Tag Archives: Social Media

The Benefits of Public Relations

Business leaders know that their companies need public relations.  It increases a company’s visibility, assists in marketing efforts to increase profits, and helps establish a strong brand identity in the market.  Regardless of size or type of business, public relations is essential to any business.

The benefits of public relations for business success are immeasurable.  Among the benefits are:

  1. Today’s consumer is more savvy than ever before.  They start their search for a product or service online.  Not only do they check a company’s website, but they search social media, reviews, and news stories about the business.  With public relations, companies have a strong social media presence as well as credibility through media stories about the company and its products and services.
  2. Brand Identity. Public relations creates brand identity with the public.  This is done through media relations, social media, community relations, and other public relations tools.  This means that that the consumer is aware of the company and what its brand stands for in terms of values and service (and today many consumers search for brands that share their values).
  3. Public relations doesn’t equal sales.  What it does is reinforce marketing efforts.  Studies show that companies that use public relations see an increase in the success of their marketing efforts by 45%.  Don’t just take our word for it though, recall what Bill Gates said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.”

Public relations is critical to business success and growth.  Every company needs a public relations strategy and needs to keep it continuous to reap the benefits.

Dealing With A #Boycott Crisis

Our society is more polarized today than at any moment in recent memory.  Our politics is divisive.  Opinions have become more outspoken and outraged.  Driving all of this is social media.  Social media has allowed millions to have a voice and share their opinion.  It is also a driving force in spreading disapproval of a brand when it takes a stand that someone disagrees with.  The hashtag #Boycott followed by a brand’s name is one of the most popular ones on Twitter.  Brands need to be prepared when this happens.

Here are a few examples.

A local Cracker Barrel in Indiana fired the wife of a man named Brad.  Brad went on to social media to demand that Cracker Barrel explain why his wife was fired.  His posts were picked up by people on social media with the hashtag #JusticeforBradsWife.  The Cracker Barrel social media sites were inundated with comments and questions about Brad’s wife.  Traditional media picked up the story which became a humorous running joke.  Cracker Barrel ignored the posters and social media outcry.  This led to a new hashtag #BoycottCrackerBarrel.  The chain took a hit and its stock price went down.

Adidas made a tone-deaf move by sending out an email to Boston Marathon participants with the subject line, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” the day after this year’s marathon – just four years after the bombings at the 2013 marathon. The backlash was immediate.  The hashtag #BoycottAddias started.  Before it could gain traction and Adidas quickly issued a public apology saying, “We are incredibly sorry. There was no thought given to the insensitive email subject line we sent Tuesday. We deeply apologize for our mistake.”

The heartfelt public apology stopped #BoycottAddias in its tracks. It prevented the incident from turning into a negative three- to five-day story.

A result of #Boycott means that it is more important than ever to make sure that you are prepared with a statement supporting your decision if you are caught in the crosshairs of a boycott. Or if you feel like you’ve made a mistake, make sure the statement explains why you made the decision in the first place and what you are doing to fix the issue. Consumers want to know their voices are being heard and changes are being made.

How Businesses Should Respond To A Social Media Crisis

Social media drives narratives.  That cannot be emphasized enough.  And it is particularly true during a crisis over customer service.  More and more dissatisfied customers are taking to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to express their displeasure over poor customer service or what they view as poor quality products.  A case in point happened with the Twitter war between conservative author, Ann Coulter and Delta Airlines.

Coulter’s problems with Delta began, after the exit-row seat she reserved on her flight from New York to West Palm Beach was given away to a fellow passenger without any “explanation, compensation or apology” she claimed on Twitter.  Delta’s social media team reached out via Twitter apologizing to Coulter and offering to compensate her the extra money she had paid.  But that wasn’t the end of the Twitter war heard around the world.  Coulter took again to Twitter attacking Delta, its employees, and even the passenger who took her seat.  Delta responded to her via Twitter defending its employees and passengers.  The feud between Coulter and Delta was picked up by the news media and is still ongoing.  Yet it raises the question in this social media driven age in which every tweet and post is analyzed, how should a company respond when under attack via social media?

These are some things a company should do and remember:

  1. Respond to the complaint. Ignoring it will only make the customer angrier and lead to others on social media joining in.  Like Delta originally did, acknowledge a mistake if it was made, offer an apology, and finally offer a resolution.  Always act as if your response will be viewed by the entire world because with the power of social media it probably will be.
  2. Stand up for the company if you are unfairly accused of something. In the case of Delta, the company stood up for its employees and passengers when Coulter’s tweets began attacking them.  This showed a humanizing face for Delta and allowed the company also to stand up against false allegations.  They also remembered that part of their brand identity is their employees and they defended that brand DNA that was under attack.
  3. Use humor and class in admitting a major mistake if possible. Social media can be abusive and snarky.  If admitting a mistake, a company is always smart to use some self-depreciating humor in its response and take the high road.  Anything else will make the social media crisis worse.
  4. Have a social media team that responds 24/7. Social media never rests and that why a company always needs to respond right away or else the social media firestorm will grow.

Social media complaints are never-ending.  The key for companies is to respond to each in a way that it is one and gone.  Failing to do so will ensure that the complaint becomes a full blown crisis on social media and then in the traditional media causing extreme brand damage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Maximize A Red Carpet Event

Red carpet events are a major component of any celebrity’s publicity campaign.  Almost daily the news is filled with images of celebrities at red carpet events.  From film premieres to record releases to award shows to charity events to art shows, these events are a major component of entertainment publicity.  Whether you are attending the event to promote your work or as a guest it is essential to maximize the event.

How can you do this?  By following some simple tips.

  1. Know the event.  Yes, we all know what the red carpet event is but as in everything, the devil is in the details.  You need to know the dress code, the carpet times (when it opens and closes), the purpose, and the host.
  2. Be prepared. Red carpet events can be unpredictable and sometimes chaotic.  Know that.  Reporters typically ask the same questions at these events – what brought you here; what are you working on now; and where can we find you (social media and website) – knowing this you can have you answers ready.
  3. Be on time. Red carpet events are only open for a certain period of time and the press doesn’t stay after the event has closed.  Some events will tell you when to be there others don’t give an exact time.  The best thing is to be at the event precisely when it starts or even a few minutes early.
  4. Take your time. Most red carpet events have a cushion time between participants.  Don’t rush through the event.  Your publicist will be there or the event will have a person assigned to you to announce you to photographers and reporters.  Just pace yourself and don’t rush.
  5. Be consistent with the brand you have established. You have worked hard to establish your personal brand. At the event be consistent with the image that you have developed.  That means in your answers, body posture, and attire be the person that you have branded.
  6. Utilize the media. The purpose of the event regardless of why you are attending is to promote your brand.  Reporters are the way to do this. Engage them when they interview you.  Answer all of the questions.  When doing this look at the reporter and not the cameras and fans about you.  That makes for a better interview.
  7. Utilize social media. The one thing many celebrities forget is the power of social media.  Tweet at the event.  Tag the event in all posts related to it.  Utilize pictures from the event on all social media channels.  In many ways, the social media aspect of the event will reach even more people than the traditional media aspect.

Red carpet events are a part of life for any celebrity and a key to successful publicity.  Avoiding mistakes and maximizing the events are critical for long term branding and success.

Planning Is Indispensable In Crisis Management

Dwight Eisenhower famously said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” The same could apply in planning for a crisis.  A crisis can happen at anytime.  It can affect any brand.  A crisis doesn’t care about the size of the organization.  With social media and the 24/7 news cycle, a crisis that might never have gotten any attention several years ago or only localized coverage can be splashed across the networks and make national headlines, destroying years of positive brand building.  What is worse is that much of the damage could have been avoided if the brand had done some crisis management planning.

When the first media call happens or first negative social media post goes live, most brands are still scrambling on how to respond to the crisis.  They are determining who will speak for the brand, what stakeholders need to be addressed, what the response should be, and the legal implications.  By the time they have determined all of this, the crisis is engulfing their organization, they have lost several news cycles, and social media is exploding.

That is why as Eisenhower said, planning is indispensable.  Effective planning will address the importance of moving quickly under pressure; not losing critical news cycles and allowing social media to run amok. It also allows for potential regulatory and political impact to be evaluated immediately.

Planning allows the brand to know what stakeholders need to be addressed.  Often in a crisis, the concern is with addressing the public and investors, with vendors and employees forgotten causing great damage.  It allows for a company procedure for when the media calls and for employees to know who to refer the call to without getting caught in a gotcha moment with a reporter.  Planning allows for a coherent social media strategy to coincide with the traditional media response.  Far too often, brands forget the social media component as they are scrambling to deal with the traditional media.  This mistake can be avoided with some planning.  Finally planning can help develop the empathy that will be essential in a crisis.  Just think of United CEO Oscar Munoz’s initial response to the passenger being dragged off the plane, had he shown some empathy with his response much of the ongoing damage could have been avoided.

Planning won’t make a crisis go away but it will lessen the impact of the crisis.  That is why it is critical to have a crisis management planning session and to incorporate it into your overall public relations plan.

 

Crisis Communications In Today’s Polarized Society

 

For years, businesses have known that a crisis could arise from an accident, product defect, or random statement by a company spokesperson. Now in this highly polarized political environment many businesses are finding that a crisis can arise from advertising on a polarizing show or sponsoring events that are politically charged. Social media not only goes after shows or events they consider wrong but against the advertisers and sponsors. Just see how JP Morgan Chase was forced to temporarily halt their ads on NBC News because of the Megan Kelly interview with Alex Jones or the hits that Bill O’Reilly’s advertisers took before they pulled their advertising.  As a result, businesses are being forced to rethink their approach to crisis communications.

So what should businesses be doing in this new era of political divisiveness and crisis communications?

  1. Do a risk analysis of all sponsorships and advertising that could potentially cause a public backlash among the right or left. In this analysis review all social media and traditional media mentions.
  2. Develop a prepared response in case your businesses is targeted because of its various sponsorships and advertising, and have it ready.
  3. Engage with activists on social media. Remember, that social media drives narratives not merely on social media but in traditional media as well.
  4. Remember all of your audiences – internal and external.
  5. Stay consistent on the message and response that you have decided for your business.

In today’s charged environment anything can cause a crisis for businesses.  More and more many businesses are finding themselves in a crisis due to indirect association.  That is why crisis communications is more essential than ever before in any overall public relations plan.

Crisis Management Lessons From United’s Debacle

United Airlines continues to generate bad publicity days after a man was violently dragged off a Chicago, IL to Louisville, KY flight due to the flight being overbooked and room being needed for 4 flight crew.  The entire incident was filmed by other passengers with their smartphones.  The man was bloodied as he was dragged on the floor from his seat.  Compounding the damage was the tone deaf response from the airline, particularly its CEO, Oscar Munoz,  to the incident.  The entire story provides several lessons that business leaders can learn from and apply during a crisis.

  1. The CEO of the company is the public face of the company and his or her words reflect on the entire company. Following the incident and the ensuing media coverage, United CEO Oscar Munoz issued a statement merely apologizing for any inconvenience passengers may have experienced but never addressing the specific incident nor apologizing to the passenger directly.  That statement alone was viewed as insensitive but then Munoz added to the media firestorm by sending a letter to United employees praising them for how they handled the situation and labeling the passenger as belligerent despite video contradicting this accusation.  Munoz’s statements became the public face of United Airlines and has drawn condemnation and ridicule from the media, the public, and Hollywood.  It has angered the Chinese market (the passenger was Chinese) which is United’s key growth market and driven down the airline’s stock by over a billion dollars.    Munoz came across as uncaring in his response and as a result all of United is now perceived that way.
  2. Apologies Matter (and how they are worded even more). What should have been a one day media story has now been spread across several days and counting, due to Munoz’s lack of apology.  If Munoz had offered a strong apology for what happened and condemned the actions, the media would be moving on by now.  Rather by failing to issue a strongly worded apology and blaming the passenger, Munoz has kept the story alive in the media causing more days of bad press for United.  His response has become a bigger story than the original incident and is overshadowing the original report.
  3. Everything can be recorded with a smartphone. Think of any television show (Chicago PD, Law & Order SVU, Chicago Justice, The Catch) where the police make an arrest or rough up a suspect and all of the bystanders are recording it with their phones. This isn’t just the stuff of Hollywood, it happens every day.  Part of the reason this story got the amount of play that it has (besides United’s poor crisis management) is that fellow passengers were able to video the entire incident with their smartphones.  The video images brought to life the episode in a powerful, emotional, and impactful way and created a readymade story for the media.  People often forget anytime an incident happens people begin recording with their smartphones.  Every occurence is now just not reported upon but has video accompanying it due to bystanders recording it.
  4. Social media drives narratives. This point cannot be stated enough.  Social media is driving this story with the hashtag being #NewUnitedAirlinesMottos (#NeedCrisisManagement should be United’s hashtag in this crisis). The result is the traditional media is reporting on the social media outrage.

United Airlines serves as a lesson on what not to do during a crisis.  Hopefully other companies will learn from United’s mistakes.