It's undoubtedly the summer of comic book and Sci Fi this year, traditionally a niche genre but with a summer line-up that includes Gravity, Elysium, Star Trek, Thor, Man of Steel, Oblivion, Enders Game, After Earth, Pacific Rim, R.I.P.D, The World's End, Riddick, there's a definite theme Hollywood is banking on this year.
Of course breaking from tradition always brings a certain amount of risk with it but in the modern consumer age it's safe to say that for the entertainment industry as a whole, the stakes and risks are higher than ever.
The cost of movie making and producing TV series has reached record levels. The huge investments needed to make and promote entertainment material, coupled with the blurring lines between TV/DVD and on demand internet services have lead to a many a sleepless night for those in the entertainment industry.
Marketing campaigns are more advanced than ever, going out across multiple platforms but there are other factors that affect the success of a new offering aside from how well it's publicised.
It's a question of Influence
Once the marketing and advertising was done, a successful TV show, band, play or film used to rely on media/critic reviews and simple word of mouth to promote themselves. To a certain extent, mediocre or badly received products could still find success because of how slowly this information passed.
The world today is dominated by social media. The benefits it provides for viral marketing are well known but the risks and problems it creates influencing the opinion of entertainment consumers are just beginning to be understood.
With so many viewpoints available, consumers are slowly moving away from the mainstream media outlets to guide them in choosing what entertainment to spend their money on as seen by the falling readerships of mainstream newspapers, falling TV viewership and the rise of so many blogs, websites and YouTube channels reviewing and commenting on film, TV and music.
Sentiment can, and in many cases is, now be led by bloggers and tweeters. Anyone with access to the internet can now be a potential critic, influencing the opinions of their small or large circles, who then in turn pass their opinion on to their circles, the ripple effect.
Of course this isn't revolutionary, most successful brands in the entertainment industry use services to collect this data to gain insights, warn them of potential issues that could threaten a new release's success but increasingly the question is becoming, 'What to do with the data?'
Many services provide big data, large clumps of volumetric stats such tweets, Facebook likes & numbers of fans or followers but this large data is increasingly leaving marketing less informed than when they started.
Not all social media data is pertinent. Sure, volume is always a great indicator but in the social media world you need the analysis agency to also understand the value of insight. Facebook likes for instance can be a questionable currency of measuring marketing success. Sometimes campaigns with a one off prize can get a brand huge numbers of Facebook likes at it will seem like job done. But measuring the volume of social media traffic aimed at your brand is only half the story.
A complete service agency needs to have the expertise to evaluate the full ecosystem of communications that come together to effect a brands reputation: Press releases, financial results, advertising, CEO statements, company messages, corporate CSR policy, what mainstream media is writing about the brand behind the release. Every one of these factors and more affects what is being said organically in blogs and forums as well as on Twitter and a brand's Facebook Page.
Focusing on just the sanitised social media space a brand creates for itself will not give an accurate or full story of how that brand is perceived or help to understand how each factor effects.
More than numbers
Insight, direction, answers. This is what marketers, Comms and PR professionals are looking for from media analysis, not just figures.
An entertainment brand and its offerings are affected by so many reputational factors that having a complete picture to make effective decisions means drilling down through the large data, finding the key influencers, identifying the issues that really matter, using human intelligence and experience to interpret the numbers and use them as supporting evidence for conclusions and recommendations.
Keen in the minds of consumer social marketers is getting measurable ROI on any campaign, promotion or initiative launched within the user generated space. The quick and easy approach to quantifying ROI is to try and put a value on the number of fans or followers a brand achieves at any given time. A notional value per fan multiplied by the number of fans achieved can result in a pretty solid ROI measurement.
But is this enough of a measure of the true value of a brand's fanbase, or perhaps more importantly, a measure of the true quality of each and every fan?
Attributing value to fans was a topic that came up for discussion at last week's #smlondon gathering hosted by Adobe's head of social strategy Jeremy Waite. During his chat about how social brands connect with their fanbase, he shared a slide which referred to an enlightening study by Syncapse which, through an 'Empirical Review', charted the Value of a Facebook Fan in 2010. Through a rigorous approach to valuating a Facebook fan, Syncapse could then enable consumer marketers and brand managers to better plan, execute and measure their return on Facebook investment, they said.
All good stuff. But in my mind there's a couple of points we can raise here: first this approach has solely looked at Facebook and clearly there are other impactful routes for social brand managers to use in targeting the consumer market. And second it assumes that by attributing all fans a value you have a sensible measure of success at any given point in time.
I'm no consumer marketer or brand manager so will not look further at routes to market. But coming from a background of content evaluation, I wanted to explore the idea of measuring success. I was intrigued by this approach and began to question whether putting a monetary value on a brand's social platform fanbase was a full enough reflection of fan or follower engagement.
It's not all about the numbers
Both consumer brands and consumers alike get satisfaction from seeing a growing number of followers and their expressions of appreciation (likes, shares, links-to and retweets). And given that a value can be attributed to all these fans and followers, rising numbers of supporters must mean that things are going in the right direction?
It is one thing to have fan and follower numbers rising, and assume that with this rise comes a rise in fan value. But it is something else to identify within those numbers the people who really count for a brand. Marketers can quite happily establish a monetary value per fan, but I was keen to look a little closer at the fans themselves: their affinities and loyalties. Who are a the advocates and loyalists, people who in my opinion hold huge inherent value to any brand that can't be easily measured by dollar signs alone? To separate the advocates from the generic fans and followers, we need to be clear on who an advocate is and what extended value they can bring to a brand.
Bottom line is an advocate is someone who stands out as wanting to repeatedly engage with a brand and others on behalf of that brand. Advocates are loyal, satisfied brand endorsers and customers. Brands will be short-sighted if they overlook these in the quest for more follower numbers. Numbers represent audience, but they are not necessarily followers who can bring about action or change regarding a brand.
The inherent value in advocates goes beyond propensity to spend on a brand; it goes towards driving and maintaining a consumer community engaged with the offerings of that brand. We know that brand advocates are 83% more likely to share content about your brand than standard fans (source: BzzAgent). We also know that 92% of consumers trust brand advocates (source: Nielsen). That's some real added value if brand advocates are identified correctly and nurtured by marketers and brand managers.
While Syncapse's approach holds some merit in measuring ROI, I believe that there are other factors in play that go beyond the attribution of a cash value to a fan, and these factors should also be considered when trying to put value on a fanbase volume.
Two things struck me about Jeremy Hazlehurst's Management Today article about the rising influence of PR - which I'd strongly urge anyone with the slightest interest in PR, communications or reputation to read. Firstly, how come Tim Bell can smoke in his office and secondly the cyclical nature of which discipline curries favour with the top brass and
Don't get me wrong, I'm as pleased as anybody that communications professionals are finally being recognised for their work and that reward is coming in the form of taking the helm of proper, big business - the right skills at the right time! Jane Wilson nails it for me, "Your image is what you put out, your reputation is what comes back at you". If reputation is the Holy Grail, then doing what you can to shape and protect it must be pretty high up on any CEO's 'to do' list and who better than someone who knows the art of communications inside out.
What does surprise me though is why, in this ultra connected world where seemingly nothing goes unnoticed and heaven forbid anyone tells an "untruth" as it WILL get found out and if you're newsworthy enough it WILL go viral, businesses are not looking at how all their available communications channels are working together to shape reputation and build a better business.
If the 70s and 80s belonged to advertising, 90s was strategists, 00s was HR then surely the teenties, 10s (whatever we're calling this decade?) should belong to the integrated business? Now there's a very good reason why that should be led by a communications professional - Jeremy has made that point - you need a clear and consistent message to be sent out otherwise how can you expect it to be played back to you? But if PR is now to the fore because of its ability to tackle and tell the truth then surely that has to pervade everything the business does - its proposition, how it operates, what it tells its people and how it advertises its wares?
If a business is going to deal in honesty and integrity then that needs to be evident in everything it does. What's the point in positioning yourself as a caring, people-friendly, customer focussed business if that's not what you get when you walk in the shop or buy online....you WILL get found out and it WILL go viral.
The point I'm making is that if your business is not a connected business then how can you expect to make the maximum impact on your intended audience and how can you expect to give your reputation the maximum boost?
Through our work we are privileged enough to partner with those clients who understand the importance of measuring not only what is being said about them but also the impact it has on their reputation. And since we joined the Ebiquity family in 2011 we have taken the integrated leap and are now starting to help clients link the impact of all their communications channels PR, advertising, internal comms and social media. Are they speaking with one voice and if not why not?
As someone once said, nobody said it was easy, but the reality is that customers no longer differentiate between what type of communications they are being exposed to so why should businesses differentiate between how they use them? Good clear and consistent communications should be at the heart of everything a business does and how it helps to shape its reputation.
This week, the Facebook-owned photo service Instagram announced that it would be changing its EULA (End User Licence Agreement) to allow itself to sell user photos without notifying the photos' original uploaders. This comes only a month after Facebook Vice-President of Global Marketing Solutions, Carolyn Everson, said: "Eventually we'll figure out a way to monetise Instagram".
As usual Twitter users were the most vocal and least appreciative with their comments.
(taken from a sample of replies to a Tweet by USA TODAY)
The word monetisation seems to be a tad overused in relation to internet stories these days but when you dissect the mechanics bringing you services such as Facebook, Twitter and Google's free tools, it becomes rather like answer to life, the universe and everything in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: we already know the answer (and it's not 42!) but we now need to know the question.
Who pays for it all?
Take Facebook as an example. To run a global site like Facebook is a huge and costly enterprise. If you were thinking of doing this yourself to the same scale, first of all you would need server farms to host the thing. One in each area you want to deliver the service to. Global company? You're going to need a few of those.
Each server farm is a huge futuristic facility with industrial cooling and millions of pounds worth of server equipment that constantly needs monitoring, repairing and replacing. To do this you can't just rely on local IT support from the yellow pages either, you are going to need a lot of very highly trained professionals, the kind that are quite rare and never come cheap.
On top of these you will need all the staff, offices and organisation that any large corporation would need as well as a development team taken from the top mathematicians and programmers the world has to offer. Again, these don't come cheap.
You begin to realise that revenue made just from advertising may not stretch far enough to cover the vast costs involved in running a service on this scale and start to understand why 'monetisation' is so important to the people tasked with making these enterprises profitable.
I know this is unlikely to garner any sympathy for a sector which has made massive profits over the last few years while everyone else has been tightening their belts, but it does raise another point: how well are these organisations handling their communications to a user base who behave at times like a herd that will only graze on the greenest grass and happily follow each other to pastures new?
Back to our example, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have gone to great lengths to tell the story of the boy with an idea who fought the establishment and changed the world. Something that rouses the underdog-supporting, rebellious streak that exists in all of us but demands no more allegiance than simply creating a Facebook account to feel like part of the movement.
But communications like the aforementioned overuse of the word 'monetisation' by the Vice-President of Global Marketing Solutions can pop the bubble of the story that the social media use to sell themselves, be it bringing people together, providing a creative outlet for everyone or championing freedom of speech. Badly timed communications can remind everyone they are infact another multi-billion dollar corporation.
As with all other forms of business, understanding, coordinating and evaluating communications is key to success and when your user base is willing to mass-migrate in an instant, great care must be taken to establish, understand and protect any online service's brand reputation.
Because however these services choose to raise their revenue, retaining their user base is vital to their continued success. Instagram & Facebook are savvy enough operators to realise this and so they quickly reversed their decision to change their policies and put an immediate halt to the user migration that had started. Time will tell if there is any lasting reputational damage or loss of trust.
by Tom Mattey. Twitter: @graphical_tom
A new survey from PR company Shine and the London Business School has found that less than half of marketing and comms directors believe their campaigns are well integrated (Comms Directors want more integration, survey reveals, PR Week, 25.07.12). The study also revealed that four out of five said the issue is among their main concerns.
This is not surprising, but it is a little depressing and concerning that many brands are taking so long to align and integrate their comms when savvy and connected consumers, customers and stakeholders have done so almost intuitively. For them, media is media is media.
To mark the inaugural BrandMAX event, Echo Research - the reputation practice of Ebiquity - quizzed marketing and corporate affairs teams about where they believe responsibility lies for setting, implementing and measuring marcomms activities.
We found http://bit.ly/MnmWBh that explaining to the board how brand and reputation affects business performance is important to more than 8 out of 10 respondents. However, responsibility is still often split and siloed between the functions, which at times appear to actively work against one another despite batting for the same team.
We also found that earned media coverage - in social and traditional media - has led nearly half of companies to change their marcomms activity in some way. The same proportion could readily name examples of message misalignment between paid and earned comms, from BP to Innocent, Cadbury's and Tesco to Toyota. As a result, nearly half our sample believed that better alignment between marketing and comms would benefit their business directly.
Social and online media have driven the transparency agenda (a good thing). They've wrested brand management from the hands of brand managers (an interesting transition, but on balance positive in driving brand-customer dialogue). And they've generated an exponential leap in data volumes (an opportunity, but a threat unless you use well thought-out analytics to make sense of it).
Businesses and the comms teams are not short of data. Far from it. But many are drowning in it.
They're data rich and insight poor like never before.
Comms is increasingly everyone's business - marketing, corporate comms, HR, customer service, operations, the C-suite. Those brands that will thrive in the era of Big Data will be those who get a proper handle on the alignment or otherwise of the totality of their communications, across paid, owned and earned media. This is exactly what we do for an increasing number of our clients.
Are promises made in outgoing, controlled messaging seen to be kept in inbound, mediated communications? To ensure that they are, brand custodians need to plan, execute and measure the outputs, outtakes and outcomes of their comms in a properly integrated fashion.
Social media has transformed the way consumers interact with brands.
Sam Knowles charts the rise of the social media consumer.
Social media has changed the world - and particularly the world of brand management. Influential and connected consumers, customers and stakeholders are increasingly playing a key role in building and sustaining - but also damaging - corporate and brand reputations.
Our recent research for both UK-based PR consultancy Fishburn Hedges and American Express have charted the inexorable rise of the social media customer.
The Fishburn Hedges study shows that by April 2012, more than a third of Britons (36%) had interacted with brands through social media. This has nearly doubled in just eight months. In August 2011 just 19% of British consumers had used social media in this way.
Similarly, the 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer showed that 17% of Americans had used social media at least once in the past year to obtain a customer service response. These studies show that the brands that embrace social media and use it intelligently as a customer service tool will be the long-term winners in the reputation game.
Twitter is fast becoming the new call centre, and this will have a profound impact on how companies monitor, staff and respond to customer comments and complaints.
The Fishburn Hedges study found that using social media to interact with brands is more satisfying for the complainant. Sixty-five per cent of consumers who complain on social media prefer it and call centres have become a turn-off.
Novelty is part of the appeal but also thanks to social media's real-time immediacy, customers are getting responses that are dealt with more personally and more quickly than ever before.
Moreover, more than two-thirds (68%) of those who have used social media channels to communicate with brands believe it gives them a greater voice, and 40% of all consumers believe that social media has improved customer service for good - whether or not they currently use social media for customer service.
Similarly, American Express's 2012 Customer Service Barometer found that US consumers who use social media for customer service are more likely to tell others about their customer service experiences, spend more with a company they feel provides excellent customer service and abandon a purchase due to a poor service experience.
Using social media for customer service is also not just the province of the younger, Generation Y and Generation Facebook customers. The Fishburn Hedges study found that not only had almost half of 18-24 year-olds questioned dealt with a brand using social media, but that 38% of 35-44s and 27% of over 55s had done the same. As social media comes of age, the proportions for all age groups are increasing.
Out in the open
Using social media in this way is, of course, much more open and permanent. This makes it potentially more damaging to brands and companies. When a consumer tweets how dissatisfied she is with a hotel, @ing the company Twitter account, she not only records a complaint with the brand.
When a frustrated broadband customer posts a blog linked from his Facebook page about being disconnected for the fifth time that week, it doesn't just arrive in the cable company's inbox.
Echo's study for American Express have found that those in the US who use social media for customer service tell more than three times as many people about poor service than those who don't use social media in this way. The upside is that when it comes to good service, the number is nearly five to one.
The implication is clear: get it wrong, and you'll be flamed; get it right, and you're using social media to capture and harness a volunteer sales force. Companies that engage in the right way can turn detractors into advocates.
The way social media currently works also varies from country to country. Fifty-four per cent of Indian consumers have used social media to get a customer service response during the past year, 45% in Mexico and 30% in Italy. This contrasts with just 10% in France.
Consumers in the US and Germany are most likely to use social media to get an actual response to help with a service issue (50% of those polled). Those in the UK are more likely to use social media to vent frustration with a bad customer service experience (46%), while consumers in India are most likely to ask questions of others via social media (also 46%).
On average, nearly half of consumers who have used social media to get a customer service response see an improvement in terms of how quickly they feel companies respond to general inquiries or complaints. Consumers in India (80%) and Mexico (72%) are most likely to say that companies have generally improved.
Do the right things
As part of our research for Fishburn Hedges, in-depth, qualitative interviews with social media pioneers inside savvy brands helped us to identify a range of best practices (see box). Companies that make best use of social media for customer service are fleet of foot. They don't let genuinely damaging content linger and fester. But they also are selective about what they respond to, when and how they respond to it.
Just because an individual - or a group of connected individuals - are talking negatively about your product, don't just dive in and try to sort the problem out for effective engagement. It is critically important to understand the full context of the comments and complaints.
There's plenty of evidence that more and more companies are looking to emulate these pioneers. A snapshot of jobs advertised on LinkedIn during one month in 2012 found vacancies for 279 heads of social media and 1,062 social media consultants. What's more, 134,974 roles had "social media" in their job title or job description.
The rise of social media has made service quality more transparent and important than ever before. Brands and services that fail to live up to their promises will draw the opprobrium of disgruntled customers, criticism that often leaves an indelible trace for future customers to find.
Establishing relationships with customers, listening to their comments and complaints, and sorting out problems quickly and politely can stop a complaint dead in its tracks. Our research shows that customer service has become a strategic differentiator in the marketplace.
Social media in customer service is taking off as real people are responding, rather than callers being stuck behind automated call routing and messaging. The best companies are training and releasing their staff to manage this in a professional and responsible manner. Welcome to the new world of 'social business'.
Best practice for social media customer service
1. Don't be paralysed by uncertainty: where call centres arguably erect barriers between brands and customers, social media can remove them and bring proximity. It shouldn't be a psychological straitjacket, so join in - but clearly define your strategy first.
2. Don't let social media define you: your brand must define it. It must be a continuation of the brand using the appropriate channels and not a knee-jerk reaction to following how others are using it.
3. Make more of the emotional insight you have: customer data offers insight into behaviour, but social media takes that to a different level, enabling brands to tap into emotions.
4. Pick your battles - but enter them fast: speed is critical in the real-time world of social media, but brands should not feel the pressure to answer every query put to them.
5. Address structural barriers in the business, not just headcount: there are many ways to resource social, and new hires are not always necessary. Try sharing expertise and removing structural barriers first.
6. Fear not the #fail: No one is perfect and sometimes, just sometimes, it is simply a flash in the pan.
In the first of Ebiquity's 3 sessions on 'brand optimisation' at BrandMAX, the discussion was about Reputation, more specifically about how social media means that there is an increasing need for Marketing and Corporate Affairs to better align their efforts and activities.
Our panel represented Marketing (Nigel Gilbert, Virgin Media), Corporate Affairs (Dominic Fry, M&S) and brand (Khaled Ismail, Tetrapak) representing both the B2B and B2C sectors. The session chair was Matthew Gwyther, editor of Management Today.
'We boobed' said the ad that M&S ran just 48 hours after the story broke that they were charging shoppers more for larger bra sizes. Dominic described how Marketing and Corporate Affairs worked swiftly and cohesively to minimise the negative impact on the brand's reputation following the story gaining traction in social media and subsequently mainstream media. They engaged the social media groups that were formed, reduced prices, apologised and turned what may have lost them market share into a share gain. "Reputation protection is a key focus for us," he said.
Nigel Gilbert described the relationship between Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Virgin Media as 'unusually close'. He said that the immediacy of the media business necessitates such closeness.
Describing his time at Lloyds Banking Group, he said he witnessed how they went from trusted High Street name to a 'pariah' during the banking crisis in 2008. It was he said a 'salutary lesson' in how to move from 'neutral to negative' in one bound. He went on to describe how 'trust is the key to reputation' and how the name change to Virgin (from NTL:Telewest) improved perceptions of by 30%. "This says a lot about the Virgin brand," he said.
He was very complimentary when asked about Sky in the context of News International and the phone hacking scandal. He knows that the scandal did have a negative impact on the Sky brand because Virgin constantly monitor Virgin and their competitors reputations and social media sentiment.
Khaled described how Tetra Pak go to great lengths to ensure that all areas of their business are aligned and that their staff do things 'the Tetra Pak way'.
He agreed with Nigel that the trust of all stakeholders is the single most important thing, "If the Nestle, Coke or Danone consumer loses trust, we can all go home." He described reputation as the 'cushion' that means stakeholders give you the benefit of the doubt in a crisis.
The panel were asked about the role of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) in building reputation. Khaled talked about how Tetra Pak had been active in the area for a while but now consumers were demanding that they 'turn up the volume' on it. Dominic was frank about Marks & Spencer's challenge to generate an emotional response from consumers on its 'Plan A' initiative for them to make a commercial gain.
They were asked whether the inevitable cost-cutting drives many businesses are facing, might threaten initiatives that businesses put in place to build and protect reputation. 'Potentially' was the reply. Dominic talked how he manages this threat at an executive level and how risk audits help inform such decisions.
The session was hosted by Sandra Macleod of Echo Research, Ebiquity's Reputation & PR arm.
It's been said that what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. Is it time to think about research and evaluation in that context, too?
Measurement has always been the bug-bear of the PR industry, with calls for standard common measures and a pure, golden bullet, to take this 'headache' away from PR practitioners and let them 'get on' with their excellent work. But therein lies the problem. No one measure answers ALL questions or needs. No one approach will do. 'Getting on with the job' depends as much on the insights and data it uses to determine direction and convince others, as the activities that surround it. Measurement depends on where you are and what the need is. Otherwise the real danger is that the wrong exam question is answered really well, with 'E' for effort as the result.
The Barcelona Principles, set by amec and the CIPR rallying other leading industry bodies to common understandings, is an important beginning, with its seven guiding principles on best practice, including that of focusing on outcomes not outputs. This Summer's Measurement Summit in Lisbon took it a stage further in setting the course for the future by building in education and models. These are essential building blocks towards what ultimately matters - getting the thinking and behaviour right.
Research among practitioners, measurement experts and summit delegates keep assuring us that we know what we should do. Like eating our daily allowance of vegetables. We know what's important. We know AVEs (advertising value equivalence) is sugary-sweet and oh-so-tempting, but empty in terms of contributing to organisational results. We also know that the strength and credibility of public relations depends on insight and data. As time goes by, we are learning how to do it and take clients with us. But like our green leafy friends, we don't always embrace it as usefully as we should do,. The healthy, desired outcome - applying measurement meaningfully for the organisation and non-PR colleagues - should be the ultimate measure of success for us all. If the PR industry doesn't rise to this challenge and opportunity, the ringing in our ears may not be wholly welcomed or uncalled for.
Fate, coincidence, alignment of the stars - call it what you want all I know is that last night I had one of those strange experiences where you feel someone out there has an inside track on your life (and I'm not ruling that out by the way as I've just re-read 1984).
Let me fill you in.
Just last week, Echo Research - the global leader in communication and reputation measurement - was acquired by Ebiquity plc, the global leader in media and marketing measurement. Put simply it means that together we can now measure and analyse how effectively a company's communication is working together to achieve its goals - are their PR, advertising, marketing, sponsorship, online etc all aligned and on message and if not why not?
Yesterday was our 'getting to know you' day, as our two teams shared ideas, approaches and were introduced to their new colleagues - an inspiring day all round. So imagine my surprise when on the way home I read Gideon Spanier's excellent article in The Evening Standard, where he very neatly outlined the breaking down of the barriers between content and advertising.
We have reached the point when neither can be seen in isolation, or as standalone components of the communications mix. Now all communications must be joined up, working together to tell the story, to tell it clearly and show that it means what it says.
So no wonder I felt like Winston Smith for a split second - this is exactly the space that Echo and Ebiquity operate in - Gideon was talking to me, about me. Then the paranoia wore off and reality set in. This convergence of media, communications and marketing and their collective impact on reputation were the precise reason that our two companies had come together. This is the direction our world is moving.
Clients have been telling us for some time now that they want to link the various strands of their communications mix across the business, to understand what the common voice is and that all are working to the same ends - but this comes with a realisation that it's far easier said than done. Gone are the days of marketing, advertising, sponsorship and communications departments working in silos - now the opposite is true - so how do they work together?
Of course social media is to blame; it always is, no matter what the subject.
To me, it's simply about authenticity. Think back to the bad old days where the consumer's voice was a letter to faceless bods in a company that didn't even know you existed. A one-way (if you're lucky two-way) conversation to share your grievances and that was it - nobody else knew about it apart from close friends, family and anyone else you cared to tell about it and ok, they may have sympathised with you but the point is it didn't change anything - we all just carried on being a bit disgruntled - that's how it worked.
Through the power of one way media they could tell you they were the most customer-friendly company in the world or had your best interests at heart but the reality could have been quite different - authenticity was undermined.
Social media has put paid to that! Nothing is secret in social media, nothing is personal and nothing can be ignored. If you let someone down, you'll hear about it on social media (ask Dave Carroll) So if you're claiming one thing in your communications and you're delivering something else - you'll know what to expect.
Okay, that's been the established model for a while now but it's brought about a subtle change whereby authenticity is now placed at the heart of everything leading companies must do - there is nowhere to hide so you might as well be up front about it and you MUST be consistent about it.
Mix your message, confuse your stakeholders or worse, fail to deliver against your promises and you'll be found out. So, no, it's not about how good your advertising is any more or how well your PR is working for you - it's about how well they're working together, how clearly they are delivering your message and how well they are instilling trust.
For those that get it right then that social media machine will shout it from the rooftops and the word will spread like wildfire - get it wrong and Room 101 awaits.