You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2009.

Product recalls cause significant business disruptions (read: crisis communications).  Of course, the primary concern for most businesses is not just the disruption, but the harm that may be done to their “consumer” by whatever real or perceived product defect resulted in the recall.

fda-salmonellaHere’s the question posed by Pete Blackshaw on his ConsumerGenerate Media blog in the context of the FDA and the very current salmonella scare:

If you were in charge of digital or social media strategy for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) amidst this Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak, what extra steps would you take to address consumer concerns and curiosity around the issue? 

It’s an awesome post and Pete shares ten steps that the FDA could take to increase consumer access to information and awareness of the seriousness of this event.  He’s also generally complimentary to the FDA for their Web site given that it is a government site.

Some good discussion in the comments as well on some extra steps.  Please take the time to read the post and some of the comments.  Communications professionals must read this post.  There is much to learn for all of us.

Post by Nick Vehr – 1.27.09


Read this interesting article in today’s New York Times (1.22.09 – p. B3), “Publisher Rethinks the Daily: It’s Free Andnewspapers Printed and Has Blogs All Over.” 

For professional communicators, The Printed Blog ( offers a peek into how print may survive in Chris Anderson’s “long tail” world. 

Free newspapers are not so new.  Imagine, though, a method of publishing with primarily blog content (user-generated so no overhead for reporters), commercial printers placed in the homes of distributors for the 11″x17″ format (greatly reduced printing and distribution costs) and advertising purchased online (no overhead for a sales force).

According to the article, cities like Chicago could have as many as 50 editions printed twice weekly.  Content providers (bloggers) can be local or national,vertical or horizontal, provocative or mainstream.  Readers decide.  Choice is broad.

It’s early and this may not catch on, but my anxiety over quality and accuracy of user-generated newspaper content is eased if most content is commentary.

Those folks who still love the feel of newsprint over a cup of java may get it both ways – the micro-content they crave with a side of ink stains on their fingertips.

Post by Nick Vehr – 1.22.09

Barak Obama - 44th President of the United States of America

Barack Obama - 44th President of the United States of America

I try to keep these posts focused on issues of concern to professional communicators.  Well, not today.

We all just witnessed a truly great day in American history.  The transfer of power in American government is always fascinating, interesting and even inspiring. 

Today’s was all that, and much more.  Our Nation is at war.  Our economy is in crisis.   

From the unimaginable enormity of the crowds on the Washington Mall, to the somber, direct and poignant words of President Barack Obama, to the pageantry of the Inaugural parade, today’s events went far to restore American’s belief in themselves and their Nation, no matter how challenging the times.

I am hopeful that images of today’s transfer of power send a message to a, perhaps, doubtful world that America is strong.

I was privileged to join several thousand other Cincinnatians at the historic Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal to watch the swearing-in ceremony.  It was in the same space from which, earlier this decade, President George Bush made his case to the American people for the war in Iraq. 

I’ll  post again soon on strategic communications related matters.  For today, though, I simply wanted to share what a fantastic day this is to be an American.

Post by Nick Vehr – 1.21.09

Here we are on the eve of the inauguration of a new President.  President-Elect Obama reflects change in so many ways.  I’ve posted before about one dramatic change he represents is the coming of age of new media.change-obama1

From the exciting and creative online strategies used in his campaign to the Blackberry he will soon relinquish, he is truly our first new media President.

So, what the heck does that mean for PR professionals and their clients?  Tough to tell, other than there is more mainstream discussion than ever before about the inclusion of social media strategies and tactics in integrated strategic communications programs. 

Is it because of the new Prez?  Maybe it was about to happen anyway.  Maybe progress has just intersected with change at the right time.  Who knows?  Who cares? Regardless, it is clear the the segment is maturing.

The result: communications professionals need to be on their game.  We have to admit that many of us are learning along with our clients.  If we are to survive, we also must work hard to be out ahead of them and provide solid advice, counsel and support. 

A recent post by Kevin Dugan on his Strategic Public Relations lauds a releatively new book by Pete Blackshaw, Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3000.  Both these guys are fellow Cincinnatians.  They’ve been posting and playing in this space for way, way longer than me and I learn everytime I am around either of them or read their blogs.

Dugan’s review and Blackshaw’s book reflect – at last to me –  that a more sophisticated yet practical understanding of social media is beginning to emerge.

Blackshaw’s most recent post he refers to social media as an “organizing principle” as much as a marketing strategy.  He also questions whether we may have all gone a bit too far in adopting every new app rather than focusing on or mastering what works best (my words, not his).  He confesses a desire to return to long form blogging from his short form tweeting.

When leading edge guys blog like this, I can only conclude that a developing, young and exciting medium is beginning to mature, beginning to settle in. 

Thank goodness.  Now, maybe I can catch up.

Post by Nick Vehr – 1.16.08

Happy New Year!new-years-eve

I’m not too big on New Year’s resolutions (they usually only last about a week or two for me), but every strategic communications professional should resolve to better understand the application of new media to his/her clients’ integrated communications programs.

We do a monthly newsletter called March Forth.  You can read archived versions on our Web site.  Our first edition of 2009 is titled “New Year, New Media: Your Business and Social Media in 2009.” 

The newsletter is designed to touch on strategic communications issues that can help a business.  This issue is designed to encourage clients, friends and others to consider new media in their context.

There is little question that the use of social media will continue its rise in 2009, especially for consumers.  It is legitimate to question, however, how pervasive it will become and its application to B2B. 

Just take a moment to read Todd Defren’s post (PR Squared) on 12.15.08 after he joined 14 other gurus to discuss the future of social media.

Defren was commenting on an event held by Peter Kim , who shared an impressive .pdf titled “Social Media Predictions 2009” on his blog, offering deeper insight into the summary of comments shared on PR Squared.

The comments he shares are interesting for many reasons, not the least being the skepticism shared so openly.  These gurus seem not so certain about what 2009 will bring, with Peter Blackshaw suggesting on his blog that many of us may join the social media equivalent of Weight Watchers.

The pendulum always swings wide before settling into a smooth, narrow and steady sway.  It is possible that 2008 went wide with the middle being more clearly defined in 2009.  We’ll see.

Regardless, our clients need smart, pragmatic and creative advice on how to fully integrate social media into their programs to build reputation and strengthen relationships.

I resolve in 2009 to learn WAY, WAY more than I know now. 

Post by Nick Vehr – 1.2.2009