Four Ways CMOs of Major Companies are Using Social, Multimedia to Engage Audiences

Social media and PR were foremost on the minds of top marketers yesterday at Advertising Week in New York. As Stephanie George, Time Inc’s CMO said, “PR now has greater value than ever before. Through our own PR efforts we get the best response from our customers, and to do so you need to have high quality brands and content.”

George, along with CMOs from GE, CVS, and FedEx, focused on the impact of social media on their brands and company reputations. After the jump, other takeaways from the panel.

Social media helps to generate new ideas and build communities: When GE issued its “Ecomagination Challenge,” it solicited external ideas to power their smart grid and invest in a clean future. The company received a wide array of suggestions from customers worldwide, Beth Comstock, GE’s CMO reported. GE invested $150 million in selected concepts and she said the exercise also emphasized “the power of our global community.”

Social media helps fuel the need for customized, exclusive content: “Social media allows CVS to extend personal relationships to our customers. It led to our offering Minute Clinics to enhance customer access,” according to the company’s CMO, Rob Price. In addition, he explained that “stakeholders overlap in the social sphere. As an example, a brother of a client who has an illness may search CVS’ health related content, so it must be extraordinary.”

Video content includes both company-produced and user-generated content: For Time Inc, George described videos as “key levers in all we do since they bring our brands to life.”  GE creates how-to videos to “make the company and its complex products more approachable,” Comstock observed. CVS encourages user-generated video content, especially among its “extra-care fanatics,” Price added.

Companies are listening and learning from consumers and employees: “Now consumers can influence more opinions about brands, and our blog response unit monitors their conversations,” FedEx’s CMO Raj Subramaniam noted. This process has proven to be quite informative. FedEx heard customer buzz before Apple’s iPhone4 launch and prepared for increased shipments when the phone was available.

FedEx also tunes in to its employees through its internal IAmFedex site. A video demonstration of the traditional peacock dance, posted by a female FedEx employee in China, has attracted the most attention. And the clip above tells the story of an Indianapolis staffer/business owner.