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Sep07

Sometimes it is simply about results

Posted on Wednesday, September 07, 2016

 

Yesterday, Elettore completed a client project that exceeded everyone's expectations.

We love when that happens.

In fact, we've created a niche for ourselves doing just that.

Our client was so pleased we were asked to name our own bonus. If only that happened all the time, too.

Elettore is a community relations company. We help you change people's minds.

We see online communications, face-to-face interactions, and public affairs as means to an end, not just selfie-worthy activities. We take risks because we know institutionalized fear is a liar. We also know it is not about us ... it is about what you need to accomplish.

We could go on about channel marketing, trans-silo onboarding, and synergistic solutions as our "wheelhouse" ... but we would rather just get the job done.

As we have done for these clients.

Elettore has no canned approach. Each new project deserves its own custom strategy using whatever tools it takes.

If you want to leap to a bigger fishbowl, sometimes it is simply about results.

Sep15

Companies: Stop thanking us for our patience

Posted on Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Over the past three days, an organization has said to me — not once, not twice, but FIVE times — "Thank you for your patience."

On the phone. In person. Even on a phone APP, for goodness sakes.

So, I am now officially rankled by what appears to be the latest "trendy" corporate catchphrase. But apparently, I am not alone in my exasperation. Today at my gym, an exerciser near me clicked off a call and spat out, "If one more company thanks me for my patience, I'm going to let them have it!"


That's a glaring neon sign that companies need to ditch the ditzy phrase, ASAP.

'But why?' you might wonder. 'Isn't it nice to thank people for being patient in a trying business situation?'

Not really. Here are three big reasons the line threatens to do more harm than good to your organization's reputation:

1. It's controlling.  When an organization thanks people for patience before they've actually demonstrated it, what they're actually doing is trying to control upfront how the customer responds to the situation. The same way our mothers-in-law try to control how we will respond to the fruitcake they're handing us by saying, "I really hope you like it. I only spent seven hours in the kitchen making it for you."

In either instance, if the situation goes south, it's your fault. In the first case, because you're not as patient as you should be (no matter how ridiculously bad the service you're getting actually is), and in the second case, because you are an insensitive jerk (no matter how nasty that fruitcake actually tasted).

2. It's inauthentic. Your customers are fuming. She is beginning to raise her voice. Or maybe he is tapping his foot and shooting laser darts with his eyes. And you THANK THEM FOR THEIR PATIENCE?!  Now, on top of having delivered bad service, you've just told your customers they can't believe a single thing you tell them. Because, you see, they aren't really being patient. They just haven't yet expressed their impatience. Get it?

3. It's rote. Customers want to believe they are dealing with human beings who are listening to them, not robots on auto-pilot. But, "Thank you for your patience" ranks right up there with, "I'm sorry for your loss" and, "I hope you feel better soon," in the knee-jerk-response-to-a-bad-situation department. All the good intentions that accompany the phrase vanish with a poof if the person on the other end is thinking, "You know,  you're only the 47th person to say that to me this week."

And these days, unfortunately, you very likely are.

So what SHOULD an organization say when the system is down, the payment is two weeks late, or the stained glass window is now laying in shattered shards all over the driveway?

Something fresh. Something authentic. Something that strives to honor the customer's honest reaction rather than control it. Like, "I'll bet you had higher expectations of us, but I promise we'll match those soon." Or perhaps, "We can understand your frustration, but we're working 90 miles an hour to get things back on track." A phrase that also works nicely is, "Here's a 10 percent discount for what you've just experienced."

Whatever you do, DON'T thank me, yet again, for my patience. Otherwise this time, I might REALLY lose it.

Sep02

Online petitions: Change? Really??

Posted on Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Everything we do online captures valuable data from which someone else will capitalize.

At Elettore, we've seen enough to be convinced: online petitions are more valuable as information harvesters than "change agents."

Few high-profile cases have attracted as much online support as the shootings of Treyvon Martin in 2012 and Michael Brown in 2014. In both instances, the numbers of people who "signed" petitions are cited in the press ... but how did that work out for you, America? How did those petitions change anything? Who received the petition information? The courts? The prosecuting attorneys? Local media?

A wise colleague observes that these are the hallmark of a disengaged electorate. You have probably heard this passive (and often anonymous) keyboard activism referred to as "slacktivism."

Online petitions provide an opportunity for us to share on social media how we feel. They give us a sense of community by recruiting others to join us. They are like lists of supporters on political campaign websites. They give us a chance to pronounce our affiliation with a tribe. Self-selecting "cool kids," if you will.

But result in change?

No, that's not what online petitions are about. They are reactions rather than pro-actions. They add to entrenched, divisive yammer rather than result in any positive outcome. Simply put, in spite of America's culture of self-importance, online petitions do not have the weight of the Constitutional Congress. They are about feeling good about ourselves.

Not a bad thing.

It's just that they're also about providing valuable information to some nebulous – and hopefully benign – data-harvesting operation in the cloud.

Change requires vision, real courage, clear communication, good old-fashioned shoe leather, and healthy doses of strategy all carried out effectively. We can help you with that.

Aug15

Go ahead. Do a Google News search on 'outrage' ...

Posted on Saturday, August 15, 2015

...or, here, let me save you time: 5,430,000 returns.

  • "Apparent 'pay to cite' offer sparks internet outrage"
  • "How Pretty Little Liars managed to outrage..."
  • "Hillary gets her outrage on"
  • "Euthanization of mother grizzly at Yellowstone prompts outrage"
  • "Murder case sparks national outrage over immigration"
  • And so on...

We love to be outraged.

In a recent opinion piece in The Dallas Morning NewsRalph Strangis writes that the news media also loves "outrage."

"The more divisive a story, the better for business," he writes.

The News' editorial board member Mike Drago attributes it all to the "culture of outrage." 

All I know is that four journalists in the last four months have told me that their bosses now look at "click counts." Meaning, their job performance is based on how many times people are triggered by an image, headline, and meta paragraph on social media to click through to the full story posted online. So, the more you incite, the higher your "click count," the better quarterly performance review journalists receive.

A television executive told me the topic was "boring." Of course he would. I imagine that clicks mean even more in television where journalism was long ago tossed out the studio window.

But when:

  • a journalist at mainstream newspaper tells me that he and his colleagues are measured by clicks. They are also encouraged to post to social media video and images that they take in addition to cranking out stories.
  • a columnist at a salacious tabloid tells me he does not always believe what he's writing. His goal is just to stir things up so he can get "get eyes on the page" (so the paper can make payrol and a profit by selling more ads) (to beer distributors, nightclubs, and sexually oriented businesses, I might add).

That is when I know journalism is dead. It's all about stirring up a response.

A sports publication buddy in Chicago tells me it's always been this way. Maybe. But social media enables outrage an it has only become a player in the last decade. There is a reason it's nicknamed "Hatebook."

And that is where community relations comes into play.

Social media easily allows us to form Tribes of Outrage.

Pissed off about how beer openers are called "church keys?" There's probably an online group for you somewhere. Hate toll roads? Use hashtag #trollroads. Convinced that the U.S. Confederate flag is a cultural symbol? Well, we all know how that turns out.

With as much time and patience Elettore has invested in social media -- and as often as we use it for our clients -- even we get tired of the yammer clans. My colleague Jeff Herrington says that social media exaggerates the opinions held by a vast minority. In a city of 1.3 million, those 50 people you know online can really sound like an army. Even when they are the same 50 people over and over again. Especially when 1,200 RSVP for a Facebook event to activate the community and 50 show up. The same 50.

It make me wonder if the much-referenced social media victory of "Arab Spring" was actually inspired by social media or was it just simultaneous activity going on while the real business of political change was underway. Change that doesn't seem to have had much staying power, by the way. And what the hell ever became of the Occupy movement? It's so 2011.

Doing some background work on influencers, this morning we stumbled into one neighborhood nest of vipers. The theme of their discussion board seems to be complaining about the lack of services and support they were getting from their municipality. Yet, with the same discussion threads, they were trashing the city's elected and professional leaders.

So let me see if I understand this correctly. You slap your boyfriend around and then wonder why he doesn't bring you roses?

At least they have found their tribe. And they have opportunities to believe their small minority is triggering an Arab Spring by posting anonymous blog comments on tabloids that are supported by ads sold to gentlemen's clubs.

Outrage, indeed.

Aug07

'How long can the Internet run on hate?'

Posted on Friday, August 07, 2015

Several weeks ago on our Facebook page we shared an article from The Daily Beast titled "How Long Can The Internet Run on Hate?" and written by Ben Collins.

The piece was written in the aftermath of a Reddit decision to close down a section of its site due to a mob/bullying mentality that had taken root. We find ourselves revisiting this topic over and over as we follow local community stakeholders who take to social media in hopes of magically saying or doing that one thing that will bring the world to its knees.

Collins' piece ends quoting author Jon Ronson (So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed), "There’s a huge amount of cognitive dissonance going on. It's like illogical thinking. The web is bringing out the weird, illogical ways we justify our own poor behavior."

We found ourselves blinking. "LIKE illogical thinking"??

A client recently approached us about the prospects of using social media as a place to rally an army around positive messages and opportunities.

We're having to think about this.

I am not sure good news adequately stirs the social media lobe of the brain.

Anger and fear motivate better than goodness and light. People are mighty courageous at a keyboard or keypad. A rush of addictive adrenaline swamps them the nanosecond they hit "Send."

There are, no doubt, already volumes of studies about malcontents and the web. In the privacy of their digital worlds, THEY are in the majority. In chat rooms with like-minded folks, THEY are in the majority. When they create a Facebook event and show up for a craft beer with others who feel similarly, THEY are in the majority.

It is enough to frighten away anyone who wants to do good things anywhere nearby. Let me restate that, it does frighten them away.

Elettore has worked with several clients and helped them buffet the winds of local online bullying. There are several paths through these storms.  We're not sure a campaign of goodness and light is one of them.

Maybe.

We'll see. 

But we also believe that, at some point, online fervor will die. Either The Angry will age out of its use of the Internet. Or, as Ronson suggests, "People are gonna flee the Internet like they're in a John Carpenter movie."