Message Mapping The Philip Morris E-Cigarette

ALT="ecigarette"Cigarette smoking kills an estimated 5.4 million people a year worldwide, a figure that’s risen 30 percent over the last 20 years, according to Forbes, “The Future of Smoking Lies Somewhere in Here,” June 16, 2014.

Then why is Philip Morris International (PMI), the subject of the story, interested in developing a new next-gen cancer stick with all the perks and pizazz of nicotine for the addicted?

The answer is simple. Cigarettes are a lucrative business for the global giant, and in spite of the intense taxation on cigarettes the world over, PMI paid $48.8 billion of $80 billion in revenue to the tax man in 2013, smokers are eager to adopt a new, “healthier” alternative to cancer-breathing smoke sticks.

To give you more of a sense of how widespread smoking remains, 6 trillion cigarettes are sold globally each year and “Serbia and Eastern Europe nations out smoke the competition despite having tax rates over 50 percent,” according to Forbes.

PMI is spending $650 million on research to develop an electronic cigarette (and various prototypes) with a battery heater in black that looks like an old-fashioned cigarette holder. Tobacco is heated within a paper cartridge with a filter just below the burning point. The smoker gets the nicotine and flavors with “fewer harmful combustion by-products like benzene and tar.”

The Philip Morris Quandary

This Forbes story grabs you from the first paragraph. How many nonsmokers gag when confronted with the offensive exhalations from peers who smoke? And, how many smokers secretly wish there was an alternative to their bad habit and the opportunity to be welcome in public?

That puts Philip Morris International (and its industry peers) in a particularly challenging global position. Does it continue to output cancer-causing smokes to the tune of 6 trillion annually, or does it do the right thing to try to find a healthier alternative?

PMI is well on its way to the latter; however, hold your applause. In the last 10 years, 540 million people have died from cigarette smoking (do the math from the first sentence).

Still, it’s a intriguing public relations challenge with high levels of complexity. Let’s see how a PR team would craft a message map for Philip Morris and its new e-cigarette. I don’t work for any company associated with cigarettes; however, this is the recommended approach to a message mapping challenge for the global behemoth.

ALT="Message Mapping book by Soulati" E-Cigarette Message Map for Philip Morris

The first step in developing a message map for PMI about its new smokeless cigarette is to look at the categories required (there may be others):

  • Research
  • Product
  • Investment/Earnings
  • Consumers
  • Competition
  • Health
  • Industry

What we’re going to do is work backward from what’s been published in Forbes to map the messages within each of these categories. As I was reading the article, I circled the relevant facts that were obviously obtained from PMI and other industry sources and competitive data.

While the published article does not match the message map PMI would create for its e-cigarette, it’s pretty darn close. You’ll get a solid sense of why message maps are important for your own business, product or service.

What I’m doing below then, is to highlight the themes and the associated “messages” from the published article in Forbes about Philip Morris. All of these statements are taken directly from Forbes; the attribution and wording are exact and credited to Forbes. For the sake of length, I’ll only include a few in each category. Ready?

Research

  • Studies in various countries show that e-cigs have close to 100% consumer recognition among smokers and 20% to 50% have tried them at least once–but less than 10% use them regularly.
  • Filters, says Calantzopoulos, simply can’t remove the dangerous by-products of burning tobacco that cause lung cancer emphysema and heart disease.
  • PMI is conducting tests in Petri dishes and on human cells using the cutting-edge technique known as systems biology to try to assess how the new devices affect known pathways to cancer and other smoking-related diseases.

The Product

  • The first new model is an electronic device that looks like an old-fashioned cigarette holder, which heats tobacco to just below the burning point to release the nicotine and flavor of tobacco with fewer harmful combustion by-products like benzene and tar.
  • Consumers will try a thin black device that holds a paper tube, while a software-controlled, rechargeable heating element raises the temperature to almost 400 degrees, creating a vapor from the tobacco to release nicotine and flavors. The smoker exhales vapor that quickly dissipates in the air.
  • In 2002, PMI gave up on developing a safer version of the combustible cigarette.

Investment/Earnings

  • Six trillion cigarettes are sold globally each year; if PMI’s tobacco heater attracts even a 5% share, that would boost profits, already a hefty $8.6 billion, by more than $1 billion a year.
  • PMI has invested$650 million with the current expenditure ramping up past $200 million annually to try to help the world’s smokers.
  • Of PMI’s $80 billion in revenue last year, $48.8 billion went to taxing authorities.
  • PMI has doubled earnings every 10 years since Andre Calantzopoulos, CEO, joined the firm in 1985, and investors have earned 122% since the spinoff in 2008, compared with 67% for the S&P 500 index.

Consumers

  • PMI is betting that smokers prefer the taste of real tobacco.
  • PMI is trying to prove to regulators that its great new product won’t actually attract new customers.
  • Consumers buy 6 trillion cigarettes worldwide each year.
  • Serbia and Eastern European nations outsmoke the competition despite having cigarette tax rates over 50%.

Competition

  • Lorillard is all-in on e-cigarettes, having purchased Blu, now one of the largest U.S. brands, for $135 million in 2012.
  • Altria, PMI’s former U.S. parent, is test-marketing MarkTen e-cigs.
  • Reynolds American introduced Premier in 1988 but withdrew it months later after the American Medical Association urged the FDA to ban it. Reynolds tried again with Eclipse and was sued by the Vermont attorney general.

Health

  • “These products can bring the biggest single benefit in a short period of time, in terms of public health,” said Andre Calantzopoulos, PMI CEO.
  • Cigarettes smoking kills an estimated 5.4 million people a year worldwide, a figure that’s risen 30% over the past 20 years.
  • If PMI proves successful, the new products will surely save the lives of tens of thousands of their customers. But they could also make smoking less scary to those who don’t smoke, creating new nicotine addicts.
  • If the product is 80% safer and used by the 20% of U.S. adults who smoke, that’s a public health win.

Industry

  • The tobacco analyst at Wells Fargo believes consumption of e-cigs and other delivery devices deemed safer could eclipse conventional cigarettes by 2030.
  • Past president of the American Lung Association supports e-cigarettes as a way to wean smokers off their favorite smokes.
  • Anti-tobacco activist with University of California thinks the FDA should block new tobacco products until cigarette manufacturers remove traditional cigs from the market.
  • American Lung Association says,”The most heavily marketed brands by the major tobacco companies are the most heavily used ones by kids.”

The Message Map

  • I can only imagine Philip Morris International has about two dozen message maps for the categories and business units it serves.
  • In your company ensure you have one! Get the first corporate map done to help fuel your communications strategy. Not only does a message map bring clarity for the entire leadership and marketing teams, it forms the basis of factual storytelling, just like the exercise above.
  • As you grow and announce new initiatives, a message map should be the first tool developed to help map out strategy and message from the outside-in.

About the Author

This article originally appeared on Soulati.com, “Soulati-’TUDE!” by Jayme Soulati, a message mapping master and public relations marketer.

Politicians Need Message Mapping

Soulati-Message-Mapping.jpbDuring election season, I usually get a call from several attorneys seeking marketing services for their bid to become a municipal judge or other position as an elected official. When the call came in recently for this same circumstance, I informed the caller I would consider adding my hat to his ring only after we executed a message mapping exercise.

Politicians need message mapping just like other business leaders do, too.

Message Maps Are Critical Tools

I always say, every company needs a message map. That goes the same for solopreneurs and especially politicians.

When a politician is running for an office associated with a party, a message map is the critical first step to ensure everyone in the campaign tracks with the views of the candidate.

Imagine if a candidate steps in front of a camera for an interview and answers a question with something out of left field no one was prepared for? Enter damage control! Call out the crisis communications team!

Executives of companies are no different than politicians when it comes to media interviews. They, too, require a message map, media training (with the map), and role playing to prepare for tough questions from journalists. If the CEO of a company does not heed counsel from the public relations team and goes off on a tangent that is off message, a lot of damage can be done with comments out of context. We have all seen how politicians fare in these circumstances, and it ain’t pretty. [Read more...]

Message Mapping: Why Your Business Needs It

Message-mapping-book-Soulati.jpgThat word “messaging?” It’s been around a really long time, born in traditional marketing and public relations. And, you know what? It remains as important today as before, perhaps even more so.

Technology has disrupted how business markets to customers and how sales teams build relationships, too. It’s ever more critical to ensure your messaging is tight to inform your business story to everyone outside your company.

I am a message mapping master.

For 20 years, I have been standing in front of businesses of all sizes to help them fine tune messages to position the company with authority.

Not much has changed with the process I use to facilitate a message mapping session. What has changed is the clutter. Companies, solopreneurs, small firms, business units, sales teams, and corporations are struggling to deliver a clear and simple message. [Read more...]

Citigroup CEO Launches Citi Bike With Best Messaging Ever

Citi-Bike.jpg

Credit: http://citibikenyc.com

In a recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup, scored a huge tandem win in New York City with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The financial behemoth put $41 million into a bike-sharing program for New Yorkers and tourists to traverse the narrow streets of Manhattan on three-speed blue Citi Bikes with puncture-resistant tires. After three years of study, the program launched May 27, 2013 (in time for a three-day weekend). Here’s the program blog!

The program has been hugely successful with 4.7 million trips and 9.4 million pedaled miles “obliterating projections.”

That’s not all.

Mr. Pandit delivered messaging that so completely blew me away, I had to share.

Here is what he said word for word as extrapolated in the Bloomberg Businessweek story,

“Pandit smiled and took the microphone. ‘Citi Bike is kind of like the Zipcar for bikes. It’s better for the environment. It’s also good exercise. People will be able to borrow a Citi Bike wherever they want and return it at their destination. This should lead to fewer cars on the road. It should lead to less crowding on subways and buses and better access to neighborhoods far from public transit.’ And best of all: ‘As the mayor said – all of this without using any taxpayer money!’”

Please Purchase “Message Mapping: How to Deliver External Communication With a #RockHot Tool for Leaders” Right Here!

The Citi Bike Message Map

When we dissect these neat sound bites packed with punch, we can see a perfect message map that covers all the benefits Citi Bike has to offer and squarely positions Citigroup directly on top; not to mention the expert delivery of Mr. Pandit.

Let’s take a look:

  • Home Base Message – this is the primary descriptor of Citi Bike; the easy message everyone can recall and relate to.
    Citi Bike is like the Zipcar for bikes. Mr. Pandit added “kind of like” to the description which is perfectly fine as he made the factoid his and personalized it.
  • Second Tier Messages – Each of these, usually four, second tier messages provide further explanation about the company or program. They could be about customers, price, innovation, benefits, investment, etc.
  • Citi Bike is better for the environment.
  • It’s good exercise.
  • It’s convenient – people can borrow a Citi Bike at origin and return it at their destination.
  • Less crowding. There will be fewer cars on the road, fewer people on subways and better access in neighborhoods.
  • Cost to taxpayers? FREE!

How Citigroup CEO Scored

Typically, the delivery of quick, spot-on messages is rare by CEOs of companies. What’s also rare is the fact that a journalist reported the messages in the story. Mr. Pandit earned something like 14 lines of a quote in the Bloomberg BusinessWeek story. Wonderful.

Let’s address one more thing – the subject of the story. Who can resist such a feel-good story for Manhattan? I love the point that the cost to tax payers is zilch; not to mention the proven mileage pedaled and trips tracked already!

When a publicly traded company the size of Citigroup is front and center with media, it’s customary for the highest executive to take the lead position. Mr. Pandit hit this one out of the park, and why not? He knew it was a homerun before he stepped up to the plate.

P.S. Hat tip to the Citi Bike website; it’s one of the best I’ve seen…take a look when you get a chance!

Janet Yellen Messaging Delivery To Be Tested By Senate

janet-yellen-smiling.jpgJanet Yellen is a candidate to succeed Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve.

Paragraph one of a Wall Street Journal story, “Hearing to Test Yellen’s Skills of Communication,” Oct. 10, 2013 about a Senate confirmation hearing for President Obama’s pick to succeed Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve states this:

Janet Yellen often shows up for policy meetings at the Federal Reserve armed with carefully prepared statements mapping out her positions on key issues. Her speeches are often backed up with precisely footnoted documents. She rarely strays from her prepared text.

Janet Yellen Uses A Message Map (Essentially)

I bet she has a slew of mapped documents (based on that paragraph in the story) to keep her well prepared for meetings.

What happens, however, when she sits in front of the U.S. Senate amongst mostly friendly fire and the questions are unknown and drilled?

She’ll need to go off message, but if she’s the consummate communicator she’s portrayed as, she will do the following:

  • She will brainstorm every question possible about the Fed’s performance and the past performances of its leadership.
  • She will develop answers for every possible question.
  • She will practice and review and practice again. She will be ultra prepared for that confirmation hearing.

She may get a question that comes out of left field, but we’ll know from watching that she’ll ready.

Message Mapping

Message-Mapping-Book.jpgMy recently published second book, Message Mapping: How to Sizzle External Communication with a #RockHot Tool for Leaders, helps teams and executives prepare for experiences like the one Janet Yellen will be in to earn her position and to confront the inquisitive media every day.

While company leaders are rarely in the spotlight as frequently as this by national media and the federal government, every single business leader needs a message map. Why? Because it helps put all the company factoids in one place. A message map becomes the tool leaders can use to guide them through an interview or meeting or speech or conversation.

In my book, I develop a message map for a fictitious company, and I provide the template for your own message map while telling you how to go about it. The book is a PDF download, and it’s available right here.

What are The Tells?

In poker, when it’s on TV, the announcers are good about looking for the tell in a player. What is the habitual tick a player makes that shows a bluff?

That’s not to say Janet Yellen has any of her own and hopefully not for the bluff!

What we can watch for, however, is whether she’s surprised with a question and what her reaction will be:

  • Stutter, hem and haw. Some executives uncomfortable with a question resort to umms and ahhs during message delivery.
  • Vacant stare. Instead of being able to quip a remark, some get lost staring into space.
    Too fast delivery.

If someone quickly speaks and doesn’t think first about the content of the message, it can come out like gobble.

For someone the likes of Janet Yellen, my expectation is that she’ll smile as often as she can and attempt to warm the Senate while impressing them with her expertise and confidence. Of course, she’ll be the first woman ever to head this prestigious group, and that’s a critical opportunity for those women who enjoy the climb.

Why did I say she might smile a lot? In the photographs we’ve seen once she was selected by the President, she was beaming.

Now, we get to see if I’m right about her comportment as she vies for this venerable position to lead us through financial crises on a global scale.