Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

8 Great Corporate Websites

May 15, 2010

Corporate websites can be boring, confusing, appealing, or downright useless. The way companies present themselves online directly affects their public image, and these days, public image is everything.  However, not all corporate websites are bad. Some are easily navigated, nice to look at, and professional. Here are eight great corporate websites of 2010.

8.   http://enshrine.co.za/ Not-for-profit to help rural communities in Africa (WordPress.org design)

7. http://www.mrs.to/ Austrian digital printing company (WordPress.com design)

6. http://www.intel.com/?en_US_01 The world’s largest semiconductor chip maker

5. http://www.jivesoftware.com/ A fast-growing software company in the enterprise social-networking business based in Portland, Oregon

4. http://www.akamai.com/ Provides a distributed computing platform for global Internet content and application delivery

3. http://www.apple.com/ designs and manufactures consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. Apple Inc. has one site for corporate and consumer functions

2. http://www.ibm.com/us/en/ IBM is the world’s largest technology company and the second most valuable by global brand – second only to Coca-Cola

1. http://www.blackberry.com/ BlackBerry is a line of mobile e-mail and smartphone devices developed by Canadian company Research In Motion

Professional looking websites can separate companies from the rest and significantly increase consumer and investor confidence.

If your designing a website, emulate these sites because, based on business results, they are working well.

However, rich media (flash, video, and images) may not always be the best option. Depending on the purpose of the site, users may love you for opting for a fast loading, simple, and easy to use site. Text only may be your best choice. I know Text only?  Here is more information regarding useful text-only websites: http://www.lesswaiting.com/info118.html

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Social Media @Work

May 7, 2010

This blog was inspired by a recent post by James Bennett on The Melcrum Blog found here.

The future of internal communications is social media. Facebook and  Twitter at work? But won’t employees become distracted and caught in a web of gossip and Farmville? The answer my archaic friend, is that they already are poking and re-tweeting at work, so why not make it part of work?

Employees are using Facebook to stay in the loop at work, and even to do work. So if they are already there, then why not move internal communications to them, instead of making them move to you? Ford, Levi’s, Coke, and Mac, among others, are scrapping their corporate websites and driving traffic to their Facebook pages. See related blog.  Why not do the same with internal communications?

Let’s think this through logically. Say your company has 30,000 employees, your intranet site is not getting the traffic you would like, and emails seem to just further overload your employees’ already brimming inbox. On top of all of this, employees are not reading key messages. Is this not the point of it all: to communicate with employees? Why should it matter if they receive and engage in a dialogue with executive and each other via  http://www.facebook.com/ford instead of the Ford intranet?

These are the benefits of standing on the shoulders of giants.

1. Transparency: everyone can read and take part in your company’s internal dialogue (if privacy is an issue, which really isn’t in most cases, than adjust your user settings).

2. Everyone is already using Facebook: there is no training, promoting, nagging etc. just tell your employees the page address.

3. Employee morale becomes tangible: management can see, measure, and respond to issues brought up by employees.

4. Intranets are boring: this is not always the case, but sadly, it often is.

5. Employees have a voice and build a network together: trust me, the public values what regular employees have to say more than the brass.

6. Facebook is free: Intranets are not.

These are just some benefits of using popular social networking sites for internal communications. There are many, many more.

Why Are My Friends Trying to Sell Me Stuff?

May 3, 2010

This article was inspired by a Jeremiah Owyang blog post called Social Commerce Breakdown: How Levi’s and Facebook Prompt Your Friends to Improve Your Buying Experience: found here

Social media sales are taking flight. You’d be surprised by the amount of product promotion and sales that is done by regular people. Think about it. How many iPad Facebook group members have praised the product without personal gain? I’m sure your friends write about how much they like new purchases on Twitter. Word of mouth has truly become a global epidemic.

I am okay with this peer-to-peer sales movement. I mean, it sure beats the persistent used-car salesman technique. However, the actively engaged and outright crazed fan network that Steve Jobs’ Mac has been able to create flummoxes me. If you’ve ever read the book Tribes by Seth Godin, which is all about creating a tribal following online, then you’ll have a newfound respect for the tribe that Mac has created. I am always impressed when I overhear intense arguments among Mac and PC users. PC users passively mention that their computer seems to be working fine, and that they don’t see what’s so special about Macs. That’s when the Mac user will explode in a fit of rage to force the concept of Mac superiority on the shocked PC user. But that’s not it, they will blog about it, talk about it on one of the many Mac chat rooms, write about their argument on Facebook, and then tweet and re-tweet it. This type of follower is called a true follower, and you only need a thousand true followers to make millions.

People are spending their time marketing products free of charge. It all makes sense. People usually buy things that their friends have bought. If someone is praising a product with no obvious personal gain, then the product must be worth it, right? Ford is sending traffic to their Facebook page instead of Ford.com. Why do you think this is?

This referral-based sales technique is not new by any standards. What is new is the size and speed of these pro bono promoter tribes. Products are going as viral as bell-bottom pants overnight, and I here feeling like a straight-legged PC outcast.

If you’re still sceptical, here’s proof: Levi’s Social Sales Video

Top 10 Lamest Corporate Stock Photos

April 30, 2010

Do you ever notice that most pictures that accompany corporate communications are ridiculously lame? Here are my top 10 lamest corporate stock photos.

1. Corporate Super Heroes Staring into the Distance:

"Corporate Super Heroes"

I’m sorry but what are they looking at? Their office? Are they going to meet with their billion dollar account? This picture represents what financial advisers think there job is going to be like, before they start.

2. High-powered Executive Meeting Silhouette:

This futuristic business meeting takes place on some sort of virtual reality set. World Corp. Inc. is doing very well, but they don’t have to rub it in.

3. Executive Jet Landing:

If you want to create more animosity between executive and employees, this picture should help.

4. Man with Briefcase and Hands in the Air:

Is this guy going to work or leaving? Maybe this is his last day before summer vacation. What do you think?

5. High School Executive Meeting:

A day in the life of the White Young Person Inc. executive council.

6. Ethnically Diverse Work Unit:

After numerous complaints and negative publicity, Young White Person Inc. used this stock photo instead.

7. Chrome Glass-walled Boardroom:

Why do people associate corporate life  with a complete lack of culture and humanity? This room does nothing to inspire. It makes me think of Robocop or Terminator.

8. Hand with Pen:

This the most generic of all generic corporate communication stock images. I can’t look… no… make it stop!

9. International Corporate Reps:

Do these people actually have white collars?

10. Firm-saving International Business Deal:

“I’ll meet you in the parking lot by the giant chrome globe at 3:00 to close the deal.”

There you have it. Generic corporate stock photos at their worst.

3 Useful Corporate Blogging Tips

April 29, 2010

Some corporate blogs engage employees. Some corporate blogs inform and entertain. And some don’t really do anything. So here are three things not to do when writing corporate blog copy. For those of you who are new to the subject, here is a mildly helpful overview http://bit.ly/5oJvO6. I say mildly because the blogging industry seems to have a revolution every month. Here are three things not to include in your corporate blog.

3. Do not write obvious advertising copy on your corporate blog. Writing about the real value of a service is different than announcing a 10% off sale. Advertisements and corporate blogs have different messages. Your blog may sell soap, but don’t make it obvious. Here is a post from the Dell corporate blog, “I luv my Inspiron D530S. It works so smoothly without any prob. I have been using it for the last 5 yrs & it has never had even the smallest of hitches.” hmmmm, okay, so, ummmm, why didn’t this satisfied customer spell out the word “love”? I mean come on, it’s only one more letter.

2. Celebrity gossip and corporate blogs are completely different. I admit, however, that if Britney Spears were to come into my office, I would probably blog about it. This is a slippery slope that crosses into the spamming for keyword hits/image transfer for credibility realm. So for a company like Disney, who I’m sure has many celebrities in its parks daily, why do people want to read that Tiny Fey was caught on a date with Goofy http://bit.ly/bxSG3m. Okay, I admit I would probably click on the headline “Tina Fey Caught Cheating on Husband with Goofy.” But again, celebrity sightings and gossip: one thing. Corporate blogging: another. Well… wait a minute. Celebrity name tags push blogs up to the top of web searches. I am now adding Tina Fey as a tag for this blog post. Hypocrite?

1. Do not write as if you are the best company on earth, even if you are. Most people do not what to be told what to think. I know this rule gets broken every 3.54 milliseconds these days, but still, I still have faith in the average mind. A journalism professor once told me to “show her, not tell her.” Of course this means laying out the facts or feature or story, or whatever the communication shop figured should go on the Tuesday morning write board slot, and then allowing people to come to their own conclusions. If you are a good writer, you don’t have to tell people what to think about your copy. It’s like explaining a punchline, it ruins the joke.  I know it can be hard to resist telling them what you want them to think, but don’t. Just stand back, take a deep breath, and have faith that people will figure it out. Your audience will love you for it.

Transparency Plus Concrete Equals Employee Enagagement

April 19, 2010

I was re-reading an old blog by Chuck Gose called Digital Signage see here.

The blog poses the question: Would you read your own internal communications? This made me think about thousands of pages of copy that have fallen by the wayside due to fluffy, abstract, cheerleader-like messaging. I could almost close my eyes and see a communications exec with a black suit and pom-poms jumping up and down rhyming in generalities about how important our organization is.

I stopped to think a little about what people actually want to read. Do people read magazine articles about how good the magazine is? Do people want to read about how much success their peer is having? Answer: a lot more than you. Do people want to read about what specifically was discussed by the executive committee regarding the details of implementing a flexible work options program? Yes. Or even better, do people want to read about what was actually discussed  during that portion of the meeting: “Would working from home for one day a week where possible allow employees a chance to reduce stress, stay connected with family, and reduce carbon emissions by 25 per cent a year?”

That kind of internal communication will above all, be read.

However, it doesn’t end there. Internal communications is an ongoing conversation. What it is not is on-way. What we (corporate communicators) should never ask, as we sit down around the dark oak boardroom table on our black leather chairs that lean back just a little too much to give you the feeling that you are about to fall backwards and spill your hot English breakfast tea all over your Monday slacks when you sit down, is what is it that they want from us? It should never be us versus them as it so often is. Are we not also employees? Would it not benefit us most to take the standpoint of an employee? Because the entire job is finding the target audience and developing messages that will engage them.

So, being employees ourselves, I often ask the question, why do we write copy that we wouldn’t want to read?

Corporate Blogging? Why Should I?

April 13, 2010

I often wondered why most companies are buying into this social media trend. Of course, I am an advocate of using social media to build customer relationships and engage employees, but why do it if you`re not going to say anything interesting?

A poor example is Coca-Cola Conversations: a sort of Coke history blog written by Coke historian Phil Mooney. I know; Coke historian? Well anyway, the blog features commemorative merchandise and “this day in Coke history” stories. Other than taking a trip down a highly sugared, deliciously diuretic, memory lane, what value is this providing customers of Coke? I don’t mean to poke fun at this niche market—because it is based on the top selling beverage in history. However, Coke needs to create a blog that offers some real value to its customers.

The Official Google Blog is a good example of a relevant and valuable corporate blog (I know, the last thing Google needs is more praise). This blog has post after post of valuable, USEABLE, technological instruction and “new feature” news. It may very well look like a Google promotion blog, and it is. But it also offers something in return for its readers. I can at least figure out how to use Google Docs while I read about how unstoppable this giant market-eating shark is becoming.

If you were an employee of Google or Coke, what would you rather see: a blog highlighting and praising the hard work of some of the world’s best programmers and designers, or a blog about the marketing creativity of past employees? Game, set, match.