A Blog About Blogs

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

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?


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.


Green billboard in Times Square November 18, 2008

Filed under: Marketing and Advertising — Stephanie Sheppard @ 12:27 am
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I’ve posted about new billboard technology before, but this is so exciting! AzCentral reported today that construction begins this month on “Times Square’s first environmentally friendly billboard powered entirely by wind and sun.” It will be complete by the time the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

It’s not the perfect solution — apparently it weighs a lot and may not be as flashy as the digital billboards Times Square is typically known for, but “powered by 16 wind turbines and 64 solar panels, the sign is expected to save $12,000 to $15,000 per month in electricity costs.” In addition, it will significantly reduce carbon emissions.

It’s great to see more major changes in the name of sustainability. Something like this billboard is obviously expensive, but will undoubtedly save money and the environment in the long run. Sometimes the things an individual can do to “go green” seem to have such a minor impact (and in many cases, are very difficult to do!) but when we have major corporations and universities taking action, the future seems much more promising.


Obama changes campaign tactics forever November 7, 2008

Many say that Obama’s online campaign tactics propelled him to victory, and that this campaign will have a lasting impact on political campaigns to come. I agree.

As reported in a recent article, PRWeek surveyed PR pros who said they think this new way of highly-interactive campaigning with focused messaging and social media involvement is here to stay.

“Obama’s campaign was widely lauded for having a keen understanding of new media, the epicenter of the conversation-driven media. According to data compiled by the Wall Street Journal, Obama had nearly double the number of unique visitors to his Web site compared with McCain. It also showed that Obama’s Facebook network topped more than 2 million while McCain was just shy of 600,000. The story was similar on their YouTube channels.”

I credit Obama’s positive message of and consistent slogan and symbol. The “Yes We Can” theme started from the beginning and followed through all the way to the end. If there’s one thing I’ve learning about branding, it’s that consistency wins.

“Jeff Mascott, MD at the Adfero Group and an adjunct PR/communications professor at Georgetown University, says, ‘What’s interesting is [Obama] was the first candidate to come up with a visual brand for his campaign in the same way you would for a corporate brand.'”

I’m glad to see the power of branding and marketing online taking such a national stage. Still, not many major corporations are grasping the effectiveness of social media and interactive approaches. I wouldn’t doubt that Obama’s success makes the business of the world who aren’t putting efforts toward social media reevaluate their marketing plans.


Pepsi: cute idea, terrible redesign October 31, 2008

Filed under: Blogs,Marketing and Advertising,Public Relations,Social Media — Stephanie Sheppard @ 4:29 am
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Peter Shankman, well-known blogger and social media guru who I’ve blogged about before, revealed on his blogthat he was recently included in Pepsi’s marketing efforts to unveil their redesign. Shankman was one of 25 people who received Pepsi cans on their doorsteps showing the progression of Pepsi logos and can designs.

At first I was impressed with this tactic – they sought out social media influencers and creatively and selectively pitched the new look. But no matter how wowed I was with the public relations move, I was completely underwhelmed when I saw the photo:

New Pepsi Design

New Pepsi Design

 The new look is terrible! I’m not sure if they were going for a “throw-back” look or what, but it reminds me of generic brand soda that you’d buy at Fresh ‘n Easy. Don’t get me wrong… I love Fresh ‘n Easy, but I assume people buy Pepsi over generic for the brand name, not necessarily the taste.

More importantly… why mess with something if it isn’t broken? Isn’t Pepsi the number one selling cola?


Social media contributing to negative campaigning? October 29, 2008

This week, The Allstate Foundation partnered with Junior Achievement to bring curriculum about economics, business and entrepreneurship to school districts in need. As part of the partnership, I taught a 5th grade class for the entire school day on Monday. The experience was truly rewarding and eye-opening, but also assured me that teaching is not my missed calling. I was so exhausted and out of patience by the end of the day!

When we got to the lesson on advertising (which was my favorite of course!), I asked them about the presidential election. These 10-year-olds impressed me with their knowledge of the candidates, including Bob Barr and Ralph Nader. When we got to political ads, several students said they thought the commercials on TV were mean. They noticed that instead of saying “you should vote for me,” they often say “don’t vote for him.” Even 10-year-olds can tell the campaigns are nasty!

I’ve read many things that say this election contains more negative advertising and campaign tactics than any previous presidential election. A recent article on foxnews.comtalks about both campaign’s negative approaches, especially the McCain/Palin effort to connect Obama to William Ayers.

As I thought this over, I wondered if the accessibility of social media has contributed to the rise in negative campaigns. Anyone can say anything about any presidential candidate without authority or ability to back this up. If enough people read it, this can spur controversy and create a large controversy. How can this be regulated? What’s McCain to do if one of this supporters inaccurately smears Obama online?

This obviously isn’t the only source of negativity with regard to the campaigns, because both candidates have said damaging things about the other from their own mouths and in approved advertisements. But I do wonder if it’s harder to keep a clean and positive campaign with all the shenanigans online.


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