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Intuitive Engagement

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The whole idea of an organization participating in the conversation is alien to those of us who grew up in the one-way top-down era.

Younger communicators often find themselves applying the principles naturally, without necessarily knowing they’re doing something strategic.

Such was the case with a twenty-something member of the Public Relations staff at the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp. (GPTMC). (Disclosure: GPTMC is my client, I learned about this incident while at their offices, and I have their permission to relate this tale. Caroline was nosing around the blogosphere late last year when she came across a post to a Gawker Media travel-focused blog called “Gridskipper: The Urban Travel Guide.” The post was less than kind to GPTMC’s “We’ve got Benergy” campaign celebrating Benjamin Franklin’s 300th birthday. The post was titled, “Worst slogan ever:”

It’s time for the 300th birthday of favorite runaway adopted son Ben Franklin. But “Benergy”? Kinda sticks in the craw. I know what they’re going for, with the Ben, and the lightning, and the synergy, but it’s not doing it for me. Benalicious? Bencredible? Bentastic? Those sound tired as well. Make your suggestions in the comments below, should the spirit move you.

Caroline read the post and realized the author didn’t understand how the campaign was being used. So she dashed off a friendly note to the blogger using Gridskipper’s email link. The blogger responded on December 21 with “Co-Branding with Ben Franklin,” reflecting the points Caroline had made and softened his original view of the Benergy campaign:

A while ago we had fun with their, err, well-intentioned “Philly’s Got Benergy!” campaign and we recently got tipped off to how local bars and restaurants are renaming menu items in collaboration with the marketing campaign.

The post goes on to list several such co-branding efforts (e.g., Bistro Romano offered Benschetta). The post wrapped up, “Ah sweet co-branding, we love thee.”

Quite the turnaround, and one that Caroline brought about without quite realizing that she was engaging in a Web 2.0 PR strategy. It just seemed the natural thing to do.

Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.

Intuitive Engagement
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