Tuesday, February 7, 2017
1. Thank you for inviting me back from the future to talk about the future of communications. Does anyone have questions? Pause…
2. After all, I posted my messages on Twitter, LinkedIn, BlogSpot, Pinterest, Facebook I would agree that the concept of Alignment, Authenticity, Attachment, Advocacy) will form a critical hub defining future messaging. However, your goal should not only to be masters of newer forms of communications but to search our start-ups, new apps and for you to pioneer new channels and format of communications.
3. As a challenge from my former student Tina Marie Adams I was given 10 minutes to speculate and document the future of communications which may be the same length of the next President’s Address to the Congress on her or his policy ideas, the average lecture at Northwestern, the amount of time couple talk to each other per day week, the amount of time people read books per month and the amount of free time between work, distance learning, training and commuting.
4. To document my findings and predictions,I have checked my tealeaves from Teavana tasseography/tasseomancy (also kypomancy and studied the bones hakata: by bones or dice
5. and the other 356 historical methods of divining the future listed in Wikipedia from A alectryomancy/alectoromancy: by rooster divination to Z zygomancy: by weights (Greek zugon, yoke, balance + manteia, prophecy) Did not use entrails, pig bladders, beans, wheels finger rings, demons, urine or dripping blood.
6. But I did use the most likely Divining method: one used in training and education will be cybermancy /ˈsaɪbərmænsi/: by computer oracles (English cyber(netics) + Greek manteia, prophecy)
7. We are returning Parital art or Cave paintings ") some 40,000 years ago and I hope I don’t mean emoticons or emoji’s research suggests they make messages friendlier, senders better liked and increasingly used in business. https://blog.bufferapp.com/7-reasons-use-emoticons-writing-social-media-according-science
8. To save travel money, energy, and reduce job status rather than ideas as a reason to listen we will meet face to face less often using WeChat , decently attired Avatars Virtual reality vs reality will become a real choice each day you go (or don’t go) to the office.
9. Some of our messages will be pithier (terse) if you have recent dental work. SMS or short message services have increased length to 160 in some cases and 10,000 characters in IOS Android apps, TwitterDeck, Twitter Mac, so if you charge by the character in APCO 14 to 71 percent increase in revenue The new limit is 10,000 characters.
10. QR codes and other non-text links will be a rich and popular form of communications as it has shown in my 800 page book to allow readers, visitors to autoshows, events to listen to YouTube, Video, Flash, Live Leak Veo h, http://www.freemake.com/blog/top-7-free-video-sharing-sites/
11. Despite the excitement of big ad money in 2016 for politics; political advertising at the federal level will be regulated and funded by government. First Amendment protection will go out the window.
12. Not big data but even bigger even giant data will dominate your search for content. While our students use digital content analysis (old term)
13. With so many channels that don’t require advertising, Ad agencies will nearly disappear and with enough money may become the new media holding companies for television, movies, and other entertainment.
14. Brand messaging will mean less and reputation and precision consumer targeting will matter more with PR agency support.
15. Mobile, of course, will be the dominant tool but will be biological at greater and greater levels to offer timely messaging taking clues from watches and exercise devices to measure physical body activity to translate into commercial messaging. For Example. Measure propensity to buy (thirst), sweets, suntan lotion, galvanic skin response with stimulus of outdoor billboards and audio messaging the sensors on the Simsense module. New running shoes, (like new tires on airplanes, stronger deodorant, suggest change in exercise actions for trainer or athletic clubs, need for specific vitamins, food groups, (restaurants that offer them).
16. Autowriting with Artificial intelligence like Kris Hammonds, Narrative science auto writing your quarterly reports for public companies, producing news from hot topics on line with avatar newsreaders,
17. Auto tracking for teenagers, unfaithful spouses, workers on non-work related time, repairs for cars at the micro level and in advance.
18. From FCC conference nearly absolute loss of privacy with home management internet of things, that will read your computer files hooked into the home internet as your NEST changes the temperature, knows how many and who is in your home, progress of kids on homework, weight of clothes in clothes basket for washing, level of milk container, healthy and less healthy consumption of foods by each family member to reorder food.
19. With the control of political advertising and advertising puffery or exaggerated claims will become illegal as I studied it UW -_Madison Ivan Preston, with an established lead on being transparent PR will lead the message function with what remains of journalism.
I want to thank the writers of 12 Monkeys, my colleagues and students at Northwestern University, Google Search and the on-line search services of Northwestern University. I also want to confess that I used a book stichomancy //: by books or lines (the Handbook of Strategic Public relations and IMC McGraw-Hill whose 66 authors I asked to predict the future in each of their chapters on various industries and PR practices. Thank you.
Modest Proposal: How a course title in 2010 on "Fake News" got me in trouble - however, as usual I was ahead of my time!
For a graduate class in 2010 and designed in the previous year for the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern I used the term "Fake News" in the course title. At that time it was clear that when I was interviewed as an "expert" for a news story there was a rapidly declining amount of "fact checking" after the reporter submitted the story to his or her editor. Sadly, the class was denied by a department chairman and former advertising agency (tobacco) executive. Given the recent rise in the term "fake news", I will use the idea in a spring class this year. As your readers will recall www.snopes.com has been growing in broader use since 1996. http://www.snopes.com/ is the best place to find if a story is true or false without bias though not all conservative readers think snopes is unbiased.
A suggestion sent to Inside on suggestions to deal with fake news. https://inside.com/daily-brief: Is it possible to ask those who Tweet or send public messages to check a box to have their message "fact checked"? Even the act of requesting a fact check for a particular message would be a signal to the readers. Obviously the volume of messages will demand a smart programmer combining text analysis to create a non-voluntary fact check. However, from a brilliant librarian (my daughter) in the Boston area (Wellesley, MA) here are some other currently used ideas:
She states "this is a summary of librarian methodology: http://usm.maine.
edu/library/checklist- evaluating-web-resources or http://www.lib.vt.edu/ instruct/evaluate/ There really ISN'T a website that can do this work for you, since the whole point is to get rid of bias, and you'd have to evaluate the bias of the list!
Wiki keeps a list of actually FAKE websites, but those are fake, not just bias: https://en.wikipedia.
I only recommend the following website as a supplemental. The polling of the bias of the sites isn't the most scientifically done (though they do explain it on the website), but it's good data to use in conjunction with other data points. https://
Looking for history connections it might be that "yellow journalism", propaganda and even the taking of "brass checks" might be the parents of the bastard child named "fake". Keep fact checking in your transparent work!
Clarke Caywood, Ph.D. Professor, Northwestern University
Saturday, December 24, 2016
IMCProf: Comments on Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and Public Relations (PR): Reputation or Branding in Integrated Marketing Communication for Sage Encycopedia of Reputation Management 2016
IMCProf: Comments on Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and Public Relations (PR): Reputation or Branding in Integrated Marketing Communication for Sage Encycopedia of Reputation Management 2016
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Reputation and Brand Building in High Risk Organizations with Integrated Marketing Communications” for Wiley Encyclopedia of Reputation
Clarke L. Caywood, Ph.D. Professor, Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, Northwestern University
Suggested Title: “Reputation and Brand Building in High Risk Organizations with Integrated Marketing Communications” for Wiley Encyclopedia of Reputation
Addressing the contributions of the field of marketing communications in a book on reputation seems dangerous. After all, the field of marketing communications includes sales, advertising, public relations, promotions, and database marketing, all of which individually have their own tenuous reputations. As it is one of the most highly visible elements of marketing, marketing communications too often reveals the underbelly of marketing and management. While marketing communications can be a key element to launch new products, elect politicians and even revive an economy in the doldrums; it can also be an irritant to regulators, watchdogs, unhappy buyers and users of misrepresented products and services.
Decades of criticism of misleading face-to-face messages from sales have been best represented by Arthur Miller’s character Willy Loman, (Miller, 1998, Caywood and Laczniak, 1986). Advertising has its own marginal reputation, portrayed in the television series Mad Men and studied in the long respected work of Ivan Preston on advertising puffery as a form of misleading mass messaging (Preston 1986). Another factor that has contributed to the negative reputation of advertising has been unregulated political advertising due to First Amendment protection, leading to disgust for proliferation of negative political advertising.) (Caywood and Laczniak 1986 and Caywood and Preston 1986).
The rest of marketing communications (and perhaps marketing) seems to suffer the same degree of criticism. Direct mail or “junk mail” had its own club of critics (Rothschild-Ewald, Vann, 2003 and 2008). While the latter field has moved increasingly to the Web the dependence and use of customer “big data” merged with other behavioral data has made it the subject of privacy challenges and the ethics of targeting tobacco users not reachable through other channels. (Rapp, Hill, Gaines, Wilson, 2009). Even the seemingly “fun” field of promotions has become a field of digital and atomistic coupon clutter outnumbering the pages in the thinner Sunday newspaper. Finally, the planned failure of the field to reward customers with their deserved unfulfilled rebates is well known (Edwards 2006-2007). These are harsh statements about inherently useful communication-based fields, but building and protecting brands and reputations is a complex, perilous process.
This chapter will explore how Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) has emerged as a reputation support force. This is shown through examples as well as an explanation of the unique attributes of IMC. The chapter will also delve into reputational risks with certain types of products that pose a threat to consumers, users and influential people. Finally, there will be a discussion of how communicating with consumers and dozens of other “protected status” stakeholders can be a high-risk enterprise capable of building or ruining an organizational reputation.
To overcome these negative factors the chapter primarily addresses the integrated marketing communications (IMC) strategic means to reduce the risk to the reputation of a company, governmental body, non-governmental organization (NGO), religious organization or individual. Despite the inherent risk of common communications tactics, using the framework of an integrated marketing communications strategy with stakeholders may help prevent reputation damage. An integrated strategy can continuously build a positive reputation. As a managerial process, integrated marketing communications has developed over the past two decades. It can support the creation of a more positive reputation for an organization and more positive brands of the activities, products and services of the organizations. (See Caywood, 2012 Handbook).
Definitions: IMC, Brands and Reputation
It is logical that an integrated strategy should be better than a “disintegrated” one. IMC is captured with the benefit of a global perspective in Kliatchko’s definition, which is more parsimonious and based on his comprehensive analysis. He states, “IMC is an audience-driven business process of strategically managing stakeholders, content, channels, and results of brand communication programs.” (Kliatchko, 2008) One weakness of this definition is its use of the word “business” which might detract for some readers from the value of IMC in many organizations including government, politics, healthcare, not-for-profits, NGOs and more. However, a precise definition of IMC is still not yet definitive. Even the logical and heralded integration of functional areas (sales, advertising, promotions, database marketing and public relations) of marketing communications has not provided a clear path for IMC- based reputational management. The intuitive sense of combining a mix of traditional areas of marketing communications does not prove its value. However, one business adage may apply: “We continue to profitably use it so we believe it must work”.
A recent massive academic literature search on integrated communications, integrated marketing, relationship marketing and integrated marketing communications does not demonstrate any substantial attention to the importance of reputation in IMC or related fields except in a limited application to product and services branding (Kondo and Caywood, 2011). The research suggests that relationship marketing and integrated marketing with IMC have made marketing more customer oriented and/or more stakeholder oriented. The value of any of these still partial theories is that marketing is becoming more holistic. And, a more holistic, coordinated marketing should require a greater attention to the building of a baseline positive reputation for the organization or baseline positive brands for the products or services of organizations.
One area of serious conflict with a potential for clarification of reputation management in marketing communications is branding vs. reputation. Are they the same? Useful definitions of both may help us to understand where marketing communications can be helpful or not in the promotion of brands and reputations.
Brands are not simply built on the repeat purchases or even loyalty of customers. Branding is often misunderstood as purely related to the logo, name, design and look of the name in print. More often, this means trademark. Most contemporary marketing experts tell us that the brand resides mostly in the mind of the consumer. The American Marketing Association stated in 2008, "Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large." This was the broadest AMA definition to-date that reflected more of a stakeholder approach. The AMA relies on an expert committee to rethink the definition every five years. It may be time for the AMA to conduct a social media exercise to have members define marketing, build a word cloud and a community crafted definition as the Public Relations Society of American did in December 2011. See word cloud example: http://prdefinition.prsa.org/index.php/2011/12/02/snapshot-of-the-public-relations-defined-initaitve-submission-day12/.
Like the word “quality,” the words “brand” and “reputation” need modifiers. Positive modifiers may be placed in a message by the product producer or IMC agency, but the real positive or negative value is put on the product or service by the buyer, user, expert or influential.
For this discussion, “brand” will take a lower position than “reputation” in the hierarchy of organizations. In part, this seems logical since many non-corporate and a few corporate institutions do not offer highly visible product or service brands but do have to manage their reputations.
As a communication challenge, the word reputation also has this dynamic. Carroll succinctly states that reputation is what is said about an organization (Carroll 2010). It is useful to note that reputation seems story-based and therefore communications-based. When a wider range of channels or tools of communications can be used, then the story can be told more efficiently (lower cost), effectively (goal reaching) and even equitably (ethically and fairly targeted).
It is logical that strong and positive reputations are more likely to be built on an effective integrated communications strategy with an efficient consistent and strong external and internal orientation to those to whom the reputation matters. Multiple efficient tactics including advertising, social media, public relations and promotions can certainly be used to appeal to a wide range of effectively reached stakeholders. A partial list of equitable targets would include employees, media, social media, communities, virtual communities, government, universities, suppliers, NGOs, investors, customers and consumers (Caywood, 2012 chapter 7).
Emergence of IMC as a Reputational Support Process
In 1992 the advertising, direct marketing and public relations faculty at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism (not the usually assumed Kellogg Graduate School of Management) launched a comprehensive graduate program in a newly developing field. At the time, agencies or marketing communication’s companies were traditionally labeled “advertising”, “direct marketing” or “public relations”. All these functional areas were (and still are) professional fields of practice. However, changes were coming.
The forward-looking agencies and their often large parent holding companies were exploring how to combine the expertise and resources of these separate fields. One goal of these acquisitions was to build a larger revenue source from clients served by common agencies of the holding company rather than many independent agencies. One way to do this was to build an integrated holding company of agencies and consultancies sharing clients and profits from cross selling.
Northwestern’s advertising, PR and direct mail faculty and students were the beneficiaries of industry’s search for new ideas on how to create a more formal integrated process. At the time, faculty and practitioners were searching for a label for what logically seemed the right outcome – something integrated rather than what had been disintegrated. One of the leading companies called it “holistic communications”. Another called it a “symphony” referring to the complex instrumentation in an orchestral symphony. Some talked about “one voice, one look, one feel.” Others branded their versions of the concept that seemed to take greatest hold at the beginning of in the early 1990s the last decade of the 20th century as “integrated marketing communications” or IMC.
It was not a wholly new idea. In fact, a number of marketing professors had been teaching a subject popularly referred to as marketing communications or marcom since the 1960s. One distinction was that schools of management teaching marcom typically had no other courses that advanced a single course in marcom. For the generalist degree in business, marketers needed to consider several channels of communications to promote their products and services. But since the same students had to take courses on other elements of marketing and management (pricing, distribution and product development), there did not seem to be any room in the curriculum for additional courses in communications. Over two decades later, a small story in Business Week told how public relations might finally find a toehold in schools of management (Argenti, 2011).
Marcom may have been one of the most undervalued elements of the classic description of the components of marketing - product, price, place, promotion (4 Ps) pioneered by Michigan State professor Jerome McCarthy beginning in the 1960s (William Perreault, Joseph Cannon and E. Jerome McCarthy, 2011). One reason for calling it marcom was a symbolic representation that it was not only mass advertising, usually taught in several courses (creative, campaigns, strategy, cases, media planning) in schools of journalism and mass communications. [Advertising and public relations’ placement in academic journalism was an early 1900s outcome of newspapers’ depending on both for content and one for revenue].
By the mid-20th century, broadcast and print advertising were becoming dominant and expensive channels of promotion. However, to some critics, mass advertising seemed far less relevant to the large business-to-business economy. And, with the growth of the more focused integration concept and practice, advertising seemed to be increasingly less relevant to even mass advertising the business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing efforts. The mass channels developed for most of the 20th century that included television, newspaper, radio and magazine advertising seemed threatened by more targeted and cost effective message channels.
Development of IMC Brand and Reputation Process
The goal of IMC for agencies included a logical argument that offering a client a richer mix of tactics under a carefully integrated strategy made good business sense but it also made good sense for the holding company’s specialist firms to coordinate the budget for marketing research and communications under a single umbrella. A notable failing of the assumption was that the client would increase its marcom budget by simply adding public relations or adding direct marketing. As it seems to have “played out” the clients also logically looked for ways the marcom specialties could be combined to save them promotional dollars in their budget. After all, the economy in parts of the ‘80s and ‘90s were recessionary periods in business. They were not as unstable as the present, dragged out recession from 2008 into the second decade of the 21st century but it was an economic reminder of the need for IMC-based numerator and denominator management.
It is a continuing battle but IMC has gained some momentum fighting for more measured results. IMC teaches not only short-term outcomes but shows how to estimate realistic calculations of the “lifetime value” of a customer or stakeholder relationship by increasing the numerator (revenue). Of course, during recessions the marketing expenses were also often cut as part of the denominator balancing. Along with several other variables “lifetime value” is one of the advanced elements of what constitutes modern IMC. Six key elements are listed here.
1. IMC is a managerial process. IMC raises the stature of advertising, PR and marcom from a creative staff and tactics function to an advanced management function. As a managerial process it depends heavily on planning, implementation and evaluation. Traditionally marcom was driven by campaign implementation and some of the most creative tactics available to organizations.
Planning and evaluation based on research and metrics gave IMC a more formal role in decision-based management. With this newer management process, decisions could be analyzed at the higher policy, next strategic and then tactical levels. Policy management included social, political, and environmental and industry level decisions. These policy management decisions affected the company-wide, market, and operations decisions and tactics. Strategic contributions under IMC became more feasible to implement as they influenced well-known tactics to sell products, build brands and strengthen reputations. Tactics are an easy reach in most plans but IMC must still reach for policy level contributions.
2. IMC is a research-based decision process. For many decades, advertising, public relations, promotions and perhaps most commonly direct marketing relied on research only about the audience or consumer. Advertising, PR and promotions often relied heavily on the AIO factors of consumer/stakeholder attitudes, interests and opinions to determine the message and offer content. For example, the psychographic profile of a consumer who likes the outdoors enjoys sports and social interaction or other activities would be appealed to with advertising or events matching those interests and themes. The social sciences were strong partners with the marcom fields to profile the audience.
3. IMC is behaviorally determined. Direct marketing experts contributed to IMC target marketing precisely based on the previous purchase behaviors of the target. Fortunately, the direct marketing industry represented initially by catalogue marketers, financial credit companies, political and other NGO fundraising were able to track precisely the actions of the recipients who responded directly. This form of marketing, sometimes degradingly referred to as “junk mail” actually begat one of the most advanced marketing metric models of “behavioral marketing.” It is based not simply on attitude models but on actual purchases or decisions regarding an offer of a product or service. Much of what is known about consumers and stakeholders today is based on relationships built by companies and other organizations with the customers, donors and influential stakeholders.
4. IMC is stakeholder driven. This element of IMC raises the bar of IMC from simply a sales-driven tactical process selling to B2B customers or B2C consumers to a strategic communication process. This function was not previously practiced broadly except by the smaller professional field of public relations. With PR linked to IMC the difference was far more significant. The C-Suite including the CEO was reintroduced to the power of using strategic marketing and communications to build brand and reputational relationships with many stakeholders including employees, the press, the community, the social media, government at all levels, investors, unions, NGOs, suppliers, trade groups and think tanks.
5. IMC is both financially determined both in a short-term and long-term framework. The simple explanation was best used to illustrate how companies and other organizations could profit from more careful planning of their marketing and other program budgets. The company could, in some instances “cut its way to profits” by reducing the denominator. We use the equation R/E equals “P” (where R= gross revenues, E = gross operating expenses, including marketing, personnel and equipment and P = gross profits) Using the simple formula R/E=P management can increase profits “P” in two ways: One, the management can cut staff, cut expenditures on advertising, PR or direct marketing and more by reducing the denominator E. Or, two, management can increase the numerator R by raising prices, increasing sales volume, selling to more customers or fostering more sales to the same customers.
This battle of the numerator and denominator is not new to any budget bound organization. The challenge for IMC proponents was to demonstrate how in both the short term, and even more surely in the long term, IMC could increase revenues (numerator) by efficient and effective expenditures on marcom (usually less of wasteful mass advertising) make the organization more profitable.
6. IMC also depends on calculations that illustrate the “life-time customer value” of specific customers and even stakeholders. This calculation, often discussed by Don E. Schultz, offers management a path to investing more in some customers than in others (Measuring Brand Communication ROI Schultz, Jeffrey S. Walters). Over a period of time (metaphorically “lifetime”) IMC managers estimate the revenues and profits of a particularly key customer or a segment of consumers. The longer view of value allows the IMC team to determine how much more or less they can invest in acquiring and retaining a client or customer. Heavily debated calculators for the idea abound: http://hbsp.harvard.edu/multimedia/flashtools/cltv/index.html
All of the elements listed above focus on utilizing all resources possible to consider future outcomes, focus on all stakeholders using research and behavioral science, avoid pitfalls of a societal or financial nature and, therefore, enhance the reputation of the company or organization.
Political Examples of IMC
It was evident to some observers, including those managing and writing about political campaigns (Caywood and Laczniak 1986), that direct mail advertising, public relations, promotions and other channels of promoting the message of the product (a candidate, in this case) were gaining enormous momentum. The lifeblood of political marketing was communications (in addition to money). For over two decades, prior to the “invention” of IMC, political campaigns were run using voter behavior databases, later celebrated as ‘breakthroughs’ in consumer marketing campaigns. The messages about the candidate (and his or her reputation) could be economically delivered via a wider range of channels. The channels to reach citizens who were most likely to vote or donate, those who would vote for a specific party and those most likely to vote for a specific candidates based on previous actions.
The 1986 campaign for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin by Scott McCallum (later Governor) used an early data management software version of dBase “dbase” as its organizing process. In a 1988 race for Lieutenant Governor, McCallum’s political advisors used later derivations of the software. Several Congressional campaigns in the second district of Wisconsin in the ‘80’s were managed with software driving the messages that defined the positive reputations of the candidates using a wide range of integrated media.
The integrated logic held for events, speeches, door-to-door candidate efforts and leaflet distribution. Some channels used mass and other media that was not paid (earned press). It was not free either since it took experienced professionals to persuade reporters and editors in news to report on the candidate’s positive and sometimes negative contacts with voters and their speeches to targeted audiences. Part of the challenge of using public relations was that the channel was not “controllable” as mass advertisers had become used to in purchased media.
Another important channel, mined heavily long before digital communications spread widely in politics, is fondly called “snail mail” now, but was the most personal channel of delivery at the time. Catalogue marketers, alumni associations, military recruiting offices, political campaigns and charities depended on the U.S. mail or “junk mail.” Candidate fundraising money by mail depended on the was particularly popular use of mailing lists from donated sources including clubs, churches, political parties and purchased mail house lists (magazines, etc.). The software programs were carefully designed to allow follow-up of communications and contributions, which were tracked by database systems. A particularly popular commercial database was called Hannibal (revealing its elephant themed partisan roots) was developed in the mid-1980’s. Today the leading brands appear to be Aristotle and Vocus often reported about and advertised in Campaigns and Elections publication. (www.campaignsandelections.com). CITE
IMC eventually became the term applied to the Medill School of Journalism’s Department of Advertising. Its goal, at the time, was to put the right tactics in the right place, at the right time (advertising, promotions, public relations and direct marketing). This functional description later laid the groundwork for IMC. IMC became a managerial process that now strategically helps to define the product and service reputation and branding in marketing twenty years later. It also created an umbrella concept of reputation that helped holding companies (then called conglomerates) to make sense of their business strategy.
Corporate Brand and Reputation Building Examples
Over the past three decades, the Chicago global company Sara Lee has variously owned Hanes, Coach Leather, Ball Park Franks, Sara Lee baked goods and many more companies (http://www.saralee.com). Each company in the holding company portfolio was selected for its strong, positive brand name and upward economic potential. Usefully, the parent company name of Sara Lee was recognized as having a strong reputation for financial management, leadership and careful development of the companies it owned in the 1990s. In this way the management of the reputation of the brands helped to build the reputation of the corporate brand and vice versa.
Similarly, IBM found it could create branded names of targeted technologies in the 1990s. Not all the products of IBM enjoyed equal brand reputations or even the same generally positive reputation of the parent company. For example, IBM’s ThinkPad laptop (later sold to Lenovo in China) found the “ThinkPad” name could be favorably applied to a wider range of products and services. An advisory board lead by Kevin Clark, which I participated in, identified a wide range of products and services that could benefit from the ThinkPad moniker. RSC6000 and AS400 were highly desired mid-range computers for business but their names did not carry over as strong and positive marketing communication assets.
The Emerson Company in St. Louis, Missouri in the early 1990s owned 40 different companies including Insinkerator (www.emerson.com). It took a decade to manage the moving target of new divisions, SBUs and wholly owned companies to be recognized as part of Emerson. Early in the branding and reputation building process using IMC and management training at Northwestern’s Medill School, even business cards, used by managers of the 40 companies, did not usually acknowledge the parent company. At the parent company level, Wall Street fund managers clearly recognized and rewarded the positive reputation built by the managers of Emerson for its shareholders.
Reputation Management Under Stress
One dimension of the role of integrated marketing communications in reputation protection, survival or maintenance is under stress[MC1] . For example, some organizations operate under a constant state of stakeholder-induced stress (Caywood 2012). There are two categories of organizations that fit this profile. One is makers of high-risk products and services that can cause fatal or great damage such as food, transportation and energy. Another principle category is organizations that deal with products or services that target “unprotected”, visible (e.g. children) or invisible (e.g. poor) populations.
For example, products and services marketed to children, the elderly, racial minorities or even pet animals operate at a particularly high level of reputational risk. Marketing, even social marketing, is not prepared to address these issues. The limited focus on marketing on branding to increase loyalty to sell the product or service does not address reputational risks except to gain loyalty for re-purchase. Instead, a more integrated approach led by public relations (corporate or strategic communications) provides the theoretical and practical support for organizational reputations.
Because high-risk oriented industries produce and sell potentially high-risk products, the number of products and services that might be considered more risky than others is enormous (see the following list). All products and services might have some risk associated with them through poorly handled use or deliberate misuse. Managers concerned with managing their corporate reputation and SBU brand reputations are advised to begin to use IMC more quickly if they manage any of the following categories of organizations, products and services.
There are identifiable categories of products and services that have a potential to do severe damage or cause fatalities (e.g. poorly formulated or tested pharmaceuticals, undercooked food, and auto safety).
Prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, natural supplements, medical record keeping,
Foods for human consumption
Animal (pet) foods
Fresh or raw foods
Prepared foods in restaurants, homes
Fire warning systems, smoke alarms
Carbon monoxide alarms
Product building content (e.g. insulation)
Fire hazard roofing materials, construction
Water saving equipment
Chain saws, cleaning chemicals
Ladders, shelving, dollies, other
Heating systems in homes, public/private buildings and transportation
Firewood burning equipment
Carbon monoxide emission monitors
Asbestos covered products and removal procedures
Propane tanks in rural homes and patios
Gas explosions from pipes, leaks, street connection failure
Fuel oil tanks and ground leaks
Airplanes, auto, trucks, ships, school buses, recreational boats, sailboats, snowmobiles, water jet skis, subways, bicycles, buses, trolleys
General related transportation products/services
Product safety check-up
Fuel safety measures
Driver standards and background checks
Night, early day schedules
Safety belts, airbags, padded dashes, breakaway mirrors, blind spot sensors, tire size issues, wheel design
Travel security regarding terrorism,
New travel IDs for passengers
Employee investigation, training
Lighting, signage, warning messages
Public messages for acceptance of rules
Skin and Beauty Products and Services
Cosmetics with risk to the elderly, young, pregnant
Cosmetics with risk to eyes
Any products with internal and external use
Medical elective surgery
Lasik surgery, plastic surgery, tattoos, hair transplants
Age and weight related treatments - skin, chemical peels, and gastric bypass surgery
Children’s programs, advertising using entertainment characters
Pornography, R- and X-rated movies for general distribution
Movies, theater, music video games, comics, television (with regard to violence, racial issues, crime, sexual concerns)
Parks including roller-coasters and other rides, food, security,
Helmets, mouth guards, masks, metal bats
Eye protection, clothing
Speed (race track design, safety equipment)
Medical (game rules, check-ups)
At-Risk Populations of Targeted Stakeholders
This category focuses on the targeted buyers (moms), users (children) and influentials (press or social media site). Some of the populations listed are simply perceived by society (depending on the exact culture) as more vulnerable. Organizations selling or working with such groups must use reputational management as a process to thwart the appearance of exploiting the targets.
The assumption is that some populations of citizens require or are owed more protection from avarice, illegal and immoral organizational activities. In scientific research, for example, some cite the following: fetuses, children, prisoners, pregnant women, mentally disabled or cognitively impaired persons, terminally ill patients, the elderly, students and employees, survey research that involves AIDS information either with the general public or with vulnerable populations, or economically or educationally disadvantaged persons (St. Catherine, 2010).
Examples of protective legal and moral action taken to-date are highly specific laws targeted at preventing the abuse of selling to a certain audience. Examples are the advertising of children’s toys, marketing of financial services to the elderly, puffery-based advertising that misleads the less educated or common man and contracts that are difficult to understand for the less educated or ESL customers, especially from agencies like the FDA, FTC or Federal Reserve Board (Federal Reserve Board, 2008). The leadership of some companies such RC2 Corporation (RCRC) as failed to even understand the connection between their ethical obligation to protect the targets of their marketing a children’s toy (Thomas the Tank Engine) and a quick profit on manufacturing the product by second and third parties in China without caring about the sourcing of the dangerous lead paint used in production. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-22/rc2-investor-sues-to-block-640-million-sale-to-japanese-toymaker-tomy-co-.html
The order is random since each product, service or case will require very specific analysis regarding risks.
1. People with physical disabilities
2. Those who are mentally ill
3. Lower IQ individuals
4. The poor
5. Racial minorities
6. The elderly
7. Children (e.g. lead painted toys in China)
8. Pregnant women
9. Military and former military personnel
10. Uneducated, less educated, illiterate populations
12. Any combination of the above excluding the next population
The advanced metrics and elements of integrated marketing communications offer marketers and communication professionals a superior strategy to manage reputations and brands. The IMC approach also offers a more broadly defined understanding of how crucial it can be to consider all stakeholders. Finally, IMC considers the fragility of some products and services and certain stakeholder groups.
Caution seems reasonable when crafting a positive reputation for an organization under any circumstance. First, there is a level of distrust with which many communications efforts are regarded. Furthermore, when the products and services are labeled higher risk by regulators or by society, the management of the reputation building process seems even more precarious. In the same way when the analysis shows that the stakeholder groups targeted to purchase or be involved with the product or service are high visibility, high risk populations, the reputation building process is, once again, more tenuous.
The risks are many and varied. The stakeholders are present, some vulnerable, some vigilant and all significant. Integrated Marketing Communications has been shown to use managerial, financial, research-based and behaviorally-determined means to guard and enhance reputations. With so many factors and stakeholders to consider, it seems advisable to do everything possible to protect your company or organization’s greatest asset.
Bloomberg on RC2, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-22/rc2-investor-sues-to-block-640-million-sale-to-japanese-toymaker-tomy-co-.html
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