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SxSW – It’s All About Value

By Mark McClennan, SVP, MSLGROUP

I had the pleasure of attending some very different sessions and discussions at SxSW recently. One for fun (the role of CRM on elections), two for clients (Mobile Banking and Risks to Personally Identifiable Information) and a final discussion with senior communications executives at GE and BMW on leveraging Periscope effectively in communications campaigns.

You might think there was nothing in common with those sessions, but there was an underlying theme that rose to the top. A theme that needs to be hammered home with every communications professional and every business. In my mind it is one we can’t say enough.

It’s all about value.

And not, value to you and your business, but value to the end customer.


How do these sessions all relate to value?

  • Follow communications best practices – one Presidential Candidate (being vague here since MSLGROUP has no position on any candidate) – had 28% of their emails go into Google’s spam folder leading up to Super Tuesday. The most any other candidate had classified as spam was one email. Conservatively, that factors about to $10 million dollars in lost donations. Wow. This was a major negative value impact to the candidate and reinforces that we always need to watch and test our communications.
  • Personally identifiable information has variable value and is easier to get than ever. (I found having to agree to T&Cs and Privacy Policies of criminal Websites to be beyond ironic). How valuable? Uber login credentials – $1.49; Swiss Hospitality Diploma – $400; 20,000 air miles – $10. Protect your data. Don’t reuse passwords and don’t use a “junk” password. I have been to more than 100 security and anti-fraud sessions, and this one drove it home by making personal connections.
  • CapitalOne re-engineered their mobile banking app into one that is now winning design awards. The core insight from the session? No customer cares about how we organize our business and how we think about things. They care about what they care about and the value it brings to them. Just because a financial institution defines things by account line does not mean consumers do so. As communications pros we need to keep that in mind. Beyond financial services, I see this so much with the rise of Interactive – people care about the end result, not with how the interactive online or experiential activation is being made. As communications professionals, we need to step back and ask – what value does this give to my end customer. If it is not 100% aligned with that, they we need to rethink what we are proposing.
  • Video (particularly) live streaming video for video’s sake isn’t enough. I have said for years to beware chasing the social “shiny.” Try it, but go big only when you see value. The same with Periscope – there are great applications for it – but make it bring something that people wouldn’t otherwise have access to. GE does this with #droneweek where people can see everything from jet engine testing to the top of wind power stations. What makes it unique is the live chatting with an engineer. Otherwise it could be more easily done the old fashioned video way. (Although I am challenging GE to go 360 for the next #droneweek). BMW did it by giving users control over the experience.

If we follow best practices, but within that, constantly innovate while keeping end-user value in mind – we will succeed and deliver value to the customer and our organizations.

Mark McClennanMark is a social media, privacy and fraud expert who has worked tech PR for 19 years. He is chair-elect of the PRSA. Connect with him on Twitter @McClennan.




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