Thursday, March 25, 2010

March Madness, BtoB Style

March Madness is in full swing and my bracket has seen better days…stupid Kansas.

It got me thinking, which brands would emerge from a BtoB slugfest. Rather than bracketing out the full field of 64 (there’s no play-in game in this tourney), I’ve brought it down to the final four.

  • From the “Hot BtoB Tools” Bracket we have Twitter (beating out Yammer thanks to its superior bench strength)
  • BtoB magazine emerges from the “Media That is Still Relevant” Bracket (winning by disqualification…is there even anyone else left in the field?)
  • The “Corporate Juggernaut” Bracket produces BtoB heavyweight Cisco (they bounced Intuit from the tourney, the pending tax season really took Intuit’s focus off the game)
  • And Cinderella Cbeyond emerges from the “Up and Comers” Bracket (putting their best work out there at just the right time)

Everyone will surely have their own opinion on how the remainder of the tournament will play out, but here is my prognostication.

BtoB magazine comes flying out of the gate against Twitter. The social media darling’s inability to show measurable ROI for BtoB companies leaves it floundering while BtoB scores at will with its strong content and sharp reporting.

The game between Cisco and Cbeyond is hard-fought. Cisco previously served as an assistant coach to Cbeyond, building Cbeyond’s 100% IP-based network almost 10 years ago. Cbeyond took those early lessons and turned in the upset of the year, defeating Cisco in a triple-overtime, instant classic.

That leaves the finals pitting BtoB against Cbeyond. The game was one for the ages. I won’t tell you who I think wins, but suffice it to say Cbeyond is one of my clients…sorry, BtoB.

Everyone’s got a bracket, what does yours look like?

In the immortal (and at times annoying) words of Dick Vitale, “It’s March Madness! It’s awesome, baby!"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Still lacking a crisis communications plan?

The new decade started with the planet’s most famous and well-known athlete facing unrelenting press coverage for his off-the-course activities.

If you didn’t see that news, you may have been wrapped up in the coverage of an automaker that ran into its fair share of negative publicity. In a year’s time, Toyota went from fan favorite (last February, Consumer Reports named the Toyota Prius Touring the best overall value among 300 cars in its 2009 Annual Auto Issue) to facing one image crisis after another, including a major recall and suspension of sales of several popular models.

Yet while Tiger and Toyota clearly dispel the old belief that there’s no such thing as bad PR, they are better examples of the adage that “failure to plan is planning to fail.”

While I can’t speak to Toyota’s or Tiger’s crisis communications plans before or after their infamous falls from grace, surveys have shown that a majority of BtoB marketers don’t have up-to-date crisis plans in their communications toolboxes.

As recently as 2007, a story in BtoB Online stated that about 53% of marketing executives had experienced a business crisis resulting in negative news coverage, declining sales or reduced profitability. But just about the same number (57%) said their company did not have a crisis response plan in place.

Although a BtoB technology company’s crisis is not likely to make Entertainment Tonight the pages of People or even fall into the “disaster” category, there are plenty of reasons, including many financial ones, to be prepared to communicate in the event the unexpected happens.