Eastman Kodak Co. has been making it easier for people to make, manage and move images and information for more than 120 years. Today, Kodak is a leading innovator in imaging. Its products and services include digital cameras, consumer inkjet printers, photographic and entertainment films, commercial digital printers and prepress solutions, and document scanners. Additionally, millions of people around the globe manage, share and create photo gifts online using Kodak Gallery. As CMO, Jeff Hayzlett is responsible for the company's worldwide marketing operations. Here, he talks to Perspectives about how Kodak interacts with consumers through digital media.
An Interview with Jeff Hayzlett, Kodak's Chief Marketing Officer
With Jeff Hayzlett, Chief Marketing Officer, Kodak
Perspectives: Kodak has a wide involvement in the social media space, with its own blog, a presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. What is the goal of Kodak's social media activity? And has it been successful?
Jeff Hayzlett: Our goal is simple — to be where our customers are. At Kodak, we've always embraced this marketing philosophy, and in today's world that means being active in social media. It's been successful for us because it offers the opportunity to have a dialogue with our customers. Hearing directly from them online allows us to better understand them and subsequently better serve them.
Perspectives: Has digital media improved or affected in any way the feedback you get from consumers? If so, how?
Hayzlett: Absolutely. It's improved the feedback we receive from consumers because it enables them to reach us directly. In turn, we can respond to consumers faster than ever. By interacting directly through digital media, we're showing our customers that we're listening.
Perspectives: Can you share a particular instance where Kodak has used digital media successfully with consumers and why it worked?
Hayzlett: There have been many instances where we've used social media successfully with our customers. It's important to show what we're doing as a brand on our Kodak social media channels. We maintain three blogs, two Facebook pages, more than three Twitter accounts, podcasts, and YouTube posts — we try to be everywhere online!
In March of this year, Kodak was the lead sponsor of the first-ever Streamy Awards, which honor the best in Web videos. The awards show was broadcast live on www.streamys.org, and consumers could access it through the Kodak Web site. The event was a perfect opportunity to help launch our new Zi6 and Zx1 Pocket Video Cameras, which make it easy to shoot and upload videos right to YouTube. To generate interest in the event, we hosted a trivia contest on Twitter during the week leading up to the show. The Twitter contest was a big success, with a large number of replies, retweets and direct messages sent to the contest host. We also did short videos for the Web site 12seconds.tv, in which we interviewed award winners about their favorite Kodak moments. All of these digital media touch points helped us support the brand and expand it to new audiences.
We also have posted videos and tweeted about Kodak's partnerships with the Academy Awards, Celebrity Apprentice and the Consumer Electronics Show, just to name a few. Not everyone outside of Kodak or even inside of Kodak has the opportunity to experience these major events, so we use videos and social media to ensure our customers and employees are connected to real-time activities that are relevant to them.
Perspectives: You have a personal presence on Twitter and you frequently mention Kodak in your posts. Do you view Twitter as being more effective for business purposes than for personal purposes? And how do you balance representing Jeff the person and Jeff the Kodak CMO in your online communications?
Hayzlett: I think it can be a balance of both. Twitter is a great online tool that helps me engage with the various audiences that are important in both my professional and personal life. When I first began to use social media, it enabled my family to keep in touch with me while I traveled for work. But I soon realized the benefits of updating my fellow employees, our customers, the media and others who want to be updated on what's happening at Kodak. Personally, I'm a leader who's receptive to getting direct feedback and posting personal thoughts throughout the day so I'm able to balance both equally. I'm a big believer in people hearing from the real me at all times. Some people ask if I write my own posts, and I respond, "You simply can't fake it with social media. If you do, it's cheating, it's not authentic, and people will pick up on that."
Perspectives: How do you see Kodak using social and other digital media to interact with consumers in the future?
Hayzlett: We certainly plan to continue embracing digital and social media in the future. If there is a new online offering within digital media that we feel is organic to our brand and that we can become involved in, you'll most likely find Kodak there. We're constantly looking to cultivate our emotional connection with consumers, so keeping pace with social media keeps us grounded and aware of what's really happening in the world.
What's more, we'll continue our presence in new digital media channels not only because it establishes the essential, expressive nature of our brand, but also because beyond our roles as Kodak executives and employees, we're likely already going to be in those channels on a personal level.