Monday, January 19, 2009

U.S Air's Social Media Windfall

Like everyone in America, I was astounded to learn that on Wednesday, U.S. Airways Flight 1549 from New York's JFK airport heading to Charlotte crashed into the Hudson river shortly after take-off. Miraculously, all 155 passengers and crew members on board were not seriously injured and everyone made it off the plane thanks to the quick thinking and training of Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III . The NTSB is investigating whether a "double bird strike" caused both of the jet's engines to fail.

Four days after this event, the blogosphere and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have been a-buzz with much deserved praise and appreciation for Captain Sully and his crew. But how engaged are people with this story?

According to social media provider Virtue, which was
interviewed by MediaPost's Marketing News Daily, a Facebook fan page they created to honor Capt. Sully was growing at a rate of 215 people a minute at its height on Saturday afternoon. Virtue created the fan page at 10 p.m. on Thursday evening - one day after the controlled crash. By 8pm there were 18,000 fans and 1,800 wall posts. By Sunday afternoon, there were more than 300,000 fans and 14,000 wall posts. At my last check this morning, the Facebook page had grown to 365,979 fans and has 16,501 wall posts.

Twitter's own search function indicates increased conversation and discussion surrounding Capt. Sully, the crew and survivors of the crash.

A quick perusal of the Twitter trend site
Twist this morning (I have no idea how accurate it is as an aggregation tool) reveals that "hot words" on Twitter for the last four days revolve around the event. Twist shows that the use of the words "U.S. Air," "Hudson," and "Crash" have all risen significantly over the last four days. In fact the word "plane" has been on Twist's hot list since Thursday at 3pm (one day after the crash) indicating that a great deal of people were discussing the event on Twitter (along with the usual build of people twittering that they were getting on/off planes to their travel destinations). Twist indicates that the word "plane" has been used in 7.89% of all Tweets between Thursday morning and Thursday afternoon.

Whether or not that statistic is significant is up for debate. What it does reveal is that this astounding story has captured people's attention and praise for the heroic crew. In their interview with MediaPost, Virtue notes that their social media index shows that U.S. Air's scores were up 171 percent on Thursday from its December average, with three-day average increase of 135 percent. Without knowing the methodology used to determine these statistics, there is enough apparent evidence to know that people are grateful for the safe landing and quick thinking of U.S. Airway's Flight 1549's crew and grateful to discuss and share knowledge in virtual real time.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Busy Week: Government and Web 2.0

Due to the inauguration, it seems like most communication associations and groups are having their monthly meetings this week.  Not surprisingly, a lot of the topics center on government agencies current use or the potential uses of Web 2.0 to better connect and engage with citizens. 

Here are two upcoming "can't miss"meetings this week.  

Registration may or may not still be open:

AFCEA Bethesda: Web 2.0 in the Federal Government. (Registration)
Wednesday, January 14th 
Presentation starts at 7:30 a.m. (Coffee and Networking at 6:30 a.m.)
Topics to be discussed:
  • Do you know what federal programs and initiatives are starting to rely on Web 2.o Technologies?
  • How are priorities being impacted or should they be impacted by the increasing presence of Web 2.0?
  • How are CIOs factoring these into strategic planning?

  • Rob Carey, U.S. Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer (DON CIO), will moderate 
  • Brian Burns, Deputy Chief Information Officer for Emerging Technology, U.S. Department of the Navy and Deputy Chief Information Officer for the Department of Education
  • Jim Angus, Associate  Director of Communications, OER/ORIS Communications Office, National Institutes of Health
Social Media Club D.C. Government 2.0 Part II (Registration)
Wednesday, January 14th 6:30 p.m - 8 p.m
Topics to be discussed:
  • View of the overall government 2.0 strategy and what the potential roadmap for 2009 looks like
  • How  government agencies and contractors have collaborated so far, what works and what doesn't
  • How to harness the collective intelligence of people to contribute to government
  • What's next in the relationship between social media and government
  • Chris Dorobek, Federal News Radio co-anchor, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris (
  • Mark Drapeau, Associate Research Fellow, National Defense University ( and
  • Steve Field, Media Relations Manager, Ground Systems at BAE Systems (
I'll be posting Twitter updates and a blog post from SMC DC's meeting.  If you're planning to be there, let me know! I may or may not make it to the AFCEA event. Still waiting on confirmation of attendance.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Social Media's Impact on Government PR

I ran across Dr. Mark Drapeau's EXCELLENT post on PBS' MediaShift blog regarding how social media can impact government communicators' and truly facilitate a government not just for the people, but "government with the people."

What struck me the most about Dr. Drapeau's post is how similar it is to ideas and strategies being implemented by companies in the B2B market. His thoughts for government are easily transferred to the emerging and dynamic corporate communications agenda of most companies. Moreover, it is probably the most remarkable post I have EVER seen on the role of emerging (arguably established) social media tools for the government.

Dr. Drapeau advocates the rise of government social communicators or federal and civilian agency brand ambassadors that become the face of a government agency - transforming the faceless government bureaucracy to a community of government brand ambassadors that become a trusted friend over time.

Dr. Drapeau states:

"Engaging, trusted personalities employed as brand ambassadors will complement -- not replace -- traditional public affairs and government outreach. Depending on their agency or office's mission and goals, individuals can follow customized strategies to engage specific niches of the public at events, in interviews, and through constant, pervasive use of new and emerging media tools. In an ongoing bi-directional conversation, brand ambassadors employing I3 would work not only on behalf of the government among the people, but also on behalf of the people within the government."

As part of their job description, Dr. Drapeau notes that government brand ambassadors should conduct research to better understand the "marketplace" on how key audiences/constituents feel about certain issues. While consensus may not be reached, Dr. Drapeau argues that the insight may help politicians and agencies when evaluating policy decisions.

Definitely check out his post and leave your comments.

Monday, January 5, 2009

How A Journalist Made My Day

I won't use his name publicly, but I do want to thank a certain radio journalist for the wonderful follow-up e-mail he sent me in relation to an interview I helped him set-up with a client. He praised my responsiveness, candor and ability to deliver (this was NOT an easy interview to schedule-lots of issues surrounding the coordination). Most importantly, he paid me the ultimate compliment by saying he'd be interested in working with me again for similar stories and topics and would let his colleagues know that I am a PR person "who gets it." I'm thrilled! :)

I've written many times since I started this blog about how I believe the pitching system is broken and the dynamic push/pull of media relations is causing people to question the value of their PR people. Today restored my faith in building relationships with the media and getting back to the human interaction (even if it's facilitated by technology) to make things happen. I think the trust amongst PR pros and journalists is slowly rebuilding. I am hopeful that so much of the negativity surrounding media relations in 2008 will begin to dissipate in 2009.

Thank you again to the wonderful radio reporter. You made a PR person's day!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Online Video Viewing Popular At Work

Nielsen Online released their latest findings in December about online video viewership.

According to the report, 65 percent of online video viewers stream content between 9am – 5pm Monday through Friday, compared to 51 percent of online video viewers who log on between 6am – 8pm on weekends. Nielsen finds that with a 96 percent broadband penetration among at work Web visitors in October and with many employees spending nearly eight hours a day at their computers, workdays are prime time for online video viewing.

This latest data confirms what myself and fellow MARCOMM pros have been telling clients for the last 24 months: if you want to engage, educate and reach your target audiences, spend the time to create meaningful content.

For B2B, the increasing online video viewership trend means an opportunity to create videos to target and capture core audiences and keep them engaged throughout the longer sales cycle. If done properly, it means there is a greater chance to learn and address customers needs that shows (not just "tells") why a particular company's product or service is better than the competitors. It also can help further a company's brand and create links across products and services to help organically grow client accounts for other services.

While not new, video viewership in relation to B2B purchases will continue to play a critical role. The data indicates the behavior/demand for online video content is there - why not participate?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Follow-Up: Company Outrage Online

Back in October I wrote about Clean Air Gardening in Dallas, TX, launching a Web site alleging egregious and horrible mistakes made by its former IMC agency, Christie Communications based in Santa Barbara, CA. 

As it is the New Year, I decided to check in on the Web site to see if it was still up and to see if a resolution had been reached between the agency and its former client.

It appears (at least) that no such resolution has occured. Nothing has been posted on the Web site since November 10, 2008 and the current status of any ongoing negotiation is currently unknown.  

For both parties sake, I hope a resolution is reached soon.