Gwyn David Lecture Series
Social media consultant presents case study
Stephen Marino, the North American director of digital and social media for MSLGROUP – a global communications network – presented "Social Media, PR and Issues/Reputation Management" on April 19 at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center.
Marino's presentation was the first installment in the Department of Advertising and Public Relations' Gwyn David Lecture Series, which was created in honor of the late Gwyn David, who graduated from the College of Communication in 1979. David was senior vice president and media director of GSD&M, an Austin-based advertising agency.
When the 2010 oil spill occurred, Marino – who then served as senior vice president of Digital Influence at New York-based Ogilvy Public Relations – called BP, asking if they needed help with crisis communications. A few weeks later, BP asked him to give a presentation about social media. Although BP had never considered social media an integral part of their communications plan, Marino convinced executives of social media’s importance to crisis communications.
For the next six months, Marino led BP's social media strategy from a conference center in Houston. He reported to the company's chief marketing officer, which Marino said was a milestone. It was the first time BP had used social media as an engagement channel and a marketing channel.
"Social media was the glue that brought everything together – PR, advertising, investor relations and marketing," Marino said. "...BP's Facebook page become the central destination for everything going on during the crisis."
Professor Neal Burns; Stephen Marino, the North American director of digital and social media for MSLGROUP; Gene Kincaid, lecturer; and Terry Hemeyer, senior lecturer, talk after the Gwyn David lecture.
Following are 11 social media strategies that Marino used:
1. Social media provided the main platform where people engaged with BP.
2. The social media sites served as living focus groups, allowing the company to recut television advertisements based on peoples' comments.
3. BP created community guidelines for social media forums, while allowing people to complain.
4. BP's Twitter account mainly served as a headline generator, driving traffic to Facebook.
5. Content from BP's YouTube and Flickr accounts could easily be shared or repurposed. BP's YouTube account provided the most engagement, with more than 80 percent of viewers watching the company's 42-minute press briefings in their entirety.
6. With the help of 57 employees stationed across the world, BP monitored its social media accounts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
7. A 22-person content creation team created about 20 stories each day. Typically, Marino said that would be too much, but it was important to keep people informed during a crisis.
8. Each day, when President Obama and National Incident Commander Thad Allen held a press conference, BP would send Tweets. "We weren't able to be the ones to break the news, but Twitter allowed us to trump that a bit," Marino said.
9. After a videographer recorded former BP CEO Tony Hayward saying "I'd like my life back," Hayward dictated an apology to the social media team in Houston. The social media team then posted the apology on BP's Facebook page, which became known as the place to go for BP news.
10. When groups claimed sea creatures were being burned alive in the oil spill cleanup, the social media team posted a widget camera application that allowed people to monitor the robot cleaners.
11. When a BP photographer photoshopped an image of the company's Houston crisis room, a blogger immediately pointed out the discrepancy. BP's social media team then posted an apology and explanation. The moral of the story, Marino said, is to never alter images that are posted on social media.
Marino has more than 16 years of experience developing digital business and communication strategies, as well as interactive software. At MSLGROUP's New York office, Marino develops and drives digital strategy and digital talent. He has worked on accounts, such as Johnson & Johnson's Baby, Merck, Pfizer and Intel.
MSLGROUP was established in 2009 when Paris-based Publicis Groupe announced it was combining its PR and events agencies as a global network. Today, MSLGROUP has more than 90 offices in 20 countries and employs more than 3,500 people.
Laura Byerley, (512) 471-2182