PR Search Optimization–Mattel Case

mattel_searchMattel is offering a real-time Crisis Management case study for any to watch, and from what I can see, they’re doing a first-class job. A search on “Lead Paint Toy Recall” on Yahoo! demonstrates what should become the text-book response to addressing an industrial event.

Paid Search Campaign for Crisis Management

On Yahoo!, Mattel and an advocacy or “ambulance chaser” group–I don’t know these folks so can’t tell–address the Lead Paint Toy Recall crisis with paid search advertisement placements. The paid placement clicks (still a proxy for relevance) may in fact be driving the Mattel response above the media coverage of their efforts.

Paid placement is a legitimate way to drive up your story in search rankings when needed and ensures the good news gets out with the bad. In this case, it’s good news to see how proactive and seriously Mattel is taking the crisis–something they may have been doing without paid search, but are able to:

  •  harvest credit
  • gesture larger
  • become part of the larger debate
  • guide/save/repair their brand image

This is real branding–becoming part of the solution and dialogue versus attempting to cover up or try to allow something to “blow over.” In what Paul Walker of GCI calls the “5-second News Cycle” shortened from the “24-hour news cycle” via blogs, rss, etc. you have to have contingency plans and resources for a digital response. In an AdTech Presentation a couple of years ago I outlined the following guides for Crisis Management in this environment:

  • Imagine the unthinkable and plan for it (in the presentation, highlighted the need for this when sponsoring high-risk sports or celebrities)
  • Create contingency, pre-approved:
    • Press Release
    • Content for webpage, landing pages and advertisments
    • Text versions for search
  • Have pre-approval at most senior levels so IT/agency can take an interim solution live during off-hours
  • Develop a communications action plan to notify should you need to deploy
  • Release as broadly as appropriate
  • Have emergency search budget allocated and available
  • Invite communications from brand lovers

To update this list I would add:

  • Have an ongoing forum for communications exchange with your customers, consumers and shareholders. What Paul Walker likes to call “break glass and blog”–having an established blog makes the response part of the ongoing dialogue of a responsible company, not like a company that was dragged into this millenium by a crisis
  • Have an existing paid-search strategy. It’s easier to activate and we’ve found search relevancy benefits by having a pre-established search campaign in place

Results Will Vary–Good and Bad–Based on Search Engine

Mass-retailer, Target, is probably unaware that they’re performing and looking irresponsible or incompetent with their advertising efforts. Well-intended search placements in the Paid Listings section to the right of the search results for “Lead Paint Toy Recall” suggest that Target and are interested in selling you toys with Lead Paint. This flipside of Crisis Management demonstrates how badly Search 1.0/2.0 performs on Yahoo!. There really is room for improvement towards Web 3.0, popularly referred to as “The Semantic Web.”

In comparison, Google’s algorithm handles it differently. “Lead Paint Toy Recall” only displays the Mattel and ambulance-chaser paid placements. A cleaner, better consumer and brand experience.  Mattel’s link appears in the 7-8th slot down on the first page, so paid placements are not as successful with Google at increasing the placement as on Yahoo! Last week I posted about Google’s news post appending feature. A search on Google News did not reveal any comments, but perhaps with over 2,000 articles it’s challenging to comment on many.

Solid Landing Page

mattel_responseWorth sharing is the landing page from Mattel featuring Bob Eckert, Chairman and CEO, in a studio-produced response. I actually like the etch-a-sketch border around the video and the big, clunky Mattel logo which embrace the brand completely.

The specificity and quality of your landing page will also earn better search results and becomes a primary source for reporters for company behavior, postions and statements.

Props to Patricia Galea for pointing out this developing campaign.


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