Communication is the Pulse of Life!

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Activism – The New ‘Sex’ that Sells

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It’s out with sex and in with activism; marketing and branding specialists alike have dubbed 2017 as the year that “activism comes of age”.

Following a series of polarizing elections and debates, it’s clear that the world is now more divided than ever. Demonstrations, protests, and marches fill our streets and dominate the conversations on our social media feeds – there simply is no avoiding the topic of activism. Fuelled by millennials – who see themselves as active agents of social change – this wave of social activism has set off new ripples in the marketing world.

It’s gone beyond supporting a cause – audiences are now demanding that everyone else does the same. And while this may present a risk of alienating segments of their consumers, brands are beginning to dip their toes into politics. The potential virality of brand activism in the era of social media marketing has helped brands gain more exposure, attract new customers and cement old loyalties. In most cases, the benefits far outweigh the harm.

No longer excused from sidestepping conversations about pertinent socio-political issues, it does little good for a brand to remain sitting on the fence. Take Uber for instance. Earlier this year, the company suffered a major setback after the hashtag #DeleteUber trended worldwide on Twitter. Close to 200,000 users deleted or deactivated their accounts within minutes, following allegations that the company was endorsing Trump’s controversial immigration policies by remaining neutral during protests. Meanwhile, in announcing its $1 million donation to the American Civil Liberties Union, Lyft (Uber’s competitor) received high praise for its denunciation of Trump’s outrageous executive order. By the thousands, angry consumers began switching their allegiance to Lyft and within hours, the company saw a drastic expansion of its user base – exceeding the numbers of Uber for the first time.

Riddled by heightened emotions and drastic political changes, consumers want to be more involved – associating themselves only with brands that share the same ideologies and values. Consumers are making their voices heard with their wallets: every purchase is a political statement. Thus, explaining the biggest rise in brand activism observed in the history of marketing and advertising. But riding this wave seems a lot easier said than done. While brands like Heineken and Dove have successfully crafted campaigns around the importance of unity and feminism respectively, others like Pepsi have completely missed the mark.

Heralded as “The Great Pepsi Shakeup” the three minute Ad was quickly pulled following the global #boycottPepsi on Twitter. Commentators on social media were understandably aggrieved – accusing Pepsi of appropriating imagery from the real protests and completely undermining the dangers and frustrations of these group of people. In attempting to resonate with the millennials, Pepsi completely neglected the most important aspect of brand activism: sincerity. Attempting to “join the conversation” (as preached) without discussing real issues, portrays the brand as opportunistic and more detrimentally, offensive.

Following this fiasco, Heineken, on the other hand, made a political statement of their own with a video titled “Worlds Apart: An Experiment.” Six strangers, each with diametrically opposed socio-political views were paired and encouraged to foster an understanding and open friendship despite their differences. Where Pepsi enraged, Heineken pulled at the heartstrings of its viewers. In this, there are two key differences:

(a) Heineken’s Ad discussed real controversial issues concerning transgender rights, climate change, and feminism while Pepsi adopted a more generic claim for unity and peace – whilst appropriating the imagery of real protests.

(b) Heineken proposed an actual, practical solution of encouraging discourse and fostering understanding despite our differences, instead of portraying themselves as the miraculous solution to all problems.

Gone are the days where sex was enough to sell. In the advent of progressive political changes, consumers and audiences alike have become more politically engaged, often interacting on social media where reputations are made or lost within a matter of minutes – aka the age of the millennials. Ultimately, as much as consumers love thought-provoking ads that tackle the real-world issues we face today, brands should always remind themselves that sincerity and authenticity should underlie all efforts geared towards harnessing the power of brand activism.

Posted by Roselynda Afandi, CorpMedia


How Was It For You?

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In Shelagh Stephenson’s Olivier-award winning dark comedy, The Memory of Water, three sisters reunite to bid farewell to their recently departed mother. As adults, it is evident that their present lives have not lived up to expectations. That’s how life goes. But these girls can’t even agree on their shared past. And that’s how memory goes.

A common estimate used by psychologists suggests that a single ‘moment’ can last up to 3 seconds. So we experience about 20,000 separate moments each day, and about 500 million of them if we live to be age 70. Professor Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and psychologist suggests that the vast majority of these moments simply vanish: poof – gone. And the memories we are left with can be very different from our experiences!

He distinguishes between what he calls the Experiencing Self and the Remembering Self. One of his favourite illustrations of this dichotomy is a story about a music lover, listening to a rare vinyl recording of a symphony. For 20 minutes, he got to experience some of the most sublime music of his life. Then, right near the end, there was a scratch on the record, a loud squeak, and he angrily declared: “It spoilt the whole thing!” But did it? He had enjoyed 20 minutes of lovely music, many moments. But that single negative moment coloured his memory of the entire thing. That’s what he committed to memory. What a shame.

What we now know is that, of the very many moments we experience in life, we are selective about which ones we commit to memory. And, for significant moments, we never simply record the facts. There’s always an emotional component – a feeling – that gets attached to the memory of that moment, and the two parts are not easily separated.

We all know people who lean towards a ‘glass is half empty’ philosophy of life. So is this merely a phenomenon that affects the pessimists among us? Probably not. Scientists believe that we are hard-wired to actively seek out, and remember, the negative. It is thought to be an evolutionary adaptation that enhances our ability to survive. Which I imagine was very useful in the jungle (“Yikes! A tiger, big teeth, scary, avoid in future!”) but occasionally frustrating for us in the modern world. For how does a ‘ruined’ memory of music impact the survival of the species? It doesn’t. But our hard-wired cognitive processes can’t automatically distinguish between the two.

Naturally, we also store and recall good memories. Things that nurture us, or feel pleasurable, are worth repeating if we get the chance, for they can also help our survival. For example, last week I was offered a piece of soda bread in a restaurant. It looked and tasted exactly like my granny’s bread, and I vividly remembered a warm kitchen and the smell of her apron as she hugged me close, more than 40 years ago.

That the girls in our play recall their shared experiences quite differently should come as no surprise. The emotional component of those moments was quite different for each of them, as our audience discovers along the way. One of the key reasons that the practice of mindfulness is so popular today, is the discovery that we can ‘hack’ our minds. By consciously marrying a neutral, or less negative, emotion to an immediate unpleasant experience we can influence our future mental states. Literally, we can write happier endings. It’s fascinating stuff.

In the 1960s Ellie Greenwich was a prolific songwriter, responsible for dozens of classic hits from The Girl Group era. Vi, the girls’ mother in our play, would certainly have sung along to these tunes as she got ‘dolled up’ to go out to the dance hall. One of Ellie’s lesser-known songs laments the heartache of having loved, and lost. The aching end lyric goes like this: “I wish I never saw the sun shine. I wish I’d never saw the sun shine. Cos if I never saw sunshine baby then…maybe… I wouldn’t mind the rain.”

As theatre makers it’s our job to know the breadth of human possibilities, and the depths of our individual character’s possibilities. We work with what the author gives us, and we can’t rewrite the ending. But by holding up a mirror to life, we believe that great theatre can help an audience to rewrite their own script, and maybe learn to love a little rain.

Written by Sean Worrall, an Ensemble Member of Wag the Dog Theatre.

The Memory of Water will play at Drama Centre Black Box, 100 Victoria Street, Singapore from 30 June to 9 July. Tickets are $35, available at SISTIC.


Gen Z: The Voice of a New Generation

Humans have long corralled themselves into generational categories with the belief that one’s social, economic time-period and environment will effectively shape them into individuals with similar interests and behavior. Baby Boomers were conceived in the muddled post-World War II canvas and groomed into nonconforming liberals whilst Generation Xers alternated between their divorced parents’ homes apathetically. Online marketers in recent years have shortsightedly been clamouring for the attention of Millennials, aka Generation Y, who represent the highest proportion of online spending compared to any other cohort. As pioneers of the most disruptive invention of all, the Internet, they were the ones who molded it, and in return, it ultimately molded them.

With the spotlight trained on the founders, many have missed the opportunity that lies in the hands of the next generation, the same smartwatch clad hands dexterously juggling a tablet and a mobile phone while taking a selfie. When companies started recruiting 19 year olds as the foremost experts on this outspoken generation, we know that we are witnessing the dawn of a new age. Gen Y slowly incorporated the web into their lifestyles, but Generation Z (Gen Z) was born, fully submerged into the assimilation of notifications. Eighty-one percent of these aptly named “digital natives” are on social media at least three hours a day, making success more contingent on competent digital marketing than ever.

Gen Z are rapidly becoming a critical audience for marketers and brands to understand. Even if they aren’t your target group at the moment, they soon will be. In a couple of years, nearly 4 in 10 consumers will be from Gen Z, and their purchasing power will rise exponentially over the next 5 to 7 years as they grow to be the single largest group of consumers worldwide. They are forming their spending habits now which can influence their habits into adulthood. Appealing to this group can have a huge impact in a company’s long-term customer retention and brand loyalty.

So what does it take to really capture the attention of Generation Z? Let’s take a closer look.

Snap, Swipe, Share

Gen Z thrives on the edge of fast communications. Six second Vines, 140 character tweets, emojis and Snapchats – tapped once and gone into the ether. For brands, this means creating bite-sized, visual content that Gen Z can quickly digest and process. The more bite-sized pieces of information you can get to Gen Z, the further along their path to purchase you can push yourself.

The one thing Gen Z appreciates more than succinct communications is curating their own content. As a form of self-expression, these individuals enjoy taking charge and personalising their own content. Additionally, brands that utilise or acknowledge these consumer creations portray themselves as active listeners and genuinely caring about their customer’s wants.

Purchasing Power

Gen Z may not have a lot of its own money (yet), but this doesn’t necessarily mean they lack purchasing power. According to brand strategy firm, Sparks and Honey, the average upwardly mobile Gen Z receives an allowance of $16.90 per week, which collectively adds up to $44 billion a year. In addition to pocket money, they exert considerable influence on household purchases and family spending compared to previous generations.

What this means is that marketers need different approaches to gain the attention of the Gen Z. In the past, most ad dollars were spent on TV, radio stations, and newspapers. But to reach Gen Z, companies will need to spend more to create videos and other content that provides useful information, entertains, and otherwise impresses them enough that they share with families, friends, and followers.

Making CSR the Norm

An Inconvenient Truth” opened the eyes of unsuspecting Millennials but Generation Z grew up in an already unstable world of conflict. Fuelled by current events, they seek to create value and social change for the world through the products they purchase. This group places a higher priority on the quality of a product and how environmentally friendly it is rather than being blindly loyal to a brand. As most Gen Z research products and services prior to purchase, they become privy to the company’s practices, history, and reputation.

After too many lapses in safety and accounting, businesses must now prove themselves by being transparent and relatable. One way is to allow real customers themselves to create content, feedback, and reviews as a means of advertising the company authentically. Following in the footsteps of TOMS Shoes, businesses must start incorporating a social aspect to their business whether it be employee community service or through the triple bottom line approach in order to penetrate these increasingly knowledgeable and ethical customers.

Embrace Diversity

Gen Z is expected to be the most racially diverse generation. While Millennials in their own right are a pretty diverse group, Gen Z will view the increasing diversity in a more positive light. With more friends from different ethnic backgrounds than older generations, brands will have to amp up their multicultural marketing strategies to make their brands relevant to a wider range of ethnic groups.

Gen Z are growing up in a post-9/11 world and in a global economic recession, resulting in a demographic that is very socially conscious. They will expect nothing less from brands. Brands that can form a connection with this diverse group will have the most success. To do this, brands will have to incorporate various, yet consistent, messages that highlight diversity across a variety of platforms.

Point to Note: Gen Z’s everyday lives blend seamlessly with their lives on social channels, and many of their defining characteristics stem from this continuity.  Marketers will have to try harder than ever to interact authentically with this generation of consumers, but if they do, they’ll be rewarded by an audience that loves engaging with brands and championing their products.

Posted by Arwika Ussahatanon, Corporate Media


Start the Conversation and Get Going!

Social Media Are You Listening

People are talking about your brand. Are you listening?

Social media has taken over our lives!!!  That’s right, everyday millions of conversations take place over social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, forums, etc. These conversations are not just happening with friends and families but are also influencing companies. Social media interaction continues to rise as more people use it in both their personal and professional lives, and brands are responding by continually looking for new and innovative ways to engage with them.

All these conversations comprise pools of data, but “listening to the talk” can be challenging.  How can companies make sense of this endless data to determine how and where to listen, identify what consumers are talking about, classify the types of content they are posting, and understand the behaviours they are engaging in?

Brand loyalty, customer engagement, qualified traffic and backlinks are not easy to come by. To get more, you need to give more. When it comes to social media, success comes from listening to your consumers, and providing them with the content they need, at the right time, and at the right place.

Embrace Technology

Those who don’t or have yet to embrace digital technology risk falling behind the needs of their customers. They also risk falling behind in the international marketplace where brands are rapidly ramping up their digital spend. Today’s consumers are digital, mobile, and tech-savvy. They are empowering themselves instead of allowing brands to dictate to them. Leading digital brands like Facebook and Google are redefining the market by creating new benchmarks for customer experience and personalization – so much so that customers today expect personalized services that address their immediate needs.

In short, unless brands can integrate digitally across channels and services, i.e. website, marketing, IT, sales, etc., they will not meet the rising expectations around the customers’ experience. To drive the integration of channels and deliver a seamless, coherent experience at every touch point demands that senior executives (CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, CMOs) get involved – to rally all the departments (marketing, IT, call centres, sales) to execute a digital strategy that reorients the whole business around the needs of the customer.

Mapping Strategy with Good Data

The next wave of marketing is all about providing a one-to-one customer journey for each customer – with highly contextual and personalized marketing messages.  It is important to understand the interconnectivity between various platforms and the roles that the different parts of the business play in the customers’ journey.  By tapping into data from a range of different touch points and systems, we can understand and shape the customers’ journey to achieve maximum engagement, conversions, and ultimately brand loyalty.  By capturing customer data at every touch point – from mobile phones and websites, to call centres and membership programs, we will be able to get a 360° view of our relationship with each customer.

Key Points to Remember:

  • Provoking real conversations between your brand and target consumer begins with an understanding of your audience’s desires, online behaviours and their perception of your brand.
  • Listening to what your audience and industry has to say allows us to craft and apply a unique, authoritative voice to content that establishes trust and invites consumer engagement with your brand.
  • Identifying trends, shared issues, and gaps in online coverage drives the creative process while ensuring you deliver content that adds and not distract from the conversation.
  • Social media moves at the speed of light. For brands that can keep up with sharing content, exchanging ideas, and actively engaging in real-time conversations, the rewards are tremendous.

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia


Why Marketing is Emotional

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There’s been a lot of talk within B2B marketing circles about the importance of putting emotion at front of mind when creating marketing content.

One of the powers of social media is that it allows you to be yourself or anything else for that matter.

The euphoria of having a platform where your voice can be heard or you can be seen, creates a completely different person to what everyone sees or supposedly knows “offline.” It’s also a ‘space’ where as a marketer, you can display some emotion, even if this is in a virtual environment.

There is plenty of scientific evidence to show that you engage the best with people when you connect with them on an emotional level. It’s not necessarily about high drama or hypersensitivity. It’s about finding a connection, identifying a common ground, spotting a leveler and using that to form the foundation on which marketing conversations, marketing communications, and marketing engagement can be built.

So, what’s the marketing magic that happens when you get in touch with your emotions?

  • You create content that’s meaningful and not abstract
  • You make a lasting impression, and your content is bound to be remembered
  • You expand your creative vision
  • You churn out relevant stuff that’s reusable
  • You start to feel, and pick up what’s going on around you
  • You awaken from a sense of dullness, boredom and slumber
  • You identify your own value and pour it out to others
  • Content creation becomes a hobby and not a chore
  • You develop a personality and your image flows through every word, sentence, paragraph, campaign etc.
  • You stop hiding and reveal who you are.

To sum it up, marketing is a thought process, and if you are ready to revolutionize your marketing, then get emotional.

Post by 4CM, a member of the Evoke PR Network.


Game Changers and Social Staples

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The availability of multiple platforms on social media, coupled with changes in consumers’ taste and preferences, have led to a plethora of new opportunities for companies to grow their brands. In fact, digital marketing has experienced enormous changes in the last few years that brands have had little choice but to keep pace with technology. As social media platforms attempt to monetize their offerings by introducing new and improved features, it can get tricky for marketers to come up with the best strategy to stay competitive.

Real-time is the buzzword for 2016. Since the inception of social media marketing, brands and agencies have been searching for the best methods to deliver integrated campaigns that make others feel connected. In this day and age, it is also important to keep the finger-tapping younger generation of consumers interested by offering exclusive content that has an expiration date. The “one size fits all” marketing tactic no longer works. It’s all about finding the perfect platform to make consumers feel connected and unique, all at the same time in order to reap the benefits of a forward thinking campaign.

While it is impossible to predict how the social media landscape will change over the course of a year, here are three social marketing trends we feel will change the way brands reach consumers and become the social staples for 2016.

#1: Going Private

The latest trends reveal that the pleasure of privacy is seeping its way into many consumers’ lives online. The popularity of Snapchat has skyrocketed because the medium respects privacy. Users of other popular sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook are more inclined towards private messaging or the creation of private groups within their social network. While of course, publicity through advertising and other forms of explicitly overt marketing techniques would in many ways still facilitate knowledge about branding, the invaluable content is more effectively delivered to the individual or to a smaller group of people.

# Seeing is Believing

Visual marketing is expected to yield immense popularity in 2016. This medium ensures that the specific product and visual communications are intertwined – it is exactly this combination that reaches out to people, engages them and persuades them to make a particular choice. So, be generous, not only with the images but also the amount of short-form and long-form videos posted to your blogs, Facebook and Instagram!

Apps such as Twitter’s Vine, with its six-second maximum clip length, have dramatically increased the opportunity for businesses on a limited budget. But, if you’re to realise a decent return on your investment, you’ll need to bear the following in mind. With a tried and tested marketing success derived from the popularity of video uploads, the current trend indicate that the popularity of videos will continue to dominate companies’ online marketing strategies in the near future and it’s not difficult to understand why.

Jenn Herman, Forefront Blogger on Instagram Marketing TOP 10 Social Media Blog of 2014 and 2015, asserts that “The best way to reach your audience and connect with them in 2016 is through videos and/or live-streaming tactics as a way to really connect in a more face-to-face way. Facebook has been quick to jump onto the bandwagon in their video features as seen from the introduction of “live video”. This conforms to the demand by social media users and has raised expectations from brands and companies for social media to be transparent and authentic.

While 2015 started an era of live-casting with the introduction of new technology such as Periscope, Facebook Live and Blab, 2016 has changed the video playing field altogether. The introduction of live360 degree broadcasts allows people to move their mobile phones and experience the action as in real time.

#3 Publicity isn’t always free

While visual marketing is getting a lot of attention these days, many social media websites are beginning to charge for effective publicity. Many of the sites have algorithms installed such as PageRank, EdgeRank and TweetRank to prioritize the importance of posts. Very soon, tweets won’t appear in the streams of all your followers, and instead the intent to raise your visibility will come with a small price.

Facebook isn’t too far away on their open approach towards advertisements. Rather, businesses that attempts to use Facebook as a platform to advertise must be ready to pay a small amount before they can boost their audience reach. For example the boost post function that enables the increased reach of the post is pegged at 5 USD per post. Nonetheless, quite a handful who’ve tried the boost post function claims its effectiveness and affirms that the same kind of outreach on traditional media would be significantly more costly. According to Neil Patelco-founder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics, in 2016 more social networks will start charging for traffic. The algorithms are becoming harder to leverage via organic means, so if you want maximum traffic, you’ll have to spend money on ads.

2016 will see digital marketing become even more targeted and therefore valuable to businesses. It’s something that all businesses should be open to embracing. It’s not as simple as boosting a post and hoping for the best, there has to be a strategic element to it – which means you’re going to have to really be on top of your strategy.

Posted by Shahnaz Khan, PR Executive, Corporate Media

 


2016: Time to Unwrap Your Potential

2016: Time to Unwrap Your Potential

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Another year has come and gone! Is it me or did 2015 just slipped us by? Again!

Now that 2016 has arrived, many of us are tentatively jotting down resolutions for the new year. Along with personal goals like doing more physical activity and watching less Reality TV (none hopefully in the near future!), I’m sure you’ve spent the final weeks of 2015 refining your business strategy, so much so that you’ve probably not had the chance to reflect.

Fret not, here are some resolutions any PR specialist (PRs) will need to make 2016 their year:

Dump the creativity

Thinking outside the box is so passé. While those so-called creative experts may try to convince us otherwise, we all know that the best ideas come when we’re alone, seconds to the deadline, wired with lots of caffeine. But, in an era where the process is everything, any PRs worth their salt needs to at least play along with the notion of collaboration. 2016 is the year to embrace the brainstorm for what it is – group therapy with a flipchart – and save your real critical thinking for your alone time.

 Connect with your audience

PRs should live and breathe the organizations they represent. You may have tried a bit of client immersion in the past, but 2016 is the year to get your “Freak On” as the song goes. Starting on a new hip alcohol brand? Unleash your inner youth – listen to “Five Seconds to Summer” until you know all the words to their songs, watch the MTV Video awards again and again, go drinking in the millennial club. It probably won’t make your work any better nor your head, but it’ll definitely get you a step closer to “connecting with your audience.”

 Talk the talk

Touch base, flag up, check-in, sell-in, reach out….. You’ve tried long enough to avoid using PR-speake, but my friend, you know deep down you’re fighting a lost battle. Sure, these phrases don’t really mean anything, but hamming up the industry lingo is guaranteed to boost your clients’ trust in you and make your senior management team take notice. Use it enough, and you may start to believe in yourself too.

Don’t shy away

If there’s one thing we can guarantee in 2016, it’s that another viral craze will come along demanding we stick ourselves to one digital platform or another – probably in the name of some charity. As a professional bandwagon jumper, it’s important for you to be one of the first to get involved – just make sure you’re not the last.

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In the same way a pencil makes no noise as it drops unless you’re there to hear it, your hard work means nothing without a steady stream of online updates. The trick to curating a strong professional feed is a lot easier than you think. You don’t need to read articles before you share them, just make sure your post is snappy and includes a personal comment, e.g. “Interesting read … ” or “Great piece from HBR blog… ” Looking like you enjoy your job is also key – jokes and group photos will help build your online brand.

Update your LinkedIn

With top companies trawling the site for talent and ideas, it’s time to embrace the cringe. Add pictures, join groups, and list skills – both abstract (creativity, team work) and specific (blogs) – then watch as the business roll in.

 Rise above the norm

2016 is the year of big picture. Avoid getting bogged down in too much of the nitty-gritty by becoming an expert in delegation. The key here is in packaging it up as empowerment. Empower your juniors to take more ownership of administrative details. Empower your seniors to use their specialist knowledge. In no time at all, you’ll have empowered your way to a clear plate and have more time to focus on improving your own skillset.

Happy New Year! May the Force Awaken in Each and Every One of Us!

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia


Confidence in Crisis

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A crisis is any situation that disrupts a company’s operations, undermines the loyalty of its customer base or harms its financial performance.  In short, a crisis – be it related to the underlying business, regulatory action or shareholder activism – represents a significant risk to an enterprise.

For the financial sector especially, rebuilding investor trust and value is a costly proposition. Never have managers been more compelled to address investors’ complaints over market losses than in such a time of economic uncertainty.  However, the communication behaviour of most financial institutions has shown that strategic, crisis-oriented communication is simply not taking place in many companies.

Reputation can be a company’s biggest asset. Reputation management is first and foremost about building relationships with key stakeholders that includes communicating with employees, engaging with clients, reacting to investor concerns, collaborating with government, partnering with the media, and well, everything in between.

It is important for organizations to realize that different stakeholders make different assessments and not all stakeholders share the same view of what your business’ reputation is. The personal experiences, perceptions and expectations intrinsic in relationship building are what complicate the reputation management process.  The values of these groups differ and change over time. What was important yesterday may not necessarily mean as much today, and can even be of little significance to some stakeholders. It is, therefore, important to keep your finger on the pulse of what aspect of the business is important to which stakeholder group, and to make sure that your actions and communications are geared towards addressing these needs.

Managers in today’s competitive market can no longer afford to be in the middle of a media firestorm without a plan of action. How well your company communicates in a crisis could be the difference between simply surviving, or thriving and strengthening the brand. Companies must strive for openness and above all, a willingness to accept responsibility in order to rebuild confidence.

In a crisis, the main focus of public relations is rebuilding corporate reputations and restoring confidence in the organizations. What should we keep in mind with regards to this? Here are some key attributes we’d like to share that should drive any crisis management plan – before, during and after the storm.

Crisis Management – Before

Build the right team: Prior to the crisis, put together a crisis communications team. The key players should include legal, public relations, compliance and investor relations professionals. Hold regular meetings to ensure that all the team members are on the same page.

Train the company’s spokesperson(s): It can be quite damaging, not to mention, challenging for an untrained spokesperson to speak to the media directly. Companies need to allocate adequate resources to ensure communications specialists have the ability to deliver accurate and timely information to investors and a public who demand quick answers.

Crisis Management – During

Determine key messages: Ensure that anyone who is telling the story is delivering an accurate message, both internally and externally. At a time of crisis, clarity, consistency and conviction are critical to effective communications.

Be authentic: Companies must take ownership for what’s happened. Do not deflect blame or fail to express the impact that the event has had on investors. A company’s ability to empathize with its investors’ needs, concerns and emotions will go a long way towards restoring investor confidence.

Full transparency: Provide investors with all of the information they need to help them understand what’s happened, and the implications for the company going forward. Being transparent requires courage but it may be the only way to rebuild corporate reputation.

Define the new order: Make sure the company clearly articulates what is changing as a result of the crisis (whether it’s product, people, process or organizational structure). Define the next steps, implications, and how you will keep investors informed.

Get the news out early: This is critical!  Make sure your investors, their partners and any other intermediaries hear the story from the company first.  You have to control the message.

Crisis Management – After

Debrief: Identify what worked and what didn’t. Use what the company has learnt to refine your process and protocol.

It is important to remember that the best preparation for a crisis is the long-term fostering of relationships with stakeholder groups. By doing this, companies can build up goodwill which they can draw on in times of crisis.  And these days, when news cycles are measured in minutes rather than hours, rapid responses to crises are absolutely essential to winning any communications battles. Follow these simple steps to get in front of clients early and companies can survive the crisis – and emerge even stronger.

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, Corp Media


Amplify Your Social Listening

So now you know the basics of social media listening, how do you go about executing it? Social media has provided people the ability to voice their opinion on companies, brands, people – in short, anything and anyone. What people say can be good or bad, but that alone doesn’t determine your social media success. The way your company listens to and engages with these posts is what dictates how those opinions influence your online presence and brand sentiment.

The key to making the most of social media is listening to what your audience has to say about you, analyzing the data and, finally, reaching social media business intelligence by using all these insights to know your customers better and improve your marketing strategy. We have picked out some Social Media Monitoring Tools that take your social listening up a notch.

1. Hootsuite

The Lowdown: Hootsuite’s publishing features can automatically discover, schedule, and post content for you, freeing up more time to engage with customers. You can also create keyword search streams to track mentions, respond to customers and nurture leads so you can monitor every conversation across your social networks; you are always in-the-know.

Hootsuite

Why you should use it? Hootsuite lets you manage over 100 social networks, share task with Team members and analyse performance using one login, in one dashboard. This is thus an integrated platform where we can not only find and share content which interests your audience and will also keep your social presence active when you are not.

2. Social Mention

The Lowdown: A social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information, Social Mention allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real-time. Social Mention monitors 100+ social media properties directly including: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc.

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Why you should use it? Social Mention currently provides a point-in-time social media search and analysis service, daily social media alerts, and API. Not only is it free, Social Mention monitors over one hundred social media sites and analyses data in more depth and measures influence with 4 categories: Strength, Sentiment, Passion and Reach so you have an integrated 4-point matrix on your hands.

3. Tweetdeck

The Lowdown: A social media dashboard application for the management of Twitter accounts, Tweetdeck interfaces with the Twitter API to allow users to send and receive tweets and view profiles.  You can create a custom Twitter experience by organizing and building custom timelines and keeping track of lists, searches and activities.  Tweetdeck is geared up to work with multiple accounts so you can monitor all of your accounts, including direct messages and notifications, all from the same TweetDeck interface.

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Why you should use it? Part of the beauty of TweetDeck lies in how much information you can have on screen at the same time. The list of column types you can add is impressive: you can view your timeline, your notifications, your mentions, the activity around your account, your favourites, any of your lists, search results, direct messages, tweets from a single user, trending hashtags and more.

4. Oktopost

The Lowdown: While most social monitoring tools are tailored to B2C management and focus on engagement and brand awareness, Oktopost takes a different approach; it simplifies B2B social media management, helps you manage content and measure the true business value of your social media marketing.

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Why you should use it? So like every other social media monitoring tool, you can schedule your content distribution in advance and manage all your social marketing and measure the results for each campaign. Oktopost has another added advantage: it allows you to leverage seamless integrations with third-party platforms such as Marketo, and automatically syncs valuable analytical and lead data so it delivers the true business value of social media, generating new sales and integrating marketing and sales in today’s social-centric marketplace.

5. Brandwatch

The Lowdown: This tool has its own Crawler which continuously crawls all social media platforms for relevant mentions and even cleans up duplicate entries and spam mentions up to the most relevant set of data for the client. Each mention is also analyzed for sentiment detection and for recurring phrase identification. The title and main content of the page is also extracted and displayed within the system.

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Why you should use it? The most attractive benefit is the ease of setting up queries. Search queries can be set up using simple Boolean Search operators and different searched can be combined to form a single query. The query also permits using inclusion and exclusion terms to bring out the most relevant mentions, thus narrowing your data for you.

6. SumAll

The Lowdown: This is an analytics dashboard that doesn’t provide analytics on its own but instead aggregates data from multiple other places (including Google Analytics, Paypal, Stripe, MailChimp, Twitter and Facebook) so you can see all your data in one spot. You can use SumAll to set goals, combine metrics, and use the mobile app to view your data, among other things.

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Why you should use it? SumAll Is not just the first analytics tool to give users transactional, social and web traffic on a single dashboard; users can see their full social history updated in real time. Site visits, page views and events are important but SumAll connects data from credit card transaction analytics providers such as Authorize.net, across multiple devices and visually sums it up. So you can take five different web analytics services and collapse them into a single sales line on a chart.

7. BuzzSumo

The Lowdown: A search tool that tracks content on all social networking sites and ranks them based on the number of shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest, BuzzSumo monitors content by topic or user and uses an advanced search engine to deliver accurate results. You can even analyze qualities of the most shared content such as the format, style, and tone; Do people tend to share articles that are casual with lots of visuals or is it more serious, and educational?

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Why you should use it? With BuzzSumo, you can evaluate the quality of the articles with the most shares. And you can see the list of people who shared the article on their social media. This is very useful as you can reach out to these influencers and ask if they will share articles of the same content, thus increasing the probability of them sharing your article.  And you can also find out what these influencers share, thus gaining valuable insights into their distribution behaviour.

It is helpful to monitor your brand online so you can engage when appropriate and respond when necessary. And this is exactly how Hershey’s did it. Rather than promoting events that are happening elsewhere, Hershey’s found success with a S’mores photo contest held entirely on Facebook. Posting once or twice every day, with the philosophy that “more content generates more engagement”, fans’ questions are answered if the company’s “decision tree” determines that they should receive a response. So there’s a system in place to respond to questions, but it doesn’t guarantee that each post will receive a reply.

Like Hershey’s, you can use social media to engage your fans, but you don’t always have the upper hand on how the conversation will go. But this is definitely something you can attempt to regulate. These tools are time savers that make monitoring easy. Many of these tools are notification systems that allow you to act when you see alerts. And most of all, these platforms have a real-time search component.

So if you’re monitoring a brand of any size, a combination of these tools will help you stay on top of conversations and become part of your social strategy.

Posted by Stephanie Robert, Advocate, PR, CorpMedia


Seriously….. Are you listening?

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Social. Okay, social media, got it.

Listening. Hmm… so it’s okay to just sit and listen?

Amid all the social media chatter today, with 500 million daily messages sent on Twitter alone, people are undoubtedly engaging in conversations related to your brand. Are you listening, and if so, how are you responding?

Social media has provided people with the ability to voice their opinion on companies, brands, people – in short, anything and anyone. What people say can be good or bad, but that alone doesn’t determine your social media success. The way your company listens and engages with these social media posts is what dictates how those opinions influence your online presence and brand sentiment.

Social media listening goes beyond ‘listening’ – it’s really about monitoring and managing a brand. Every company strategizes to create content that is engaging, well-written and unique but if you’re not listening to the social conversations happening around it, then you might as well bury your head in the sand!

You may think that you know what your audience is saying and are willing to spend thousands of dollars researching on what you think your audience wants to hear. But, finding the conversations around what you think is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. And if you can’t track the buzz, where does your brand go next? Listening, on the other hand, does the research for you.

I’ve finally heard what they’ve got to say.

So I’ll just fix it or respond.

 Whatever you hear doesn’t always warrant an immediate response. Social media listening allows you to hear what’s going on and gives you time to strategize before responding in a timely manner. It’s good practice to anticipate things that could relate to or affect your brand.

And conversations don’t always have to be bad ones; it could direct you to do something you weren’t thinking about. So if there’s an event happening which your brand should be a part of, jump at the opportunity. Start with an event hashtag or by simply retweeting relevant content. At the end of the day, it’s all about reputation management and playing your cards right.

 Ah..I think I finally get it!

Now how do I actually ‘listen socially’?

 There’s no scientific way to tackle social media listening –but there are tools you can use (look out for Part 2 of our blog on Social Media Listening).

When it comes to social media listening, every company will have to adapt and learn.  However, before you embark on your journey to becoming the Social Media Whisperer,  you’ll first have to ask  yourself these 5 important questions:

     1. What is your brand reputation?

Find out what defines your brand and how you want it to be defined. Monitor the names of your company, CEO, and product(s).

     2. What is the reputation of your competitors?

Monitoring your competitors’ conversations with their own communities will help you understand their positioning, and give you insight into their marketing strategy.

     3. Who’s talking, how are they saying it (outlet of communication) and who is leading the conversation?

Get a feel of who’s talking about you and discover the format of communication and style of content being shared. This will help shape your social channel strategy and help you craft channel-specific content that works. Also pick out the conversations that matter.

     4. How should you strategize?

Since you now know what’s going around, write custom content that resonates in the hearts of your followers and your to-be followers. Develop important relationships and act as a catalyst to connect to each other. Add links and other measurables.

     5. Which conversions matter?

Use free and freemium (or perhaps even paid) social listening tools out there that deliver both comprehensive data and insights associated with that data. If your strategy isn’t working, find out why and rework it.

Remember, social conversations depend on social networks. It’s hard to have eyes and ears everywhere, and it’s overwhelming to be listening and monitoring 24/7. While listening, don’t discount anything. If something seems overwhelmingly popular but irrelevant to a brand, monitor it. Find out why before you look the other way.

Posted by Stephanie Robert, Advocate, PR, CorpMedia