Archive for March, 2013

Corporate blogging for the CEO – a missed opportunity?

Friday, March 22nd, 2013 by Jon Clements

How can the busiest person in the company possibly have time for corporate blogging?

The notion that a CEO could metaphorically “put pen to paper” while running a multi-million Euro, Yen, Dollar or pound company is, surely, preposterous.

It is, indeed, just that, if you consider the findings of Weber Shandwick’s report, Socializing your CEO: From (Un)Social to Social, which show that not one CEO in the top 50 firms featured in Fortune Global 500 rankings can be bothered with a blog. The chief executive communications effort is, instead, directed towards online video (40% of CEOs appearing on a company YouTube channel) or by simply having an biography on the website (which ought to be a given).

The finding that CEOs – according to the research – are disengaged from social media channels is no surprise, with fewer on Twitter and even fewer on Google+. The rapid-fire and potentially free-for-all nature of Twitter is going to be a disincentive for someone who simultaneously carries the bulk of reputation responsibility for the organisation while probably having the least time to be firing up Tweetdeck to monitor brand mentions or haranguing hashtags.

But the lack of CEO interest in corporate blogging is, I think, a missed opportunity.

Take the example of former BDO Chief Executive, Jeremy Newman, who was one of the leading exponents of effective corporate blogging.

In this interview – remarkably done nearly four years ago – he spoke of the value to the business of blogging:

“I have people who track the statistics and they tell me it is doing just fine. Now, did we win a new client or get that world class graduate trainee because of the blog? I cannot say but these days, I frequently meet people who say they’ve read the blog. That’s gratifying and means we already have a common connection. At one time it would have been very difficult for me to get an appointment with the CEO/CFO of a FTSE 350, these days it’s easier. Is that because of the blog? I’d like to think it has had a part to play.”

Four years on and the corporate blog has not gone away, despite the lacklustre performance of the top 50 in Weber Shandwick’s research report.

And with more recent developments such as Google Authorship, there is even more reason for experts – and certainly CEOs – to reconsider the value of committing to a regular habit of corporate blogging.

This example of a CEO blog at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, perhaps unexpectedly emanating from the public sector, shows a willingness for the person at the top of the ladder to talk openly and directly to the hospital’s patients, visitors and staff. It combines personal reflections and opinions with a professional insight into healthcare issues which instils confidence in the reader – just what you want and need from the head of a large hospital.

There’s no denying that the CEO’s role is busy already. But the corporate blog may offer the CEO something that other, competing, voices cannot.

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 ''

Ferguson delivers media masterclass

Friday, March 8th, 2013 by Mark Perry

 

The wily old Sir Alex Ferguson has today shown that he knows how to play the media and at the same time stop the media frenzy of rumour and speculation about the future of striker Wayne Rooney.

Since Rooney’s omission from the team to play Real Madrid this week, the media and twitter has seen this as an indication that Ferguson’s relationship with him is broken and that he would be leaving the club in the summer.

This morning football journalists speculated on twitter about the weekly press conference and who would ask the first question.  Ferguson’s reputation for being taciturn and banning journalists for asking difficult questions is legendary.  Indeed it transpired that he has imposed a ban on two newspapers – the Mail and Independent – because of the speculation this week.

Ferguson has shown how to take back the agenda from the media. He started the press conference by putting his points across before any questions were asked.

“The Wayne Rooney nonsense first? Or do you want to talk sense? The issue you’re all going on about is absolute rubbish. There is absolutely no issue between Wayne and I. Rooney will be here next season you have my word. To suggest we don’t talk to each other on the training ground is absolute nonsense.”

Having done that he was able to put across the positive messages about where the club goes from here.

Some of the sceptical football journalists who have seen it all with Ferguson even acknowledge a solid performance. The Sunday Times’ Jonathan Northcroft tweeted:  “SAF in prime form, all in all. Joking, grabbing back the agenda.”

Ferguson’s performance has shown that in the whirl of a media storm that addressing the issues up front and being prepared to stand by your convictions enables you to put your side of the story across in a much more strident way than responding to questions.

With Rooney however, only time will tell if his omission was the beginning of the end of this time at Manchester United as Ferguson is known for, sometimes, giving the media the wrong steer. But for now for him it is mission accomplished.

About Mark Perry

Mark has more than 25 years’ experience in PR and corporate communications. He is a founding director of B2B consultancy Melville PR.

The real reason companies fail at social media

Friday, March 1st, 2013 by Bridgett Gayle

Social media is pointless for companies. According to a 10-year social media study at Northwestern University’s Medill School in the Integrated Marketing Communication Department, social media users do not use social media seeking products and they have no brand preference. Professors Don E. Schultz, PhD, and Martin P. Block, PhD, conducted this survey and concluded that social media users will not become brand loyalists because people use social media simply for “social purposes.”

So is social media just a wasteland of meaningless social chatter?

No, says Dave Kerpen. What companies should do is join the social chatter and view that chatter as an opportunity to learn more about people. Kerpen is the founder and chairperson of Likeable Media, a social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm handling the social media presence for more than 200 companies. And he’s also the author of Likeable Social Media, a book of social media strategies. The real reason why companies are failing at social media is due to their incapability or unwillingness to just shut up and listen.

Like with any other type of conversation listening is the key to a successful interaction. Kerpen’s latest book Likeable Business explains how companies can listen to and benefit from the social chatter.

“Likeable Media has grown over 2,000 percent in the last five years,” says Kerpen, “and I credit listening as being a big part of that growth. Social media allows for better listening than ever before.” Think of social media as an impromptu focus group, a place to find out what people need or wished they had. Listen to their problems. Listen to their interests.”

Companies need to listen with the intention of understanding, considering, figuring out what is important to people. Kerpen offers Blockbuster LLC’s bankruptcy as an example of a company that didn’t see the value of social chatter.

“Blockbuster failed to listen to the massive negative volume of tweets and Facebook posts about their late fees. Had they been listening and paying attention, they could have adjusted their business strategy earlier and avoided their downfall to Netflix.”

When Netflix experienced its own massive negative social chatter about its decision to split into two companies, Netflix listened to the chatter and nixed its plan solely because the plan was unpopular with people.

Kerpen admits he used to be a poor listener and had to learn how to listen. “You can work on listening. The best way to do it is to practice. Measure how many minutes you spend listening versus talking in any given meeting or conversation. Practice asking questions instead of giving answers. Those who excel at listening talk only when necessary.”

Yes, people use social media to be social and are not interested in hearing any business marketing spiels. But there is business value in that social chatter. It’s an opportunity to listen and find out what people really want. And when your company isn’t listening to the social chatter your competition is.

 

This was a guest post by Bridgett Gayle.

About Bridgett Gayle

Bridgett Gayle is a writer and content marketer bringing common sense solutions to improve the business-customer relationship.