It’s been a bad stretch for journalism as several top-flight writers and editors have been brought down due to sexual harassment charges. As journalists and PR professionals are part of the same milieu, it’s an unhappy moment for communicators, too. Still, PR pros have jobs to do. There are several lessons they should take from the incidents of the past few weeks.
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With 2017 virtually in the rearview mirror I thought it would be good time to sit down over a couple of Cobb salads with Katie Creaser, SVP at agency Affect and a longtime friend of PR News, and talk about the trends that’ll have the greatest impact on PR practitioners next year. Here’s just one: Expect an acceleration of brand crises in news cycles, and for all brands to continue to lose control over the narrative in a crisis.
That idea you have, which everyone is calling crazy and couldn’t possibly work: well, it probably won’t work. But you should try it anyway. Such was the advice of Guy Kawasaki, one of a dozen powerhouse speakers at the Synergy Global Forum, a blockbuster event that inspired entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs to go big.
One of the most uncomfortable sessions during the recent PRSA International Conference last week was a breakout about losing control of your brand’s social media account. Fortunately there are steps communicators can take to help avoid such situations, although many of the tactics sound similar to those used in crisis management. Yet how many brands are prepared for a crisis? Does your brand have an updated crisis plan and conduct regular crisis exercises?
When Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg took a trip to DC last week to assure politicians that Facebook was taking serious the claims about Russian meddling in our elections, it was referred to as a “PR Blitz” by The New York Times, which also mentioned in the NY Times article that the social network hired three crisis… Continued
ESPN’s social media guidelines boil down to “if you wouldn’t say it on our TV or website screens, don’t say it in social.” That leaves a lot of room for interpretation, especially in today’s highly charged climate, but it’s a rule of thumb most of us understand. We all know it’s much easier and safer to express fury and strong opinions on social media than it is to express them in face-to-face situations or on, say, national television. But still—there’s that gray area between personal expression in one’s own social media accounts and one’s responsibility to an employer.
Let’s make the alleged Tillerson “moron” comment a PR question. You are the person responsible for building and maintaining the reputation of a brand. A senior official makes a derogatory comment about the CEO that eventually becomes public. What do you do? If the senior official leaves the company shortly after making the comment, what message do you convey to staff and stakeholders to keep morale high? What if the senior official remains with the brand?
Unlike Amazon, which began as an online bookstore and moved beyond that singular identity to become an online store for anything you could possibly want to buy—as well as a search engine and entertainment content producer—Twitter has stuck to its initial identity. Being just one thing is dangerous in a marketplace that keeps getting reshaped by advances in technology and changes in consumer habits.
President Trump’s use of the moniker “Rocket Man” to refer to the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, was purely Trumpian communications. Like or hate the president’s politics (and yesterday’s speech), he has a way of using language that cuts through the clutter and gets people talking about subjects he’s passionate about. That’s similar to what communicators strive to do every day.
Growing up, most of us were encouraged to play well in the sandbox, to share our toys and pay attention in class. Fast forward to now, and imagine your boss telling you to do the same. It would feel patronizing, right? Truth is, we could benefit from those childhood reminders. As the tools at our disposal work across multiple disciplines, it’s become more critical for brands to promote an omni-channel message that will resonate.