Category Archives: Public Relations

Can Bad Public Relations Help Your Brand?

Wow, pretty provocative statement huh? How in the world can bad press help your brand?

There have been plenty of examples of public relations gone bad lately. It’s like watching a train wreck with Charlie Sheen. Your best common sense tells you that this guy is really sick, but it’s hard not to be mesmerized by a person so successfully driving their brand into the ground in flames. Now I’m sure many would say that Charlie Sheen didn’t really have a positive image anyway, so this isn’t the crash you could say is significant.

Charlie is not the only bad P.R. going on. With the announcement by the NFL Team owners that they were instituting a player “lockout,” the “good ol’ boys billion club” made it very clear that their fans were not going to get in the way of them padding their pockets with even more hoards of gold. It’s interesting that only one team in the NFL, the champion Green Bay Packers, have to disclose any financial information whatsoever, since they are the only publicly owned team. We don’t really know how much money the owners are making, but they have surpassed most all definitions of the word “greed.”

How is it that any entity could possibly consider bad public relations to be in their best interest? I think in Charlie Sheen’s case, the fact that the guy secured over 2 million Twitter followers in record time says something to the power of negative press. He’s now in a position to have his say and to have an audience to say it to. It’s hard to argue with gaining that much social media equity so quickly.

In the case of the NFL Team owners, what a great way to gauge the intensity of fan enthusiasm for professional football. If there is a huge uprising in negative content, searches or newsreels, the team owners have hard evidence that they have a product with strong market loyalty and passion.

In fact, as Laurie Sullivan says in her article Complaints Via Search Can Be A Good Thing, “There’s always going to be bad feedback. The real question is how good a job is the brand doing at making themselves accessible.” This kind of criticism from customers can give your Customer Service folks the ability to really engage with them, to deepen the relationship, to show you are a company that cares, and you want to hear it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. After all, bad things are going to happen, mistakes will be made, it’s just how you handle it that can make all the difference in the world.

I’d love to know your thoughts.


Your CMO Outsource


If I Only Had 24 Hours, I Would……….

As the spring has now quietly melded into the summer months, many familiar things begin to happen, not the least of which is the appearance of the fireflies or lightning bugs as they are sometimes referred to.  As dusk settles in, these lowly creatures begin their mating journey, coming up out of the grass and immediately signaling their arrival with that yellowish-green pulse of light.  It almost seems as if they are working in concert, as there are so many flying up from the ground and in synchronous tempo, they flash together.  It is sad to know that the male of this species has but 24 hours to find a suitable mate in order to procreate. Talk about motivation!

It is also true with the near perfect hibiscus flower.  This flower is truly one of the most spectacular and perfectly formed flowers with vibrant colors, large pedals and prominent pistil and stamen.  It is a joy to see these large, beautiful blooms, but sadly, as soon as the sun goes down, the blooms of the day fold up and are through, never to open again.  Just one day to show their glory.

What would you do if you knew you only had one day, 24 hours to impress the world.  How would you catch the eye of your prospective customer?  What lasting impression would you leave that would make you unforgettable?  How would you want them to remember you?

Many times when you reach out with your marketing communications, you have one shot, just one chance to leave a lasting impression.  What may seem unimportant or trivial may have a significant impact.  An employee saying the wrong thing or writing a disparaging remark on the wall of their Facebook page could cause unforeseen problems and is all the more reason to have established social guidelines for your employees.

If you had 24 hours, how would you use your special skills to change the world?

If you always have the frame of mind that you get but one chance with a prospective customer, the way you market your company will take on a new importance, it can be an opportunity to have an impact on a life, and be the chance to show your glory.

I’d love to know your thoughts.


The CMO Outsource

Give a Little to Get a Lot

Helping hand

I think all of us are moved by people we see who commit their lives to giving to others.  Selfless acts of kindness, love, sympathy, camaraderie and generosity can touch an inner part of us and make us pause and think, “I wonder if I had the strength to do that or maybe even the time.”  After all, we are all very busy people, what between work and family there is precious little time for much of anything else.

This isn’t going to be a post dedicated just to acts of kindness, although, according to The Artist Farm in “Warning: Life is Risky and Will Cause Death,” with each passing moment, we are one breath closer to our last breath.  Helpful acts can bring great joy.

Rather, this post is about how giving a small piece of your knowledge to those who could become a client or customer one day can be very smart marketing, and it may just be the right thing to do.

There are a number of sales training courses that will tell you to be cautious of the trap of free consulting, that it’s a lot of fun to show people how much you know, how smart you are, and shouldn’t you really be charging for those great ideas?  I believe there is a fine line between what some people call free consulting and what I call helping people out.

I believe that most entrepreneurs become so because they have a passion for something, whether it’s good food, excellent financial advice or just building a business that can be sold for a huge profit.  There are always opportunities to use this passion to help entities that are having trouble helping themselves, or to give guidance to a protégé who will some day improve on what you have done.  Every time we turn around, if we open our eyes, there are ways we can help and use our talents to make a difference for someone else.

It’s really not that hard, and it doesn’t really need to be a Mother Teresa moment, although she did provide us with a great quote, “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

If you help someone who has a question, and the advice you gave them was valuable, don’t you believe that they will tell a friend, who will tell a friend and so on and so on?  You can’t get much better word-of-mouth advertising.  Better yet, maybe, just maybe they will do the same for someone that needs their talents.

Think about it and give me your thoughts.

David Soxman, Marketing Consultant

How to Use Storytelling in Your Marketing Message


Over the holidays we had relatives stay with us that live in France and as such, we don’t see them very often.  It was a relaxing time which gave ample opportunities to talk and share memorable events in our lives.  As we sipped hot tea (some of us having a nice malted beverage) and munched down fudge and party mix, the remembrances of the past came flowing out one after the other.  I was struck by how Tony related his experiences.  Every time he talked of an experience, he made the event into a story and I found myself being pulled into what had happened.  The mental images that he helped me visualize through his storytelling were so vivid that I felt I had lived the same experience.  I was captivated by the word pictures he painted and on a very emotional level, I could connect to what he felt at the time.  We laughed and enjoyed these stories well into the wee hours of the night.

We humans are a very relational species.  When other humans have an experience that is similar to one we have had, there is a bond created; an emotional connection that brings relevance and social camaraderie.  There is solidarity in our mutual experiences. Even if we do not know the other person, this solidarity enhances trust and brings forth from our subconscious memories, both remembered and forgotten, that are the foundation for the preferences and attitudes we now have.  Those very preferences and attitudes have strong effects on our buying decisions.

This is why it is imperative that you tell a story when communicating with prospective buyers, whether on the Internet, in a print ad, in a press release or even in your corporate mission statement.  You must be able to tap into that emotional connection that will take a buyer from being just interested through consideration to the decision to purchase.  And this is true whether you offer a product or service as well as whether your customers are individual consumers or other businesses.  It’s all about people relating to people.

As you know, most stories have basic building blocks:

  • A story has a plot that can be followed from beginning to end
  • A story has a hero (maybe your company, right?)
  • A story has a villain (not necessarily another person as it could be circumstances or inanimate objects that are villains)
  • A story has a problem that must be solved
  • A story has a transformational moment, when the problem is solved

In her book entitled “The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling,” Annette Simmons says there are six kinds of stories that can be used in building a brand:

  1. Origin – formation and background of the company
  2. Purpose – shows why your company is in existence
  3. Vision – where your company is going
  4. Education – so people can put your product in context
  5. Ethics – what you’re doing right
  6. Connection – with the company

So, what story can you tell about your company or product?  How can you use storytelling to make that all important emotional connection?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Ain’t Square, It’s Cool


In one of my previous posts “Put The Local in Your Locale” I mentioned a relatively new social network called  I thought it had some real potential but unfortunately they were not in the Kansas City area.  After writing to them about my wish that they be here, my request was granted.  I just received word that along with several other cities, Kansas City is now on the map!

This kind of geo-targeted social network has real potential for those of you marketing to a consumer who is likely to purchase at your location.

Here are some of the features of and then I would like to explore some potential applications to help you determine if it’s right for you.

Members of check-in by logging onto the site from there mobile phone and letting their friends know where they are so they can come to that location. will also offer other locations nearby that may be places of interest to members.  Currently there are applications for IPhones and Android phones with a Blackberry application in the works.  There are also nice links to Twitter and Facebook.

Members have the ability to make recommendations of things to buy or enjoy at certain locations and tracks how many times members frequent a particular location, based on the number of times they check-in.  Points are awarded for check-ins as well as bonus points for dragging friends along with you.  As points accumulate, badges can be unlocked, with the ultimate badge award being classified as a “mayor.”  Businesses can offer “mayors” certain privileges or freebies to entice them to come in as well as encouraging them to bring their network of friends.

Additional applications are being developed by which includes an Inbound Ticketing system and a customer conversation community called “Get Satisfaction.”  For businesses that wish to actively participate there are plans available from $19 to $899 per month depending on reports, tracking, mayor offers and customization that is desired.

Applications for

  • The obvious are restaurants and bars – mayors can be offered free drinks or appetizers once they check-in. Friends of mayors get special recognition. Weekly specials can be promoted through their customized site.
  • Museums – special shows and artists can be promoted and people can join as “friends of the museum.”
  • Sporting Events – not only can the events be promoted but businesses close by can benefit from online promotions to members.
  • Non-profit Fundraising events – what a great way to encourage participation to those members who have a social awareness.  Mayors can receive special recognition by attracting the highest number of friends who also attend.  Companies that belong  to receive some public relations exposure by being associated with a cause.
  • Gyms – hey it’s cool to be working out and even cooler when you can tell your network exactly where you are.
  • Bowling Alleys – Mayors that bring in a whole team can receive free food, drinks or a game.
  • Retail Outlets – clothing boutiques can take on an online personality and promote sales and specials. members can talk about what they like about your place.

These are just a few potential applications.  I’m sure many of you can come up with several of your own.  That’s the beauty of this kind of network, it is really only limited by your imagination.

If you need to drive in-store sales, don’t be square and lose out on a great new marketing tool because is very cool.

Let me know what thoughts you have.