Word on the street

6 11 2008

My fiancé and I recently dined with a group of friends at a high-end Mexican restaurant in the East 4th Neighborhood. Before we decided to go there, my fiancée and I warned everybody that we didn’t have a great experience the past few times we’d eaten there. The group proceeded to go back and forth, discussing how they heard the restaurant had problems before but now the new chef that Iron Chef Michael Symon chose took over and is supposed to have turn things around. Yes, that’s the word on the street. I’m sure the PR spin on the reopening of the restaurant with the new chef positioned it that way. But nothing has changed, and yet people are clinging to the message that the restaurant is better with the new chef.

So, after our group ate, everyone complained how awful the food was and that they’ll never go back. Duh! How come our opinion held no value with our friends but the local newspaper did? Certainly, our opinions now hold more weight since they too have experienced this overrated restaurant.

 I’m sure even the food critics didn’t like this food (unless they enjoy overpriced, small portions of high-end wannabe Mexican food), but felt obligated to write something positive because a negative critique would mean a failed restaurant in this up-and-coming neighborhood.

The point is that the Mexican restaurant needs to pay more attention to the PR that’s on the street and not what’s in the local newspapers and magazines. Restaurant patrons are the best PR vehicles; they’re going to tell everyone they know if a restaurant is good or not, and they will tell their friends, and so on. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful PR tools. Now, the word needs to get back to the new chef…


Don’t Stop the Marketing

5 11 2008

We all know the economy is not doing so well right now, and many businesses are cutting back on expenses in order to stay afloat.

One thing companies should not cut, if at all possible, is marketing, advertising or public relations and the agencies that do it.

PR-Squared has a great post about the reasons you should keep your agency, including the fact that an agency is cheaper than in-house PR. And it has been shown in the past that companies that stay in the public eye during a down economy benefit in the long run. Companies like Kraft and Jiff. Check out this article for results of studies that have been done about companies that continue to market in times like these.

Regardless of the studies, not everyone can afford to keep marketing. And that is where social media comes in. One of the beauties of social media marketing is that it is inexpensive to do in most cases.

Anyone can start a blog. You don’t have to pay someone to do it. All it takes is a little bit of your time each week to make it happen. And blogging is big. It’s a great way to reach your audience and have them reach back.

Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and MySpace are also excellent, free tools to use when communicating with your audience.

So, if you absolutely have to cut back on your public relations, marketing or advertising (we hope you don’t), keep social media in mind. You can still connect with your audience without spending a lot to do it.


CNN.com and Interactivity

4 11 2008

No matter what your political affiliation, you no doubt have followed the election going on as we speak. As I look forward to tonight (likely a late night), I am reminded of how different things are than the were even just four or eight years ago. The Internet has both expanded and narrowed our ability to find information related to the elections.

It has expanded in that sites like YouTube are now probably viewed more for political videos more than news sites themselves! In fact, news sites are actually directing people to YouTube and others to view their videos. Plus, in general, I can search for and locate just about anything I want relative to a city, a state, a candidate or an issue. Amazing!

At the same time, I believe it has narrowed our ability because we have such specific choices to get our information from – meaning if I believe in the death penalty, gambling and underwater research, I can probably find a site that gives me all the information I need in order to choose a candidate or issue I believe in. The problem? I don’t open my eyes to all the other “issues” out there because I get so bogged down with the narrow opinions of those groups I’ve found that share my beliefs.

All this being said, I think the Web has enabled us to find what we want, when we want it. The same applies for business to business or consumer-driven web sites. Organizations should take the same approach as CNN (www.CNN.com), for instance, in that EVRYTHING on the site is tailored to the visitor – and it changes regularly, so that what I see today is different from what I saw yesterday.

It’s something to think about – taking the mindset of a new organization with regard to the content on your web site. Imagine! Imagine if you paid so much attention to the content on your site that people wanted to come back daily, even multiple times a day. What would that mean to the bottom line? Yes, it takes some dedicated time and money. But, the payoff will be there.

As you go through the next couple days, following the results of the election from tonight, think about how your web site might benefit if the same attention was given to it as the web site team at CNN!

Matt White