Soylent Green Apple: Jobs, the vegan who ate people

I own a MacBook Pro, an iPhone 4 and an iPad 2.

It gets worse. If you include family Apple products – more iPhones, iPods, iTunes and holiday Apple family photo books – we’re pushing past $5K of Apple investments from my small business and my family.

I used to brag that once you go Mac, you never go back. All that has changed. I recently read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and The New York Times. Together their collective reporting on Apple’s horrific abuse of human beings in both America and China – has soured my personal appetite for Apple products.

Charlton Heston warned us in 1973: Soylent Green is PEOPLE!

When we consume capitalism on the backs of human misery, we consume each other.

The biography of Jobs reveals that he routinely abused his own executives in a code known as the “reality distortion field.” He cannibalized his own corporate divisions.

Jobs dismissed odds and humans – any perceived obstacle to getting stellar products to market. He did it on the backs of other people and himself. It’s likely his single-minded devotion cost him his health and life. He ignored doctors’ orders and put Apple before himself, his family and his workers. When you abuse yourself and the people around you – what’s another country like China?

Jobs clutched a bipolar view of his products and people. Products and people were either shit or amazing. Products always trumped people.

Today I sent a note to the Apple supply chain executives. I was horrified by the human misery behind the brand. Well-paid PR professionals above my pay grade are working to spin atrocity into misunderstanding.

Jobs courted one human condition: our impulse to buy his products.

For that, I thank Apple. This is the wake-up call that I needed.

Apple isn’t the only brand out there abusing people at home and abroad.

When Apple embraced the Jobs’ reality distortion field, it distorted our reality, our basic human values as consumers. It’s time Americans own their reality and the brands they covet. We must demand honest brands, American jobs and human decency behind the products we buy. We will never get there if iConsumers don’t speak with iMoney.

 

 

 

 

Owning 2012 – Mapping measured success

Happy New Year!

As we launch 2012, I am reminded of just how important our allegiance to transparency and the truth is to public relations. When you make truth your friend, you have to answer for less. It’s a great resolution to follow in all things politics, friends and family. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Most of public relations is the art of managing what we mean to say to the world. A lot of people spend big checks and time on trying to reinvent what comes out of their mouths when it’s simply too late. So why not create a plan to say what you really mean when you first say it? It’s a simple strategy.

Here’s the truth I know for most clients and businesses: Times are tough. We have more work to do with less money. We have less people who have money to buy things. We have more people with problems and troubles than time. We still have big dreams for our children, but small resources. Our challenge is hard, but not insurmountable. We need more smart people doing more quickly. We need to be inspired to face these odds. Who and what can inspire us to tackle what lies ahead?

What inspires you? Who inspires you? Share that with the world in 2012. Make that the foundation of your public relations plan. Here’s 12 ways to make that resolution a reality:

1) Tackle one new technology that frightens you – Iphone, Ipad, Android, laptop, social media, software, etc. Make a point of mastering something in technology that keeps you current with the world.

2) Make a commitment to change the way you do business  – Pick something that is not working and change it. If you know your customer relations is bogging down your business, make improving customer relations your No. 1 goal for 2012.

3) Dare to be different – Adopt a new marketing tactic to solidify and grow your referrals. Launch a social media program, schedule more lunches, critically evaluate your existing client base, develop a creative ad strategy, walk at lunch, get up early, go home early, eat better, live better, work smarter.

4) Research and read about people who are smarter than you each week. Invite them to breakfast or lunch.

5) Review your biggest accounts and successes in 2011 and examine why they worked.

6) Don’t forget to look at the numbers. The numbers don’t lie. Look at how much you spent and how much you earned and embrace it truthfully. Know your client base.

7) Celebrate and honor your top referrals. They love and trust you best.

8) Celebrate and honor your top disasters. They will tell you what you need to know about your business.

9) Create 2012 goals that are achievable based on measurable outcomes. Measure this: Increased referrals, diversified client base, higher income, steadier income, stronger brand identity, higher client/customer satisfaction, and/or better return on investment, more time to walk the dog.

10) Create a strategic plan for the future. Decide who you want to be in five years and map the path to achieve that end game.

11) Connect with people who matter. Identify 10 people who you admire and invite them to lunch to discuss your plan for your future. And be honest about what terrifies you the most and see what they say.

12) Identify your worst habit that negatively affects your productivity and eliminate it.

Our commitment to transparency and truth will always set us free to succeed. The answers to 2012 are already there.

 

Smart tips for building a trusted brand of truth on social media

Jumping into social media streams can be like inhaling a cloud of gnats up your nose. How do you screen social media content for value? And how do you create it?

I recently attended Seattle’s Interactive Conference #SIC2011 where the top social media gurus and brand managers gathered to highlight what’s working and what’s headed our way. I walked away feeling validated by one repeated theme – social media is not a marketing strategy, but a tool.

It’s clear that people tune social media out when they are besieged with useless content. People follow trusted brands of truth that cut through the noise.

The frenetic output of social media can never match our personal ability to consume it. So at the end of the day trusted brands of truth prevail.

I screen social media like a mother eavesdrops on a teen-girl slumber party. Amid the hailstorm of useless chatter, I’m listening for what I want to know and what I need to know: “I hate her, I love Muse, I’m failing biology and Matt is a brat.” The same rule applies to the marketplace. Who loves who? Who loves me? Who hates who? Who hates me? And why?

Consumers and brands operate with motives. Know your motive and know the motives of your target audience. Tools for communication may change, but rules for strategic communication remain. Here are tips from #SIC2011 that stuck with me:

  1. Social media is not a brand/marketing strategy. It’s a tactic.
  2. Embrace ALL third-party testimonials – the good and bad. Don’t  abhor, ignore or delete them.
  3. Adopt transparency to create credibility. People scan for trusted sources.
  4. Speak concisely and with relevance. Edit like an umpire.
  5. Know why you’re in it. Answer this question: What’s my home run?
  6. Respect social media tools. Hiring cheap labor to manage your social media communities is like asking frat boys to plan a wedding. (Inspired by Louis LoPresti @RedPantsMeme)
  7. Metrics for social media must be tied to a marketing strategy and goals – brand lift, allegiance, buy-in, transactions, market share, customer service and referrals – not just increased traffic.
  8. There are no substitutes for good products and content. Have something worthy to sell and say.
  9. Consumers and clients are your best brand ambassadors. Celebrate them.
  10. Shut up and listen. What are your social media streams telling you?

Know what the shot is

“You want to learn the first rule you’d know if you’d ever spent a day in your life? You never open your mouth ‘til you know what the shot is.” –  Ricky Roma, Glengarry Glen Ross

Only three questions matter in marketing – Do you love me? Do you hate me? Why?

Knowing why you’re loved or loathed is critical to identifying your position in the worlds of the marketplace and the media. I ask my clients to conduct an inventory of their brand assets and liabilities to develop a savvy marketing/communications plan.

The strategy is this: You have to know where you are if you want to know where to go.

If you want a long-term relationship with a targeted market share, you can’t dodge tough questions that rock your world. Ask people why they love you or hate you head on. Testimonials prove your worth and credibility. If you can’t find a single person to boast about what you do, you need a marketing intervention.

On the other hand, if you have more than 20 people stalking you with their love, ask them why they love you so much. Harness their passion with a direct request for a two-paragraph testimonial. Keep it short. Ask for a valentine, not a sonnet. Don’t be greedy.

Not knowing why you are loved is just as bad as not knowing why you are loathed. We dig deep for this kind of intelligence when it comes to our egos, dates, marriages and holiday dinners. It’s human nature to want to be validated. But we don’t always do it for our business or our politics.

Clients are typically happy to brag and tell you why they’re loved. Yet when you ask them to go out and grab testimonials to prove it, they  shrink like a chubby at Weight Watchers. Weigh in on reality to inform your goals, strategies, tactics and plans. Any brand manager will tell you that you are only as good as your testimonials and brand ambassadors.

Every candidate or company who looked at a poll or focus group knows this. It’s tough love. But there’s only one thing worse than bad feedback: flying blind. Al Pacino explains the foundation of all marketing in Glengarry Glen Ross: Never open your mouth ‘til you know what the shot is.