Monthly Archives: September 2012

Kristin Stewart: The Greatest Crisis Management Guru of All Time

Kristen Stewart is a TrampireGranted she is just the smokin’ hot young actress from the Twilight series, but if the acting thing doesn’t work out Kristin Stewart might have a career as the world’s great Crisis Management Consultant.  No really, I’m serious about that.  Witness her recent scandal where she was caught canoodling with the very-married and 20 years her senior, director of the Twilight series, Rupert Sanders.

Her response to the allegations were straight from the “Here’s how you handle a crisis” playbook.  Let’s take a look:

On July 17, 2012, the actress was caught by photographers in a series of steamy rendezvous with her Snow White and the Huntsman director, Rupert Sanders, 41 and on July 24th those photos were splashed across the pages of US Weekly.

On July 25, 2012 Stewart issues the following statement to People Magazine:

I’m deeply sorry for the hurt and embarrassment I’ve caused to those close to me and everyone this has affected. This momentary indiscretion has jeopardized the most important thing in my life, the person I love and respect the most, Rob. I love him, I love him, I’m so sorry.

Boom!

So what did she do right?

1. She responded quickly.  Rather than let the media or tabloids (are they the same things?) drive the narrative, she immediately responded to the allegations. By owning the story you own the direction it takes.  Typically, companies will adopt the “close your eyes and cover your ears” response and hope it will all go away.  As John Edwards will tell you, it doesn’t always happen that way

2. She told the truth – Many crisis experts will recite the adage “it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.” Isn’t that right President Nixon? Rather than to the typical knee jerk “The allegations are totally false and I will work aggressively to clear my name” routine, Stewart admitted to the affair and in doing so neutered the story in its tracks.  Is any of this making any sense to you U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner?

3. Her statement was brief and to the point. Rather than write a soliloquy explaining herself she stuck with a simple, matter of fact admission. No excuses. No detailed explanation. This is in contrast to the epic Tiger Woods’ explanation of his sordid affairs which almost needed commercial break s it was so long.

4. She apologized – There was no finger pointing, no scapegoating, just a simple admission and apology. She didn’t even name her canoodling partner. Is this making any sense Time magazine writer, Washington Post columnist, and CNN host Fareed Zakaria?

5. She was sincere – Her statement is an obvious heartfelt apology.  This wasn’t something run through her publicists or legal team and it shows. Any of this sinking in Rush Limbaugh?

Of course, her perfect response to the allegation put her “team” into panic mode as they worked to downplay and even deny the affair, which only served to bring focus back on the rumors when Stewart had effectively squashed the story.  This brings us to another rule of crisis management:

6. Manage the crisis through a clear and consistent message – preferably through a designated spokesperson. In this case Stewart was that spokesperson.  By contradicting her statement they have only reignited the scandal and begged the media to wonder what really happened. Way to go overzealous publicist people.

Has she taking her lumps? Of course she has and so will you. But she minimized the damage by following a perfectly executed crisis management plan. And if losing that douchebag Robert Pattinson is part of the punishment then I would say she’s already way ahead!

So say what you will about Kristen Stewart’s acting chops, but if you’re ever in need of a good Crisis Communication Consultant give the Trampire a call because she probably handled her crisis better than you’ll handle yours.

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LinkedIn and When “Free” is not “Free”

I drank a fucking boatload of Jack Daniel’s. To the point where they sent me a deed for one square foot of land in Tennessee so that I could officially be a Tennessee squire. I offered to do an ad for them after that, and I got a very nice letter back saying, “Bill, we love you, but this shit sells itself.  – Bill Maher

A couple days ago I got an email from LinkedIn offering a ‘Free Month of LinkedIn Premium’.  Hmm, I thought, LinkedIn is really the shit when is come to getting found by employers.  I can honestly say that absolutely every opportunity brought to me in the last couple years has come through LinkedIn.  More interestingly, in every occasion, it was the actual employer, not a headhunter that contacted me.

<SIDENOTE: This is bad news if you’re a headhunter or monster.com)

All of this exposure came through a regular LinkedIn profile and without any active outreach on my part.  I’m actually quite content where I’m at.  So before I get on my rant about LinkedIn, first let me say this: If you don’t have a complete profile set-up on LinkedIn, stop reading this now and go do it.

Now!

I’m Serious.

I’ll stop typing until you get back…

See wasn’t that easy?

Ok, here’s the rant I promised and if you listen close there’s a lesson here for all Marketers.

So I got this email from LinkedIn…

 

Notice the call to action…

Free is sometimes not free

Wow! Personalized and everything! It’s like they said “Dean we know you like us and we like you too. And since we like each other so much we’re gonna do you a favor.”  So with the bait set, I started thinking that as good a LinkedIn has been, maybe I could get even more from it with LinkedIn Premium.  I knew there were other paid versions of LinkedIn, but hadn’t thought too much about it until this email arrived.  Bravo LinkedIn Email team.  I’ll bite and give you a click-through.  Nothing to lose right?

So what do I see next?

LinkedIn Premium Options

Ok, this is good; it’s clearly spelling out the differences between the various levels of LinkedIn accounts.  I can clearly see what I have, and what I’m missing out on.  I’m still in your web LinkedIn!  Great job so far.  Let’s get that “Free” trial….

There's no such thing as a free lunch

Wait…what the f#&K is this??? It’s like, a checkout page, with like, credit card info and shit.  I thought this was free?  I mean it said “free” all over the place?  When does “free” mean “give us your credit card info?”  The answer of course is “free” means give us your credit card when it’s not an offer to try a solution more so than an offer to test your memory.

It’s at that point I notice the subtle reminder…

Linkedin Fine Print

Well LinkedIn, this is where I jump off.  Geez and you were so close.

I wish us Marketing folks would quit it with these shady tricks (that’s all they are – tricks).  You see,

“Free” is “Free”.

“Free” is not surcharges, hidden fees, shipping & handling, fine print.

“Free” is “Free”.

“Free” is not “Free*”

* Discount applies to the promotional period only. Your card will start being charged when the promotional period has ended.

“Free” is “Free”

“Free” is not “Hey we’ll let you try it but not before you give us your credit card info so we can unscrupulously charge you in 30 days because by then you’ve forgotten about even signing up for the trial and our research department said that while 38% of you will be pissed off and call us to bitch and complain causing some bad PR that we’ll smooth over with a slick social media camnpaign, 62% of you won’t even notice the charge and it will be a revenue windfall for us which is important cuz we’re a public company and need to grow revenue so our shareholders will be happy.”

 ###

As a Marketer I want to offer a good product at a fair price with great service and support.  As a consumer I want the same things.  As a Marketer if I have to employ “tricks” to sell my product, it means that my product can’t stand on its own.  As a Marketer, it also means that I’m lazy and resorting the same bag of tricks that I detest as a consumer.

Let’s be better than that.  Let’s promote our products and services the way we would want them promoted to us.  Let’s forget that 3 pt. font exists and stop it with the fine print.  Let’s stop thinking about fooling the customer and think about how to provide value to the customer.

In the end, LinkedIn, a service I love, missed an opportunity to give me a taste of LinkedIn Premium with no-strings attached.  They could have given me the upgrade “truly free” for 30 days, shown me value, and then pitched me.   Instead, they gambled, asked for credit card info and hoped I’d forget the ticking clock of the trial and somehow not notice the recurring charges.  And that hurts my heart.

Message:

To LinkedIn: Your product is better than that, you don’t need to resort to “Trick Marketing”

To Marketers: If you need to resort to “Trick Marketing” to sell your product, try instead to make your product so good it doesn’t need tricks.  Or as wise old Jack Daniels might say: “Make the shit sell itself”.

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