Coca-Cola classic is always the real thing: Aligning the brand with mission

image (1)While here in Seoul, I had the amazing opportunity to visit one of the world’s largest multinational beverage corporations, Coca-Cola Korea. During the candid discussion, I was able to get an inside viewpoint on the public relations efforts from Coca-Cola Korea’s public affairs and corporate communications director and manger.

In the discussion with the communications team, I found it interesting how Coca-Cola Korea strategically integrates its corporate social responsibility (CSR) 2020 visionary plan, Me.We.World, to assist in driving its outreach and communications initiatives with targeted audiences. For an array of multinational corporations, the current movement is aligning CSR with key business objectives.

The Coca-Cola communications representatives explained how environmental and social issues are valued and important to the current younger generation of consumers and how they identify with a brand. As a result, building communications strategies that connect with company’s CSR initiatives maintains and conveys a positive rapport with stakeholders. More importantly, blending CSR and communication efforts together allows the brand of Coca-Cola to be even more transparent in driving innovation for better sustainability worldwide.

Coca-Cola Korea’s usage of CSR within public relations strategic efforts was a very interesting notion, because it supported the stakeholder theory and the idea of leveraging CSR from a communications position. Further, it’s finally nice to see CSR and communication in actual practice and supporting all the literature and theories I’ve explored and studied to understand the valuable role that CSR plays in daily corporate communications efforts. Coca-Cola Korea is definitely making the brand real and classic.

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The Wanderlust Seoul

Walking along the hilly, shop-lined side streets of Seoul, I’m consonantly feeding my wanderlust. Ah, what an amazing feeling! IMG_7183The city is rich in culture and rooted in tradition. With every street corner I turn within Seoul, my mind and eyes are completely immersed in awe of the city’s natural splendor and fixating new experiences. With every bite of traditional Korean food such as barbeque, bibimbap, chicken vegetable soup, kimchi,mouth-watering seared steak, and freshly caught and steamed seafood, I feel as if I’m enriching my soul full of Korean culture. To say the very least, being a foodie in Seoul is an absolute  pleasure!

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The city of Seoul is comprised of 25 districts known by the Korean term as “Gu.”  So far, my favorite areas are: Gangnam-gu, Seongdong-gu, Itaewon, Namdaemun, Myeongdong, Insadong, and Daehangno. Each area is known for a special quality, from high-fashion to cultural arts and entertainment. The neighborhoods, to simply put it, are vibrant, unique, and fun!

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While exploring the sights and sounds of the areas within Seoul, landmark destinations are tucked away between city lights and skyscrapers with a mountain backdrop landscape. I visited the Korean Buddhist temple, Bongeunsa, and Gyeongbok Palace and Changdeok Palace, which are two of the “Five Grand Palaces” built by the Korean kings of the Joseon Dynasty. As I strolled along the Gyeongbok Palace spacious walled grounds, the pathways led me to the Blue House the home and presidential offices of South Korean President Park Geun-hye. The palaces, The Blue House, and the Buddhist temple invoked the Korean traditional philosophy of balancing harmony with nature. The way in which the structures were arranged in harmony with the natural setting of the nature and the mountains conveys the country’s tranquility for nature and society.

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From buses to the subway, moving around the bustling city of Seoul through the public transportation system is very efficient. Visiting all the sights around town has so far been simple. Riding the subway system is one of the cleanest and cheapest experiences I’ve had than any major city in the U.S. What makes Seoul’s subway system so great is how the city integrates the latest technology capabilities and provides free Wi-Fi to passengers of the subway. All the Wi-Fi is in 5G, which is amazing because the U.S. is still using 4G capabilities. Seoul has various downloadable mobile transit apps that provide an interactive and real-time way to understand the subway system. IMG_7574

Additionally, the city uses the smart phone apps to communicate with passengers for alerts and provide relevant and timely information to the masses. The mobile apps are an innovative resource tool for harnessing technology to establish a two-way communication system with the public and the city. Needless to say, Seoul is feeding my wanderlust inch by inch.

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Indonesia’s 2014 elections: The power of social media

Is social media the new battleground for Indonesia politicians? Yes, it definitely is. The vast majority of politicians across the Indonesia landscape are starting to realize that social media is a game-changer and valuable tool to not only connect to young voters of the country, but the go-to vehicle to disseminate political campaigning messages to the masses rapidly.  While this concept of political campaigning through social media is not a revolutionary concept in the U.S., the notion is ground-breaking in Indonesia.

The 2014 elections will be a political turning point for Indonesia, because this will be a true testament to the country’s generally new democratic governmental structure.  According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) World Factbook, Indonesia was formerly an authoritarian government, and in 1998 began constructing a democratic constitution, incorporate civil rights, holding elections, and moving toward a democratic government structure. The country’s 16-year democratic run will be tested this year as first-time Indonesian voters rise to the majority of the country’s population and actively use social media to engage in political discourse.

With the Presidential elections occurring in July, the outcome will be determined by the ability of politicians to use social media to their advantage. Recently, Indonesian elections took place for the legislative assembly seats on April 9. The outcome was a loss of more than half of the current the ruling democratic party’s seats. Young voters were the paradigm shift in the overall outcome of legislative elections.

Social media is Pandora’s Box

The traditional mainstream media outlets have always played the primary role as the vehicle of political messaging in Indonesia.  With high censorship in the Indonesian political messaging delivered and communicated to the public through mainstream media outlets, a one-way communication system was established and in a sense, accepted. As the rise of voters opt in to receive their political engagement and information through social media and Internet, mainstream media’s role minimizes and social media now serves as a catalysts of change within the political discourse system. Research illustrates that the concept of gatekeeping goes out the door when social media takes a prominent role as the messaging vehicle in the political discourse with voters. This opens Pandora’s Box for voters to have the ability to have two-way communication with political candidates within the 2014 elections. Young voters will now have the ability to search and cultivate for the political news that resonates to the issues that matter to them. Lastly, the notion of the private self versus the public self that interacts via social media comes to the forefront.

I tweet, therefore I vote?

A record number of tech-savvy, young Indonesian voters are attracting the attention of politicians for good reason.  Younger voters are the shift to winning or losing an election. According to the Asia Foundation, the 2014 democratic election season will have over 70 million Indonesians reaching voting age. Additionally, about 90 percent of the voters are actively using social media platforms to engage in political and civic participation.The most popular platforms are Facebook and Twitter.  Forbes states that Indonesia’s capital Jakarta is considered the “Twitter city” of the world. As far as rankings, Indonesia ranks fifth behind U.S., Brazil, Japan, and the U.K. as the most active on Twitter. Approximately 30 million Indonesian’s tweet daily and this reflects the significance of importance the first-time voters mean in the political conversation online and the general election.

It will be interesting to see the outcomes of the July presidential elections in Indonesian.  Examining what will be the developed rules for engagement for politicians and the public when using social media. What will social media evolve to for the country?  How social media will be used or abused for political agendas? How will social media provide a voice to young voters? What will the election outcomes reveal about the access in the terms of two-way communication? Can political candidates in Indonesia do what U.S. President Barack Obama did with social media in the 2008 presidential election and connect with young voters? Let me know your thoughts.

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CVS Quits Tobacco

CVS Caremark Corporate:

On February 5, your company made an unprecedented move by announcing that as of October 1, 2014, one of the nation’s largest drugstore chains will stop selling cigarettes in all CVS stores nationwide. The announcement sparked a national conversation which resulted in major buzz across U.S. media outlets, but especially in the world of social media ushering in waves of both positive and negative public commentary.

credit: CVS.com

From this event, I have monitored and analyzed a sample collection of 200 Twitter posts from CVS Caremark’s conversational threads on the social media channel, Twitter. To measure the conversation, I examined the hashtag #CVSQuits. The Twitter activity on the hashtag was explored from February 5 to February 12, 2014. The examination of a week’s worth of Twitter data established and created a well-rounded representation and interpretation of the overall reaction from the Twitter social community. More importantly, through a content analysis methodology of #CVSQuits, I’m able to provide a detailed analyze of trends in organic keywords that resonate toward the CVS Caremark’s announcement.

Graph A

Graph A

The findings illustrate that there is an overwhelming positive sentiment with your company’s decision to stop selling cigarettes. The data conveys that a total of 78% of the Twitter commentary applauded your company’s efforts to align CVS’ corporate social responsibility with the organization’s mission. However, as displayed in Graph A, 22% of the commentary data criticized your efforts, due to the fact your retail drugstore will continue to sell products that are also deemed detrimental to public health such as: junk food and alcoholic beverages.

Credit: Twitter.com

Graph B

Graph B

When examining the organic, community-driven keywords mentions from the data collected, in Graph B, the results yielded an understanding of where and how the future evolution of the conversational thread #CVSQuits will lead to. With the keyword “Health” at 24% can be interpreted as the company is viewed by the Twitter audience as an influencer in the public health space that is transforming the vision of a retail drugstore into a national health-care organization. Moreover, the keyword “Health” further shows that your company is doing good for the people by preventing diseases and cancers associated with cigarettes by promoting health through a company-wide organized decision. Other keywords, Tobacco and cigarettes tied in at 12% illustrates that CVS is a brand that is taking action and wants to be a thought leader in this conversation. Next, the keywords “Walgreens” at 17% and “drugstore” at 8% captured an interesting response to the #CVSQuits thread. The findings suggest that your company has created powerful brand recognition amongst its publics. Thus, competitor retail drugstores such as Walgreens and Duane Reade are feeling pressure to step up public health efforts and follow CVS Caremark’s lead by not selling cigarettes. j

With strong visual content, proactive and real-time two-way communication (sent replies and acknowledgement to social commentary), robust community management, informative and timely factoids/infographics that are associated with how and why cigarettes are bad, and paid marketing Twitter promotional efforts, your community management of #CVSQuits is a model example of monitoring and managing the social media platform Twitter. Through the research conducted, I have developed two main recommendations that can assist in further taking your conversational efforts for #CVSQuits to the next level on Twitter.

  1. Increase monitoring efforts: Even though your organization has replied to the Twitter commentary with detailed information about why CVS will continuing to sell junk food and alcohol products, the conversation will still need to be heavily monitored. Lines are blurred as your company moves into the public health space and regarded as a thought leader in the new wave of a health-care drugstore. Managing the message of #CVSQuits can translate into a positive impact in measuring the company’s bottom-line revenue and success with the public.
Credit: Twitter.com

Credit: Twitter.com

2.  Keep the narrative of #CVSQuits going: As other rival retail drugstores begin to evaluate its selling of cigarettes and take the same approach, it becomes important to continue to infuse the CVS Caremark story in the overall discourse and expand the CVS narrative. CVS must continue to be the thought leader and key influencer in the retail drugstore industry for changing how public health is regard. Also, you must keep personifying the brand of CVS in a different way that resonates and garners the highest engagement with the Twitter community.

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I look forward to your company’s thoughts and insights on my analysis of #CVSQuits.

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A #SocialConnection

What does it take to be a successful social media professional in today’s ever-changing business world? To gain insight, I decided to speak with social media guru Alyssa Esker.

Photo Credit: Mediabistro.com

Photo Credit: Mediabistro.com

Esker, to simply put it, landed her dream job by working at one of the world’s top public relations agencies, Edelman. She is the account supervisor for the digital team at the Edelman Atlanta office.  Her background in communications, in some respects, prepared her for a career in social media. “I majored in public relations, so I understood the public relations function social media plays,” explains Esker. “I graduated in 2010 when companies were just getting on Facebook, so I had to teach myself a lot of the basics.”

“Social media has a reputation for being a young person’s job,” Esker states.  Contrary to what people generally believe “social media is encompassing everything in the communication space, which affects basically all industries so it’s important for professionals of all ages to get savvy about the social world around them.”

One of the most exciting projects that Esker has worked on, thus far in her career, was for a client in the oil industry. “The client was trying to educate themselves about fracking and how it was affecting the industry and its consumers,” she explains. “We did a massive conversation audit to pull insights on sentiment and the main concerns surrounding fracking, which helped inform the business’s strategy to fracking. It really helped shape the company’s stance on fracking in a way that held it accountable to consumer concerns. “

Now Trending

Since Esker has entered into the field of digital communications, she explains that there are so many changes that have occurred such as new social media channels, improved analytics, new tools, and the integration of social media in one’s daily life through the explosion of mobile devices. “Technology keeps me on my toes,” she expresses.  Esker foresees wearable technology and augmented reality social media becoming more intertwined with daily life. “When things like Google Glass and wearable tech came out, I had to think about what this means for consumers. It’s really about identifying the trend and the use case for the new technology so that I can be prepared to get my clients to be the first ones to use the technology.”

In order to stay current on trends and movements in the industry, Esker reads a lot, attends local industry events, and is a part of a few professional organizations such as AIMA (Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association), Hypepotamus, which is an Atlanta startup group, as well as, TAG (Technology Association of Georgia). “In this industry you are forever a student as everything changes daily,” she said. “Meeting people who are smarter than you and have their pulse on what’s going on is a great way to stay in the know.”

Photo Credit: Hypepotamus.com

Photo Credit: Hypepotamus.com

As far as predictions for 2014 social trends, Esker says it will be the year of   e-commerce. “We’ve seen companies tiptoe with e-commerce and virtual currency begin to take a hold, but social media platforms are really evolving their abilities to be able to track the ROI of social back to the purchase funnel.” And when it comes to the next big social media platform to take over the digital world, Esker’s insights lead her to look toward Flipboard. “While it’s not necessarily a social platform for communities of consumers, Flipboard has been a social platform that has always been on the cusp of having a major breakthrough in how we digest and read news and content,” she explains. “Flipboard allows curation and personalization of content in a way that traditional media hasn’t been able to grasp, so I see it branching out more into magazines and newspapers as a way to cultivate visual content that is relevant to a specific consumer.”

Valuable Words of Wisdom

What has surprised Esker most within her career experiences, “the breadth of knowledge of social media,” she states. “There are companies that you would think would be really innovative and have a strong grasp on social, but in actuality may not even have a Facebook page.” According to Esker, when starting out in this industry she would have liked to know more about the legal parameters about social media.  “Social media is all about pushing out content, but there are so many things you don’t think of when it comes to the ownership of that content that I have had to pick up to ensure my clients are acting ethically and within legal bounds.”

A few helpful tips that Esker lends for up-and-coming social media professionals: “First, read everything you can about social. Secondly, get involved with the startup tech scene so you can start seeing what’s up and coming. Finally, don’t forget the basics – social media is a communication tool so you need to still understand the traditional side of communication in terms of marketing, public relations and news media.”

One thing is clear, Esker is a Jill of all trades!  Not only does she hold a wealth of knowledge and keen insight about her industry, Esker is passionate about being a social media professional and the work she creates for her clients. Do you agree with Esker’s assessment with 2014 being the year of e-commerce? If not, what are some trends that you foresee in the social media landscape for 2014? Reply below and let me know.

Photo Credit: Kiev, Ukraine

Photo Credit: Kiev, Ukraine

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