Archive for February, 2013

Silence isn’t golden: Crisis management through social media

Monday, February 25th, 2013 by David Silverman

Outpost Outsight Report image - credit Eva Rinaldi (640x427)

Social media is now an incredibly important tool for communication both when things are going well and when crisis hits. Twitter and Facebook will often be the first port of call for both the public and the media seeking updates on incidents. If those updates aren’t there, they’ll draw their own conclusions or find them elsewhere.

When things go wrong, a festival can face hundreds of tweets about issues such as over-crowding, a shutdown, or a slow evacuation. On many occasions, however, none comes from the official Twitter feed.

If a festival says nothing, a stream of misunderstandings, unverified updates, and untruths spread through tweets from people both on and offsite. A journalist at the event can became a key source of information, despite only being there as a festivalgoer and having no more access to official updates than anybody else.

Large scale events are also a slave to the weather and knock-on effects such as traffic jams can create havoc.

In these situations, any statements and advice issued via Twitter can be pushed down the feed by regular updates extolling what a great time is being had by all who have managed to get on site. For those still stuck and looking to Twitter for official information, this can serve largely to antagonise them. A situation then develops where those people then tweet themselves and speak about their complaints.

Often, the problem can be that the wrong people are operating events’ social media accounts. In many cases, the ‘social media strategy’ is simply telling interns to go out and keep people updated on how much fun they’re having. But an intern is not qualified to deal with logistical queries or complaints – which may come at any point during an event – nor manage information flow when major problems arise.

All events have plans and systems in place for when the unexpected happens, but social media is not always considered within this. If the public and the press can’t see that something is being done, the fast pace of information online means opinion of an event can quickly turn.

Here are five top tips for crisis management through social media:

1. Designate a social media manager

The moment something goes wrong, someone with the authority to speak for you should be able to take over or direct social media updates.

2. Provide clear information promptly

Make it clear that you know that something is wrong and that you are dealing with it as soon as possible, even if it is not immediately possible to go into details. Removing any content from your website that might no longer be suitable is something to consider.

3. Ensure that important updates aren’t lost

When you need to relay important information, ensure that it’s at the top of your social media feeds for as long as possible. This could mean pinning it to the top of your Facebook feed or ceasing all other updates completely.

4. Know when to stop being positive

A continuation of point three, but it’s important to know when positive updates about what’s happening at your event should stop, even if only temporarily.

5. Address rumours quickly

Rumours will spread fast at a festival, especially if people don’t have up to date information from its organisers. Monitor the spread of rumours both on and off site and address them promptly. Without an official message early on, rumours can be picked up by official news sources and become a lot more difficult to address further down the line.

 

This was a guest blog post from David Silverman. Photo courtesy of Eva Rinaldi.

About David Silverman

David Silverman is managing director of Outpost, a PR company based in east London.

Corporate reputation begets consumer behaviour – Harris Interactive

Monday, February 18th, 2013 by Jon Clements

Another week, and yet another piece of research about the state of corporate reputation at the larger end of the business world.

But Harris Interactive’s latest – and, in fact 14th – Annual Harris Poll RQ Study tells us something both interesting and sobering for the guardians of corporate reputation in organisations worldwide.

The study, conducted with a suitably robust sample size of 19,000 Americans, has found this year that:

  • More than 60 percent of consumers now “pro-actively try to learn more about how a company conducts itself” before they are willing to consider that company’s products or services.

  • [They] proactively engage in conversations with others about what they find out about a company.

  • In 60 percent of cases, decide NOT to do business with a company because of something they learn about that company.

  • Actively try to influence friends and family on whether to do business or not with a company based upon what they have learned about that company’s conduct.

Though buried at the very bottom of Harris Interactive’s press release based on its survey – where the main headline was the relatively unsurprising news that Amazon, Apple, Google and Disney grace the top five of US companies with the best reputations – the consumer trend that Harris has identified is the most startling element.

Harris’ interpretation of the influence of corporate reputation on the consumer continues: “Companies need to evaluate and understand the increasing importance that playing a valuable social role has on reputation, purchase consideration, advocacy and positive word of mouth. This is about a business having a purpose, not just checking the box on social responsibility or sustainability.”

If right, this is the story of not a passive, but active – or, dare it be said, “activist” – consumer; a consumer that is applying Timothy Leary’s 1960s mantra of “Turn on, tune in, drop out” to its consumption habits (though without the need for added psychedelics). In other words, the consumer is listening, watching and taking action in response to the behaviour of business.

Yet, if the consumer has become the righteous crusader that Harris claims, it remains curious why the corporation tax travails of some of the top businesses named above, and the issues Apple faced with its flawed mapping software, has not had a bigger impact on these companies’ reputations.

Nevertheless, companies would be wise to not dismiss the influence their actions – both in their wider relationship with the world as well as their core products and services – have on the attitude of the consumer.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Online content marketing – on the “must-do” list

Sunday, February 10th, 2013 by Jon Clements

Content marketing

If online content marketing is now a “must-do” rather than a “should-do”, how does a company or brand make it work?

A couple of useful guides to content marketing reached PR Media Blog’s attention at about the same time, care of the clever people at EConsultancy and SEOmoz.

Chris Lake, director of product development at EConsultancy produced a sprawling epic on content marketing (linked to later on) while Ashley Tate, content specialist at SEOmoz, hosted a ideas-packed webinar on the topic.

As Chris Lake puts it content marketing is “a kind of umbrella term for five disciplines: editorial, marketing, PR, SEO and social. It is the glue that bonds these things together, and a predefined content marketing strategy can help [these] teams to focus on long-term goals.”

Ashley Tate kicked off her webinar with the image at the head of this blog post, summarising the overall value of producing content and her practical guidance included:

 

  • Stop waiting for resources to appear…

Brainstorm content topics, which might involve new product updates, interesting community engagement or even an enlightening team meeting – all making potential content.

 

  • Make structure from chaos

Decide what type of content will support your vision (blog posts, video, audio, infographics, etc) and set specific content goals – in other words how regularly will your content appear. Test the effectiveness of your content over – wait for it – several months to understand how it is resonating with the audience.

 

  • Use guest post authors

They can come from among your suppliers, associates, customers and – even better – your community, as long as they are clear on the preferred topics, work to your guidelines and maintain a distinctive, individual voice that feels authentic rather than a piece of marketing.

 

  • Test and gather data

Measure content analytics, including the number of social shares, thumbs up and down, comments, traffic sources and page views.

 

  • Evaluate and improve

Stick to your voice and strategy, but be flexible enough to grow with your audience and respond to their wants and needs.

Quoting Chris Lake again: “digital marketing in the second decade seems to be paying more attention to retention, and I think it’s crucial to produce the right kind of content for your existing customers / audience.”

Read his in-depth advice on content marketing and gear yourself up for some heavy lifting, but rewarding results, from online content generation.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Manchester B2B PR consultancy Metamorphic PR launches

Friday, February 1st, 2013 by Jon Clements

 

Jon Clements - Chartered PR practitioner

Metamorphic PR – a Manchester-based B2B, corporate and marketing communications consultancy has been launched.

In a rare interruption to PR Media Blog’s normal blogging business – and for that I appreciate your patient indulgence – I invite you to visit the brand spanking new website where you’ll find the story behind the launch of Metamorphic PR.

And, keep your eyes peeled from Monday for the first in a special launch series of five, daily blog posts, each tackling a relevant area of activity that could have a bearing on a business’ PR and communications activity.

The first one – going live on Monday morning – tackles the benefits of blogging.

And – just in case you were wondering – PR Media Blog won’t be going away…!

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''