Viewing entries tagged
communications

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How to have a hugely successful PR campaign

Seth Godin blogged about it today.  One option is to struggle to be heard whenever you're in the room... Another is to be the sort of person who is missed when you're not.

The first involves making noise. The second involves making a difference.

And so it is with succssful public relations. We take the unusual step of saying to our clients (either during a pitch or after it is successful won) that frankly we don't care how many press releases we are asked to distribute.  All too many agencies seem to want to calculate their retainer or projects based on the number of press releases.  This doesn't make sense to us.  So long as each and every press release is newsworthy and relevant we don't mind working on one a day.  

Off course I've yet to meet a client that had that many newsworth releases... in fact back in 1999 I was speaking to a journalist who was compaining to me that Microsoft sent them a press release every two days.  They actually didn't care that the releases were every two days (they were allready clearing 100+ emails from their email of usless pitches), but they did care that 99% were irrelivent to the title they wrote on.  Of course it wasn't Micorsoft's fault - just the agency at the time that wanted to spam all journalists.

Successful PR campaigns and to add to that - campaigns with longevity - require a spokesperson that makes a difference - or to put it another way, one that will be missed if they are not commenting.

How is your spokesperson doing?

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Power is nothing without Control

...according to the tire manufacturer Pirelli. And so it is with public relations. Gone are the days when an organization can fully control their corporate message to the media.

In days gone by, it was normal for an organization’s employee handbook to strictly dictate that no employee could speak to the media without prior approval and spokesperson media training. No problem.

Then a few years ago social media popped up. According to a recent piece of research by Altimeter, companies average an overwhelming number of corporate owned accounts – about 178. That is a bunch of people from different departments and around the globe that are speaking on social media platforms, that the media are seeing. And that’s before we count the personal SM accounts of employees who happen to mention their job. So what’s to be done?

NettResults recommends three levels of corporate communication development:

1 - Relinquish a mindset of control - instead ‘enable’. In business school we were taught to foster message control and encourage all corporate representatives to stay on message. Yet today, as multiple business units from support, sales, HR and beyond participate in social technologies, communication is spread to the edges of the company – not just from the PR department. As a result, PR groups have changed their mindset to safely enabling business units to communicate, based on pre-set parameters they put in place through governance, coordination, and workflow.

2 - Roll out enterprise workflows - education programs at four levels. We’ve found that savvy corporations have detailed workflows, including sample language in which employees should respond. Beyond creating these workflows, they must be distributed throughout the enterprise through education programs, and drilled. We’ve found savvy corporations have up to four types of education programs spanning: Executive team, social media team, business stakeholder teams, and finally all associates. Even if the mandate is for rank and file employees to not respond in social on behalf of the company, reinforcing education is still required.

3 - Run mock crises. Lastly, we’ve found a closer relationship with media relations, social media and crisis communications. Savvy corporations are working with agency partners such as NettResults to setup mock crisis drills where they approach a week-long crises in a number of hours in private. Not only does this test the mettle of the organization it provides useful training so companies can respond faster, in a more coordinated approach. We have already witnessed health organizations receiving ‘social-crises-ready’ compliance notices and we expect compliance programs to spread into other industries.

Get ready – take control.

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Who are the key decision makers and are the spokes people media trained?

Every company has a organizational chart - a ladder of power, but how this structure functions during a crisis must be clarified with all the stakeholders in the company; particularly the communications department. A crisis can hit at any time, and the company needs to determine secondary command structures in case key decision-makers are unavailable at the time.

Not only is it important for those to know who need to spring to action (and how those people are contacted) - it is equally important that everyone else in the organization knows they can not speak on behalf of the company or to the press. Something that is best handled in a company employee handbook.

Organizations also need to decide which situations warrant which spokes person, and plan accordingly.

Most importantly, the spokes people need to be media trained in advance. Effective spokes people should receive professional media training and should be well versed on how to deal with the press. An organization's spokes person need not necessarily be the most senior staffers. For example, in some cases, the CEO is not the most efficient spokes person due to experience, knowledge or geographical location.

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7 Tips for Tony Hayward to Survive the BP Oil Spill Congressional Hearing

If Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP, and ultimate person responsible for the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf wants to survive the present Congressional panel (heckler disruptions aside), he needs to not only get his message straight, but also get the delivery correct. Just like in any crisis communications situation he needs to work on:

1. Credibility – so that the panel has confidence in the message and believes in him.

2. Appropriate context – for the panel and ultimately the population of the US.

3. Right content – which is appropriate for the population of the US (and no doubt the viewers of the countless other international media following this event).

4. Clarity – so that the message is unequivocal.

5. Continuity – with previous and proposed BP marketing activity.

6. Simplicity – so that the message cannot be misunderstood or misinterpret.

7. Impact – so the media cover the story from BP's angle.

We also know from previous news reports that Mr Hayward is not a night owl (OK, I get he needs to be up early to do business back in Blighty). If I was him, I'd be spending a lot of long evenings anticipating what the panel (and journalist) are likely to ask and prepare my response and messaging in reply. I'd be spending my time exactly how a crisis communications spokes person should be preparing:

Anticipate – Prepare – Rehearse
Anticipate – Prepare – Rehearse
Anticipate – Prepare – Rehearse

While Tony may be one of the most hated people in America (has anyone run him head-to-head with Joran Van der Sloot?) if BP can get their crisis communications right, they could emerge a stronger and more profitable company.

What do you think?

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