Thursday, November 08, 2012

Is it ethical to claim you are number one (#1) specialist?

In the course of marketing my products and services, one friendly feedback I often get is how come I don't claim to be #1 in any specific area (e-commerce, Internet marketing, blogging, social media) even if other parties sometimes introduce me as such. My answer, "it is unethical and even illegal to do so."
Number one

To put more context, here is the Code of Ethics ratified by the Internet & Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines where I am a co-founder. IMMAP is a member of the Advertising Board of the Philippines (AdBoard).
N. Superlative Claim

1. Particular care must be exercised in the use of superlative claims. General superiority claims like ‘the best,’ and ‘No.1’ may not be used unless factually substantiated. 
2. The substantiation claim shall cover at least the immediately preceding 12 month period and should be supported by data from independent sources. In the absence of data pertaining to the last 12 month period, the substantiation may be based on the latest available reliable and bona fide figures.
The Consumer Act of the Philippines as well has provisions against "special claims" where I believe asserting #1 status falls under.
ARTICLE 115. Special Claims - Any advertisement which makes special claims shall;
a) substantiate such claims; and
b) properly use research results, scientific term, statistics or quotations.
Of course, I may be wrong. However, I do understand the benefit of claiming #1 status as there are people who are truly attracted to being trained by the best.

Although even traditional media is cautious and warned on publishing superlative claims unless an entity who is the source of information is mentioned.

Perhaps it is time for a body to look into ranking professionals that can release reports on who are indeed the top players. Maybe that will be good. Maybe it is time.

"If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." (Mark 9:35)

Friday, November 02, 2012

Shaping your mindset

I think our experiences in life has a lot of effect on the kind of mindset we have. It is driven by our realities and experiences. Sometimes you have to try something new in order to get a new perspective. If lucky, you will meet the right person who can influence your mindset in a big way.

For me, in 2012, that person would be Coach Jim Saret whose teachings - through what I see in him, rather than what he says, made me sharpen the saw in the area of physical intelligence.

I believe that keeping our mind and heart open to other people can pave the way for new learnings. Some are good. Some are bad. Some may even hurt us in the process. But in the end, they all have the capacity of changing our mindset in life.

With that, I definitely look forward attending The Power of Mindset. An upcoming event this November 14, 2012 at Victory Center, 4th Level V-Mall, Greenhills San Juan with Chinkee Tan as the motivational speaker. 

I first heard of Chinkee Tan in an event when I was still head of the Philippine Internet Commerce Society. PICS had one e-commerce learning session activity then done in partnership with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He was talking about business opportunities in e-commerce. 

With Chinkee's experience in various business, personal hardship, rising above various challenges, and now as a motivational speaker, I think it will be interesting to learn more from him and his take on developing one's mindset.

As a bonus, I also look forward hearing what Francis Kong has to say. Heard him once in an entrepreneur event a long time ago and the man really knows how to hold everyone's attention without using any presentation material.

I am sure the learnings from both Chinkee and Francis will be very beneficial to anyone interested to learn more about improving one's mindset.

So if you are also interested in coming, you can register online and pay through 7/11 or MLhuillier.

It may also interest you to follow Chinkee Tan via Twitter and get some positive idea tweets once in awhile.

See you there!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Dynamics of Medicine Promotion Online and Offline

Recently, I gave a talk at an internal pharmaceutical event sharing my perspective on how medicines are being promoted through television and online. In addition, explore ways on how e-commerce can be tapped as an alternative channel.

Some thoughts on this matter:

1. Consumers awareness now stronger online. It also made a lot of wary of accepting claims easily.

One thing that makes social media interesting is that consumers can now voice their thoughts actively and share what they think.

Take the case of the DOH earlier initiative where they want to re-phrase labels to state "no approved therapeutic claims" to "Mahalagang Paalala: Ang (name of product) Ay Hindi Gamot At Hindi Dapat Gamiting Panggamot sa Anumang Uri ng Sakit”.

There was public support then for such clamor but sooner or later got drowned out by other issues. Today, the said initiative seems to have died as that change in labeling was not put into practice.

Although this doesn't mean that the war is lost. It has made consumers conscious on what to realistically expect with these type of products.

2. Loyalty gimmicks might click but it is the community that counts.
Orlistat is one pill that I have been taking for awhile whenever I tend to overeat. One brand, Xenical, created a loyalty site where consumers can enter a code to rack up points and be able to get stuff in the process.

Admittedly, it has encouraged me to keep the boxes and input them when I have time. But when I started receiving calls scheduling me for consultation, it wasn't that welcoming for me.

First, I don't know who I am talking to over the phone and whether I would feel comfortable in sharing my personal information and diet habits.

This in contrast when I got the chance to join the Immuvit MetaFit Challenge and eventually joined the FITFIL community. Becoming part of a movement made me realize that becoming stronger is more important.

If Xenical customer care program have reached out to its consumers much earlier, perhaps it would have been different. Definitely, I still buy the product but reluctant in responding to their customer outreach efforts. But their efforts are much better than traditional social media initiatives that relies on contest and the likes.

3. Consumers reacting to how brands are positioned and promoted.
Awhile back, I wrote about the politics of cough medicine. This is the ongoing war between synthetic and herbal medicine as to which one is better. It is a concern especially if you are loyal to a brand that appears to be antagonistic to its challengers that offers an alternative approach.

Of course, they have to deal with that in their commercial ways but brands have to be sensitive on how it affects their consumer choices.

The same can now be said on pain relievers. Biogesic released a commercial amplifying that it is safe.

This is a concern to me. It opened a question but it didn't answer the question - but simply referring to its brand.

For pain relief due to sports activities and other illness, I usually take either Ponstan, Advil, Alaxan, Biogesic, and others depending on the condition am in and which brand a doctor recommends. Am not certain which one is safe and not.

Then lately, while preparing for my talk, I researched on write-ups on various medicine brands promotion. I saw a few bloggers raving about an advertisement released by Saridon as it touches on Pinoy humor.

The ad is actually eye-catching but what I don't like about it is the violence especially if kids will get to watch it. There was even a Cebuano version of the ad online. Another version of the ad is a man "stamping" on the main character's head.

Saridon, two years back, was a controversial medicine brand due to its product history and was written about by several columnist in the past. My understanding then and now is that it is still a popular brand in the Visayas and Mindanao region. I am not sure if ads of this nature appeal to its target audience there.

Based on its Wikipedia entry, Saridon is tested to be competitive in comparison to its counterparts although safety issues were also indicated.  

But definitely, in my opinion, violence in medicine ads should not be encouraged as it can have varying effect on Filipino audiences especially to children who would like to mimic "interesting" and "funny" ads.
Moving forward
I still believe that the Department of Health should set clear guidelines on how medicine brands are being promoted online and offline. They should also be required to have a website that can handle all product inquiries and disclose issues that will affect the public greatly.

Until then, we can only take what medicine brands say about themselves as pure promotion where we all still have to be "buyer beware".

Friday, June 01, 2012

Reaching out to OFWs: elections, repatriation, government assistance

During iBlog8, James Jimenez of the COMELEC shared that there are 12.5 million overseas Filipino workers (OFW). There were 589,830 registered voters in 2010 and 153,323 actually voted at that time. This 2013, the COMELEC estimates there will be 686,798 voters.

New overseas voters registration started trickling as the Department of Foreign Affairs reported 96,968 applicants since October 2011.

There are many problems confronting overseas absentee voting. The primary one is geography. I think this is a major one. Perhaps the COMELEC can include voters registration as one item in the checklist before an OFW departs overseas. It will save them the hassle of going to the nearest Philippines embassy or consulate.
Registering as a voter abroad also requires filling up of affidavits and intent to return especially if they have to cross borders just to register or vote. But the important is our desire to vote. Like many Filipinos, my inclination to participate in the elections dwindles especially if you just see the same familiar faces or clans taking turns for local and national positions.

But when parents find their children reaching voters age, the pressure is there to set a good citizen example and share the perspective of our role in changing the course of our country by casting a vote. The deadline for new voters registration, transfer of registration, validation, change of name, correction of entries can be done on or before October 31, 2012.
James shared that election interest peaks among overseas Filipinos when deadline is near for both registration and actual voting date.

Filipino Internet users, especially bloggers and social media users, can help. If you have a family, friend, or relative abroad, encourage them to register and vote. The COMELEC realizes that its traditional ways of marketing to the overseas segment was not effective as it even resulted to declining numbers. With real people talking about real issues, the COMELEC hopes that bloggers can play an important role in encouraging more OFWs to vote.

James end his presentation with a note encouraging volunteers to tweet, post a Facebook status, and for bloggers to donate one blog post about this.

And this blog post is in support of that. 

I am now asking my Filipino friends and family working abroad to register as soon as possible and vote for the 2013 elections. There are several issues that comes to mind that the upcoming Congress needs to address.

In relation to the elections, Congress should come up with legislation that will make it easier for OFWs to vote answering the geography and document requirements issues.

Helping OFWs post employment exit

Last May 24, I got the chance to attend a press briefing organized by the Blas F. Ople Policy Center (BOPC). OFW Alfredo Salmos, who just arrived last May 22, was there. When Alfredo finished his employment two years ago, he was unable to secure an exit clearance from his employer. He also got involved in a car accident 10 years before that unable him to get the clearances needed to return home.

He worked as a part-timer while waiting and that is where his electrocution accident happened. Correcting earlier reports, Susan Ople of BOPC explained that Salmos accident did not happened with his former employer. However, they still provided medical assistance even if it is no longer their obligation.

During the 2-year period, Salmos was helped by fellow OFWs. He also stayed in the home of an Indonesian overseas worker who took care of him.

Prior to Salmos photos and story going viral via Facebook, the BOPC  and Villar Foundation through its Sagip-OFW have began coordinating with government entities to help him out.

Susan believes that the government needs to review or improve its procedures for helping OFWs who have finished their employment contracts and wanting to go home. There is currently no established procedures for it.

Cynthia Villar also agreed. In the case of Villar Foundation, Cynthia shared that their OFW assistance program gives priority to OFWs who are sick and need to be taken home.

When Alfredo's case went viral and reported through major television networks, the government provided the necessary assistance to get him home. Help continues to come in but sustainability is also a major concern.

The Villar Foundation will shoulder Alfredo's medical operation and medicine expenses. It is likely that Alfredo will go through 3 or more operations starting with his neck, arms, and other parts of the body as recommended by physicians attending to his needs.

In the same briefing, Alfredo's sister Epifania Salmos-Colina was also present. She was repatriated last year with the assistance of the Villar Foundation as she ran away from her abusive employer in Dammam.

The siblings also got assistance from the BOPC, Villar Foundation, and Puregold to help in their livelihood needs. They have a small store selling various goods in their area.

Last Friday, May 25, Susan reported that Alfredo was able to go home in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecjia. The help of various concerned citizens, both online or offline, made such possible.

The Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Villar Foundation are long time partners in the Sagip-OFW program. It provides repatriation and livelihood assistance program since 2008. It has assisted more than 10,000 OFWs cases. Through Villar Foundation's own fund, it was able to repatriate more than 200 OFWs as of this writing.

Do we need an OFW agency, commission, or department?

Another concern that I agree with is the creation of single government body that will address all OFW concerns including pre, current, and post employed.

Both Susan and Cynthia believe that the creation of a single OFW agency or office needs to be looked at. With the growing number of Filipinos working abroad, the number of personnel and programs handling or addressing the needs of OFWs does not match.

I hope to see more OFWs voting in the 2013 elections and support legislators who have clear programs for them and achievable in 3 years.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Quotes, Misquote, Cyber-bullying, and Libel

Since Monday afternoon, I have been in an ongoing consultation session with a friend on the subject of being misquoted that resulted to him being cyber-bullied in the process. It made me ponder on the responsibilities of discussion group moderators and members who just participate without regard if what was posted was true in the first place.

Here are my personal thoughts on the matter and will update this as I receive more questions:

Question: In a private conversation, direct or overheard, with a personality, can he or she be quoted without consent? That quote be posted in discussion group, Twitter, blogs, and the likes?

Answer: NO. You should ask consent first and ensure you got proper context or conversation frame. Without it, especially if controversial, can spark confusion, hatred, and the likes. Unless of course that is the intention.

Question: Can a quote be rephrased for clarity and depth?

Answer: NO. When a person reads a quote, they assume it was said AS IS. Editing it may require a disclaimer of sorts stating this is how you recalled it. Again, put proper frame of the conversation that took place.

Question: If a person's private conversation quote got posted in a discussion group, edited (not said as is), and without consent that resulted to attacks, being cyber-bullied, and reputation damage, what remedies does a victim have?

Answer: If that happened to me and I know the person, I will first pursue the saving of relationship and recognize that mistakes can be made. Not assume that there was harmful intention to begin with. Issue apologies, accept it, and move forward. I was adamant in suing someone I hardly knew for libel a few years back and did all the paperwork quietly. But then the person reached out and apologize, corrected the mistake, I decided not to lodge the case anymore.

If the misquote happened during a corporate engagement and the person who caused this damage is an employee, I will definitely ask for sanctions for that was misuse of information and resources (especially if posting on social media happened during office hours). An unequivocal apology may also be necessary especially if the attack was made online, maliciously, and/or has caused moral damages. It doesn't matter if that was a private discussion group or not.

If parties refuse to correct their mistakes, then pursuing legal action may be necessary if only to show that you won't tolerate any false information being spread about you.

Question: Is the deletion of a thread that has attacked a person sufficient?

Answer: NO. Deletion of a thread without explanation and not taking accountability for one's action is not enough. Discussion group members, if already having a hint that there was an earlier foul play or misinformation spread, should demand accountability from their group administrators.

Especially if that misinformation made them also gullible in the process, due to community trust, and participated in the attacking of a person who doesn't deserve to be cyber-bullied in the first place.

Although demanding for accountability may be futile if the moderators were the ones who initiated the quote, misquote, cyber-bullying, and made their community members commit libel in the process.

Related articles:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Trending Twitter famous

Last March 19, I gave quick info on what makes a topic trend on Twitter. It was for the TV program Brigada who did a feature on popular celebrity tandem Julie Anne San Jose and Elmo Magalona. Their fans are active on Twitter using the hashtag #JuliElmo whenever referring to the two.

Their fans are also organized in their efforts to make their favorite celebrity pair hashtag trend on Twitter every week.

Getting a topic trend on Twitter is not an easy thing, it requires committed people to get it done. In this case, people who share the same passion and are active via Twitter can indeed make a difference.

Here are some of the questions I answered at that time.

1. How do we determine what is trending? Is it based on number of tweets, hashtags, usage of a word, etc? Is there a Math formula behind it?

According to Twitter, trending topics are discussions that became immediately popular at a short span of time. This usually involves an active discussion among individuals using common keywords or hashtag.