Ed Keller and Brad Fay’s The Face-to-Face Book
Free Press, 2012, 304 pages
Lee Odden’s Optimize
Wiley, 2012, 243 pages
Tim Coombs and Sherry Holladay's Handbook of Crisis Communication
Wiley-Blackwell, 2012, 766 pages
Book Reviews by Katie Delahaye Paine
Growing up in Durham, New Hampshire, some of my favorite memories were of grinding my way through my summer reading list in the 1730's barn that my father rehabbed into a house. There was a classic “fainting couch” in the hall and, before we replaced the metal roof, a good rainstorm would produce a nearly deafening patter.
My fantasy this year was to sit on a beach somewhere catching up on my reading. But, since it's been pouring for several days, I just couldn't resist this stack of great new books on social media measurement and public relations measurement.
The Face-to-Face Book
For the socially inclined, a must read is Ed Keller and Brad Fay’s The Face-to-Face Book. My first take was that it was a truly scathing indictment of the current marketing mentality that says that social media is all you need to focus on. Based on their own research coupled with numerous other studies, Fay and Keller outline beautifully why In Real Life (IRL) conversations are still the most important kind.
Let’s start with a reminder that 90% of conversations still happen off line. I of course love their take on influencers – as in their chapter on “Klout is not Clout.” Their data shows that word of mouth from real life influencers (as opposed to what I would call the Fauxfluencers that are identified by Klout) generate eight times more word of mouth than the average American. They give some great examples of how success has come to marketers (including Miller/Coors, Fiskars, and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia) who have closely integrate IRL word of mouth with social and other tactics. Some other highlights:
- Advertising works because of conversations, social and otherwise.
- Word of mouth still drives sales far more than any other marketing tactic.
- You need to be “remark-able” -- in other words, you need to have something that is worth talking about.
- Emotions are far more contagious in real life than they are online.
- Community growth, including social communities, is from real people doing real things.
- You need to use real marketing data, not just Twitter, if you want to know what is going on.
- Marketers who think that customers want to connect with the brand are mistaken. People want to connect with other people.
Keller and Fay apply this approach not just to the simple act of selling something, but also to managing reputation, crisis communications, internal communications, and essentially every problem a communicator might encounter. I started a list of quotable quotes from the book, and then gave up and realized there was just too much good stuff to quote. Just go read it.
For those more interested in internal communications, Talk, Inc. by Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind should top your list. Talk, Inc. takes many of the same concepts that Keller and Fay discuss in The Face-to-Face Book, but applies them to reinventing internal organizational communications. Their premise is the old command and control structure will no longer work (not that it ever really did). They cite four basic principles that drive successful internal communications today:
- Intimacy: Leaders need to reduce the distance, both physical as well as institutional, that traditional CEOs have put between them and their employees.
- Interactivity: One-way communications will no longer cut it. Successful leaders today understand that corporate communications is a two-way street, and therefore they provide multiple channels for dialog.
- Inclusion: Employees aren’t just asked for their response, but rather are invited to create their own content through which the company can tell its story.
- Intentionality: Communications should always be in line with corporate goals, objectives, and strategies. Successful companies don’t just encourage employees to talk, they ensure that the conversation converges in a way that that communicates a single vision and drives business value.
For anyone involved in advising or implementing internal communications, this book is full of great advice.
I’ve been looking forward to reading Lee Odden’s Optimize since I first heard of it. Odden is one of the early trailblazers in social media and his TopRank blog is always a leading voice in the community. (And of course I’m always fond of someone who names me one of the top 25 women who rock social media.)
As always, Odden does not disappoint. This book is for social media managers what The Joy of Cooking is for anyone who cooks: A treasure trove of good advice, with a solid dose of practical how-to instructions, topped of with a lovely dusting of inspiration. Odden’s premise is that businesses will win today by integrating SEO, social media, and content marketing. While to many of you that might evoke a giant “duh,” it’s one thing to say that it needs to happen, it’s a very different one to give you all the tools, tricks, and techniques to make it happen within your own organization. Which Odden does very well here. I am particularly grateful for the way he breaks out his advice for small business vs. enterprise.
Just as The Joy of Cooking never left my kitchen counter when I was learning how to cook, as the new Chief Marketing Officer for News Group International, this is one bible that will never be far from my side.
Handbook of Crisis Communications
For all you who have asked me for advice on how to handle a crisis, I now have an answer. Read Tim Coombs and Sherry Holladay's Handbook of Crisis Communication. It’s a bit heavy for beach reading but if you are academically inclined, this is the mother-lode of crisis research conducted by an assortment of luminaries. The range and variety of this compilation of papers by a stunning list of scholars is stellar. If you’re just looking for advice on a specific problem, you can find well-researched case studies on everything from the Virginia Tech shootings to the BP Oil Spill, to FEMA, and Denny's. And, yes, for the socially inclined there are a number of papers on the application of social media in a crisis. It covers international crises as well as domestic, practice as well as theory, and even includes some historical perspective on crisis communications as well as a look forward to the future.
(Talk, Inc. photo by Natalie Castellino)
Katie Delahaye Paine is CEO of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine is a dynamic and experienced speaker on public relations and social media measurement. Click here for the schedule of Katie’s upcoming speaking engagements. Katie and Beth Kanter are authors of the book “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit,” to be published this year by Wiley.
The Measurement Standard is a publication of KDPaine & Partners, a company that delivers custom research to measure brand image, public relationships, and engagement. Katie Paine, CEO of KDPaine & Partners, will be glad to talk with you about measurement for your organization.