Tag Archives: social media

Many Are Calling Newspaper Ad From Funeral Corporation SCI Misleading

A former well-known name in Austin funeral service has stirred up more than just a few Texans with an open-letter many are saying is misleading. Charles Walden, a former funeral home owner, allowed his name to appear in an advertisement (disguised to look like an open-letter) placed by Houston-based funeral corporation, Service Corporation International.

The advertisement appeared in the May 26th edition of the Austin American Statesman. In the ad, Walden attempts to convince Austin readers that the local chain of Cook-Walden Funeral Home locations are the same now as they have been for the last 100 years. The advertisement has drawn sharp criticism, as many are claiming to be simply misleading. Cook-Walden originally had just one funeral home 40 years ago. It is now owned by Service Corporation International (SCI)-the largest funeral home and cemetery chain in the world.

According to the history of Cook-Walden funeral services published at its own website, in the late 1800s a funeral home was opened in downtown Austin by Samuel E. Rosengren. In 1920, Charles B. Cook purchased that business. In 1971, Charles Walden purchased Cook Funeral Home. The name was changed to Cook-Walden. Shortly thereafter, Charles Walden bought two adjacent cemeteries in the Pflugerville area. In 1985, he bought Davis Funeral Home in Georgetown, then Forest Oaks funeral and cemetery in 1992. The two funeral homes at the Pflugerville cemeteries location and on Hwy. 183 at Anderson Mill were built more recently.

In 1997, Cook-Walden sold all of its operations to SCI. The recent open letter in the Statesman claims that in 1993 the Cook-Walden chain joined the Dignity Memorial(R) network (a registered service mark of SCI). But Cook-Walden could not have joined the Dignity Memorial(R) network until 2004 because that network did not exist until then, and that network is used only by SCI-owned facilities.

Charles Walden has claimed to provide some consulting services, since the 1997 purchase by the corporation. However, most people are unclear on his exact involvement.

Another local news column and a social media website, Connecting Directors, has taken issue with the advertisement and pointed out the historical inaccuracies as well as a growing number of online forums where current and former employees of the company are expressing their opinions.

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Funeral Home Social Media Training: ‘Experts’ or Snake Oil Sales?

As more funeral homes are joining the world of social media, it is not surprising to find the so-called “experts” offering social media training targeted for funeral directors.

Of course, it makes perfect sense to hire someone that knows nothing about funeral directors, to teach funeral directors how to be better at “sales” using Twitter, Facebook and the other available platforms. Sure, if your company sells vaults, you may draw a few more eyes to your business. When it comes to funeral homes, or actual licensed funeral directors, the typical approach to social media will not last for long. It may even hurt your business in the end.  So, how do you evaluate a so-called “expert?”

Ian Lurie has put together 10 Questions to Evaluate a Social Media Expert on Conversation Markeing. Enjoy!

Tucson Facebook Tribute is Full-Time Job for Texas Man

Houston, Texas

A Facebook tribute to the youngest victim of the Tucson shooting has turned into a full-time job for one Houstonian.

It has been a crash course in what’s known as “internet trolls” for a man we’ll call Ralph.

All he wanted to do, Ralph says, was post his condolences to the family of 9-year old Christina Taylor Green, who was murdered in the January 8 attack on an Arizona congresswoman.

“I went on Facebook to look for this very type of page so I could offer my condolences. There was no such page. So I decided to create one on my own, never realizing that by creating it I was taking on a huge responsibility of maintaining it to be clean from what I didn’t even know were called “trolls.” And that was when I realized I was in way over my head: I can’t monitor it 24/7. I needed to get some of my friends to serve as “admins,” administrators, to keep monitoring this site on a 24/7 basis, to keep it clean.”

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Funeral Home Learns How Social Media Can Unite A Town In Mourning And Raise Awareness

I recently had the opportunity to help a small funeral home facing a tough situation. There was a tragic death involving a high school teen and suicide.

While certain elements of funeral planning remain the same, in a teen’s death, there are many other factors involved. Crowd control is one priority, as these types of funerals are rarely small events. Another is communication, as teens have their own version of a busy lifestyle. In this case, classes were going to be closed, to allow across-the-board availability.

As I talk of quite often, social media can be used in both positive and negative scenarios. In this event, the teen was actively involved with social media — having both Myspace, Facebook and Twitter accounts. The privacy settings were kept at a non-existent level, so both the good and the bad elements involved were available for the eyes of general public. I found it rather chilling to be able to view the teens final Facebook updates and last tweet on Twitter. And it was even more disturbing to learn from earlier postings, that there had been strong examples of cyberbullying.

As disturbing as the cyberbullying was, I was able to find a positive note. The teens friends had set-up a Facebook Memorial page for her and folks were, after viewing the other pages and tweets, were making the memorial page their next stop. It became obvious that I was not the only one disturbed by the troubling posts. Community members that did not know the teen personally, were coming to the pages and offering sympathy and condolences. What was becoming even more obvious, was the sense of growing awareness. What had been making headlines in the larger cities across america, cyberbullying, had even made its way into this small, close-knit community.

We put together a station of computers, all with internet access, for those without such access to view and leave personal messages and condolences. Due to the response, we had to extend the hours of operation. Another group sent the condolences across Twitter, as they came in, allowing fellow students to follow along. The funeral had more than 1200 people and all had the opportunity to take part in the Facebook Memorial page. What began as a simple social media idea, turned into a tremendous, yet unexpected awareness program.

Former Houston Funeral Director James Patton Announces Social Media & Marketing Consulting Concentration

Portland, Maine

Consultant and former Houston funeral director James Patton has announced the addition of a Social Media and Marketing division to consultancy. This announcement was made, while traveling in Maine, making stops in Orono, Bangor and Portland.

 The new social media and marketing division will become the larger focus of the firm’s offerings, which until recently, included assisting funeral home owners with start-up operations, recruiting and training, licensing, business development and sales training, along with all other aspects. He has not limited himself to just the funeral industry. As he points out, “The funeral business is in a state of evolution and the funeral homes of tomorrow will be far different from what we are seeing today.”

Patton will also assist firms with developing and enhancing social media platforms, seo optimization, blog creation, website development and traffic building, online sales strategies and more.

Consultant and Funeral Director James Howard Patton Adds Social Media Consulting To Offerings

James Patton Funeral Director and Consultants

Consultant and funeral director James Patton  and team is providing social media marketing training, consulting and applications to funeral homes. Have you developed a strong web presence? Find out how to create a strong web presence, increase your marketing efforts, optimize and manage your search engine ranking and gain first-page Google results. Inquire today! Patton.james38@yahoo.com. Also, be sure and join us on Facebook.

Social Media Still Knocking On Funeral Home Doors

In the new world of social media, one recent survey suggests that the funeral industry has been slow in embracing the new technology.  This news does not surprise me in the least, as our industry has a long-established reputation of lagging when it comes to change. And, I will go ahead and offer my opinion that such a mindset is at the very root of the problems we face today.

One cannot argue with the rising popularity of social media, along with the proven benefit from a business marketing standpoint. It allows us to connect with people from around the world and get our brand before an even greater audience than ever before. Unfortunately, as with so many things, there is a darker side as well. It presents an opportunity for competitors, disgruntled former employees, ill-intentioned ex-romantic partners and more to bring harm to our business, our reputation and our private lives. One person, filled with the most sinister intentions can initiate harm with one click of a mouse.  There have been a number of examples of this, both in and out of our business. I too, faced a similar situation at one point. And although resolved, it presented more than a few minor bumps in the road.

All in all, I recommend and personally embrace social media as a valuable business marketing tool. Seeing so many funeral directors and funeral homes landing on Facebook is, in my opinion, a positive sign. Likewise, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites provide equally valuable exposure. However, I always advise caution when it comes to your personal or business pages, especially those around you who may have access. While things might appear peachy today, tomorrow remains to be seen. Happy Facebooking my friends!