Texting is the new talking

26 08 2008

How people communicate is a subject that’s been of interest to me lately. Advances in technology continue to unveil new methods of communication that make it easier, faster and more convenient to reach people 24/7/365. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research about how teens and tweens and their parents use cell phones (particularly for sending text messages), and how this is actually a relationship-building activity for parents and their kids.

Teens and tweens are the true babies of the information age and were practically bottle-fed by computers! More than half of kids in this age range currently own a cell phone, and they primarily use them for texting. Luckily for parents, texting is a great way for them to communicate with their kids. 68% of American parents communicate with their kids by text message, and 53% of texting kids say that their relationship with their parents has improved because of texting. It’s an easy way for parents to touch base with their kids without intruding too much – it’s much easier for kids to send a discreet text message to their parents rather than to actually call them when out with friends.

So what does this mean for us? Well, I mostly shared this information because I think it’s really interesting. New communication devices are putting less emphasis on face-to-face interactions and more on person-to-device-to-person interactions. These implications are particularly relevant for PR professionals, as utilizing social media and tech-y devices increases in our outreach efforts.

On a personal note, at 11p.m. a few weeks ago I received, “It’s your mom. I love you” via text from my mother, her first text message to me ever. I can’t say that texting has enhanced our relationship any, but since I’m not great at making phone calls I think it’s given her some peace of mind!


Feel-good chocolate

30 07 2008

Not only does chocolate taste good; it improves your self-esteem. There may not be any scientific studies to support that statement, but eating Dove Chocolate sure helps mine! Each piece has an inspiring PROMISES message, such as “Don’t think about it so much,” and, “Do what feels right,” both of which are displayed at my desk because I liked the messages so much.

People like eating chocolate, and they like feeling good. This branded messaging helps create positive relationships between Dove and its consumers. The brand has taken it a step further by allowing consumers to submit customized messages on their Web site, and held the Expressions of Love Contest in search of the most romantic foil message (the winner received a diamond necklace!).

Naturally I had to do research for this post, and lucky for me my co-worker has an endless stash of these chocolates at her desk. Today’s feel-good message: “Discover yourself.” I’ll get right on that…after another visit to the chocolate bowl.

Make Consumer Interaction Easy

3 07 2008

It turns out that police departments across the country are beginning to embrace new methods for obtaining important crime tips, which are aimed at giving younger folks more comfort and anonymity in reporting crimes. Here is a great article on the trend.

It’s a reminder that most businesses need to continually evolve how they interact with their target audiences to achieve their goals. No longer can we expect them to spend time and energy to overcome obstacles to show up at our proverbial doors. We need to join the lines of communication that they’re already comfortable with and using and become active participants in creating dialog where they are.

Chances are good that a number of your consumers text, microblog, read blogs, write blogs, connect with friends, connect with professionals, and on and on and on. Find out where they are and think about ways you can join the conversation with them in meaningful ways. Make it easy for them to share their opinions, knowledge, dreams and frustrations with your brand and a lot of them will take you up on it.

There is wonderful power in the opportunities that are presented when we make it easier for others to communicate with us. Just ask criminals in Boston, Louisville, Tampa, Seattle, and Detroit.

How has your company or client changed the ways they interact with consumers recently?

Introducing the Wovel

2 06 2008

Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure Books from childhood? “To get in the cab with the strange thin man, go to Chapter 6. To borrow the unchained bike and ride through back alleys, go to Chapter 11.” I actually have one of my old battered versions here on my desk that I keep as an example should a new execution of the idea ever become a good suggestion for one of our clients.

I read today about the introduction of the Wovel – a Web novel. According to Underland Press, it’s the first of its kind. The author writes a new installment – long enough to get interested, but short enough to read at your desk – every Monday and readers vote to decide where the story goes next week. It’s an updated take on the old paperback versions mentioned above.

Marketers are looking for creative ways to engage consumers and create connections with their brands. I think this Wovel is a great example of one way to accomplish that — by giving consumers some ownership of the finished product. And, as long as the storyline remains interesting, there’s a good chance they’ll come back for more each week.

Thanks to Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing for bringing it to our attention.