Tag Archives: Netflix

2011 CIA Award Winners

December 26, 2013 | cwinters | Tagged , , , , ,

Reputation Winners of 2013

While we often think first of the big losers when it comes to reputation, it’s worth taking note of those who have done it right. Here’s our take on the biggest reputation winners of 2013:

Starbucks – The epitome of a company guided by its values, with the character, conviction and reputation equity to pull off controversial decisions with aplomb. When Starbucks announced that guns were not welcome in its stores, they did so in a way that respected a customers’ right to have one (if you are a gun kind of guy), but respectfully told them to leave them at home when they come for their latte. In the process, Starbucks sent a strong message to its employees (your safety matters more than a $5 cup of coffee) and to all of its stakeholders about what it stands for. In addition, the company was running on all cylinders in 2013, blowing away earnings estimates and articulating a vision for the future with the acquisition of famous Bay-Area bakery La Boulange and expanding the retail presence of Evolution Fresh. Well done.

Yahoo/Marissa Mayer – As one of the most scrutinized CEOs in the world, Marissa Mayer has taken her share of hits for everything from taking a job like this while pregnant to banning telecommuting while building a nursery for her baby at the office. But it is hard to argue with success, evidenced by a stock price that is roughly double what it was when she arrived and the acquisition of white-hot web properties like Tumblr and Qwiki. Score one for girl power.

The Vatican/Catholic Church/The Papacy – We haven’t seen a Pope be this relevant (and in my opinion, for the right reasons) since Pope John Paul II freed Poland from Communism. Pope Francis walks the line between preserving the Church’s values and encouraging tolerance. The personification of the concept of a servant leader, Pope Francis earned himself the distinction of being Time Magazine’s Person of the Year with his wisdom, compassion and example.

Netflix – The Comeback Kid of 2013, Netflix moved past its pricing debacle and concerns about its future to grow its user base and its bottom line. Netflix redefined entertainment delivery with its big bets on House of Cards, Arrested Development, Orange is the New Black and Lilyhammer. Cable providers nationwide are sweating bullets with Netflix and rivals like Hulu and Aereo growing rapidly.

Marriage Equality – Advocates for marriage equality showed a stroke of brilliance when they positioned it as a human rights issue, not an LGBT issue or a “fairness” issue, and that bet is paying off. This year, support for marriage equality tipped to the majority of Americans for the first time, and 18 states now provide full equality, and Utah may be next after a federal court judge struck down state law.

The Jersey Shore – In the spirit of full disclosure, this is an MWW client. And we’re pretty darn proud of the work we did. But the numbers don’t lie…despite predictions of a disastrous decline in critical tourism revenue in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey rallied, rebounded and got people back to the beaches in record numbers, proving that the state is Stronger than the Storm. Lonely Planet and Fodor’s just named the Jersey Shore to its top 10 U.S. destinations.

Tesla – There may not have been a hotter company in 2013, so much so that its own CEO tamped down expectations and did the unthinkable by saying its share price was overvalued when its stock exploded by 400 percent in a single year. CEO Elon Musk has transformed his reputation as a big dreamer into a big doer, and continued to push boundaries on how we think about travel including a hyper-fast train system. Still, challenges remain ahead to deliver on the hype.

Amazon/Jeff Bezos – Amazon scored a banner year with impressive financial growth, possibly the greatest media placement of all time (debuting Amazon’s drone delivery service on 60 Minutes the day before Cyber Monday), and a CEO who purchased one of the world’s greatest media properties in The Washington Post with a plan to invest and expand coverage. The sky does seem to be the limit for where Amazon goes from here.

Honorable Mentions to Big Data, proving that PR people don’t hate numbers after all. Pantene, for igniting a national debate about gender bias in the workplace, and the Boston Red Sox, who obliterated the rally cap with the rally beard.


December 30, 2011 | cwinters | Tagged , , , , ,

Reputation Losers of 2011

Trust and relevance, in combination, is the key to building reputation. What happens when you are relevant for the wrong reasons? When relevance comes without trust, the result is negative for reputations. Here are my thoughts on the biggest reputation losers of 2011:

  1. Rupert Murdoch – Murdoch was never a beacon of honesty, but a publication-ending scandal of this magnitude solidified his position as the guy we shouldn’t trust.
  2. Ashton Kutcher – what happens when a twitter-licious celebrity goes off the rails? Ashton’s public marital problems, followed by his rant defending Joe Paterno caused his reputation to take a major tumble.
  3. NBA and David Stern – when millionaires fight with billionaires, nobody wins. And while the fans got a Christmas gift with the return of NBA play, they start the shortened season with a black eye.
  4. Yahoo – is this really how you fire a CEO? Enough said.
  5. Joe Paterno and Penn State Football – Legendary coach Joe Paterno’s firing in the wake of a sexual abuse scandal is the headline here, but far from the only reputation damaging event in college football.
  6. Bank of America – already the poster child for labor protests on executive pay and the “1 percent problem” Bank of America’s decision to implement nickel and dime fees to customers is one of the things that makes me go “hmmmm?”
  7. Mayor Bloomberg – OWS, mishandling the October blizzard and the Cathie Black debacle have made the straight talking Mayor one of the year’s reputation losers.
  8. Big Banks, Wall Street and the Financial Services industry – it’s hard to believe that there is further to fall after the TBTF trend of last year – but OWS, MF Global and other high profile events are proof that there is still further they can fall.
  9. The European Union – the European Financial Crisis is one to watch in 2012…seems like yesterday that the world was celebrating the EU and the Eurozone – concepts whose viability are now in question.
  10. Netflix – the customer owns the brand. And that customer is angry. A bumbled apology doesn’t make up for a breathtaking lack of awareness of what matters to customers. BofA and Netflix seem to be missing the same chip here.

October 12, 2011 | cwinters | Tagged , , , , ,

If you want to be relevant, tell a great story

If you work in the public relations profession, you’ve probably heard a common lament among clients – “People aren’t getting our story.“

It may be one of the common denominators that make clients from diverse industries and across all practices of public relations alike. Whether launching a brand, working an issue in Washington, conducting an investor road show or managing a crisis, having a compelling story is a fundamental requirement.

In the public relations business, we’ve always been storytellers – whether you call it messaging, corporate/brand positioning or narrative – it’s all about the story. And the greatest, most iconic brands and companies do it really, really well – Nike, GE, Apple and Starbucks all understand that to remain relevant as you grow and change, having a story that resonates is key.

This piece on Starbucks features the philosophies of noted brand evangelist Stanley Hainsworth, and credits great storytelling for transforming a commodity product into a $4 splurge. He talks a lot about the art of storytelling, and gives us a glimpse into the approach he uses to create an emotional connection with stakeholders. As I read this piece, I was struck with the significant alignment between his priorities and the way we approach developing a client’s narrative at MWW Group…in particular, the emphasis on tailoring your story for different audiences – what we call the Total Stakeholder Approach.

The irony is that while this may be a fresh, new approach for the brand evangelist – it has been core to of great public relations programming and strategy from the beginning.

How do you know if your story needs revisiting and refreshing?

  • Any time there has been a significant change in your business – new leaders, new business strategy, new line of business. Chances are you need to rethink your narrative. A more thoughtful approach would have made a big difference for Netflix, and saved them lots of backpedaling.
  • Significant changes in your industry also call for a new story – because your old story simply won’t be relevant anymore.
  • Shift in strategy or emphasis on who, or what, is important.
  • If you are underperforming – in sales, in employee retention, in share price performance – that may be a sign that your story isn’t resonating.
  • If it feels stale, out of date or misaligned with your priorities – even if it isn’t impacting your stakeholders yet.

September 23, 2011 | admin | Tagged

Next Up in the Netflix Queue: Communications Expertise

As Netflix suffers from consumer backlash of price increases and the division of its DVD and online streaming services, communication from CEO Reed Hastings with Netflix’s customers have been just as big a problem.

Will Netflix survive despite its communication woes? MWW Group’s CEO Michael Kempner explores this in his latest blog post on MWW Straight Talk.

September 22, 2011 | cwinters | Tagged , , ,

Will Netflix be the next TiVo?

Like many in the entertainment business, Netflix, with its iconic red envelopes and game changing subscription model, is struggling with digital delivery. This is not a new problem…the old fashioned “record stores” (who by that point were selling CDs) cursed the advent of iTunes. And then video rental stores didn’t have much affection for Netflix, whose convenient, affordable approach caused significant disruption in their business.

It isn’t called a category killer for nothing…and what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Digital delivery, primarily from the providers, is threatening to dethrone Netflix, in much the same way that they unseated TiVo from its seat of power. It’s cheap, provides instant gratification, and eliminates the need for a DVD player at all. And while Netflix struggles for a solution, they face an issue that TiVo and others like them never did: the power of social media. Social media’s amplification of Netflix’s stumbles in strategy were exacerbated by some questionable choices in communications…which appeared rushed, poorly planned and perhaps the gravest error of all…inwardly focused emphasizing their CEO’s opinion, rather than customer focused.

It would be hard to believe that the decision to migrate Netflix customers to the Quikster brand and apply the Netflix brand to a different business was likely made carefully, and thoughtfully. Unfortunately, the communications cluster that followed made it look like a desperate, knee jerk reaction. And even if it were a quick decision, fast and well done aren’t mutually exclusive. We’ve been hired by clients the night before they file for Chapter 11, and still managed to communicate effectively. The difference is that those clients understood that communicating well is key to preserving stakeholder trust. This may be just the opportunity Amazon needed to capture the streaming video market