Weekly Wrap-Up

This week’s wrap-up will focus on topics as varied as tacos and iPads, but you’ll notice that there is (purposefully) no mention of the infamous crime boss who was captured Thursday.  I’m feeling that one has been and will continue to be covered to death in the mainstream media, so read on to see what else is going on in the world.

Promoted Tweets Coming Soon

According to Mashable, Twitter will start placing paid-for tweets right in the middle of your Twitter stream in the next eight weeks.  They’re working on ways to make these promoted Tweets stand out and stay at the top of your stream in order to maintain value for advertisers.  As a business person, I can understand the need to make the site profitable (the site is expected to only gross $100 million this year), and as a communications professional, I can generally appreciate the value of paid advertising.  However, the PR person and the lay person in me finds this almost sacrosanct.  To me, advertising goes against everything Twitter represents – organic, consumer-driven dialogue.  Of course, I may be a bit hypocritical here, as Twitter has become a place for marketers as well as the “general public”, but those Tweets are ones I choose to see vs. those that are forced upon me.  Twitter has always been about controlling the content you wish to see.  This new revelation threatens this control and will undoubtedly alter its reputation in ways still to be seen.

Yo No Quiero Taco Bell

Recently, Taco Bell tried to giveaway a free taco to their more than 6 million fans.  Only three percent, or 180,000, took them up on the offer.  Success or failure?  Depends on how you look at it.  The company’s  Chief Public Affairs Officer Jonathan Blum of Taco Bell’s parent company Yum! Brands admitted “We haven’t even been able to give away the food, never mind figure out how to sell it online.”

In his mind and compared to what the expectations from the company were, it appears that the promotion was a failure.  But was it?  I’d argue that there is value from this program that is difficult to measure.  Sure, three percent does not seem like a great redemption rate, but there are millions of other fans who received this message, which had an impact on their impression of Taco Bell.  Just because they didn’t redeem a coupon doesn’t mean that this goodwill (marketing) gesture didn’t help elevate Taco Bell’s reputation in the eyes of its fans.

Landing on Their Italian Leather Shoe-Clad Feet (thanks to the SF Weekly blog for that one)

As if corporate executives have not been under enough fire for taking exhorbitant “golden parachute” packages in say, oh, the last 10 years, there is a new perk in the mix – iPads and other electronics.  A recent Wall Street Journal blog outlined several contracts between U.S. companies and executives that have provisions for supplying electronics such as iPads, Blackberries and computers to departing execs.  As if these folks don’t have enough money to buy their own equipment.

While this may not come as a huge surprise, this latest revelation only underscores the reputation that many U.S. corporations have rightly warranted. Nowhere is the reputation for greed more warranted than within the financial services industry.  Look at John Thain of Merrill Lynch who, in 2009, left the company with $11 million worth of shares of the company – after spending $1.2 million decorating his office and rushing out $3 billion in bonusses before seeing through a merger with BofA.  The list goes on.

But the issue of the “golden parachute” isn’t limited to just corporations.  State municipalities and even government agencies have been damaged reputationally by this practice.  Look at the recent scaffow over in San Francisco.

To be fair, many coporations and nonprofits have taken steps to manage reputational risks associated with executive compensation.  They have put review committees in place and developed criteria.  Still, what it comes down to is, in the eyes of an organization’s constituents, is the person and their deeds worthy of the package?  Think about it; you never hear about a scandal involving a departing exec who took a large package but by all accords did a great job.

Is a Temper Tantrum Ever a Good Idea?

Personal politics aside, the recent decision of Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, to quit participating in sessions led by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., does not do much for the Republican party’s reputation.  The move was akin to throwing a temper tantrum in the sandbox because another kid wouldn’t give you his shovel.  Only in this case, the country’s financial future stands in the balance since these talks are important in developing a budget solution.

Negotiation and conflict resolution are part of daily life, only we don’t usually call it that.  Sometimes compromise, other times discussion, but whatever you call it, never is it OK to walk out and refuse to talk.  Imagine getting into a disagreement with your supervisor, then refusing to discuss it until the big boss steps in.  Guess what? You might get fired.

Democrats also did something similar move in February when Wisconsin Senate Democrats didn’t show up to negotiate a public employee bill.  Of course, there are reasons these moves are made, but what type of message do they send?  That it’s OK to throw a temper tantrum to get what you want?

Lessons aside, these types of antics are hurting the reputation of America’s political parties and the political system as a whole.

And that’s a wrap!

 

 

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