Centre for Excellence in Communications Workshop on Social Media

On June 27, I’m offering a workshop in Best Practices in Social Media at the Centre for Excellence in Communications . It’s tailored to the interests and concerns of government, not-for-profits and associations.

If you’re interested in a solid introduction to social media, the way that people are using them and how organizations can successfully make social media part of the way that you relate to the people who care about you, then you’ll find what you’re looking for at this workshop.

As I write this, there are five places left for this session. If you want to attend, you can register online at the CEC’s Website.

Douglas Rushkoff speaks at CMA WOM Conference

Douglas Rushkoff , Founder of NYU’s Narrative Lab, is the closing keynote at the CMA’s Word of Mouth Conference .

I’m liveblogging the session using CoverItLive . My notes are below:

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Douglas Rushkoff (06/12/2008) 
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3:55
Word of Mouth and Marketing is an oxymoron.
3:55
Word of mouth happened when communication only happened in a social context. Marketing was developed in an ear of mass media that could be monopolized. They have a very different character.
3:58
Advertising is over. It’s a modern invention. It’s over because what we think of as “branding” is over. Branding is an artifact of broadcasting culture, of top down communications. The Internet is bringing this era to an end.
3:59
Our thinking about social media is skewed by our thinking about what was before.
4:03
Modern brands have replaced the real relationships we have with individuals and small businesses with “mythological” relationships that are constructed through mass media campaigns.
4:04
Mass production led to mass marketing which led to mass media.
4:05
Mass production depersonalizes the worker. Mass marketing desocializes. Mass media isolates the invidual audience member.
4:13
In the social media space, brands are deconstructed as soon as they are communicated. Value is created in a decentralized way by people using something and then communicating it to others.
4:15
Dumb marketers have tried to do traditional marketing in a viral way. They recruite Paris Hilton for burger campaigns. Burger sales fall. Paris Hilton’s reputation goes up. Marketing fails.
4:16
Marketers first reacted to new media by porting the old techniques to the new medium. Remember the concept of “sticky” websites? Did consumers really want to be portrayed as flies on flypaper?
4:17
When other tactics failed, marketers tried to fake it. And they were found out.
4:18
All of these efforts have been about trying to restore traditional brand storytelling into the new media. And it doesn’t work.
4:21
We are moving into a single communications space in which advertising will evolve into public relations. The difference between advertising and PR is the difference between fiction and nonfiction in a book store. Advertising is about creating fictions. PR is about explaining what is happening in the real world.
4:22
In a single communications space, a company can give consumers the social currency to talk about what the company does. They can reach out to people who share a passion for what the company does. And they can rely on those consumers to talk about this.
4:23
A metric of success for Word of Mouth should be how many people are applying for jobs at your company. How many people think it would be a great place to work?
4:24
The task of the smart company’s communication/PR department should be to provide people with the information they need to talk about their companies – social currency. That’s when a company achieves transparency – the breakdown of the walls between a company and its employees and consumers.
4:29
The new word of mouth expert will be the person who starts a discussion inside a company and then let’s the discussion proceed from there.
4:29



Measuring the ROI of Word of Mouth Marketing

The final panel at the CMA Word of Mouth Conference deals with measurement.

The panellists:

  • Dan Hunter, Partner at IMI International
  • Malcolm Faulds, VP Media Services, BzzAgent
  • Andrea Wojnicki, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto (Session Moderator)

I’m live blogging the session using CoverItLive. My notes are below:

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Measurement – ROI of WOM Marketing (06/12/2008) 
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3:15
Wojnicki: What are the quick and inexpensive measurement tools that everyone should implement tomorrow?
3:17
Faulds: Google trends; Google Analytics; Twitter tracking
3:18
Hunter: Conduct surveys to test awareness and perceptions of WOM campaigns.
3:20
Wojnicki: Should Word of Mouth be campaign or something longer term? What are we measuring? Campaign results? Or longer term reputation?
3:20
Faulds: Include both organic and accelerated word of mouth.
3:22
Faulds: BzzAgent recruits consumers to try and discussion products. They measure reach: how many people can be reached?
insights: what are people talking about and what are they saying?
impact: Are we able to move people’s perceptions fo the brand. And more importantly, can we move sales?
It’s easier to measure online WOM. But offline makes up 80-90% of WOM. So, we have to find ways to measure that effectively.
3:23
Hunter: Impact is the key net measure that should be measured across all programs. The impact I can make measured agains the dollars that were spent. This will enable us to compare campaigns against one another.
3:25
Wojnicki: Everybody’s jumping on the WOM bandwagon because it’s so pervasive and easily measured online. How do we measure the offline WOM.
3:26
Hunter; Consumer research will provide the answers for offline WOM. You have to invest in order to learn.
3:32
Faulds: Whenever there is a new medium out there, people have to measure it with old metrics. It takes some time for new metrics to be developed that fit the new medium. So, with Word of Mouth and “viral,” it will take some time to develop new better metrics.
3:47



David Usher at CMA Word of Mouth Conference

David Usher is being interviewed by Mitch Joel at the CMA Word of Mouth Conference in Toronto.

Here are my notes recorded in CoverItLive :

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Mitch Joel and David Usher (06/12/2008) 
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1:15
David Usher: I consider myself a storyteller. And when I create music and experience online, I’m still telling a story.
1:16
As on artist, if you talk about marketing, you’re walking a fine line. Because the audience wants to know that I care pationately about what I’m doing. So that they can share that passion.
1:17
I use DavidUsher.com as a social networking integration page. I don’t try to control where the content is. I want people to see it wherever they want it.
1:17
Mitch Joel: How about the music industry?
1:18
David Usher: We still sell CDs. However, I work online and I make everything available there.
1:20
David Usher: Artists must learn how to engage their audiences. Some artists will do it themselves. Others will require some source of revenue and outside help to do this.
1:20
David Usher: Online social networks are good for artists. They help get the word out.
1:21
Mitch Joel: Talk about the process of making your new album and leveraging all the channels to promote it. Is it different from the era of the big labels?
1:22
David Usher: I releasing things all the time. I’m using social networks and all the tools to distribute them.
1:22
David Usher: What has happened to the music business will happen to all businesses. You must all learn to deal with empowered communities who will choose the content they want to receive.
1:23
David Usher: I don’t send advertising to my community. There’s a distrust of SPAM and I attempt never to offend my fans.
1:24
David Usher: People are fickle and move fast. You must be out there and engaged in order to spot these changes.
1:24
Mitch Joel: Do you care about metrics/measurement?
1:25
David Usher: I look at all the standard metrics. But I look closely at comments. That gives me a sense of what people really care about and think. I respond to comments as much as I can.
1:26
Audience question: How about artists like AC/DC doing big corporate deals with corporate brands like Starbucks and WalMart
1:26
David Usher: For AC/DC, it’s a smart move. They get their money guaranteed. Today, it’s hard to tell what will sell.
1:27
David Usher: There’s more of this being done, but the money is coming down. That’s because all artists want to get their music out there. So, there’s no shortage of opportunities for companies to be part of this.
1:28
Mitch Joel: Why would fans steal music?
1:29
David Usher: People don’t view it as stealing. And creators will have to adjust their thinking to take this into account. Especially as bandwidth continues to increase, the ability to get music will just increase.
1:30
David Usher: We sell shows. We’ve always sold shows. I was with EMI Records for 10 years and I don’t think we ever made a dollar off selling records.
1:32
David Usher: When RadioHead and established artists do things like giving away albums for free, it’s just a stunt. There’s no future model for anyone else. The new model must work for all the new bands.
1:34
David Usher: To use the new channels, you have to be a specific kind of artist. Most artists don’t want to spend time learning how to do this. I’m not a typical artist in the way that I spend a lot of time figuring this out and using the online channels. Not everyone wants to do this. So, we’re going to lost a lot of great artists and great music.
1:36
David Usher: The labels are essentially screwed. They are an old model. They’re trying to do a transition into this world. But they’re doing it without any experience in this world. In order to be successful, they have to buy their way in with a merger with other companies that understand this area. Many try to hire kids out of school to be their digital champions. But that won’t change the underlying nature of the company and the business.
1:39
David Usher: Online reputation for artists, like any company or product, can be affected quickly by a few people with strong views. The fact that I’m active online, that I’m in the space, enables me to participate in these conversations and be part of my own reputation. You cannot buy your way into these conversations quickly and suddenly. You need to be there for the longterm. Communities develop over a long time. You develop your voice and credibilty over a long time.
1:42
David Usher: The great thing about the Internet is that in the long tail of the world there are lots of people interested in something. They’re spread all over. So, we need to give them a place to come together.
1:43
Audience question: Is social media a fair game space for advertisers to be part of?
1:44
David Usher: Companies are having trouble because they’re used to push. Now, they have to understand that they must be part of conversations with people as people decide what they want to hear about.
1:44
David Usher: Social media is about people talking about ideas and exchaning ideas and authentic conversation. You have to care about what you’re talking about. Don’t advertise. Start a conversation about your passion.
1:47
David Usher: With mass media, content used to be pushed into a limited number of narrow streams/channel. Now, the Internet is like a vast flat pan. Advertisers will have to find ways to be effective ina totally different way.
1:48
Audience question: Your opinion on the Canadian copyright legislation and the Michael Geist / Fair Copyright campaign?
1:50
David Usher: I think [the efforts to police copyrigh online] is irrelevant. The genie is out of the bottle. Music is free. And the idea of suing people is not going to work. As an artist, i’d prefer people to pay for my music, but I don’t think I can change the way they think. I’ll work with the Internet as it is.
1:51
David Usher: What you want is people listening to and enjoying music. The more they listen, the better. Artists will have to find a way to profit from this.
1:52
Jay Moonah question: Is the rockstar system dead?
1:53
David Usher: There will always be people who come to the fore. But it’s changed in size and scope. It’s a bit more like a village now. I’m not sure whether we’ll have any more Madonnas. It’s a much different game.
1:55
David Usher: You need to be out front trying out the new channels and methods. Otherwise, you doom yourself to the diminishing returns of yesterday’s tools and channels. You have to decide. Do you want to be at the back of the pack or are you prepared to make an investment in testing the new.
1:57
[Comment From Nancy (aka citizensbanker]
But there will always be some individuals particularly skilled at sifting through the mass of content and finding the gems. Won’t this ultimately result in a very similar ‘system’, just different players?
1:58
David Usher: I’m very interested in the space. What I look for is how things feed – how messages get out without being too intrusive. It’s the networks that do this well that are really appreciated.
2:03
Scott Brooks: Will we see Music as a Service along the lines of the Software as a Service?
2:04
David Usher: There are a lot of people trying these types of models. I’m building an application along these lines myself.
2:04



Social media authorship is mandatory for credibility as an advisor

Tom Foremski strikes a nerve with his post, PR Firms that Don’t Blog Yet Offer New/Social Media Practices . Tom argues:

… I’ve always said that PR firms cannot claim to know anything about new/social media if they aren’t using it themselves.

One way to check out if a PR firm understands blogging, etc, is to see if they have a blog of their own. Many don’t, or if they do, they post very infrequently, and usually after meetings abut what they will blog about. Yet nearly every PR firm offers a new/social media practice to clients and claims that they understand this medium. This is BS imho.

I think that Tom is absolutely right. Usually, I keep my views to myself on this. But Tom’s post and the comments in response to it really hit home.

So, this is a one-time post about this topic. And before I start, please excuse me if this reads as self-congratulatory. It’s not meant to be.

But it is meant to be a challenge to all those companies that are out there peddling social media advice from the safe distance of observers. People who say "you don’t need to be active in social media to be able to advise on how to do it right."

So, to you folks, I say:

You can’t understand the process of creation unless you’ve created something

I’m a big believer that you need to be a creator of social media to truly understand it.

Social media is online communications in which people switch easily from being audience to author – without the need to know coding (thank you social software!)

How can you really understand social media if you restrict yourself to the audience role? You are really only watching one half of social media. You have to experience the work, agony and joy of creation to really know both sides of social media.

Go to next heading if you want to skip the Thornley Fallis story

Have we put our money, time and effort where my mouth is? You betcha we have. Not only me, but all the people I work with.

Back in ’04, we began experimenting with social media behind the firewall – with both a Wiki to replace our traditional intranet and a blog. (I started out with an MSN Spaces account restricted only to the people in my MSN friends list – social media on training wheels.)

In ’05, I came out in public with the Pro PR blog . Shortly after that, Terry Fallis along with David Jones (then a Thornley Fallis employee) launched the Inside PR podcast .

At the same time, we encouraged all of the people in the company to get involved in blogging (that was pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter). And as people began to post, we redeveloped the Thornley Fallis Website so that the most recent posts from each of our employee blogs are front and centre. In this way, we give visitors a chance to know our company through the thoughts of the people who work here, not through "brochureware".

Today, if people come to our Website, they can read the views and insights that our team shares each an every day through: Michael O’Connor Clarke’s Uninstalled , Michael Seaton’s The Client Side , Bob LeDrew’s FlackLife , John Sobol’s The Talking Shop and the collectively authored blogs of the women in our Toronto office, PRGirlz , the folks in our Ottawa office, Capital PR , and our 76design team, shift+control .

Last year, Terry Fallis self-published his novel, the Best Laid Plans, and promoted it by reading it in a podcast series on his blog. Not only did he explore a whole new model of publishing, but his novel was awarded the Leacock Award for Humour . (And now he has a traditional publishing deal which will see his novel published and hit bookstores in the autumn season. Way to go, Terry!)

We also created some apps – FriendsRoll and TopLinks – which we hope will help revitalize the blogroll and bring a greater sense of community to blogs.

And along the way, we’ve played with all the Shiny New Objects. We’ve learned which are simply really neat technology and which have real utility. And we actively participate and generate content in those that we find useful. Twitter, Facebook, Dopplr, del.icio.us and many more.

Oh yes. We also took our social media involvement back into the real world. We’ve helped to organize the Third Tuesday social media meetups to provide a place where we can meet in the real world with others who share our passions for social media.

Bottom Line: Social media authorship is the entry fee for social media credibility.

Where does that leave us? Well, when someone asks me a question about social media, I never have to preface my response with "They say…" or "They believe…" I can always say, "In my experience, I have discovered…" And that gives me real confidence that the advice I am providing is solid.

I listen to people who have never posted to a blog pronouncing their views and presenting themselves as experts in social media. And usually I politely keep my opinion to myself. But I’ll say it here. Very few of the people who aren’t active creators of social media really understand the nuances of the social media culture.

OK. That’s the end of my rant. What do you think?

From Mass to Grass – the CMA's Word of Mouth Conference is tomorrow

From Mass to GrassThe CMA’s Word of Mouth Conference kicks off tomorrow morning in Toronto. I’m really looking forward to moderating a panel on Ethics of Word of Mouth with Malcolm Roberts , President, Smith Roberts Creative Communications and Ross Buchanan, Director, Digital & Relationship Marketing, Molson Canada . We’ve had a preconference discussion and I know that Malcolm and Ross are ready to be thoughtful and provocative in leading this discussion.

But just as much, I’m looking forward to all the other great speakers who conference chairman Sean Moffitt has lined up.

If you’re planning to be at the conference and you see me there, please grab me by the arm and say hello.

LAST MINUTE BONUS: Sean has offered me the opportunity to invite a some of my colleagues to register at a $50 discount. I’d like to share this offer with my blog community. If you read this post and register today to attend the conference, let me know and I’ll arrange for the $50 discount to be applied to your registration.

How Blogs, Wikis, YouTube & Facebook are Changing Employee Communications

I’m live blogging Brendan Hodgson ‘s and Amanda Brewer’s session at the Canadian Public Relations Society’s national conference in Halifax.

I’m using CoverItLive to take notes during the presentation. They should appear as I write them, just as if I were posting live to Twitter or IM.

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Brendan Hodgson and Amanda Brewer (06/10/2008) 
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9:56
Brenda Hodgson: Employees are increasingly important as brand guardians. They could be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on how they conduct themselves.
9:58
Bloggers are not just talking about their companies. They are publishing on the open Web employee communications and emails that in an earlier era would have stayed inside the organization.
10:01
It’s much harder to distrust a person than it is a corporation. [So, the blogging employees have an advantage over the “official line” in the company release.]
10:05
Allowing subject matter experts, customer relationship managers and others to talk directly in social media brings companies the strength of the personal face. It also brings risks.
10:06
During a crisis, corporate Web sites will receive a spike of traffic. It makes sense to put Web 2.0 communications here so that people can find them.
10:10
Companies should attempt to define guidelines that employees can use to govern their online behaviour in a space in which there are few established rules.
10:13
In a world with many, many channels and millions of videos and blogs, companies need to learn when NOT to react – when there reaction would catapult a reaction and perception among a few into a mainstream media and mass story.
10:15
Corporate communications are no long “gatekeepers.” They are now “stewards of communication,” guiding employees to communicate responsibly.
10:17
Web 2.0 has allowed workers and unions to move from the era of the picket line to the era of the Facebook group – a much more powerful way to communicate their point of view.
10:18
Online activists move through a process of awareness building to education to stimulating broader discussion and then finally activation of support.
10:20
[This is quite remarkable. Brendan Hodgson is talking about “we” and “they” – management and union – in his presentation. Shouldn’t he be talking about “us.”]
10:23
Hodgson: What does all of this mean? We’re in an era of engagement and participation vs. command and control. There is rumour and misinformation out there. And companies must know when to speak and help their employees speak to correct that rumour and misinformation.
10:25
Companies should engage in public discussion with credible online voices.
10:27
Amanda Brewer is now presenting a case study of the 2005 CBC lockout.
10:29
Amanda Brewer was an internal communications manager at the time of the CBC lockout. She subsequently joined Hill and Knowlton. Now, CBC has contracted with CBC to bring Amanda back into CBC “because we’re ramping up again.” {Is CBC heading toward another strike?]
10:32
Brewer: In 2005, the lockout began with standard picket lines, but proceeded quickly to incorporate Webcams, blogs and podcasts. CBC Unplugged and Studio Zero. This was great for CBC because it allowed them to monitor what the union was saying. But it was troublesome as well because the marketplace would be crowded with many voices balancing the CBC’s single voice.
10:34
Brewer: The genesis – Tod Maffin. iloveradio.org One of Tod’s first posts characterized the CBC employees as “communicators and broadcasters.” Not just broadcasters, but communicators. The union allowed Tod and other employee bloggers and podcasters a credit fo 20% of their picket line time for their online activities.
10:35
Brewer: There were “amazing numbers” of traffic to the CBC employee sites. There was a hunger of information from the voices independent of the official union line and the company line.
10:36
Brewer: The CBC lockout became a “blog war.” It changed the way union negotiations play out in Canada because the playing field was levelled.
10:38
The “Ouimet” blogger was a member of CBC management. Ouimet was a pseudonym. And Ouimet talked about what management was doing – not always positively – on her “teamaker” blog.
10:39
After the strike, Tod Maffin ended up as the blogger for the CBC blog, Insidecbc.com.
10:42
Brewer: Lesson – it’s a shared process. Prepare to relinquish control. Employees will be partners in communications. During labout negotiations, “this can be completely nerve-wracking.”
10:43
Brewer: If CBC does end up in a labour problem again in 2009, the fact that they have Tod Maffin inside and have listened to bloggers will help them in managing through any disruption.
10:49



Live blogging Andrea Mandel-Campbell at Canadian Public Relations Society 08 National Conference

I’m going to try CoverItLive this morning to live blog Andrea Mandel-Campbell ‘s session at the CPRS08 national conference. So, if it works, you should be able to see my notes live blog notes below.

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Andrea-Mandel-Campbell (06/10/2008) 
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7:32
Mandel-Campbell is the author of Why Mexicans Don’t Drink Molson.
7:33
She is always surprised about how we see our country and the rest of the world see us.
7:37
Canada is a trade reliant country. We are “price takers.” Not a great position to be in.
7:39
Canadian corporate icons Alcan, Dofasco, Inco, Algoma and Falconbridge were all founded and funded by Americans.
7:50
Why don’t Mexicans drink Molson? It’s about the ambition we have for ourselves, our country and our children. Molson was content to focus on the Canadian market and failed to expand aggressively into the world.
7:52
Molson is representative of Canada. Molson was the oldest brewery in North America. A company so powerful it had its own bank. Known for a high quality product. And today, it doesn’t really exist. As a result of the Molson Coors merger, all the senior execs now reside in Colorado.
7:53
Even Andrew Molson himself acknowledges that the Montreal headquarters of Molson has been hollowed out.
7:54
Contrast this with Heineken – which has expanded globally. Or Mexico, which imports barley from Canada to brew its beer. Yet, Corona, considered a substandard beer in Mexico, is sold in over 100 countries around the world.
7:55
Two reasons for Molson’s (Canada’s) failure: 1) They never invested in the brand. 2) They never had a global ambition.
7:57
Ontario is the most profitable beer market in the world – because the government provided Molson and Labatt with a regulated virtual duopoly.
8:00
The Canadian brewers failed to plow their profits into business expansion because they lacked a global vision. Things were too comfortable at home. And while Canadians looked inward, the global industry expanded and consolidated around them. When Molson finally woke up and tried to expand into Brazil, they lacked the skills for global expansion, failed and ultimately had to seel the company to Coors.
8:00
This is a pattern that repeats over and over in Canada.
8:03
This problem has been replicated across industries. In all the sectors in which we are rich in natual and human resources. Forestry. Oil. Grains. Banks. Our companies are dwarfed and simply don’t figure in the world as significant brands.
8:04
When Canadians make the excuse that we are a small country and that we shouldn’t expect to be able to grow world beaters, we are demonstrating the national psyche that has led to our current circumstance as global also-rans.
8:08
Mandel-Campbell sees us as being “skimmers.” We take advantage of the natural wealth of our country. But because this is so abundant, we haven’t really learned how to go beyond the easy to product results. So, we haven’t really learned how to be world-class competitors.
8:12
Canadians are paying a price for this complacency. We are slipping in our relative standard of living. Our companies are being outpaced by globalizing companies from other countries no larger than us.
8:13
In Canada, instead of focusing on our advantages – natural resources, human capital, access to U.S. markets, we too often focus on the “limitations” – a too small population spread across vast distances.
8:15
Our corporate and competitive failure is particularly egregious when you consider our abundant riches.
8:17
Canadians also are not very good salespeople. We fail to make the most of our successes when we do have them.
8:21
Canadian must learn that we can be successful and tout our success in a confident and assertive way – without sacrificing those national traits we are proud of.
8:23 [Poll]
Do you agree with Andrea Mandel-Campbell’s contention about the reasons for Canada’s failure to compete globally?
Yes
 ( 100% )

No

 ( 0% )

8:24
Mandel-Campbell’s bottom line: “Canadian succeed when they dare. All that’s missing is the dare.”
8:30
Government regulation has played a huge role in this. It’s no accident that our well-known successes such as Cirque de Soleil and Research in Motion are in unregulated sectors. “When you regulate and protect a sector, they become lazy because they don’t have to work very hard.” Look at banks. If you can get the kind of return that you do in Canada, there’s no incentive to compete in markets where you’ll have to work harder for thinner returns. And this contributes to a psychology in which Canadians come to believe that we aren’t good enough to compete internationally.
8:33



Third Tuesday Presents a Cross-Canada Blast of Social Media in June

Third Tuesday, Canada’s social media meetups, will close out the 2007-8 with a great line-up of speakers at June events in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, New Brunswick and Ottawa.

If you are in or near Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Moncton or Ottawa, I hope that you will come out and join the discussion. You’ll meet some interesting people who are exploring the potential of social media to share, connect, build communities and organize collective action.

Finally, as we reach the end of this year’s Third Tuesday social media speakers series, I’d like to offer thanks to the people and organizations who brought this concept to communities across Canada:

Ethics and Word of Mouth Marketing – What are the issues?

What do you think are the most important ethical issues relating to Word of Mouth marketing?

I’m chairing a panel on Ethics of Word of Mouth at the CMA’s Word of Mouth Conference next week. The panelists discussing this issue with me will be Malcolm Roberts , President, Smith Roberts Creative Communications and Ross Buchanan, Director, Digital & Relationship Marketing, Molson Canada .

As I prepare for this session, I’d welcome your input.

  • What are the major ethical issues confronting the Word of Mouth industry?
  • What questions would you put to the panelists and participants?

I’ll use your suggestions and questions at the session. So, please fire away.