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Can Lance Armstrong ‘EmergeStrong?’

Lance Armstrong’s confession, though not in the least bit surprising, was one of the hottest news topics this week. In addition to how this affects him as an athlete and a celebrity, it also opened a can of worms as to how this affects his brand, his image, his reputation and perhaps most importantly, his foundation, Livestrong.

Though it may not seem like an obvious business story, Nick Balletta, CEO of TalkPoint, took a look at the situation from a business perspective and weighed in for a CNBC.com blog post. This is a great example of hijacking current events and pairing them with executive’s passion points. Nick is an athlete as well as a businessman, and he had a very strong point of view on the Lance-debacle, as you can read below. Do you think Lance will “Emerge-strong?”

Balletta: After All the Lies Can Lance Armstrong ‘EmergeStrong?’

CNBC.com | Friday, 18 Jan 2013

It wasn’t spousal abuse. It wasn’t animal abuse, it wasn’t murder. It certainly wasn’t child abuse or a subsequent child abuse cover up. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, they all sound familiar and are all too common when it comes to American celebrities, and in particular, professional athletes.

It was a lie, and for that, Lance Armstrong must pay and pay dearly he will. His titles, his awards, his medals and his legacy, are at best damaged, but in reality, mostly gone. Not even the secular confessional of Oprah can bring them back. Lance is done.

That’s Lance the athlete, but what about Lance the humanitarian and philanthropist? The cancer survivor and founder of Livestrong?

If you speak with anyone whose family member was treated for cancer at the University of Pennsylvania or the parent of a child who was treated at Cook’s Medical Center, you will definitely get a different perspective. How about the children whose parents fought cancer and they received counseling from Wonders and Worries or all of the Katrina survivors that received financial aid? How about the thousands of families over the last 15 years that have benefited from the support of Livestrong? They don’t care about the “lie,” they are living the truth.

In business terms, it’s time for “Philanthropist Lance” to go through a restructure. A Chapter 11 restructure is not the end for a company; it is a new beginning. It only works, however, if underlying assets have true value.

Conversely, the media pundits will tell you that “Athlete Lance” is finished. For “Athlete Lance,” they will say it’s not restructure time, but liquidation time; a Chapter 7 in business terms. In Chapter 7, you shut it down, unwind it, sell off the assets, go into the abyss and quietly into the night.

The parents, the survivors, the fighters, the families and the medical professionals don’t care about “Athlete Lance.” They believe in “Philanthropist Lance” and the value of the underlying assets. They are living proof of the good he has done and the value he has brought and can continue to bring. They will help him restructure. The brand may be damaged now, but that does not mean it can’t be salvaged or saved. Remember Chrysler, Macy’s and most of the airlines? Some of the largest brands in the world have been through the restructure process. These companies shed the baggage, recapitalized, kept the good assets and went on to fight another day. It’s time for Lance to regroup with the people that will reinvest and support him so he can emerge from the bankruptcy.

I have completed a few triathlons (although I don’t consider myself a triathlete) and can really appreciate the achievements of “Athlete Lance.” PEDs notwithstanding, anyone who competes in the Tour de France is in many ways superhuman.

More people have been touched by cancer than cycle or complete triathlons. Anyone who battles cancer or supports one who does needs to put out an effort that is herculean. There are exponentially more people who understand that. None of them know what it takes to ride a bike up a mountain, nor do they care. Lance needs to focus his efforts on that constituency and get them to reinvest in his “restructure.”

Emergestrong!

Apology accepted, Lance. Now let’s get back to the real work.

Nick Balletta is CEO of TalkPoint, an industry leader in global communications technology.

© 2013 CNBC.com

 

Tech Talk: News Consumption in a Twitter, Facebook World

Where do you get your news? According to the recently released Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism’s State of the New Media in 2012 report, not Facebook or Twitter. While Facebook has made a concerted effort to expand its relationship with journalists and new organizations through Social Reader and Twitter has always been seen as a mini “newsfeed,” the numbers tell a different story.

The study determined that only 9% of digital news consumers regularly get their news from these social networks while 36% of people go directly to the publication’s website, 32% use search engines to get news and 29% use a news organizer site or app. These numbers rise to 52% when you look at people who “sometimes” get news from Facebook and Twitter – but that’s still drastically lower than the 92% who sometimes go directly to news sites and the 85% that use search.

Digging deeper into Pew’s State of the News Media, we learn that for the users who do get news from social channels, Facebook and Twitter function differently. On Facebook, for example, 70% of the news people read were from family, 13% from news organizations and 10% from non-news organizations that suggested a story to read. On the other hand, people on Twitter get 27% of news from organizations, 18% from non-news organizations and only 36% from family and friends.

While we had a bit of sticker shock at how low these numbers were, there is no denying that Facebook and Twitter should still be a part of your news distribution strategy. You just have to ensure that you’re using the channels to your advantage and sharing the news in a way that your audiences will take notice. As we shared last year, when you’re creating content for your social community you have to play to specific social audiences and should speak with an authentic voice, sharing relevant news and unique visuals to tell your brand’s story. Take the time to study how your audiences react to different posts and types of news. Experiment with continued personalization, visuals and editorializing of content to see how it boosts engagement across specific channels, then give them more of what works.

In time, we predict that there will continue to be an increase in the consumption of news from news sources across social media communities. But it’s clearly not there yet. So in the meantime, remember the power of personal connections. Don’t be afraid to ask for action from friends, family, colleagues and industry connections to spread the news and involve them in your company’s story.

Expert Sourcing…When You Have No Skin in the Game

It doesn’t matter where you go for your news—everyone is talking about Super Bowl XLVI right now. Here at DGC, we’ve probably read just as many articles this week about game predictions and player line-ups as we have about the 2012 election—in fact, I bet if Eli Manning announced his candidacy after the game he’d probably be our next President.

But, despite what most of us might think, the world doesn’t always revolve around football (this coming from an avid Ohio State Buckeyes fan). So, if you don’t have a spot airing during the big game, or a POV on the action, here’s a selection of recent stories you may be able to capitalize on in the meantime to earn some media real estate:

  • Apple announced its best quarterly earnings to date for Q1 2012. The company brought in $46.33 billion in revenue—almost double what Apple made last year at this time. How can Apple’s competitors compete with results like this?
  • Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address scored at an eighth-grade reading level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale. All three of his SOTU addresses rank among the six lowest scoring addresses ever, and are–on average–more than two grades lower than those of his 12 most recent predecessors. What does this say about Obama’s approach to reaching his constituents? Does the decreasing reading level of the SOTU reflect poorly on American society?
  • Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney continue to battle it out for the Republican nomination, with Gingrich getting defensive in response to questions about past failed marriages, and Mitt Romney fielding allegations that his tax returns detail funds not identified in his ethics forms. Do you think they’ll be able to move beyond these issues to have a real chance at the Presidency?
  • In its first year implementing its new voting system, the Academy Awards announced an odd number of movies in the running for best picture. They include: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life and War Horse. Why is this relevant? Will social media play a role in this year’s awards ceremony?

If you have a strong opinion on the timely topics above and some credentials to back them up, then you have a chance to get in the news…despite the country’s current fascination with football. Leave us a comment with your thoughts below.

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