marketing and selling Ferraris, the Like is just a starting point of an online relationship with a new prospective customer. Start your engines!





Advertising Mega Merger. Meh…

30 Jul

 Publicis Omnicom

What happens when a brontosaurus merges with a pterodactyl?

The result is still a dinosaur that will be extinct in a few years.

That’s right I said it: extinct. These aging parent companies and their ad agency and PR firm children will continue to be less and less relevant until they fade into history. 

The PR industry bloggers of the world are giddy about this merger of two companies who have never cared about those bloggers. The mainstream press who need the new POG’s ad dollars to remain on life support have written constantly over the past 48 hours about “what this means” for the future of advertising and PR.

I think it’s safe for me to say these things on a blog or Facebook as no one at Publicis or Omnicom knows social media exists yet. If they did, they may have had a different merger strategy.



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