Dallas Business Consultant Elijah ClarkDallas Business Consultant Elijah Clark

Local Search Optimization

This article starts by introducing the reader to a two-part search marketing formula known as global search. This two part formula consist of anchor text and authority. The author includes that anchor text and authority still do matter when it comes to geographical specific searches. The overall concept is “If you can win the authority + anchor text battle, it could just be the tie-breaker in an otherwise close match (Caldwell, 2009).”

Another strategy the author mentions is to watch closely to your competitors and their local link groupings. “A local link grouping would be a page on the Internet where all or most of your competitors get incoming links from (Caldwell, 2009).” By searching your company’s keyword, you can indentify your competitors and then indentify the backlinks that they have in common.  Once these backlinks are indentified, you should include your business name and link within those same sites if possible.

In addition to link building, another important factor to remember when it comes to geographical specific searches is address citations.  Address citations include listing the company’s name, address, phone number and website wherever possible. In addition to including this information, by using the proper address brackets, this will also help legitimize the company’s membership in that geo-location, which will ultimately help search engines place higher priority and trust to that company’s specified address.

While CompanyEC (CEC) has a competing level of anchor text and page rank, it loses to its competitors when it comes to authority. Most of CEC’ competitors have been in business at least five years longer than CEC has. Because CEC still falls to the second page of Google for the search term “Dallas Web Design,” this goes to show that authority is a high factor in determining its rank positioning.

CEC has used the local grouping technique mentioned within this article to find and place its web address backlinks. This has been proven successful by CEC progressing quickly within the local search ranks. A technique CEC used to find these local groupings was by using tools such as Google, Yahoo, Alexa and iWebtool.com to search out competitor’s backlinks.

Being that CEC is an all-online business, it doesn’t get a chance to use its address very often. However, when CEC did a majority of its business offline, it did have the opportunity to compete better in the local market by placing its address within local and international online databases, which include Google and Yahoo local, Merchant Circle and the Better Business Bureau.

References

Caldwell, R. (2009). 3 Keys to success for local search seo. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.searchenginejournal.com/local-search-seo/8786/

Example Website Business Plan

CompanyEC is an interactive recruitment marketing company founded in 2003 and headquartered in Minnetonka Minnesota. This company utilizes interactive marketing and technology to help its clients find better, engage better and know better candidates activities through multiple channels of recruiting. The goal of the company is to help businesses find better job recruits at an affordable cost. This company believes that recruiting is a form of marketing and they take pride in their marketing skills. By using online tools such as search engines, social networks, employee referrals, past applicants and recruiting networks, CompanyEC finds the best possible job candidates for the position.

This document will include details on CompanyEC’s current search engine optimization (SEO) plan, along with a new SEO plan that will assist in improving the sites structure and its content. Ultimately, this plan will help by improving visibility, sales and user experience for the company’s website.

SEO Plan Objective

This SEO plan will go into details and will place together an effective marketing strategy that will consist of CompanyEC making adjustments to its title and meta tags, pursue possibilities for incoming links and create a stronger architectural design for its website. In addition, this strategy will also include details of how to increase traffic through new content, a social networking presence, through the use of proper link baiting and by upgrading keywords and creating a PPC campaign that will increase site and customer conversions.

CompanyEC’s Current Website

CompanyEC’s current website has over 335k backlinks and over 20k indexed Google pages. CompanyEC also has a great flat site structure that benefits its users and that is easy to navigate (Baxter, 2009). Another positive about the website is that its navigation links are simple and aren’t crowding the page.

Website grader has recorded that CompanyEC doesn’t have a blog, RSS feed, is missing image ALT text and that its domain name is set to expire in nine months.  In addition, the website doesn’t have any del.icio.us bookmark subscribers. The website currently shows as having 20k+ pages crawled by Google. That number is far from being accurate and needs to be investigated and corrected.

Website Improvements

A Strategy that could work well with improving site conversions for CompanyEC includes adding an online blog and newsgroups. This is a great way for the company to start conversations about progress of company, success stories and interact with its users. In addition, this will also help the website with increasing stickiness and unique content, which can benefit the site within search engines. By utilizing this strategy, site visitors will help add content to the website through their questions and responses that will ultimately get indexed by search engines and help draw new traffic to the website.

In addition to creating a site with user interaction, CompanyEC also uses videos to draw their users in. Though these videos may be affective with users, the uses of video ALT tags aren’t being very effective and need to be upgraded. The ALT tags for each video currently says “Play this video.” These tags need to be updated and should include details of the video and keywords should be taken advantage of also when creating these ALT tags.

Keywords and PPC

CompanyEC currently has a very short list of keywords that aren’t very effective. From the home page of the website, the keywords are CompanyEC, Online Recruiting, Interactive Recruiting, Social Network Recruiting, Mobile Recruiting and Recruiting Dashboard.

This list of keywords is very short and isn’t being as effective as it can be. By including more relevant to content keywords, CompanyEC can take proper advantage of the search engines by using its keywords to the fullest. Each page of CompanyEC.com includes a keyword list of only six words or less. A good keyword number to keep in mind is between ten and twenty to produce the best results.

In addition to having a small number of keywords, CompanyEC also is not creating a strong list of keywords. While Online Recruiting and Interactive Recruiting is what the company does, these keywords aren’t direct enough to the types of users that CompanyEC are trying to draw in. To make these keywords direct, they should read “Online Job Recruiting” and “Interactive Job Recruiting.” There are many other keyword that can be added to this list, however, this is the direction that CompanyEC needs to be headed. Being that recruiting is a broad term used for job openings, school admissions and the military for example, CompanyEC could be wasting time and money by not creating these keywords to be more direct within its niche and toward its audience type. Being that CompanyEC doesn’t seem to be focused on military or educational recruiting, directing the keywords away from them by using a negative keywords list will help in creating a strong keyword and ad campaign.

With more popular keywords, the company can easily gain more exposure. The current list of keywords, though relevant to the company, is not relevant to users search results. By changing or adding the suggested list of keywords to the website, the company will be found easier by its targeted users. CompanyEC is currently ranked at the top of the search results for its current list of keywords. However, it isn’t beneficial to be ranked high for a list of keywords that aren’t being searched very often.

By upgrading its keyword list, meta tag descriptions and ALT tags, CompanyEC has a great opportunity to increase traffic through its organic search results. CompanyEC should also look to include a sitemap on its website for use with search engine. In addition, sitemaps are also beneficial toward helping some users find their way around the website easier. Overall, it’s a good tool to have and wont hinder the websites structure or performance.

CompanyEC should also include A/B Testing for their PPC ad campaign. According to the laws of A/B testing, by creating multiple copies of the control ad, the user does not lose as much profit due to the control ad always running. Instead of the user losing 50% of ad impressions to the testing ad, that percentage shrinks to 20% because of the additional control ad copies.

In addition to this type of testing saving profits and potentially accelerating the testing process, it also allows for CompanyEC to create a valid testing environment by “comparing the performance of the test ad against the copies of the control only (Thies, 2008).”

In addition to upgrading its onsite search optimization, CompanyEC should also look into marketing its company in well-known directories such as Yahoo, Business.com and DMOZ.com to increase site rank and popularity within search engines. Listing the company website and brand within .org, .gov and .edu websites will also greatly help increase credibility within search engines. CompanyEC should also look to add an RSS feed to its website. Though it currently is involved within social networks and users can stay updated through these tools, having an onsite RSS feed allows for search engines to index them and allows for users an easy click to stay updated with site content.

Job2Web already has a great social networking campaign in place. It utilizes and is involved with all of the most popular social networking sites such as MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube to market its company and product. However, the website itself doesn’t have direct access for users to connect with them via these social networks. The website should include easy click links for these users to follow, like or befriend the company. This is another user interaction strategy that CompanyEC currently doesn’t take advantage of.

CompanyEC should also setup quality backlinks on niche websites and not just broad sites. By including its link on sites relevant to its own will positively help in its rankings. These niche websites should also include sites with a high page rank. Other link building strategies can easily come from participating in blogs and other online forums and local event groups. When placing a backlink on these sites, they should create these backlinks by utilizing unique keyword descriptive anchor text.

Another option to find credible backlinks is to search CompanyECs competitor’s link groupings. “A local link grouping would be a page on the Internet where all or most of your competitors get incoming links from (Caldwell, 2009).” By searching CompanyEC’s company’s keywords, common backlinks of their competitors can be located. Once these backlinks are indentified, CompanyEC should include its business name and link within those same sites if possible. Nonetheless, these links should be on niche websites that are relevant to the works or CompanyEC’s own in order to produce the most favorable results.

Conclusion

By utilizing blogs and newsgroups to involve its site users, CompanyEC can create an affective stickiness strategy which will help with sites user click-through rates and length of time users spend on the website. This could ultimately help with increasing search engine credibility.

In addition, including keywords and better descriptions within the sites video ALT tags will create an extremely effective strategy plan that is not only beneficial for search results within search engines, but will also be helpful by creating higher traffic within video directories.

Overall, the biggest concern that I see with CompanyEC is that they do not create many opportunities to get their users involved with the company. Though CompanyEC does have accounts on every major social networking site, their website doesn’t say this and they have failed to include user interaction directly on its own website via blogs, newsgroups or RSS feeds. In addition, CompanyEC should include an easy bookmark feature on its website. By including a bookmark widget, CompanyEC can gain user dedication and rank better with search engines that index bookmark websites such as Del.icio.us and Google bookmarks.

To create a strategy that will encourage user interactivity, CompanyEC can also setup email marketing and newsletter campaigns, along with creating polls and surveys to gain user feedback on what else the site could do to enhance the user experience. The newsletters should include information on upcoming specials, events and changes that CompanyEC has made within its company that can benefit its users. Allowing users to opt out of receiving emails and referring a friend for discounts should also be included within each newsletter.

The website should be regularly checked by utilizing web stats and tracking tools such as Google Analytics. By viewing monthly reports, CompanyEC will be able to see which keywords, content and PPC campaigns are being most affective. In addition, it will also allow for CompanyEC to see where visitors are coming from, how long they stay, where they go when they leave and how CompanyEC stats compare to its industry benchmarks.

This website business plan will improve user experience and search engine credibility. With these new changes to CompanyEC.com, it will only be a matter of time until it sees an increase in profits and user activity.

The Role of Leadership in Shaping Organizational Culture

In this blog, I investigated how the role of leadership effects organizational health, culture, and follower perception. I further evaluated how the style of leadership can influence employee attitude and productivity. It has been found that leaders can be developed from within organizations and if leaders can learn to use their leadership powers for positive growth, it could produce a healthy organizational culture. Stress within organizations can lead to low productivity and lack of work efficiency. In addition, leaders without ethics tend to create stressful, unhealthy work environments. In order to maintain a healthy organization, businesses should select leaders that can motive followers, create positive change, and build organizational trust and commitment.

The Role of Leadership in Shaping Organizational Culture

The study of leadership spans more than 100 years and has recently begun gaining attention worldwide by researchers (McCleskey, 2014; Northouse, 2013, p. 1). The style of leadership plays a role in followers’ perceptions of an organization. The style approach can be used as a way in determining how leaders approach and manage their followers and subordinates (Northouse, 2013, p. 75). An effective leader will create an environment in which followers trust their leader to make the best decisions (Maner, & Mead, 2010). To create a healthy organization, leaders can use their leadership style and power as ways to improve stability and create productively functioning followers (Maner, & Mead, 2010).

To maintain and improve morale within organizations, leaders can place importance on communication and stress prevention programs that provide solutions to ethical dilemmas (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). Leadership is paramount in exhibiting organizational values that generate ethical orientation (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). Research has discovered that leaders can create healthy organizational cultures by discovering and supporting organizational members (Avolio, Walumbwa, & Weber, 2009; Cubero, 2007; Liden, Wayne, Liao, & Meuser, 2014).

Unlike management, leadership is centered on having the ability to cope with change (Kotter, 2001). Leaders are considered visionary individuals who influence and motivate others to ensure that proper decisions are being made (Kotter, 2001; Lopez, 2014; Vroom & Jago, 2007). Moreover, a leader has the responsibility of making sure that the organization is able to attain its goals (Vroom & Jago, 2007). In an article by Church (2014), it is stated that leaders can be developed from within organizations. Through careful selection, encouragement, and nurturing, current employees with leadership potential can be developed into future leaders (Kotter, 2001: Vroom & Jago, 2007). Every leader has their own function and characteristics and all styles of leaders can be effective in creating a healthy organizational culture (Kotter, 2001; Vroom & Jago, 2007).

Leadership Styles

In comparing leadership styles, transactional, transformational, and situational leaders can be very effective in creating a healthy organizational environment. Transformational leaders are based on social exchange, transactional is focused on economic exchange, and situational leaders are dependent upon the situation (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin, & Zhen, 2010; McCleskey, 2014). Transactional leaders maintain day-to-day workflow by using rewards and incentives to motivate employees to perform their best (Northouse, 2013). Transformational leaders go beyond the day-to-day and can be seen as better leaders for groups and team building. Transformational leaders motivate followers by setting goals, using incentives, and promoting personal growth (Northouse, 2013). Situational leaders can be considered rational leaders, in the sense that they are most appropriate in situations that require a unique and rational understanding (McCleskey, 2014).

Implementing proper leadership is paramount for organizational success, considering leaders have a considerable impact on members’ attitudes toward their job and performance (Ishikawa, 2012; Kovjanic, Schuh, Jonas, Quaquebeke, & Dick, 2012). While there is no one leadership style that works for every situation (Cubero, 2007), in organizational teams, transformational leaders can be considered best suited for creating positive outcomes (Hallinger, 2003). Transformational leaders focus on the status quo, needs, and desires of the organization. In addition, transformational leaders desire to fully use the potential of their followers by going beyond social exchange (Hallinger, 2003). A transformational leader understands how to encourage and intellectually stimulate individual team members’ self-concept by promoting unique thinking (Kovjanic, Schuh, Jonas, Quaquebeke, & Dick, 2012; Whittington, Coker, Goodwin, Ickes, & Murray, 2009). With nearly 80 percent of companies using some form of team-based structures, creating a healthy team environment can be helpful in organizing work performance (Magni, & Maruping, 2013). Considering transformational leaders excel in elevating member confidence (Ishikawa, 2012; Magni, & Maruping, 2013), this style of leader could be just as affective in a team setting by managing team conflicts, building relationships, and engaging members (Barnwell, Nedrick, Rudolph, Sesay, & Wellen, 2014).

Transformational, transactional, and situational leadership styles are generally centralized around building trust between leaders and followers (Northouse, 2013). In building trust, all styles of leaderships are important predictors (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin, & Zhen, 2010). Leadership style has been linked to employee mood, performance, attitude, and organizational commitment (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin, & Zhen, 2010; Strang, Kuhnert, 2009). If effective, a healthy environment will flourish and foster positive growth within the organization by producing a quality bond between leader and follower (Ismail, Mohamad, Mohamed, Rafiuddin, & Zhen, 2010).

Leadership Power

In recent years, the study of analyzing leadership power has increased, and styles of leadership have been closely linked to leadership power (Schriesheim, Podsakoff, & Hinkin, 1991). The basis of power include; reward, coercion, legitimate, expert, referent, and informational (Northouse, 2013; Raven, 1993). The definition of leadership power according to Raven (1993) is, “the possibility of inducing forces’ of a certain magnitude on another person.” Leaders are considered an influencing agent of power over their followers (Raven, 1993).

Leaders who are endowed with power can typically become corruptive (Maner, & Mead, 2010). Instead of using their power for positive member growth, they may be tempted to use their power to self-serve personal desires (Maner, & Mead, 2010). In this sense, they are using their power to dominate rather than lead (Maner, & Mead, 2010). By providing leaders with power, followers can be susceptible to exploitation by leaders who prioritize their power over the goals of the group (Maner, & Mead, 2010). In a healthy organization, a leader will use their power of influence to encourage members and promote positive change (Raven, 1993). It is the responsibility of the leader to influence and provide reasoning to followers as to why change may lead to greater productivity (Raven, 1993).

An effective leader would spend time getting to know their followers (Raven, 1993). Considering followers have many different motivational factors to be productive, by understanding followers’ needs and motivations, leaders can accomplish better results, and energize their followers with proper and affective rewards and incentives (Raven, 1993). Leaders are responsible for making certain that their followers achieve results and complete task as required (Raven, 1993). In order to produce the best possible results, leaders should exercise their leadership power, and aim at making certain that followers are confident and comfortable. This involves making certain that there is trust and respect between both leader and follower (Raven, 1993). The relationship between leaders and followers should be one in which followers trust their leaders to make the best decision (Raven, 1993. Healthy leadership provides stability and effective functioning for individuals and teams (Raven, 1993).

Organizational Stress

In creating a healthy organization, leaders should consider the stress levels of their followers. Stress in organizations can generate a lack of productivity and affect employees’ overall ability to work efficiently (Mitut, 2010). Organizational stress can be triggered by factors including communication, competition, and disruptive technology (Mitut, 2010). In addition, work overload, punishment, lack of feedback, and powerlessness can cause stress (Mitut, 2010). Organizational stress can lead to relationship imbalances between leader and follower (Mitut, 2010; Selart, & Johansen, 2011). Data conducted from a 2003 study by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions entitled “Working Conditions in the Acceding and Candidate Countries (Report),” analyzed stress as being the second largest organizational health problem.

The negative impacts of stress can generate absenteeism, decreased productivity, accidents, legal cost, medical expenses, and other financial losses for organizations (Mitut, 2010). A healthy organization requires not disturbing occupational stressors that create personal conflicts, frustrations, dissatisfaction, and low productivity (Mitut, 2010). It is the responsibility of the leader to create an efficient and stress-free environment that focuses on building the organizations performance (Mitut, 2010). To assess and prevent organizational stress, leaders should promote the implementation of stress management programs, which will help employees cope with stressful situations (Mitut, 2010). Moreover, leaders can minimize stress by communicating with followers, clearly defining roles, discussing concerns, and encouraging communication (Mitut, 2010). By implementing stress management programs, leaders could influence followers’ esteem and create a less stressful environment (Mitut, 2010).

Leadership Ethics

Organizational stress can have negative impacts in many situations, mainly those that involve punishment and lack of rewards (Selart, & Johansen, 2011). In stressful situations, there are increases in followers cutting corners, being more prone to incidents, and being deceptive (Selart, & Johansen, 2011). In addition, research and studies have connected stress to memory loss, negativity, and unethical decision-making (Selart, & Johansen, 2011).

According to research, 75 percent of employees choose not to work for employers with poor organizational ethics (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). In recent years, to avoid financial and reputation negativity, many businesses have created new positions within their organization that focus on ethical matters (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). An ethical leader is driven by morals and an ethically principle-governed mindset (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). In an organization, ethical decision-making is considered the study and evaluation of decision-making by leaders according to moral concepts and judgment (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). An unethical leader would violate accepted moral norms of behavior (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014).

Organizational ethics is still a growing business need. In order to help promote a healthy organization, organizational leaders should implement a code of ethics policy (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). As leaders, it is their responsibility to educate and inform followers of the codes of ethics (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). Within the business community, there are many leaders who consider ethics to be unimportant (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). These individuals believe that their only responsibility to the organization is to maximize profits (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014).

As the Chief Executive Officer of American Express (Margolis, Walsh, & Krehmeyer, 2006), Kenneth Chenault explains that ethics are paramount during difficult times (Wharton, 2005). Organizational crisis have the potential to damage brand equity, generate revenue loss, and tarnish a company’s reputation (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014; Maner, & Mead, 2010). It is the responsibility of the leader to determine what is done during difficult situations (Abrhiem, 2012). An ethical leader would be effective at making sure justice and equality are achieved (Abrhiem, 2012). Leaders with ethics are likely to have an impact on followers’ self-concepts and attitudes (Hartog, & Belschak, 2012).

Conclusion

In developing healthy organizations, organizations can implement processes, programs, and interventions that will help produce effective leadership potential (Church, 2014). Transformational, transactional, and situational leadership styles may help lead employee’s to trust their leaders, which can generate and increase productivity (Whittington, Coker, Goodwin, Ickes & Murray, 2009). If leaders have an understanding of their leadership style, they can be mindful of their actions toward their followers. In understanding leadership styles, assessments can be helpful at improving leader and follower relationships (Northouse, 2013). Being informed of leadership style can help leaders gain insight and produce solutions for challenges and certain situations (Northouse, 2013).

An effective leader should understand their leadership style, communicate with followers, and use their leadership power to influence and encourage members to create positive change (Raven, 1993). An organization’s health depends on not disturbing stressors that can generate frustrations, low motivation, personal conflict, dissatisfaction, and a drop in productivity (Mitut, 2010). The leader takes on the responsibility of reducing the effects of stress and encouraging a healthy and efficient organization that focuses on maintaining and building performance (Mitut, 2010).

To avoid risking reputation and potential financial loss, leaders should remain with a moral and ethically principle-governed mindset (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). In developing a positive leader mindset, leaders should listen to their followers’ needs, adapt to situations, create positive exchange, and build trust (Hassanzadeh, 2014). If effective, leaders will have the tools needed to promote an innovative and healthy organizational culture (Hassanzadeh, 2014).

 

Credits

Abrhiem, T. H. (2012). Ethical leadership: Keeping values in business cultures. Business and Management Review, 2(7), 11–19. Retrieved from http://www.businessjournalz.org

Avolio, B. J., Walumbwa, F. O., & Weber, T. J. (2009). Leadership: current theories , research, and future directions. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 421–449.  doi:10.1177/0149206310393520

Barnwell, D., Nedrick, S., Rudolph, E., Sesay, M., & Wellen, W. (2014). Leadership of International and Virtual Project Teams. International Journal Of Global Business, 7(2), 1-8.

Chekwa, C., Ouhirra, L., Thomas, E., & Chukwuanu, M. (2014). An examination of the effects of leadership on business ethics: Empirical study. International Journal Of Business & Public Administration, 11(1), 48-65.

Church, A. H. (2014). What Do We Know About Developing Leadership Potential?. OD Practitioner, 46(3), 52-61.

Cubero, C. G.(2007). Situational leadership and persons with disabilities. Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation, Special Issue: Workplace Issues and Placement, 29(4), 351-156.

Hallinger, P. (2003). Leading Educational Change: Reflections On The Practice Of Instructional And Transformational Leadership. Cambridge Journal of Education, 33(3), 329-352. doi: 10.1080/0305764032000122005

Hartog, D., & Belschak, F. (2012). Work Engagement and Machiavellianism in the Ethical Leadership Process. Journal Of Business Ethics, 107(1), 35-47. doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1296-4

Hassanzadeh, J. F. (2014). Leader-member Exchange and Creative Work Involvement: The Importance of Knowledge Sharing. Iranian Journal Of Management Studies, 7(2), 391-412.

Ishikawa, J. (2012). Transformational leadership and gatekeeping leadership: The roles of norm for maintaining consensus and shared leadership in team performance. Asia Pacific Journal Of Management, 29(2), 265-283. doi:10.1007/s10490-012-9282-z

Ismail, A., Mohamad, M.H., Mohamed, H.A., Rafiuddin, N.M., &  Zhen, K.W.P. (2010). Transformational and transactional leadership styles as a predictor of individual outcomes. Theoretical and Applied Economics, 17(6), 89-104.

Kotter, J. P. (2001). What leaders really do. Harvard Business Review, 79(11), 85–96.

Kovjanic, S., Schuh, S., Jonas, K., Quaquebeke, N., & Dick, R. (2012). How do transformational leaders foster positive employee outcomes? A self-determination-based analysis of employees’ needs as mediating links. Journal of Organizational Behavior. doi: 10.1002/job.1771

Liden, R.C., Wayne, S.J., Liao, C., & Meuser, J.D. (2014). Servant leadership and serving culture: Influence on individual and unit performance. Academy of Management Journal, 57, 1434-1452.  doi:10.5465/amj.2013.0034

Lopez, R. (2014). The Relationship between Leadership and Management: Instructional Approaches and its Connections to Organizational Growth. Journal Of Business Studies Quarterly, 6(1), 98-112.

Magni, M., & Maruping, L. M. (2013). Sink or Swim: Empowering Leadership and Overload in Teams’ Ability to Deal with the Unexpected. Human Resource Management, 52(5), 715-739. doi:10.1002/hrm.21561

Maner , J. K., & Mead, N. L. (2010). The essential tension between leadership and power- When leaders sacrifice group goals for the sake of self-interest. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(3), 482–497. doi:10.1037/a0018559

Margolis, J., Walsh, J., & Krehmeyer, D. (2006, January 1). Building the business case for ethics. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://www.corporate-ethics.org/pdf/business_case.pdf

McCleskey, J. A. (2014). Situational, Transformational, and Transactional Leadership and Leadership Development. Journal Of Business Studies Quarterly, 5(4), 117-130.

Mitut, I. (2010). Managerial investment on organizational stress. Romanian Economic and Business Review, 5(3), 89–99.

Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Raven, B. H. (1993). The bases of power: Origins and recent developments. Journal of Social Issues, 49(4), 227-251. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4560.1993.tb01191.x

Schriesheim, C. A., Podsakoff, P. M., & Hinkin, T. R. (1991). Can ipsative and single-item measures produce erroneous results in field studies of French and Raven’s (1959) five bases of power? An empirical investigation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76(1), 106–114. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.76.1.106

Selart, M., & Johansen, S. (2011). Ethical Decision Making in Organizations: The Role of Leadership Stress. Journal Of Business Ethics, 99(2), 129-143. doi:10.1007/s10551-010-0649-0

Strang, S. E., & Kuhnert, K. W. (2009). Personality and leadership developmental levels as predictors of leader performance. Leadership Quarterly, 20(3), 421–433. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2009.03.009

Vroom, V. H., & Jago, A. G. (2007). The role of the situation in leadership. American Psychologist, 62(1), 17–24. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.62.1.17

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Whittington, J. L., Coker, R. H., Goodwin, V. L., Ickes, W., & Murray, B. (2009). Transactional leadership revisited: Self-other agreement and its consequences. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 39(8), 1860–1886. doi:10.1111/j.1559-1816.2009.00507.x

Copyrights and File Sharing

My Opinion on P2P Filesharing

File sharing was designed to be an innocent practice of “networks [offering] new singers, bands and movie makers the opportunity to showcase their work free of charge to the public. [In addition,] computer games could be tested before going onto the market. Bugs could be fixed and the product perfected.” (The Pirate Bay, 2010)

Today, if I wanted to purchase a blockbuster movie, a new music album or a piece of artwork online, I could easily go and download it from a p2p network and have it within seconds or minutes based on my Internet speed.

I don’t know how everyone feels about that, but it’s a lot faster than getting dressed and heading to my local movie or music store. Not only that, but I can get it for free or for a small membership fee to that p2p network. Just an Internet connection is all that is needed in most cases.

This practice is used every day by millions of users online who download and distribute copyrighted material that is ruining the future of those working in the artistic and entertainment industry such as my company and myself.

Pirate thieves and gangs who don’t create the work, but distribute the work are making millions of dollars off of the hard work anddedication of its creators. This shouldn’t be legal. It’s thievery 2.0 and it’s getting larger each day that nothing is done about it.

A list of illegal activities that are increasing with p2p file sharing are:

  • Copying and sharing images, music, movies, television shows or other copyrighted material through the use of P2P technology.
  • Purchasing a CD or DVD and then making copies for others.
  • Posting or plagiarizing copyrighted material on a personal Web space.

(Computer Hope, 2010)

Call it whatever you want, shoplifting, stealing, theft or whatever. These networks and users are allowing and promoting illegal use andno one is doing anything about it.

Preventative Measures & Benefits

Nonetheless, file sharing isn’t all bad. Not everyone is selfish and some do use it for its properly designed use. However, until it can be better managed, it should remain an illegal activity. Until all copyrighted material can be stopped from being given away freely, it is considered wrong and should be stopped.

Those that download, distribute and help in the illegal transfers of stolen material should be penalized and prosecuted. If these thugs begin to be charged for their mistakes, most of this could be prevented. Though not everyone will stop this illegal activity, it should at the least be taken seriously and preventative measures can stop some of it from violating copyright laws and the artistic and entertainment industry can begin to restore itself.

Credits

Computer Hope. (2010). Is file sharing illegal or legal? Retrieved September 4, 2010, from http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch001042.htm

The Pirate Bay. (2010). Peer to peer file sharing software p2p. Retrieved September 4, 2010, from http://www.thipiratebay.se/

Networks to Market Your Brand

1. DMOZ Directory 

– DMOZ is a great directory service that ranks very well within Google. Any link listed in DMOZ gets top priority with Google and can drastically help increase the page rank and position of the website. The issue with DMOZ is that it is hard to get listed in. There is a long approval process that doesn’t accept everyone and it will take months to get listed within this directory if it actually does get approved, which there is a high chance that it wont.

2. Yahoo Directory 

– The yahoo directory is well known and can easily increase the page rank of its subscribed members. What does it take to be a member? Only $299 per year recurring is all. While this is a great website to get listed on, it is pretty expensive to many. While most may see it as a rip-off due to the pricing, if the calculations are done correctly, it’s really only $25 per month. This issue with getting listed here is that the directory doesn’t get much business besides from advertisers. Nonetheless, it does give a valuable backlink and drastically helps with ranking position on yahoo.com.

3. Online Design Directory – Sponsored Ad

This website shows at the top of the listing when “web design” is searched for within Google and other search engines. It’s a fairly new website, but it has created quick buzz and has ranked fast within the search engines. By signing up with a sponsored ad for $20 per month, a website text link can be listed on each of its 60,000 plus pages. This is great for being searched and greatly increases backlinks.

4. Web Designers Directory

This is another great website directory that shows up on the top of the searched keyword “web design.” Ways to use this website would be for backlinks and for its credibility. Listings can be done by either getting listed in the directory or paying for a sponsored text or banner link.

5. Xemion.com – Sponsored Ad

Here is another example of a top ranked website that accepts sponsored ads. This website has a low rank for the Texas web design category. However, the site is well known and ranks high within search engines.

6. iFreelance Directory

This website is for freelancers, however, those looking for a web designer normally are just looking for a good price. Many companies market on this site and for good reason. This site places a link, portfolio, and contact information for each company or individual that wishes to be listed in a particular category. The ultimate goal of this site is for buyers to get estimates from bidders on their upcoming project. Normally the lowest bid and value wins.

7. Craigslist

This is a free service that is pretty cheap, but it gets the job done. By placing a local advertisement up within the computer category, users can use the search word “web design” and locate the company’s ad and link to its website. This website gets high ranks and provides easy backlinks and use of keywords for search engines.

8. Twitter

Twitter is a pretty broad website to use to place an ad on. However, it has great credit and a great page rank. What makes this website better than other social networking sites for marketing is that it does not cloak external links. This allows for search engines to find the link easy and link it back to the company website.

9. Merchant Circle

This is a simple company that lists local companies for its users. By the user typing their keyword into the search bar and then entering their city, they may easily find what they are looking for. This website gives a credible backlink, but it doesn’t help with page rank as this website only has a high page rank on its home page. Though it doesn’t help with page rank, it is a good website to use for being found.

Full Sail University Brand Image

I’m a graduate of Full Sail University. I enjoyed earning my graduate degree in internet marketing from the University. Just for fun, I’ve created a brand image campaign with the school as the case study.

  • Real world experience –
  • Beyond simple education – Full Sail University creates a unique environment that prepares its students for real world experiences. Students are provided the same software and hardware that is used throughout its chosen industry and they are also mentored not only by educators, but professionals in the industry. Each of Full Sail University’s degree programs is designed to provide students with hands-on knowledge and real world experiences.
  • Professionalism –
  • Full Sail University also initiates an industry driven Global Professionalism Standard program to further guide its students into a professional career.
  • This GPS program contains 5 key components which are;
  • Timeliness – evidencing respect – preparedness – attentiveness and compliance with Full Sail’s policies as well as local and federal laws that directly reflect the industry’s expectations of their employees.


Full Sail University and the law of branding: 

  • The Law of Expansion:
  • Beginning as a Recording Arts program, Full Sail ran its first advertisement in the January 1979 issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Through the law of expansion, Full Sail has grown over the last three decades and now offers masters, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees in 20 degree programs, and has graduated more than 31,000 alumni.
  • The Law of the Category:
  • With expanding its brandfull sail university has also acknowledged the law of the category. As media and marketing have changed, full sail has changed and added new categories to its degree lineup based on the new industry desires. By continuing to expand its programs, full sail continues to remain relevant in its industry market.
  • The Law of Contraction:
  • Though Full Sail has expanded its programs over the years, it has also broken that law of contraction. Full Sail University started with a narrow focus of programs and degrees within the recoding arts industry and now has expanded to offering programs within marketing, creative writing and web design and development to name a few. This expansion could weaken the brand by loosening the focus.
  • The Law of Sub brands:
  • Full Sail University originated as an on-ground facility and shortly sub branded into also offering online courses. By offering online courses, full sail could have jeopardized the quality of its brand in the minds of current prospects. Along with this new online sub brandfull sail also created two separate websites for the two that includes different marketing, different programs, and different colors.
  • The Law of Color:
  • Full Sail University hasn’t seemed to hold a direct color for its brand. While full sail university on-ground has colors of blue, gray and white. Its online community uses orange, tan and green. By full sail not branding a color for its brand, it doesn’t help embed its image into the minds of viewers. One way full sail university could prevent this is by simply creating one brand logo with one brand color.

Full Sail University’s branding decisions

  • Positive –
  • A positive branding strategy that full sail has used is with its ability to expand into new programs and degrees based on the industry and consumers wants expanding. By providing new and updated degree programs, full sail has kept itself in the real-world market and will continue to do so as long as it stays updated by offering relevant industry programs.
  • Positive
  • Another positive branding strategy full sail has used is in initiating its global professional standard (GPS). This does not only help to create a quality student, but also a quality employee. By implementing the GPS program, it helps students prepare for real-world careers and it ultimately helps connect the name and brand of full sail with another success story.
  • Could have done better-
  • Though full sail university has just recently started its online degree programs, it does not seem to have a strong international marketing campaign. Most of its marketing is done online, but it seems to have neglected offline marketing to its international consumers who live outside of its local address.

Key strategies

  • Implement –
  • Full sail has a great marketing plan for its online consumers. However, it should implement a better plan to market towards offline consumers. By full sail marketing on television, radio and in print, it will be able to reach a wider audience without having to simply depend on word of mouth. From a personal opinion – I believe that a great marketing is not one that you have to find, but one that finds you.
  • Avoid – law of contraction
  • Though full sail university has been a success with its expansion of degree program categories. It should remain close to and keep in mind the law of contraction. Full sail shouldn’t want to steer too far away from where it started. It started with a focus in the arts and it should want to remain there without expanding too far into a state university marketed toward everyone in all industries.

Full Sail University in the industry

  • Full sail is and is not distinctive from other similar products. These similar products include other art schools and other online art schools. Schools I will compare it to here will be the art institute and Academy of Art in San Francisco. All of these educational institutes offer onground campuses and online education. And are all relatively close within the same field of art schools.
  • While the art institutes offer multiple onground campuses in many major US cities, full sail and Academy of Art only offer their campus education from one location. The benefit of doing this for the Art institute is that it allows for more flexibility for its students and allows for more students to enroll in program, which are offered only at onground campuses.
  • Full Sail University also offers degrees in categories for a smaller group than the others. While full sail seems to aim more toward media, Internet and gaming degrees. The other educational institutes have expanded further in the art field by offering degrees in subjects such as Photography, Fashion, and Architecture.
  • While full sail does offer a smaller variety of courses, it has been around for the least amount of time. The art institute was started in 1921. Academy of the art originated in 1929 and Full sail was founded in 1979. Based on where full sail currently stands against its competitors, it ranks fairly high based on its short amount of time in the industry.
  • What full sail offers over its competition is its brand name in the industry. The educational institute is highly ranked and praised within the industry and against its alumni. To create a better marketing campaign from its competition, full sail university should also market that it has higher industry ranks, graduation rates and higher student retention rates. Unlike its competitors, full sail university should strive to be a university, which graduates a quality of students rather than a quantity of students.



  • I believe that full sail university can improve life, solve problems and fulfill desires. How it can improve life is by offering degree programs that are highly sought after and have a great success rate once students look for employment.
  • It can solve problems by providing programs that other schools or universities don’t offer and solve the problem of providing on online campus to reach out to students across the world who may have a full-time career and family and may have concerns about moving locations or dealing with time schedule conflicts of going to onground campus courses.
  • By providing prominent courses for students, full sail is able to fulfill student’s desires to attend the university and graduate with a desired degree.
  • Though full sail can improve life, solve problems and fulfill desires, it is ultimately up to the attending student to gain the full experience full sail has to offer. Without abiding by GPS standards, working hard on their studies and making the most of their opportunity; the student can miss out on gaining the full sail experience.

Consequences of Ethical Decision Making

In this blog, I evaluate organizational ethics and how they affect businesses dealing with ethical dilemmas. Within this paper, I summarize how American Express leaders failed to influence their subsidiaries with their ethical standards, and I evaluate the results of the unethical behavior. I further analyze American Express’s Chief Executive Operator and how he views the unethical situation, and I provide insight into his previous ethical actions and beliefs.

 

Research has found that 75% of employees do not desire to work for companies with poor organizational ethics (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). In 2003, many businesses began implementing a new position of ethics officer to satisfy work ethics and increase awareness of positive ethics in business (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). Leadership is paramount in exhibiting organizational values that generate ethical orientation (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). To avoid financial loss and risking reputation, leaders must remain moral and with an ethically principle-governed mindset (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014).

Organizational Ethics

Organizational ethics is the study and evaluation of decision-making by business leaders according to moral concepts and judgments (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). An ethical theory is a system that provides rules that guide individuals in making right or wrong and good or bad decisions (Abrhiem, 2012). Organizational ethics are determined by unethical behavior and ethical transgressions (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). An ethical theory provides a foundation for understanding what is considered to be a moral human being (Abrhiem, 2012). Unethical behavior is regarded as an act, which violates accepted moral norms of behavior (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014).

Many companies have not implemented codes of ethics within their organization. In addition, many employees in companies with codes of ethics are unaware of the policy (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). Nonetheless, it is the responsibility of the business leaders to inform and educate their employees about their policies, considering the leaders can be held accountable when ethics are not satisfied (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014).

Many business professionals believe that ethics are unimportant in the field of business (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). They further believe that the only obligation they have to their business is to maximize profits (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). By not implementing or satisfying organizational ethics, it could cost businesses financial loss, risk positive reputation, and increase external pressures (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014).

Ethical Dilemma

In a multi-part federal investigation of an American Express subsidiary in Utah, American Express was found to have violated consumer protection laws from every stage of the customer experience, from marketing to debt collecting (Markus, 2012). American Express is the country’s biggest credit card issuer by purchase volume (Johnson, 2013; Silver-Greenberg, 2012). Several American Express companies violated the protection laws provided for consumers. The order required American Express to change their business practices so that a similar situation could be avoided in the future (Markus, 2012). The illegal activities were discovered during a routine examination of an American Express subsidiary by The Federal Deposit Corporation and the Utah Department of Financial Institutions (Markus, 2012). American Express was found to have violated federal law in billing, debt collection practices, and marketing (Silver-Greenberg, 2012).

In the same year, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau enforced actions against Capital One and Discover Financial over sales tactics (Silver-Greenberg, 2012). American Express, along with Discover and Capital One failed to monitor their third-party vendors (Silver-Greenberg, 2012). The activity had occurred at American Express Centurion Bank along with American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. and American Express Bank, FSB (Markus, 2012). The violations included deception, unlawful late fee charges, age discrimination, failure to report consumer disputes to reporting agencies, and misleading consumers about debt collection (Markus, 2012). In 2012, American Express was required to refund $85 million to customers for illegal card practices that took place between 2002 and spring 2012 (Markus, 2012).

Though the act itself was unethical, American Express leaders fully cooperated with authorities and began their own investigation into the matter, and they eventually found and reported more fraud and violations (Markus, 2012; Silver-Greenberg, 2012). American Express agreed to end the illegal practices of their subsidiaries, fully refund approximately 250,000 consumers who were affected, implement new compliance procedures, and pay a civil monetary penalty of $27.5 million (Markus, 2012).

Kenneth Chenault

As the Chief Executive Officer of American Express since 2001 (Margolis, Walsh, & Krehmeyer, 2006), Kenneth Chenault believes that no matter how strong or ethical a company is, they are going to experience some difficulty (Wharton, 2005). He states that leadership is paramount during these difficult times (Wharton, 2005). According to Cuillla (2011), business ethics deteriorate during busy times and improve during low productivity times. Chenault believes that if leaders cannot be ethical in times of crisis, they will lose credibility and followership (Bulygo, 2013; Wharton, 2005). As a leader, ethics determine what is done in decision-making situations (Abrhiem, 2012). Ethical leaders are concerned about justice, fairness, and treating subordinates equally (Abrhiem, 2012). Leaders with an ethical identity are likely to affect the self-concepts, beliefs, and attitudes of their followers (Hartog, & Belschak, 2012).

As a leader, Chenault has demonstrated his ethical standards after the attack of 2001, in which 11 American Express employees died during the tragedy. Chenault’s first concern and order after the attack was to ensure everyone’s safety. Chenault ordered chartered planes and buses to help stranded cardholders get home, and he later donated one million dollars to families of the lost employees (Barton, 2011; Bulygo, 2013; Wharton, 2005). He believes that if leaders are not focused on moral ethics and integrity, they will not be successful (Bulygo, 2013; Wharton, 2005). Chenault explains that in order to create ethics within an organization, it begins with leadership. The best run companies are the ones that encourage employees to raise issues based on their ethics (Bulygo, 2013). Chenault further explains that social responsibility is paramount for corporate ethics visibility (Margolis, Walsh, & Krehmeyer, 2006). He states that corporate social responsibility is a set of values that American Express lives by. It helps in recognizing people who do the right things and rewards them. In addition, it influences a culture of integrity and accountability (Margolis, Walsh, & Krehmeyer, 2006).

Conclusion

Responding to an unethical situation of its subsidiaries, American Express acted ethically by cooperating and coming forward with valuable information that could help the investigation and the consumer fully be refunded. American Express corrected the matter by putting together plans to correct each of the violations, and strengthening its internal compliance processes. By correcting the matter and admitting to its faults, American Express may have maintained their brand reliability and business ethics standards. Had the situation not been resolved, American Express may have tarnished their brand’s reputation, trust, status, and lost customers because of their unethical tactics.

Businesses are often focused on the pursuit of self-interest and it is human nature to not ask questions about why things are going well (Cuillla, 2011). Situations such as the one with American Express place pressure on organizations and leaders to behave ethically at all times. It was the responsibility of American Express to hold their subsidiaries accountable for their lack of ethics (Hartog, & Belschak, 2012).

To resolve unethical situations in the future, ethics officers in organizations should be implemented to align practices of the workplace with ethics and beliefs of the workplace. By aligning the two, it allows people to become accountable to ethical standards (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). Additionally, ethics officers can assist employers in developing codes of ethics, and enforcing ethical codes as needed (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014). Though ethical concerns in organizations continue to create problems for society, individuals, and effect organizational culture, the extent of the effects of ethics in an organizational culture have yet to fully be explored (Chekwa, Ouhirra, Thomas, & Chukwuanu, 2014).

 

Credits

Abrhiem, T. H. (2012). Ethical leadership: Keeping values in business cultures. Business and Management Review, 2(7), 11–19.

Barton, A. (2011, April 4). The Quiet Lion: Kenneth Chenault. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://www.tnj.com/career/rose-grows-concrete

Bulygo, Z. (2013, May 24). Business Lessons from American Express CEO Ken Chenault. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from https://blog.kissmetrics.com/lessons-from-ken-chenault/

Chekwa, C., Ouhirra, L., Thomas, E., & Chukwuanu, M. (2014). An examination of the effects of leadership on business ethics: Empirical study. International Journal Of Business & Public Administration11(1), 48-65.

Cuillla, J. B. (2011). Is Business Ethics Getting Better? A Historical Perspective. Business Ethics Quarterly21(2), 335-343.

Hartog, D., & Belschak, F. (2012). Work Engagement and Machiavellianism in the Ethical Leadership Process. Journal Of Business Ethics107(1), 35-47. doi:10.1007/s10551-012-1296-4

Johnson, A. (2013, March 8). AmEx CEO got $28.5 Million in 2012. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324128504578348844016019814

Margolis, J., Walsh, J., & Krehmeyer, D. (2006, January 1). Building the business case for ethics. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://www.corporate-ethics.org/pdf/business_case.pdf

Markus, K. (2012, October 1). CFPB Orders American Express to Pay $85 Million Refund to Consumers Harmed by Illegal Credit Card Practices Newsroom Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://www.consumerfinance.gov/newsroom/cfpb-orders-american-express-to-pay-85-million-refund-to-consumers-harmed-by-illegal-credit-card-practices/

Silver-greenberg, J. (2012, October 1). American Express Says It Will Refund $85 Million. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/business/american-express-to-refund-85-million.html?_r=0

Wharton. (2005, April 20). AmEx’s Ken Chenault Talks about Leadership, Integrity and the Credit Card Business. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/amexs-ken-chenault-talks-about-leadership-integrity-and-the-credit-card-business/

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