A Blog About Blogs

An undergraduate thesis about blogging, public relations, marketing and social media

Fortune 500 Blogs December 22, 2008

Filed under: Public Relations,Social Media — Stephanie Sheppard @ 8:39 pm
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As newspaper staffs and circulations continue to shrink and broadcast news segments are cut in half, it’s more than apparent that public relations is changing forever. With less journalists to pitch and even less space/time for news, traditional methods of using mainstream media to reach consumers isn’t going to cut it. In order to survive, public relations professionals must find new ways of reaching the public directly, such as via blogs and other social media. Surprisingly, I’m not seeing the major changes I would have expected by now.

Angelo Fernando of Valley PR Blog posted today about a Wiki project that reviews Fortune 500 blogs. According to their research, only 12.8 percent of Fortune 500 companies are blogging as of November 2008. I find this statistic to be staggeringly low considering the current state of the media. On the Wiki, you can find links to each of the 64 Fortune 500 blogs.

Additionally, the Wiki links to Michael Turk’s analysis of corporate blogging by looking at a sample of 30 Fortune 500 blogs. Turk rated each blog by content style (information vs. commentary) and writing style (logical & formal vs. casual & colloquial). Overall, he found that:

“While it might be assumed that a corporate blog would err on the side of formality to protect public image, findings show that this is not the case.

Approximately two-thirds of the weblogs studied were more casual and personable than formal and cold, indicating that these companies are utilizing blogs as a way to humanize the brand. One-third of the measured blogs opted to create the bulk of their content with a “commentary” bias.”

This suggests to me that those major companies who are blogging are using it in a wise way, but not everyone is catching on. I fear the do or die period is very quickly approaching, and public relations staffs who don’t implement social media tactics will not be successful.


Value of Customer Service December 15, 2008

Filed under: Marketing and Advertising,Public Relations — Stephanie Sheppard @ 5:21 pm
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During a drive home over the weekend, I was rear-ended and pushed into a vehicle in front of me. You would think that since I work for an insurance company, I’d know exactly what to do. But of course, I didn’t. Luckily, all parties involved were very nice and waiting on the side of the road in the cold with me for more than an hour to file a police report. (Yes, that’s how long it took for DPS to arrive.)

Per the officer’s instructions, I called my insurance company the following day to file a claim (even though the accident was not my fault). The representative I talked to seemed annoyed to be on the phone with me, couldn’t find an adjuster anywhere near my house and had a hard time answering my questions.

After scheduling an appointment with one of my insurance company’s adjusters at the end of the Earth and at an inconvenient time, the person at fault’s insurance company called me. This person was extremely helpful, sent me links to online databases of approved car repair places so I could pick one wherever I’d like and even told me what to do to close my claim with my insurance company.

I couldn’t believe the stark difference in customer service. You wouldn’t think you’d receive excellent treatment from a competing company. It occurred to me that insurance is one of the few industries where competitors have to contact other company’s customers all the time. This is a huge opportunity to show superior customer service and win additional customers. Especially since being involved in a car accident is already frustrating, good customer service can go a long way. After my experience, I am certainly considering switching. We’ll see how this all pans out after my car is fixed…


How effective are event sponsorships? (Part 2) December 9, 2008

Filed under: Marketing and Advertising — Stephanie Sheppard @ 6:35 am
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I was just pondering the effectiveness of event sponsorships last week, and today I came across this article(via Google Alerts) about Allstate’s brand exposure from NASCAR. A sponsorship measurement firm analyzed almost 600 sponsors of NASCAR to find the value of their sponsorships.

“Primary and secondary car and driver partners were analyzed, along with all race venue signage, and the myriad graphics and audio mentions from the races’ TV broadcasts… Each of those individual detections was then evaluated based on its duration, average size, location and relative isolation (or lack thereof) from competing brands.”

Based on this evaluation, “Allstate’s 702 detections generated $32.9 million in exposure over the course of the season, putting Allstate No. 9 overall among the nearly 600 companies tracked.” The dollar amount was determined using an ad-value calculation.

This is one way to measure sponsorship effectiveness, but it doesn’t seem all encompassing to me. Shouldn’t measurement, in some way, include overall sales? Just because people saw the signage on TV doesn’t translate into higher sales.

In addition, I wonder if there’s a difference in impact on the audience based on the company. Are unpredictable sponsorships more effective? Auto manufacturers and insurance companies make sense with NASCAR, but does Viagra and Claritin get more attention from viewers because it’s some-what out of place?


Good riddance, Rudy December 6, 2008

Filed under: Public Relations — Stephanie Sheppard @ 1:53 am

Tomorrow’s rival football game against the Arizona Wildcats will be Rudy Carpenter’s last game as a Sun Devil. And so many of us are all too ready to see him go. I’m willing to bet ASU’s PR team is ecstatic.

Despite that according to the stats Carpenter will leave as one of the better quarterbacks in Sun Devil history, he was loudly booed by the student section when he came out of the tunnel during last week’s “senior night” game. Although many are disappointed with his performance this season, that’s not the reason he’s so hated by students and fans alike. If Rudy weren’t such a hot head both on and off the field, I guarantee he’d start receiving the respect that he feels he deserves.

From throwing off his helmet, cursing at the student section from the sidelines, throwing drinks and start fights at ASU mens’ basketball games, Rudy’s behavior in his past four years has been one headache after another for ASU athletics. Just this weekend, Rudy was tossed from a high school girls’ basketball game for heckling the ref and using foul language. Way to go out with a bang.

I know his behavior affects donations to ASU athletic programs and the university’s reputation as a whole. Good riddance, Rudy. We won’t miss you.


How effective are event sponsorships? (Part 1) December 5, 2008

Filed under: Marketing and Advertising — Stephanie Sheppard @ 6:19 pm
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The holidays bring a lot of fun events to the Valley. As part of a student organization I’m involved with, we attended Zoolights tonight. Each year the Phoenix Zoo lights up thewalkways with Christmas lights and gigantic animals made from lights. If you’ve never been before, it’s a fun thing to do and not very expensive (but I’ll warn you, it’s too dark to see animals).


Zoolights is sponsored by SRP, so I was able to use my two-for-one coupon that I received with a previous month’s electric bill. As I was wandering around the zoo and thinking about how APS (SRP’s rival) sponsors the Christmas lights on Mill Avenue this year, I couldn’t help but wonder how many people notice who sponsors which event? My guess is… not many.

As the ASU football season ends this weekend, there’s been a lot of talk of college bowl games. All of those involve huge name sponsorships… but how much do sales increase as a result of these sponsorships? Especially with annual events, I think people probably stop noticing the name attached to it because they expect it to be there.

I bet few people pay extra attention to Tostitos just because of the Fiesta Bowl, but just think how angry people would be if they pulled the sponsorship and the name changed. At this point, ever having the sponsorship would probably do more damage than good.


Golfer’s honesty is admirable December 2, 2008

Filed under: Public Relations — Stephanie Sheppard @ 11:06 pm
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Although I don’t generally follow golf, I found this story to be incredibly relevant to public relations.

Golfer J.P Hayes’ turned himself in when he realized that he had mistakenly used an unapproved golf ball for two strokes during the the first round of the PGA Tour’s qualifying tournament. Had he not admitted his mistake, it’s very likely that no one would have noticed and he’d be well on his way to the PGA Tournament next year. The penalty that resulted disqualified him from the second stage of qualifying school.

In a time when sports is often associated with cheating and scandal, this move received quite a bit of attention. Isn’t everyone tired of hearing about steroids? Hayes’ act of honesty scored him some great publicity, and I think is great for the sport as well. Here’s just another reason to view golf as a sport of integrity, rather than just another competition.

I would imagine that despite the disqualification, Hayes, the PGA Tour and golf in general are pleased with the outcome. In fact, Hayes has already begun to reap additional benefits. Over the weekend, he accepted a sponsor’s exemption to the 2009 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas.


Shaq on Twitter November 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Stephanie Sheppard @ 10:14 pm

This is the best find all year. The Diesel is on Twitter. See his profile here.

Not only is it “cool” to be following a famous person, but his tweets made my roommate and I laugh so hard that we cried as we read them.

Recent gems include:

  • “My genius is 1 percent inspiration 99 percent perspiration Shaquille o’neal” (Apparently, he includes his name in tweets he thinks are colloquial.)
  • I called my main man figs son bcuz da xcellence of a gift lies n its approiateness ratha than its value” (Is this English?)
  • “Im wearing a jacket dat says 1946, a lady asked me wat it means, i replied, mam its the yr i was born. Lol” (Even Shaq uses the infamous “Lol.”)

But all this got me to wondering… how can you be sure it’s really “the real Shaq?” There isn’t a good way that I can think of to keep people from impersonating celebrities on the Internet. I have a sneaky suspicion that if it WERE the REAL Shaq, the Suns public relations staff would like to see what exactly he’s writing on Twitter.

But then again, maybe they do. Maybe there’s already some sort of code of conduct about what he can and cannot say. There should probably be a standard one for the entire NBA, because if players are saying bad things about coaches, other players, etc. it could build a bad image for the league. If there is already a code, apparently it doesn’t specific that they must use correct spelling and grammar.


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