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Business Models Strategy

Is the world purposely allowing piracy for a greater good?

Yesterday I was listening to the Quartz authored podcast called Actuality (it’s amazing, you have to listen to it!). The topic I had hit was piracy, Popcorn Time and movie industry disruption. For those who don’t know yet, Popcorn Time is a torrent based streaming app that allows you to see torrented movies like they would stream via Netflix or Amazon Prime. They were talking about how this is similar to the software piracy explosion in the 90s, to the music piracy explosion in the 00s and how both waves sparked an overhaul of their respective industries’ business models. And how companies & governments have stopped pursuing the individual.

popcorn-time-netflix

Maybe corporations were becoming too strong and they needed a competitor, maybe music producers had too much power over what artists sell, where, how and for how much. Needless to say, now both industries have pivoted into different pricing models, different revenue streams (SaaS, cloud, consulting for the software industry, concerts, merchandising, special events for the music industry) and new businesses continued to emerge in both fields. The same is planned for the movie industry. Too long have we been fed the same Time-Warner, 20th century Fox, MGM, (insert corporation here) content and we have seen too little mainstream independent content (well, Europe is an exception, we like them independent ones here, thanks to Cannes, TIFF and other film festivals out there).

Or perhaps there is a greater good behind this, too. Imagine a world freshly liberated from communism (Central and Eastern Europe) or transitioning from military / religious dictatorships to more open societies (Asia, Africa) where there was an insurmountable wealth gap between the people there and the ones in Western Europe, North America, Australia. How could these people get close to the culture of the western world? How could these people connect themselves to the up and coming digital economy that’s based on software? How could they unite the world youth under transcontinental hits?

One word: access.

And by access I mean piracy. Today’s millennials (yeah, I hate this word too) are the result of two decades of free access to Windows, Adobe, Office, Internet Explorer, countless games, music and movies that helped them develop a global mindset, skills and attitudes that makes it easier for them to work together regardless of nationality, race, gender that their older peers.

At first it was Kazaa, eMule and software download sites that were full of viruses, then there was the torrent revolution (Bittorrent, The Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents etc), now there’s Popcorn Time with all its clones. Also, anons all over the world now have access to TOR, a hidden service that helps them protect their privacy when fighting against systems, governments and other entities.

What’s next? Which industry will go down? My bet is on the financial sector, with fin-tech and crypto-currency on the rise.

Categories
Strategy

The European Communication Monitor 2014 in out and confirms that Digital is king in Europe

ecm2014Like we needed confirmation for that.

2777 professionals in the 42 countries made this study possible. It contains key results from the largest survey on strategic communication, corporate communications, communication management and public relations worldwide.

I went through all of the material and selected the best stuff.

They made this cool video about the results (see below). The only thing that’s missing from it are some numbers to take away after viewing or to facilitate the no-sound play that you might experience in an open-space office or a noisy environment. Simple UX tweaking.

But back to the important stuff:

  • We’re stressed – 73% of communication professionals feel pressure is mounting on them
  • 67.6% feel the obligation to be online 24/7 and available
  • more than 80% of communications professionals do overtime, with men working more than women
  • just 36.3% think that their work life balance is alright, that’s more than 5% lower than in 2010
  • 22.5% earn less than 30,000 EUR per year, with consultancies and agencies leading the crappy salary list
  • no surprise that 78% rely on networking, 71% on education and another 71% on employer shifting to get better jobs
  • the preferred media for networking is E-mail, with 38.1% share, followed by Social Media and Face to face, with 27% and 23%
  • 45% agree that the biggest challenge is to link communications activities with business strategies
  • 86% consider digital channels to be the most relevant for strategic communications, followed closely by face-to-face
  • but 40% do not plan to use mobile for strategic communication
  • Print media still has a 76.3% relevance in the instrument list, which is higher than TV and radio!
  • Social media gets only 63.2% relevance score and 6th place in the list, with mobile just in the 8th spot
  • companies that have an excellent communications function have a VP or Head of member of the board or reporting directly to the CEO

Social media communications suggestions for the stakeholders:

  • Information on events or crises that affect customers, so monitoring is key (70%)
  • CSR efforts (66%)
  • Current product and service information – so stop the non-commercial nonsense about social media posts. Of course people want to hear about your products.

Fun facts

  • Aged 60+ professionals prefer e-mail over social media (62% vs just 10%) for networking activities
  • LinkedIn is the undisputed leader in networking all-round (except in Russia, where it was beaten by Facebook!), with Twitter up next in Western Europe and Facebook in Eastern and Southern Europe
  • Organizational leadership is also viewed differently across the continent, with Western Europe valuing trust over innovation and quality and Eastern Europe valuing quality above all else.
  • But trust is the most relevant key issue in Eastern Europe, while the West focuses on linking business and communication strategic initiatives
  • Romania has the lowest satisfaction rating of all European countries, while Norway has the lowest ratings for people who consider internships relevant.

If you want to go trough the whole study, here’s the embedded slide deck.

Credits go to the team behind this huge research material:

European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA), the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD) and Communication Director Magazine, supported by Ketchum. Privacy is fully respected.

Research Team
Ansgar Zerfass, Prof. Dr., University of Leipzig (GE) & BI Norwegian Business School (NO)- Lead Researcher
Ralph Tench, Prof. Ph.D., Leeds Metropolitan University (UK)
Piet Verhoeven, Dr., University of Amsterdam (NL)
Dejan Vercic, Prof. Ph.D., University of Ljubljana (SI)
Angeles Moreno, Prof. Ph.D., University Rey Juan Carlos, Madrid (ES)

Advisory Board
Emanuele Invernizzi, Prof. Dr., IULM University, Milan (IT)
Valerie Carayol, Prof. Dr., University of Bordeaux 3 (FR)
Jesper Falkheimer, Prof. Dr., Lund University (SE)
Finn Frandsen, Prof., Aarhus University (DK)
Oyvind Ihlen, Prof. Dr., University of Oslo (NO)
Waldemar Rydzak, Ass. Prof. Dr., Poznan University of Economics (PL)

Categories
Strategy

The only thing that will kill the print media in London

EconomistNo, print media in London is far from dead. Just look at the numbers I mentioned in a previous article – 45% of them haven’t even gone mobile properly. The truth is that they don’t really care yet, they don’t need to invest in expanding their online and mobile presences because they still have access to a captive audience.

The commuter

You know what the key trait of London and UK is in terms of technology (or lack thereof)? Mobile signal strength and coverage. If you have ever commuted into central London, you have experienced one of the two situations:

  1. Bad service on the train, no real possibility to read the online news without losing your top while viewing the loading screen.
  2. No service on the tube (except the few portions where the trains run overground, but there you usually fall under rule #1)

Now think of these two situations, the fact that phone and tablet battery life is limited and precious and the fact that several morning and evening papers are available for free at almost all the tube stations. You should be able to understand now that only one thing can kill the London print media – better telecom infrastructure.

Imagine a 3G connection aboard trains and in the tube. Imagine how many people would rather read the news on their mobile devices than off that pesky, smelly, messy newspaper.

If I were a big online media company and would like to kill all London print media, I’d invest in mobile network expansion. Hell, they’d recover the investment just from selling the extra airtime, not to mention the more advertising they’d drive to their mobile media assets. #foodforthought

Categories
Strategy

Digital Communications & Social Media as Investor Relations tools

1280px-Social-media-for-public-relations1There’s still one place where social media and digital communications have yet to take a central spot – investor relations. A Mediapost article shows that just over 50% of institutional investors surveyed said that social media was “not yet significant but growing in importance” as a professional tool, with 37% welcoming the new media types as ways to disseminate news and information, while 33% see them as useful for fast-moving events, like takeover bids or proxy fights. Forums still rank the highest, with Linkedin trailing just behind, while Facebook is down at the bottom.

Social media’s biggest problem is reliability, only 17% trusting it as a credible information source for investment.

However, there’s room for improvement. A NIRI survey shows that almost half (49%) of respondents who do not currently use social media for IR plan to reassess the issue within the next 12 months. The recent SEC guidance on the topic is a driving factor in determining reassessment. And that, my friends, is an opportunity for digital marketers such as myself.

My approach to IR strategy via social media & digital marketing channels:

I tend to go with a 3-step approach:

  1. Listen – track the conversations about your company. Believe it or not, people are talking about your business and you should at least listen to them
  2. Analyze – use that data that you tracked in the first place and look at it in a structured way. Use tools, draw conclusions, see trends, see potential or current problems and identify reactions to previous communications
  3. Do – Start with a direction, some communication pillars, an influencer list and some key messages, maybe a Q&A for your social media responsible and a list of DOs and DONT’s

And use some industry specific tools like:

  • Compliant Content: SEC/FDA-compliant pieces that align with yhr strategic communication objectives and that target the financial community.
  • Business announcements, financial disclosures and crisis communications, ensuring you are reflected in the best light and that all key stakeholders are quickly and properly informed through relevant channels.
  • Disclosure Postings – financial and company-related business news through social channels, aligned with SEC’s ruling in April 2013.
  • Influencer Identification & Engagement – Identify influencers in the investment community and directly engage them.
But how should you do it?

This is where I disagree with PR Newswire’s IR Blog that says basically that IR should not “engage” in social media, IR should not have interaction and dialog. Instead they suggest a broadcast approach – place the news into the stream broadly and non-selectively, which is fine. But you should also participate in conversations without selective material information disclosure. Answer questions, dispel rumors and talk to your investors.

What else can you do to communicate proactively through social media?
  • Tweet your quarterly results and other important news that has been disclosed via SEC/SEDAR/other regulated market tools
  • Post industry-related news from trusted financial sources without falling into the “promotional trap”
  • Announce partnerships, acquisitions, social responsibility activities and such
  • ReTweet and chat with your peers
  • Engage with Buy Side and Sell Side companies to create or complete your profile and become even more eligible for investment

A Linkedin blog post follows Howard Lindzon (CEO of Stocktwits, a specialized social space for investors) and his point on the fact that the majority of institutional investors are forming opinions based on social media pages. He says that investor relations needs to be closely integrated with brand activity on social media platforms. He advocates dialogue and pro-activity within social media platforms, but warns to be careful and link to regulated spaces for disclosure of material information.

Examples of IR use of social media

And since we’re talking about Linkedin, Company Pages and Groups provide a natural fit for discussing corporate information with an informed, engaged and relevant audience. Statoil’s Energy Innovation Group, which is helping to set the agenda on energy futures, is a great example. Dunkin’ Brands, parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, who use social media for announcements of new products or entering a new market are coordinated with investor events like roadshows, investor conferences, earnings calls, etc. Zillow, a real estate company, takes questions from Twitter and Facebook during its live earnings call. They also live tweet during the call, use infographics to help tell the story and have a corporate blog. This quarter, Zillow added live streaming video interview with its CEO immediately after the call via the Motley Fool. In addition, Zillow’s CEO is very active on social media and the company knows that many analysts and investors follow him. Jones noted that he frequently gets questions from institutional investors related to tweets from the CEO.

Other companies may choose to reach out to investors and increase the sell and buy-side coverage to attract desirable institutional holders. You can do that through social media by carefully targeting analysts and host virtual investor day meetings where you showcase your narrative, accomplishments and dispel myths.

Conclusion & Summary

Once in place, your social media program can be used to:

  • Increase company/brand awareness, loyalty and reach
  • Drive traffic to your investor relations website
  • Improve investor’s understanding of your business
  • Identify key industry influencers
  • Engage with investors
  • Generate media coverage
  • Clarify key messages
  • Minimize repetitive investor inquiries

P.S. Executive officers and other company representatives should be mindful of the issues that derive from online communications, as their private postings on public social networks might cause embarrassment to their companies and even make them liable in front of their shareholders.

Categories
Strategy

How to build a digital marketing plan / road-map / strategy

content-marketing-strategy-to-support-the-buying-cycleAny marketer should be able to answer this question any day, any time, anywhere. But it’s more than just looking at the business objectives, translating them into communication objectives, setting the KPIs, choosing the strategy and the channels, planning, (testing &) implementing, monitoring and reporting, plus the evaluation at the end of a campaign. While this straight-forward approach works for experienced marketers, I’ve found that people who have little or no practice require a bit more explaining on each point of the matter, focusing especially on strategies, tools and channels.

This is why I put together the list of tools, strategies and channel choice approaches mashed up from 4 sources that I have curated:

  1. Mashable suggests that digital teams formulate their messaging based on the brand story, the consumer sentiment and perception and trigger emotional connections with the brand. They also look at platform choice based on customer research, focusing on the places where users seek information or buy the product you are selling. Mobile and differentiation are key in this stage. Then, they focus on engagement calendars and consistency of the communication to create digital habits.
  2. Inc.com focus on testing messages, channels and strategies as you grow, on a compelling story that is share-able, on the exclusivity factor and influencer outreach.
  3. Smart Insights uses a mix of offline & online, suggesting meetups, events, a consistent content factory and participation in trade competitions (startup competitions, for example). Although these points may appear to be free or low cost, you must take into consideration the time invested in both researching and in creating quality content for each channel & relationships with the said influencers.
  4. A Forbes piece talks about naming, content and Search Engine Optimization (the PR driven one, not the “get links at all cost” one) and about integrating paid marketing in your mix.
  5. Strategy-Business.com article focuses on 4 digital marketing models, capabilities and showcases practical examples from Coca Cola, Virgin, Walmart, P&G and Henkel. From their point of view, the CMO must create the right capabilities and activate them to run successful campaigns.

An this is why I linked 3 free different templates that marketers can use to create their own digital strategy:

  1. This Smart Insights plan – more like a checklist for planning, preceded by more of the same topics I’ve covered here.
  2. The Web Strategy Planning Template – a tool which helps you translate objectives into actionable items
  3. The Digitia guide to creating your digital strategy – road-map from market to results, with examples and suggestions for each step.

If that isn’t enough, take a look at Hubspot’s 20 slide marketer mash-up for more inspiration.

Image source