Category Archives: RadioShack

10 Things I’ll Miss About RadioShack

Stephen had a horrible poker face.  I couldn’t read his mind but as I examined his eyes I was sure of one thing: he was dreaming up something that would make me uncomfortable.

It was October 9, 2009 and I was sitting across from RadioShack’s VP of Marketing at the time.  We swapped philosophies on retail management, leadership styles, life passions and perspectives on why Redbox was destined to kick Blockbuster’s butt from the beginning.

Then the discussion took an interesting twist.  “What do you think about social media?  Would you be interested in figuring it out for us?”

Funny thing is, I don’t recall what I actually said but I do remember what I thought.  Instantly, I remembered launching an online TV network and forum in 2003 for Footaction USA, 2 years before YouTube.  It failed.

I reminisced about Locker Freakz, the online sneakerhead community we built for Foot Locker that was accessed via a secret 3D lenticular code.  Not many people bothered in 2005.

And of course I couldn’t forget the pride and joy of unveiling one of the first MySpace pages at Liz Claiborne for the MEXX brand in 2006!   We all know how that ended.

Aside from my personal use of social networks and some freelance stuff for non-profits, my social media journey was littered with digital skeletons.  For pride’s sake I’d like to think I was a man ahead of my time.  A digital Da Vinci of sorts.  Dreaming up helicopters and solar power before we ever realized the Earth was actually not the center of the universe.  Or not.

Whatever the case, the conversation that day planted a seed worth watering.  Two years later and the RadioShack social practice has blossomed beyond my greatest expectations.  This time around, the team can look back and see thriving programs that raised the bar and built a blueprint for an iconic brand.  The skeletons have become lessons.

Today is my last day at The Shack.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with, learn from, challenge and grow alongside such a talented team.  Staying true to my sappy heritage, here’s my list of the top 10 things I’ll miss at RadioShack.

10. Cupcakes


I seriously gained at least 15 pounds my first year here.  From birthdays to baby showers, we never turn down an opportunity to dine on these delightful little devils.

9. Cycling

Mouthfuls of cupcakes in 2010 led to miles of cycling in 2011.  Our Team RadioShack partnership introduced me to an intriguing sport and a community of people who are dedicated to beating cancer.  (Yes, I’ll take my bike to Plano)

8. Award Hardware

I remain immensely proud of the work this team has delivered in such a short time.  Having the opportunity to accept a Forrester Research Groundswell award on behalf of our social team and agency partners is something not easily forgotten.  The award will stay here where it belongs.

7. Meeting Tweeple

I’ve been all over the U.S. representing the brand and flipping the switch on mental light bulbs as people rediscovered RadioShack.  Our Twitter chats and Facebook promotions were notable, but no replacement for a handshake, a face-to-face discussion, a concert ticket gifted to an unexpected fan or the thrill of hearing thousands of fans scream “RadioShack!” as their favorite cyclist races by.

6. Lawyers

Yep, lawyers.  RadioShack attorneys aren’t just mere legal experts wielding torts and bylaws.  These studs are lawyers by trade and cowboys by birth.  Many have worked here since nineteen-eighty-sumthin’ and they remind me of Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones‘ characters from the western film classic Lonesome Dove.  My favorite RadioShack cowboy is Toss Hobbs who penned the all-time best response for employees who insists they have the right to curse out their employer online (immortalized in the pic above).

5. Paulisms

Every office has a Paul.  He’s the guy who has perfected the art of the corporate cliché to the point where it comes way too naturally.  Paul’s finest phraseology includes: “All boats rise.  Top of the trees.  Don’t boil the ocean.  That’s not a big idea.  Circle the wagons.  Peel back the onion.  Low hanging fruit.”  Interestingly enough, we all know what he means.  You will be missed my friend.

4. Videos

The team produced more than 260 videos in 1 year and doubled our YouTube views.  These guys unboxed phones, crashed CES, bonded with geeks, discovered the Abominable Snowman and brought a 90-year-old brand to life.  I should have been an agent.

3. Nerd Power

Once upon a time geeks ruled the world and RadioShack was their playground.  These days they still call the shots and we’re trying to win them back.  In 2011 we made a concerted, deliberate effort to re-engage the DIY community and start a real conversation.  The feedback we received was real, warranted and way overdue.  Ultimately it’s made us a stronger marketing team by enhancing the most critical exercise of all, listening.

2. Friends of The Shack

If good help is hard to find then I struck the goldmine.  Our agencies (BSSP, Mindshare, imc2, Weber Shandwick) are second to none and I was lucky to work with such passionate partners.  The campaigns we produced working with Facebook, foursquare, Twitter, Google and other social allies collectively moved the needle and taught us all a thing or two in the process. [My 5 Favorite RadioShack Social Media Campaigns]

1. Team RadioShack

This one’s predictable but certain.  The RadioShack family is 35,000 members strong and my wife and I are proud of our time together.  Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, RadioShack always represented technology, innovation and community.  It’s great to know those things still remain true and the brand is in capable hands.

See you soon!

Twitter – @adriandparker
LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/adriandparker

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Filed under Interactive Marketing, Learnings & Insight, RadioShack

My 5 Favorite RadioShack Social Campaigns

In the past 2 years the RadioShack social team has had just as many failures as successes.  For every article highlighting our innovative use of technology, there’s an equally as articulated report detailing what we learned from loss.

And, therein lies the sweet spot of marketing leadership: when you give your team permission to fail you also give them the tools to succeed.  So, just in case you weren’t following our every move these past 2 years (unimaginable!) here’s a recap of my 5 favorite RadioShack campaigns along with a “behind the scenes” factoid for each.

1. LIVESTRONG Team 28

This program started as a brainstormed solution to a simple question: how do we allow people across the globe to support Team RadioShack and the 28 million people battling cancer?  In addition to partnering with imc2 agency, we worked with UK-based shop Storm Ideas to build the custom “Twibbons” for the 2010 Tour de France bike race.  Users were able to display their support for Team 28 by tagging the number “28” on their social avatars. It evolved into a 4-month multi-media platform that included a Times Square takeover in NYC and profile pics being broadcast live across the globe.  Ultimately, it raised $30,000 for LIVESTRONG and the fight against cancer and remains one of my favorite activations.

FACT: The bright idea to transform the numerous Twitter and Facebook profile images into a mosaic of Lance Armstrong came from a Facebook fan.

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2. Twitter Powers Holiday Heroes

RadioShack’s award-winning 2010 holiday marketing campaign brought the “Holiday Heroes” theme to life by unleashing the power of Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and other emerging platforms.  I’d certainly love to say we knew it would be such a huge success, but the list of unknown factors far outweighed conventional marketing wisdom.  While our agency partners (and even some Twitter reps) thought we were crazy for using unproven, unknown hashtags for our Promoted Trends, we actually had a secret weapon.  Our consumers.  We used our fans & followers as an impromptu test audience to observe the shareability of the trends.  Not only did the campaign increase awareness and engagement, it also sold phones.  Imagine that.  The video below is a recap of our #IfIHadSuperPowers Twitter trend.

FACT:  Our first Promoted Trend flopped miserably.  We were redeemed a week later after the next trend when Twitter CEO Dick Costolo sent an email informing the team we had broken a record for impressions & engagement during a trend.

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3. Product Launch: HTC EVO 3D

RadioShack is 90 years old so we rarely get the chance to party like rockstars, let alone with them.  In this case, for the launch of the iconic EVO 3D phone we partnered with Sony, Sprint and HTC to release the device to the world in grand fashion.  Whether or not you’re a fan of Paris Hilton, LMFAO or our other celeb attendees, you must admit this is an unexpected way to celebrate new technology.  From Tweets and drinks to celebs and cars, the launch was covered across the country and came together in just 4 weeks.

FACT: The @RadioShack Tweets during the event were being curated & published by our intern back in Fort Worth as we funneled her pics, vids and updates. Long night.

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4. @RadioShackLIVE at the Tour de France

What do you get when you give 2 guys a box full of RadioShack gear and send them to France to experience the world’s biggest cycling race? More than 200 videos and 8 days of pure comedy.  imc2 agency procured 2 of Second City’s funniest improv comedians – Jordan & Steve – and we shipped them all over France.  In addition to our newly created @RadioShackLIVE Twitter account, our US audience followed the happenings on our Facebook tab which included a pair of virtual phones for tracking Tweets, videos, images and updates.

FACT: Honestly, though we received 100K views on YouTube we certainly anticipated more views.  This is the best campaign you never saw.

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5. #S0RightLive

This campaign is easily the most memorable.  Last December we hosted #SoRightLive, our first-ever live video webcast featuring RadioShack products and people.  Powered by Twitter, Facebook, and Ustream, the event included 5 broadcast segments showcasing “So Right” gifts: from smartphones and RC cars to headphones and DIY tech kits.  All segments were hosted by RadioShack’s own Ricky Cadden, Paige Guyton, Danny Ramirez and Lauren Kushnerick and we built out a full set at the Dallas Omni Hotel.  The video below has some must-see highlights.  The results? 80 million global impressions, 550 hours of video consumed in 1 day and an average viewing time of 20 minutes. Many thanks to Alyssa and Chris from Weber Shandwick whom I hope to borrow away from their agency at some point in my career.

FACT: We rehearsed until about 1 a.m. the night before the live shoot and were deliriously tired.  Luckily Ricky and Paige were camera-ready the next day and all turned out well.  Can’t remember being more proud of the team!

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Filed under Innovation, Interactive Marketing, RadioShack, Social Media

Using Real-Time Media To Drive Real Results

Last week we hosted #SoRightLive, our first-ever live video webcast featuring RadioShack products and people.  Powered by Twitter, Facebook, and Ustream, the event included 5 broadcast segments showcasing “So Right” gifts: from smartphones and RC cars to headphones and DIY tech kits.  All segments were hosted by RadioShack’s own Ricky Cadden, Paige Guyton, Danny Ramirez and Lauren Kushnerick and we built out a full set at the Dallas Omni Hotel.  The video below has some must-see highlights.

 

Why is this news? Glad you asked. This combination of real people showcasing technology using social media delivered the following results:

  1. 80 million global impressions (30M U.S.)
  2. 550 total hours of video viewed with 2K streamed views.
  3. Average viewing time per user: 20 minutes
  4. 4% engagement rate on Twitter
  5. 20+ bloggers, influencers and experts participated in the on-site studio event

#SoRightLive was an experiment for all of us and there are several learnings we’ll apply to future episodes.  Since being tasked with launching the interactive practice at RadioShack my goal has been to humanize the brand and ensure our consumer communications had just as much heart as muscle.  Traditional media like TV, radio, print and direct mail play a vital role in the consumer’s path to purchase and our goal as interactive marketers is to close the loop with media, messaging and motives that builds trust.  It’s a word we don’t use enough considering it ultimately decides how, where and when consumer’s spend their money.

Thanks to everyone for their hard work on delivering with excellence today while moving the needle for tomorrow.  More to come. Get ready 2012.

Would love to hear from other digital marketers and influencers on their experience with live events. What role can it play in driving real conversations?

 

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Filed under Interactive Marketing, RadioShack, Social Media

Groundswell Award Unlocks Social Media Super Powers

Last week I had the honor of accepting a Groundswell Award from Forrester Research on behalf of the RadioShack marketing team and imc2 agency.  We earned top honors for our 2010 Holiday Heroes social media campaign and it was a very humbling experience on many levels. When I started at RadioShack in January 2010, I was left with one lonely mandate: read the book Groundswell.

Two years after launching the social media practice there, not only were we being recognized by the very people who wrote the book on social, but also we were considered among 200 other entries, including Mercedes Benz, Starbucks, MTV, Sprint, Best Buy and *gulp* Britney Spears.

You can check out the winning campaign, press and other details online. For now, you absolutely must peep the above acceptance video imc2 created for the ceremony. It’s epic.

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Filed under Innovation, Interactive Marketing, RadioShack, Social Media

365 Days of Social Media: 5 Steps to Identifying and Understanding Your Audience

365 Days of Social Media: How I Learned by Shutting My Mouth

This is the follow-up to last week’s post introducing my experiences developing a Social Media Learning Plan for RadioShack and the practical steps we took to jump-start our company’s dialogue with consumers. This hands-on approach to figuring out what to do while testing how to do it, came to life in 3 phases.  

The first phase involved identifying and understanding our audience from the outside in. This came to life for me in these 5 steps:

#1) LEARN to learn. Learn to listen

In all honesty, this was perhaps the most exciting time for me personally because I was staring at a blank canvas. Before we wrote the social media policy, before we hired a community manager, before the fan acquisition campaigns and even before I finished reading the social manifesto Groundswell – there was simply RadioShack and the consumer.

It was the perfect opportunity to learn about RadioShack’s fans simply by talking to them, observing and acknowledging their voice. For better or worse, they were more than happy to share their kudos and criticisms. Our Facebook and Twitter updates were incredibly transparent about our mission to mature into social media and I believe consumers respected the candor. Most of all, I think it signaled to them that someone was listening. 

Since then, we’ve worked with the rock stars at our digital agency imc2 to include qualitative listening analytics (e.g., Web Trends Radian6), regular campaign reporting, conversation calendars and a content strategy. Thanks to these tools we’re a little smarter and a lot more informed, but there is no substitute for a good ol’ fashioned conversation.

#2) DO start upgrading & engaging

I’ve always wanted to play the drums. I’ll never be good enough to get paid for it, I just want enough percussion proficiency to sit-in with a local jazz band and hopefully impress my wife. I used to watch instructional videos on YouTube and listen to Bernard Purdie drum solos while envying the ease at which they mastered the kit. It wasn’t until I grabbed my own sticks and took a few lessons that I learned how intensely hard this instrument is. Watching was easy but learning involved doing.

The only way to really get comfortable with social media as an instrument for consumer engagement is to start playing. During this phase of learning our audience and honing our own voice, we took part in relevant online conversations and even hopped in a few that had nothing to do with RadioShack. Don’t worry, consumers will always let you know when you’re off beat.

A critical part of this, however, was ensuring we took the obvious steps to prepare for where we wanted to go. We knew we needed a social media policy so we started writing one. We knew we needed to reclaim all relevant brand trademarks online so we began the process.

The biggest upgrades happened inside the company as I shared the purpose of social media with colleagues and was able to garner immediate support from marketing and cross-functional peers. It was important that they took ownership for our engagement efforts and saw the bigger picture beyond simply Facebook and Twitter.

#3) BUILD dialogue that builds relationships

Conversation drives conversion. The more we humanized the brand and related to fans, followers and even naysayers, the more relevant we became. This increased relevance is what makes social media both profound and mind-boggling to many of us on the brand side. I often used this simple question as my compass in dealing directly with consumers: what would a friend do?

Would a friend recommend an electronics product or tell you about a great deal? Yep. If necessary, a friend may even help you resolve a bad experience, right? Probably so.

Well, why should your relationship with RadioShack be any different?

We also made a concerted effort to engage in expected conversations where we had credibility to speak. This meant tapping into cultural happenings and listening for opportunities to make RadioShack a natural part of the chatter. We asked and answered questions, we retweeted the positive, we engaged with industry gatekeepers and located enthusiasts who were already ambassadors. Oftentimes this meant empowering our store associates and educating them on how online dialogue impacts the in-store experience.

#4 JUMP obvious hurdles (don’t ignore them)

I’ve covered many areas of the marketing umbrella in my career – advertising, online, brand development, sports/lifestyle, CRM, PR, etc. The frightfully fantastic thing about social media is the real-time transparency and reactions. It’s one of the few marketing channels where you can’t simply pretend your efforts are working when they’re not. The sand you would normally stick your head into is now a mirror, forcing you to face the facts.

I believe this transparency ultimately leads to a stronger organization where feedback is valued and decisions are stress-tested. For us, it meant addressing the difficult perceptions of our brand while still presenting the compelling reasons to come and shop us. It also meant keeping the word “consumer” a central part of all conversations, even outside of the marketing and operations teams.

Start by gathering a list of the challenges your brand faces in the eye’s of your existing and potential customers (not your company, your brand). From awareness and consideration to traffic and loyalty, a social game plan must be constructed around your weaknesses as well as your strengths.   

Remember, hurdles are both inside and outside your company so listen closely on both ends.

Hint: I sit right across from the research team.

#5 TRANSFORM… even if it is slowly.

Step 5 makes a big assumption – that you’re using social media to change something. It’s virtually impossible to learn something and not be changed, in any area of your life. As soon as I started tracking my daily eating habits and monitoring the nutritional value of my meals, it was hard to dive hand-first into the box of cupcakes sitting in our employee lounge. Not because I didn’t want one, but because I wanted something else more – to be sexy again. 🙂

Once you truly start to identify, understand and engage with your social media fan base, learning will become second-nature. Every week we interact with thousands of consumers who tell us what they want, how they feel, when we’re wrong and why they’re right. This dialogue is a wellspring of insights and now impacts how we’re approaching consumers in 2011.

A transformative opportunity for RadioShack was establishing credibility & relationships with store associates who participate in social media. By affirming their value and sharing the philosophy of social media with them, they are part of our voice in a positive manner.

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Next week I want to share how we worked to translate social media goals into enterprise-wide objectives that mattered to the company. Bear with me as I get back into the swing of blogging.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment and I’ll reply asap. This represents my past year in social media so I’m curious to hear your perspectives and experiences as well.

Thx for taking the time to read and feel free to connect with me on Twitter at @adriandparker.

AP

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Filed under Learnings & Insight, RadioShack, Social Media

365 Days of Social Media: How I Learned by Shutting My Mouth

One year ago today I traded in my brand consulting hat for a full-time gig as head of social media for RadioShack Corporation.  RadioShack (aka “The Shack”) was an iconic retail brand in the middle of an immense push to amplify their voice and give consumers a compelling reason to tune back in.  And there I was, a guy who made a living showing, telling and selling others on how to make their marketing work smarter. A love affair ensued.

Of course, as with interpersonal relationships, there were strings attached. To be quite transparent, though I was blessed with a career working with some really great brands and people, I was not a social media guru (imagine the shame). To effectively embrace the shift from employer to employee, marketing generalist to social specialist and agency to client, I decided to do something I’ve never done before. I shut up.

Why? After years of always having the answers, it was nice to listen, learn, unlearn and focus on asking the right questions.  Focus is a fruit of priorities so I chose to do a little self-pruning in order to make social media a professional priority, not just a personal hobby.

I went radio silent on my own social branding efforts. No more personal blogging. No more consulting sessions. Tweeting was sporadic at best. Though I love speaking at conferences and swapping ideas, you couldn’t find me on any panel. Equipped with only a handful of questions and a good attitude, I jumped head first into this space, determined to understand both social media and The Shack from the inside out.

There’s a material reason practically every business planning process begins with the same first step, research.  Afterall, being understood as a problem-solver requires that you first understand the problem. The not-so-obvious challenge to many in interactive marketing and emerging media, especially on the brand side, is we oftentimes must construct our own research through experience.  This isn’t research in the traditional sense of analytics, insights, segmentation and data mining, though that’s critically important too. The experiences required to birth and grow a sustainable social media presence on the enterprise level involve an additional layer of education.

I like to call it a Social Media Learning Plan. Essentially, it’s a hands-on approach to figuring out what to do while testing how to do it.  Mine consisted of 3 related, yet discreet, phases:

Phase 1: Identify and understand your audience from the outside in.

Phase 2: Transform social media goals into enterprise-wide objectives.

Phase 3: Test, learn and implement the strategy while building the tools to support.

It begins and ends with doing, learning is the hard earned by-product. A learning plan means making a deliberate effort not to pull the trigger and, instead, opting to educate yourself about your weapon, the ammunition and, most importantly, the target.  While considered table stakes in some industries, planning for interactive learning is a luxury in retail that often decays under tremendous pressure to perform, exceed and adjust simultaneously.

Over the next several days, I’d like to remove the virtual duct tape from my mouth and share this learning plan along with the fruits of my 365 days of social learning. From missteps and milestones to failures and discoveries, experience has been a great teacher. Of course, I’d love to swap learnings, resources and perspectives on interactive marketing with you. It’s also an exciting time to be in the Consumer Electronics and Mobility sector – I’ll discuss tech info when I can.

As always, feedback is a gift.

Thx for taking the time to read and feel free to connect with me on Twitter at @adriandparker.

AP

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Filed under Innovation, Interactive Marketing, Learnings & Insight, RadioShack, Social Media