The Content Marketing Coup D’etat

I attended a great evening in Singapore recently – Content Conversations hosted by Outbrain at the Hub. I recommend reading Timi Siytangco’s take on the evening here, as she highlights all of the salient points discussed. It was definitely a lively conversation around driving tangible results in the new world of content marketing, while competing for eye-balls when one is up against the stiffest competition of them all – cute puppies.

But I had an epiphany this night and I’d like to share it with you.

To give you context, I’ve been in the content marketing game in various forms for a number of years. In the early days, a small handful of businesses and individuals understood the concept of delivering awesomely powerful content to their customers to drive business results. This content was something new, something different – it wasn’t about the company at all – it was about delivering information that helped address the customers’ most pressing needs, and it was about building the intangible – loyalty to your brand.

Content MarketingIt was exciting then – new, fresh and there weren’t too many people playing in the sand pit. It was also a nice group of people, because the early adopters were extremely passionate about content marketing – we knew this was a world changer – so we were all sharing our passion and supporting each other.
Alas, that didn’t help me much. While one would like to be considered a “visionary,” being early in the game in Asia went against me as a small business owner. When I was taking this concept to market, the people I was speaking with just couldn’t comprehend the idea of marketing but not marketing their business. What? Why?

Well Asia is getting it now. Awesome!

Back then, we didn’t have syndication or amplification – beyond our social channels. This genre was led by smart, creative people that understood the concept and delivered value. We were focused on one goal – building a loyal customer base. Hubspot, in my opinion, has always been the greatest example of this art form, and of course “the Pool Guy” aka Marcus Sheridan – is a fabulous success story. Read his story if you haven’t. Very cool.

Asia is now at fever pitch around content, and more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon – adding to the discussion about what content marketing actually is. When I listen in, the conversation seems predominantly focused on consumer content – with viral videos and tweets taking center stage in discussions. How can it not? We’re in the age of the selfie, the age of the clever tweet, and the age where the quality of the conversation delivered on the back of a moment is how we measure success. It’s confusing, especially when you’re in a slightly more serious B2B game.

The original content marketing advocates are still out there creating amazing content, but we have new friends to play with now – the advertising/real-time-bidding/syndication people have joined us in the sandpit. These are the people who understand that creating a great piece of content isn’t enough anymore, it’s got to get in front of as many eye balls as possible, and turning those eye balls into metrics is what matters. Things are definitely changing, and changing fast.

It actually reminds me of my Dad, who is a local Australian artist with a small celebrity status in the community I grew up in. While my Dad has creativity at the core of all he is, he is useless at selling his paintings – I say that with love! Growing up with a struggling artist as a Father wasn’t easy, but every now and again, a gallery owner or art promoter entered our life. They’d take Dad on a whirlwind tour around the country and we’d have a few dollars in the bank for a while. That is what the newest members of the content marketing world are – the art promoters.

Content Marketing

The wonderful, creative people are still delivering great work, but a coup d’etat has occurred, and the people who understand how to promote content are leading the discussion. They’re better at it too. I’ve been creating content because I love it, slowly building a loyal readership because people like what I write – well I hope they do.

Now the professional brokers are in the mix, elevating content in a way it needs to be elevated to get it above the noise. It’s good for all of us creative content types ultimately.

However, as the content marketing industry grows up and becomes mature, I ask two things – especially for the B2B players

  1. In Asia, a lot of marketing folk are taking content they’ve been creating for the last 20+ years and pumping it into social channels, calling it content marketing. Content marketing is not about re-purposing existing marketing content, it’s a completely new style of marketing and it’s about delivering remarkable content for your customers to help them be successful. It really has very little to do with you at all. In fact, this blog (which I wrote in 2012) is still pretty much on the money about what content marketing is (or Inbound Marketing, which is/was the same thing.) As an idea, three out of every four pieces of content you create should have nothing to do with your company at all  -I got that 3 / 4 tidbit from Drew Calin at LinkedIn BTW. Why would I do that I hear you say? Because your goal is to make your customers successful AND building their loyalty to your brand. Remember that, remember that, please remember that
  2. Additionally, as businesses start to focus on amplifying their content, please remember that spending the money here as a priority could mean you forget to spend money where equal value sits – in the quality of the content created. You can spend all the money you like on ensuring your content is distributed to the right people across the world, but if it’s bad content, it’s not going to do you any good and it’s definitely not going to make people loyal to your brand. Your ultimate goal is to build a community of people who love your brand, because you’re helping them be better. If you’re focused on one and not focusing on the other, you’re not going to succeed. Get the balance right, make the content creators a priority, partner with great companies that can amplify your content (like Outbrain) and get cracking. Also this takes time, you’ve got to go in with a long term mindset – you’ll be disappointed if you’re looking for instant gratification trust me

Anything I’ve missed here? Any other concerns as the content marketing industry moves into a level of maturity?

These are my take-aways from a great evening. I’ll also definitely be going to the next Content Conversations event. It’s an inspired and excited community of people. I like that.


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Bambajan – Sustainable Music for Everyone

My friends, I wanted to share a really remarkable moment for two of my great friends Duncan and Lee Ann McKee. Nine years ago, they launched STIX, Motivation Through Music. I was present at their very first corporate gig, and it was an amazing experience. Nearly 100 people, coming together, playing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” with nothing more than a couple of plastic tubes. It was a special moment for everyone in the room.

Lee Ann and Duncan in Action

The specialness of the moment wasn’t just because I was witnessing two great people launching a dream, it was also because the majority of this group had never played a musical instrument in their lives. Yet here they were, playing a symphony. It was remarkable

Roll the clock forward nearly a decade and STIX has been a great success. They work with the biggest brands all over the world, sharing their special message and motivation. In fact, if you’ve got a corporate meeting coming up, keep them in mind.

But they’re not the kind of people to be idle, so they’ve been busy creating something else. For the last two years, they’ve focused on moving this skill beyond business, because they believe everyone can play music – young or old. But it’s not just about the music for Lee Ann and Duncan, they also have a strong desire to make a meaningful contribution in the world – both socially and environmentally. And that’s where Bambajam comes in.

Duncan and Lee Ann created Bambajam so we can all experience the joy of playing music together. Many people miss out on music in their younger years, so being able to play later in life often feels like an impossible dream. Well it isn’t. Duncan has worked hard to create a musical notation system anyone can learn to read (see below – very colorful for the kids), and the Bambajam instrument can be played as separate tubes or with a small group of people sitting around the instrument together as a xylophone. This means everyone in a school CAN have an instrument to play. Can you see it in impoverished schools? I can.


The top section is Duncan’s music – you can read that!

I was lucky to grow up in a family devoted to music, but many do not have the opportunity. However, learning music isn’t just about exploring a new skill. All research in this area indicates that kids who have creative outlets – especially music – perform better across the board. In Asia, with academic success such a high priority, this is a key strength for Bambajam. Not to mention, the kids will be happier!

A wonderful part of this story is its sustainability message. The Bambajam tubes (or xylophone) has been handcrafted and sourced from renewable bamboo in partnership with the East Bali Poverty Project. Lee Ann and Duncan are absolutely committed to ensuring the instrument is sustainable and ethical as well. As such, the East Bali Poverty Project are sourcing the bamboo and you can read more about this great organization here. Bamboo reforestation is critical for both sustainable social and economic development in this community. Therefore, by supporting Bambajam, you really can make a difference.

How can you help? In the last week, Lee Ann and Duncan have launched an Indegogo crowd funding program and I urge you to check it out, make a donation, plant a bamboo, or better yet, buy the instrument. I think our order is already in, right Steve? Additionally:

  1. If you know someone in teaching, tell them about Bambajam. For a small investment, a classroom can play a symphony
  2. If you are a parent, buy one of these beautiful instruments, even if you’ve never played music yourself. You’ll be amazed how quickly you are playing a symphony with your family, or maybe some jazz, or a nursery rhyme – there’s lots of music to choose from
  3. Or just make a small donation to help them out or pay a small fee to plant some bamboo and help the wonderful people living in the mountains of Bali


There are lots of ways you can participate – check out the right hand side of the Webpage here for ideas. I’m just thrilled to see two great people making such a beautiful impact on the community they live in, as well as sharing a new way for all of us to learn music. But we’ve got to help them out because….

  • Bambajam is the real deal.
  • It’s created by two people with a wonderful, meaningful dream who are now delivering this to the world.
  • It’s a business built from passion and it can change the world.
  • It’s giving jobs to people who need them.
  • It’s making a positive environmental contribution.
  • It can get everyone playing music, no matter the skills or experience.
  • But most importantly, it’s a business built from the heart. That alone is worth supporting.

Who’s going to join me and give two social entrepreneurs a leg up on their awesome business? Thanks in advance if you decide to help them out.



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Thank You Asia’s Analysts

So I had some pretty amazing news late Friday night. Apparently the industry analysts in Asia have told the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations (IIAR) that I’m doing a good job for them, which resulted in an equal 3rd place in the Annual Analyst Relations Professional of the Year awards. How’s that hey?

Mind-blowing to say the least. Humbling too.

AR Professional of the YearWhen I agreed to come back into AR just over a year ago (after a 15 year break) it was actually quite a big decision for me. I had been focusing on content and communications strategy, content marketing, business storytelling, etc… – all of which I enjoy immensely – however, the opportunity was hard to ignore. Microsoft is going through such an amazing transformation right now, so to be part of that was a very exciting proposition, especially as the analysts are a big part of Microsoft succeeding in this new world.

But the bottom line reason for saying yes was a genuine love of working with analysts. This is a great group of people who spend their time looking at the entire IT industry and predicting how IT will transform our world. That means I get to have the most fascinating conversations with experts about the direction our industry is taking and I greatly value understanding how they see the future playing out and why they come to those conclusions. I also know, fundamentally, how important analysts are for the success of the entire IT community, so from a professional satisfaction and intellectual curiosity point-of-view, it was a no-brainer. Not to mention they’re a nice bunch of people tool.

I’m definitely only just getting started back in this area, so for the analysts to say – hey, you’re doing a good job – well, it feels terrific. But I know I can do more. I know I can create more opportunities for engagement between Microsoft and the analysts across Asia. I also know there are so many areas where I need to go deeper with the analysts. I know and I’m working on it I promise, but AR is definitely a marathon not a sprint.

So thank you to all of the analysts who said darn nice things about me. I just want you to know I really appreciate it and I’ll always work hard for you.

I’d also like to thank the IIAR for running these awards. The only people who know how hard analyst relations is are the people who actually do it – and it is hard! So I wanted to say I appreciate you bringing our industry together and ensuring there is a platform for us to collaborate with peers across the world. Bravo.

And of course, congrats to the top 10 from all over the world, namely:

  • Clare Loxely, HP
  • Signe Loenberg, Loenberg AR
  • Caroline Dennington, Symantec
  • Huey Miin Leong, Cisco
  • Britta Glade, RSA (EMC)
  • Shyam Mundhada, Infosys
  • Geoff Dorrington, CA
  • Jan Daley, AR Advisors
  • Yvonne Kaupp, T-Systems International

I have to say an extra big congrats to my Asian colleagues, including my dear friend Miin at Cisco, and Shyam from Infosys – who I’ve heard great things about as well.

I suppose we can all bask in the glow for a few days and then get back to work huh?





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I’ve been spending a bit of time with my Yammer colleagues recently, and there are two philosophies I really love about this team of inspired people. The first is “let’s change the world together” – yes please, I love that and I’m in. The second is encouraging all people to #worklikeanetwork. I absolutely couldn’t agree more and think this is an area everyone in Asia needs to be focusing on as we move towards a digital future. No matter your role, it’s relevant.

What does #worklikeanetwork mean? Microsoft defines it this way:

“It takes a network of people to serve a network of customers. Microsoft connects people and information across familiar applications, so your company can listen, adapt, and grow at the speed of a networked world.”

In fact, this YouTube flick really brings #worklikeanetwork to life

The truth is, this way of working is so tantalizingly close, I can taste it and I’m excited about it. It’s just waiting for all of us to get on board and embrace it. The technology is certainly ready.

I am well into this game, because I naturally work out loud, love sharing great information, love participating, and adore all of the information and opinions I have access to since social media changed all of our lives forever. I am a communicator and a sharer, so this new world is a dream come true for me.

When I think of the idea of #worklikeanetwork, it’s about participating across all of your social pillars, and that goes for your professional interactions as well – because social offers amazing opportunities to be really transformative in how we all approach our work and career aspirations today.

The struggle in Asia is that very few people are really understanding and applying this to their everyday work, taking into account the cultural challenges we face as well. Equally, many do not understand their role in their companies’ success within the context of how they participate, nor how their employer benefits from their participation – it’s a two-way street. Please read “Role of Personal Branding in Innovation” – specifically focusing on the typical organization versus the future organization. This is a very worthwhile read.

In Asia, many of us are active on social networks, but not enough are actively engaging from a professional point of view – we’re just too passive and missing opportunities to boot. If you read the above article (and many more on the topic) this is about building YOUR personal brand – an investment I sincerely believe will impact future career opportunities. Think about it, if you stand side-by-side with a candidate of equal measure and one of you is active, the other not, who does the new employer choose? It’s going to be that straight forward right?

Therefore, I encourage everyone to get out there and get noisy. But do it with thought, otherwise you’ll be swamped or make a silly mistake that will go against you – there are plenty of examples.

Before you make the decision to get going, I encourage you to ask yourself four questions:

  1. Who am I in the business world?
  2. What do I stand for? What does my company stand for?
  3. Am I more than one thing?
  4. What can I commit to?

Alternatively, this Forbes article – “3 Critical Questions To Ask Yourself Before Building Your Personal Brand” – encourages you to ask yourself:

  1. What makes me great?
  2. What makes me unique?
  3. What makes me compelling?

I like these questions, and believe I answered them for myself long ago. To give you some context, five years ago I decided to segment my personal brand. Firstly, I am a professional communicator (who loves content marketing, social media/business, communications, and inspirational business), BUT I’m also a Mum and I am Andrea the woman – the sort who likes dirty jokes and enjoys a good argument about religion, feminism… well you name it.

Each of these segments is me, but do they need to cross-over into each other and become part of my professional profile as well? I don’t think so, so I separated myself – as much as one can. My three profiles have a blog, as well as various social media channels dedicated to each “brand.” I don’t believe everyone needs to segment themselves like I have – some people can be who they are across all of their channels – but if you need to segment yourself, it’s definitely worth considering. Then work out who you are and what you stand for.

The final point, of my four points above, is what can I commit to? I love social and I am all over it. It’s not easy keeping up and I certainly don’t do as much as I want to do, but it’s a priority for me so I am more active than most. To give you a feel, here’s my active social channels – although SlideShare is more about reading and sharing than participating right now…

Personal Branding
Yes, it’s rather busy keeping up.

But what can you do? Is Twitter all you’ve got in you? Focus on that. LinkedIn? Facebook? Google+? Make your decisions based on what you can manage and grow from there, but don’t be half-baked across multiple platforms. You may as well not play at all.

There’s a lot I can say here, but here are my top eight tips if you’re not doing enough and want to do more:

  1. Define your voice and what you stand for. Additionally, if you want to do something else in the future, it’s good to build your credibility in that field long before you start looking for work or launching a new business. Say you’re a programmer today and want to be a florist in the future – start a blog on flowers right now and build a social channel dedicated to floristry. You’ll have credibility before you start and it’ll be much easier when the time comes
  2. Be realistic about what you can do and commit to it! Commitment is such a big priority in this area and not being consistent will kill you. This is a patience game, so if you are half baked, it will take a lot longer to get results and that can also be shocking for your confidence
  3. Support your brand. If you are working for a company, you get a lot of benefits being associated with its brand. When I ran my own business, it was much harder to get attention. With Microsoft beside my name, more people sit up and take notice. So share your companies news and information – just aim for one a day if you can’t do more
  4. Find sites in your field and share content every day. I’ve written about this before and it’s the easiest way to get going. As a simple rule, follow 1-5 great publications or blogs (I follow up to 10) that really resonate with you and your personal brand, then if you like it, share it. Copy the author if you can – this increases your reach/ability to build your network. The important part here – ADD YOUR OPINION. Don’t just share links. Inspire me to read it and tell me why I should. I’ll appreciate your insight
  5. Support colleagues and people you admire by sharing their work – because we’re still not doing this in Asia and I have been saying it for years (Like It Share It). You have a role to play in helping others build their personal brand, just as they have a role in helping you build yours. Don’t wait until you need something – a new job, a promotion, a referral, support for your new blog (I get asked to support new blogs all the time) – do it now. In fact, if you like this blog and think it will be great for your community, why not share it? I’d sure appreciate it
  6. Include three hashtags with everything – this is so simple and so important, but it’s a habit you need to develop if you’re not doing it yet. It’s important because it connects you to audiences beyond your immediate community and that means you build a stronger network. For example, if you want to reach new sectors and don’t have the connections, #tags can get you in there, so do your research on what hashtags those targets follow and use them – three is good standard practice
  7. Join, create and participate in groups – LinkedIn, Tweet chats, Google hang-outs, whatever suits you. This isn’t easy and it can be time consuming, so choose one to get started and get active. If one doesn’t exist in your community, create one – easy peasy
  8. Be kind and be careful. Never judge or criticize anyone or anything – Anton Casey is a recent example of how it can all unravel very quickly. We also had another Former Miss Singapore in the media spot light this last week, after making insensitive comments on Facebook. It didn’t cause quite as much of a stir as Mr. Casey, but nobody wants that glare. My suggestion for professional criticism is be constructive – especially when someone is creating something you haven’t got the courage to do. Blogging, as an example, is not easy. It’s hard to put yourself out there in the world, so go easy on us

The one thing I’d love to see everyone in Asia embracing is the idea that we are all a Personal Brand. To stand out in this digital future – developing, nurturing, protecting, and valuing your personal brand is critical to success. We all need to make sure our personal brand stands for something remarkable if we want to excel – that’s the world we live in now. Also understand your personal brand’s value within the context of your employer, because it goes both ways. Truly innovative companies of the future will really value those with a strong and credible personal brand.

Facebook logo

Does this get a thumbs up?

With all that said, I certainly don’t have all of the answers and I haven’t got it all right – it’s a constant work in progress. But I’d LOVE to hear thoughts and feedback from my peers in this great region? Any insight on what you think professionals in Asia can do to nurture their personal brands?

It would be wonderful to see us all harnessing the great digital platforms available today – both internally and externally – so we can all gain the amazing benefits that #worklikeanetwork delivers.

I’m definitely in. Are you?


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Is Your Mum Safe?

Throughout my last year at Microsoft, I’ve been working with my communication and marketing colleagues on a big milestone – XP End of Service. It’s impossible to work in the IT industry and not know about this date – it’s a big priority – and we can certainly expect the momentum (and noise) to ramp up in the coming weeks as D-Day fast approaches – 8th April 2014! case you didn’t know, all operating systems have an end-of-service (here are Microsoft’s) because what is possible today just can’t support what is possible tomorrow. Let’s face it, all of the brilliant things we enjoy about technology right now were almost inconceivable when XP was first invented more than a decade ago.

As such, this end-date is a critical milestone, because those remaining on XP after the cut-off are exposing themselves to very high risks – security breaches, hacks, bots, etc…. However, a more compelling reason for me is quite simple: those still on XP are not even close to experiencing all of the wonderful things technology delivers today.

XP is a 12 year old operating system (OS), and while one of the most popular OS’s in Microsoft’s history, today it can only deliver a sub-standard experience. When people upgrade a whole new world opens up to them – something I’ve seen firsthand, with reactions varying from relief to almost wonder – when they migrate to Windows 7/8. When people upgrade they understand for the first time what is really possible.

Recently, I was brainstorming some ideas with my colleagues, trying to clarify which industries remain at high risk and what we could do about it. Top of the pops are financial services, healthcare, telcos, insurance and retail. However, what really caught my imagination was this number:

There are currently 20 million individuals in Asia still on Windows XP. Yes, 20 million – that’s almost the population of Australia!

(If you’re interested, there are more than 230 million users on XP in Asia, including China. Take China out of the picture and it’s down to close to 60 million. Minus India it’s more than 40 million. These numbers include businesses and can be found at Statcounter. However, it is the individuals that caught my attention. The one’s who probably don’t even know.)

So I start thinking – who are those individuals? Where are they?

And then it occurred to me that my Mum is probably one of them.

The problem is my Mum wouldn’t know XP if you smacked her in the head with it. She knows as much about technology as a new born babe, and while not everyone of her generation is as technology illiterate (although both of my parents seem to be), I’m thinking the message to the Mums (and Dads) of the world may not be getting through?

So how do we get the message to them?

Well from where I’m sitting, it’s simple – we go over to our Mum’s house and check out her computer.

But wait I hear you asking: why is it important that my Mum knows about this? Why can’t she just keep on using an old operating system in peace? She’s really happy with it right now – why rock that boat?

Here’s one possible scenario of why this could become an important issue to take seriously. Let’s say your dear old Mum has her bank details on her PC and it gets hacked and someone takes her life savings. She calls the bank expecting everything to be resolved. However, the banks have decided to approach these situations differently, and the first thing they do is send in forensic teams to analyze her computer. “What!” exclaims your Mum, “that’s not how it’s supposed to work?”

To be honest, I think this is fair enough – we should be 100 percent responsible for our personal data, because it’s our personal data after all. And it seems the banks are switching onto this and asking: “have you taken the most stringent steps you can take to protect your information before we agree to reimburse you for any losses?”

To my knowledge, the banks have focused on making sure your security software is effective. However, perhaps if you’re still on XP after April 8th 2014 that will be enough to make your claim invalid? It’s certainly possible.

Never heard of a bank taking these steps? Neither had I until recently. A friend in Australia was hacked and she had to give the bank her computer for forensic analysis. Her security was up-to-date and she was OK. But will my Mum be?

I’m obviously not speaking for the banks here, nor am I suggesting they will definitely do this, but things are starting to move in that direction – with personal responsibility for our data lying squarely with us. As such, I believe it is a potential threat and something we shouldn’t expose our Mums to. It’s also why your Mum needs to understand that this IS an important issue for her.

Yes she probably won’t enjoy learning a whole new operating system – who does? – but this is the safest route for her (and all of us) to go. We’ve got to make sure we’re secure digitally.

In the meantime, you’ve got a month to go until XP is no longer supported. The big industry players (mentioned above) that are still on XP have got enough money and resources to keep their IT infrastructure safe. Your Mum hasn’t.

So get on over to your Mum’s house, make sure she’s up-to-date with her technology, try and find the patience to teach her how to use a new operating system (or pay for her to go back to school if you don’t have that patience), and don’t forget to take a nice bunch of flowers to make her day. When your Mum’s safe and happy, it’s good for everyone.

In the meantime, I found this video of how Microsoft thinks technology will look in 2019 – you certainly won’t get to enjoy any of this stuff if you’re still on XP.

Please do share this with your Mum if you think she’ll value it and if you’ve got any thoughts on the risk to individuals still on XP, I’d love to hear it?



PS: what’s this got to do with communication? Everything. Technology is the core tool of the communication professional today – making sure you’re using the latest and greatest (as well as the most secure) is critical for success.

Some additional links

As many of us know, it’s not just individuals at risk today, it is also small to medium business (SMB) owners. I found it startling to learn that more than 70 percent of SMBs in Asia employ between 1-4 people – many of whom remain at risk with XP.

Microsoft and its partners are offering great incentives to this community – as is the high street outlets for individual consumers (like Mums) – but here are some handy links across the region, especially if you want more insight of what XP End of Service really means to you and your business. These links are specifically for SMBs in Asia Pacific.

The overall Windows XP site is here

Then by country in Asia Pacific – not including China or India.

New Zealand
Sri Lanka

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Scoot Off Message?

I’ve been part of a very interesting discussion about newsjacking on LinkedIn today – see links for an explanation of Newsjacking. Essentially, on the back of disgraced Briton’s (Anton Casey) horrible social media comments that went viral world-wide last week, Scoot thought it would be a good idea to offer a flight deal to Perth – “Escape Plan: Fly to Perth Cheap Cheap, Poor or Not” and then it features a cartoon of a “family” – which is obviously the Caseys.

Scoot Airlines

The image that appeared on Mumbrella Asia today

Anton Casey said some terrible things, and the fact he lost his job is quite right. We do not live in a world where that sort of attitude is acceptable and social media provides the perfect forum for comments like that to go far beyond anyone’s personal community. I abhor any racism or elitism, because we’re all just people doing the best we can, whether we were born with a silver spoon in our mouth or not – I happen to be a “not.”

However, the frightening thing about this scenario is how much the wife and five year old son have been attacked as well. Sure the Dad can be hauled over the coals, but a five year old boy? Let alone his wife.

Sure, she might not have the greatest taste in men, but this is now a family in extreme pain. I can only imagine that Anton Casey is learning one hell of a lesson right now, and it’s going to be a long time before he recovers from what he did – if he can at all. But my take on this whole situation is definitely more along these lines – “Where has our Empathy Gone?” written by William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement. I think I’m going to join.

Whatever happens to this family, Scoot jumping onto it and offering a promo deal that takes the mickey out of the Casey’s is beyond poor taste. The Oreo blackout at the Superbowl is a class act and world-best practise example of newsjacking. My colleagues issued this little Tweet when Apple announced its new iPhone color range.


Kudos to my colleagues for this one – it got lovely attention

That’s newsjacking.

A whole bunch of tweets and Facebook posts today linking brands to the Grammys? That’s newsjacking.

Scoot jumping on the back of a family’s pain and a country’s outrage? That’s not newsjacking. That’s just poor taste in my humble opinion.

So what have we learnt this week?

  • If you don’t have reasonable social judgment, social media probably isn’t a platform you should be engaging on. If you don’t know if you have good social judgment, I’ll give you a clue. If you regularly offend complete strangers or friends of friends at dinner parties, it’s probably best if you cancel your Facebook page
  • The law needs to look into these cases and get moving. A five year old boy should not be featured on the front page of any forum. Equally, the global sharing of an individual’s personal address, phone number, work address, colleagues email addresses, etc… well that doesn’t seem right either
  • If someone makes an ass of themselves, let’s leave the kids out of it. A child cannot help who their parents are
  • There is no privacy anymore. If you want to make judgmental comments – great, knock yourself out – but when your comments go viral, you now have unequivocal evidence that it’s not pretty. And let’s not forget there are hundreds of thousands of Anton Casey’s out there, he just happened to get caught
  • But more importantly, Brands need to really think about when it is OK to jump onto a newsjacking opportunity. Scoot was definitely off message for me this week, and they started off so well.

What else do you think we’ve learnt? Or do you think it’s OK that Scoot newsjacked this story?



PS: apparently Scoot took this campaign down pretty quickly today, but I wonder if we’ll see another sacking?

PPS: the irony is not lost on me that I am now newsjacking a newsjacking…

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Jo Malone London and Coach. Two Brands, One Winner

Jo MaloneI have a very sweet and thoughtful husband. He makes me work really hard at birthdays and Christmas to ensure I – at least – equal his thoughtfulness in the gift-giving department. I’m a lucky gal. For Christmas, he designed my very own perfume at Jo Malone London and he got an absolute winner. It is the perfect fragrance and I wear it every day.

Steve told me (after I opened it) that he had an absolutely fabulous experience at Jo Malone London and is keen to take me there so I can experience it as well. A good endorsement for a brand – especially in Asia where it can be a bit hit and miss.

However, following his Christmas shopping foray, he also received a handwritten letter thanking him for his custom. Now I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time a commercial exchange resulted in something so personal. And guess what? Steve and I are both delighted.

Jo Malone

Customer service excellence from Jo Malone

On the other hand, I wrote to Coach in 2013 following the Bangladeshi building collapse that resulted in more than a thousand deaths. A friend challenged me to understand where my ‘brand of choice’ sourced its products after I blogged about a new handbag purchase. I’ve been a Coach fan ever since I lived in Boston in the late 90s, when I first discovered it.

It’s simple, elegant and perfectly suits my style.

Getting back to Bangladesh. This disaster upset and infuriated me. But the thing that angered me most was big global brands – who have been benefiting from low cost labor in these countries for decades – standing back and washing their hands of it, or worse, pulling out all together.

Apparently, rather than fixing the problem or taking some responsibility, they think it’s better not to be associated with it at all. I personally believe that global companies have a responsibility for the quality of their products, as well as the safety of the humans making these products. This counts if the products are made in-house, outsourced once, twice or a thousand times. Ignorance is not an excuse – not today.

CoachNow it’s very important to mention that I do not know if Coach is making its products in Bangladesh, because when I emailed Coach HQ to ask where the individual products were made, I got a reply suggesting I speak to the Singapore helpline. I replied that this was not a question the Singapore helpline could handle and asked HQ for a response to my very simple question.

I never got a response, but worse, Coach Singapore has added me to its marketing list. I now get both SMS and eDMs from Coach on a regular basis, however since this incident, every time I receive marketing outreach it absolutely infuriates me. It infuriates me because they did not answer my question yet believe I will continue to be interested in its products?

I’ve been loyal to the Coach brand for more than 15 years, but now they have lost me and I will not buy Coach again. That is what happens when a brand does not listen to a customer and answer the customer’s question. That is what happens when a brand does not distinguish between the types of communication a customer sends in. Coach did not identify that this specific request was not an opportunity for marketing. Coach did not recognize that a loyal customer had some very valid concerns and wanted it addressed. Coach got it wrong.

This is the world we live in now. I’ve had a bad experience and I’m writing about it. I’ve also had an excellent experience and I’m writing about it.

Therefore, has what I’ve written influence your attitude towards either brand? Would you walk into the next Jo Malone London store to see if they delighted you as well? Or would you bypass the next Coach store based on what I said? I’m curious to know.

It doesn’t take much to lose a customer these days, but it’s not about single customer losses anymore. One voice can impact thousands, or can it? Perhaps it’s only the Kardashians who have that sort of power?

What do you think?



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