Shel Holtz

Ragan’s PR Daily has a really good blog post on brand journalism. Here is a snippet from Shel Holtz’s piece, who we saw present at a Ragan social media conference two years ago.

“Marketing is what companies do to promote and sell products or services. Organizations produce plenty of it. Brand journalism, though, is different. This is content that could be inspiring, clarifying, funny, useful, or just plain interesting. Because it has these characteristics, people will want to link to it, share it, and talk about it precisely because it’s not trying to pitch something. As soon as it begins to smack of The Pitch, it loses its appeal.”

Click here to read more. Shel “gets” it!

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AHA Can Write

Shel Holtz has a very interesting piece on whether writing is a core skill for a professional communicator. He did a round up, asking several strategic communications professionals for their take and their responses are thoughtful and relevant. It’s an interesting topic and this piece is definitely worth reading.


There are some communicators who focus more on the actual craft of writing in their day-to-day work than others, but I can’t imagine that a professional communicator doesn’t need solid writing skills to do their job. Communication is at the very foundation of what we do (we are called communicators, after all) and words are the building blocks for communication. No matter how we communicate – through speeches, newsletters, meetings, video, webinars or any other form – at some point, there is writing involved. To be able to write clearly means that you can think clearly and that’s where it all begins – developing a strategy, defining the message and identifying the tools.

I think that there are different levels of writing well. There are some people that are gifted storytellers; these people can bring the information being shared to life. Their words engage. Others write in a more “corporate” manner, providing just the facts in an informative and straightforward way. Different things apply to different projects or initiatives. However, I strongly believe that if a person doesn’t have, at the very least, the basic skills – including spelling, punctuation and grammar – they will have a real challenge as a communicator.

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Motrin and their ad agency Taxi have had their hands smacked pretty hard online recently over an online ad about Motrin and moms. There is some discussion online how the anti-ad campaign spread so quickly – and Twitter is getting some of the credit. Someone has also put up a video on YouTube that shows how mad the mommies are.

Ad Age has a good article on the issue and so does A-list blogger and social media guru Shel Holtz. They both have a bit of a different take on it. Ad Age talks about the power of Twitter and Shel looks more into the fact with online or social media, people that are passionate about a topic will find the time to be involved. Shel’s post is more about how we manage all of this information using the Motrin ad as an example. It’s definitely worth a read.

I think that each of the opinions of those listed above help to bring context to this story. Jennifer nails it when she says that Taxi, the US-based ad agency that produced this ad didn’t understand the market and maybe that is because after all, it’s only an online ad. Shel Holtz gives a whole different perspective and he made me think as well. And as for AD Age, they put this issue into context by talking about Twitter. While I am sure that Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Motrin, aren’t too happy about how quickly a story can spread online, the fact is, smart, engaged people now have the opportunity to weigh in and show us different angles. Professional journalists, bloggers and, in this case, moms have helped people all over the world to see a different side to this story.

The one thing everyone seems to have in common is that this ad insulted the target market (and I looked around, so if anyone can let me know if there are some people standing up for the ad – I would be interested to hear about it!).

As an organization, Johnson & Johnson is facing a strong consumer backlash and while it was bred online, it has gone mainstream. That’s not good for the company or the brand.  Online media now plays a strong role in the reputation of your organization, and it should be recognized and acknowledged. Online media is evolving and shifting how we live in our world, and more and more it impacts our professional lives.


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