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Social media – Is there a crisis brewing somewhere out there?


#bdi Social Reputation Management Conference N...

#bdi Social Reputation Management Conference NYC March 2010 (Photo credit: ShashiBellamkonda)

Its become sort of fanciful or on the other extreme paranoia to keep chanting about an impending social media crisis, for the organization. To be ready to handle any social media crisis that will dent the reputation is now widely discussed and advised all over.

Yet, sometimes, it is not being prepared to handle of face such an event or online burst that is wanting – rather, it’s the vision or wherewithal to see a cropping up social media crisis for the organization and the ability to act post that, which is an impediment to effective crisis management.

So, what are some of the signs of a social media reputation hit, brewing in out there?!

  • Is there any unusual buzz around your brand (product, service, or people within your team) in the online space? Do you see some strange mentions about any of these, which has not been noticed earlier? This is something which is a pointer that you must take cognizance of the social media buzz, and probe to what may have triggered this. Yes, there is a possibility that this could be positive buzz. But, the cardinal rule in social media reputation management is this – unusual buzz tends to be more inclined on the negative side. A service issue, or a misdemeanor by someone in your global team is more likely to generate a discussion or post, that something good.
  • Has there been an event that has occurred somewhere, where you foresee a lot of buzz? Could be a part failure or lack of retail-end availability of your offering. Or just anything like that. Its imperative that you watch out the social media buzz in that region with alacrity. When you know that there could a negative buzz coming in, its easy to deploy the necessary people and tools, and take up and address queries, and have a social-response hierarchy in place – effectively dousing the negative buzz, before it flames your reputation.
  • Has someone in your senior team, be it even your CEO or someone in the top echelons of the organization erred in the manner in which some issue has been communicated to the media, or even in an one of one interview, which has been quoted out of context, and is beginning to set a negative reputation spiral? Good reputation managers, backed by their real-time experience can see the coming in such situations. In such cases, it’s easy to be prepared with an effective response, and even post it to all media, and in all social destinations, and then also handle individual queries on a case by case basis, as the situation or kind of media demands.

Here are just three illustrations that give the reputation manager or social media commander a feel of what could be coming in, and how it must be handled effectively to ward off an evil strike at the reputation base of the organization.

Logically, these can be extended to more permutations and combinations across geographies and various social destinations to serve as reputation hit forecasts.

On the ‘when’ or ‘why’ of news-jacking!?


News Anchor

News Anchor (Photo credit: ed100)

Well, this sounds so familiar by now – news jacking, as an armor in your public relations strategy is here to stay. And not just stay – the only way you will be able to make a significant value addition to your brand is to use news-jack. That will happen if your are real-time new-jacking ready!

By now there is also a raging debate on the merits and de-merits of news-jacking.  The answer to that debate is this – you must news-jack at the right time, in the right place, in the right context. There are no two ways about it.

This earlier post in this blog also dwelved on whether brands must news-jack piggyback on a major disaster like Super-storm Sandy.  There are a handful of global brands that jumped into the news-jacking bandwagon in the aftermath of Sandy.

This post is a nice illustration of how some brands really reaped the windfall gains of news jacking in a positive brand-lift context.

While there can be a long debate on the when and how of new jacking as a PR tool, brands must look at news jacking if it has the following impact for them-

  • Will it show the brand, products and services in good light, in the context of the event?
  • Does the consumer see the brand has something beneficial to offer – either by way of information or services, or tangible/intangible product benefit?
  • Will news jacking in the given situation serve brand-lift in the short and long term?
  • Will news jacking stand the test of ethics in business and also stand any legal test, that may come to the fore by any stakeholders?
  • Would all the stakeholders in the product/service be happy with the technique used to news.

As a PR professional, and an avid news jacker, ask yourself these quick questions when you embark in your next news jacking sojourn!

Followers DON’T matter! Engagement DOES….Yes!!


Out there, you will have a hundred social media experts knocking at your door, armed with flashy presentations – aimed at bedazzling you, and indeed luring you to sign up their services to get more followers to your socmed accounts, or more visitors to your website.

Let me tell you a simple, but most forgotten fact – In the omnipresent and connected world – the number of followers or visitors matters the least!

What matters is how engaged are the handful of followers or visitors who are clued on to your work or brand. And how much they perceive that your brand might be of some value to them, now, little later or much later – somewhere in that distant time horizon.

If that is not to be, your hundreds or even thousands of followers may be of sheer cosmetic value, serving just to pamper your ego – the make believe world that you will win with so many 1000s of followers.

The easiest I can illustrate this folly is the retail business in that real world out there (thanks to a handful of my friends in the retail space). Out there, footfalls and actual sales may well have no connect at all. Footfalls are just a baby step – the consumer who comes in has to see tangible value or a great service. The footfall is miles and miles away from the tangible sale – and the interregnum ought to be filled with value, engagement, content, customer support, choice, USP… almost all those terms you will come across in the blue book of marketing.

Every click towards your social media platforms has to lead to content, engagement, and a valued conversation. Much more worthy for the visitor that what he invests in clicking and browsing through your social-omni-presence.

Does your presence out there in the social media world lead to such a kind of engagement? Value? Dialogue?

If the answer is in the affirmative, you are ready to call the bluff of a whole lot of social media strategists!

Are you ready! And Are you there??

Who in PR is promising you the moon?


Does you PR advisor tell you this – come what may, we will make sure that we get
your company covered in the media – in a nutshell, call it a “column cm guarantee”?

Nothing can be far from a blatant lie, and honestly, PR never works that way in any
part of the globe.

As a matter fact, if you have a long term PR/communication strategy for your company in mind,
you must quietly stay away from such ‘column space coverage’ guarantors!

Look at the media (and the journalist fraternity) as end consumers of your content. They have their their own creativity constraints – and its in a sense a battle between classy content, the most crucial advertisers (who walk away with a chunk of the col cms), and the editor who wields the wand as to what the reader must see and know!

The same analogy can be drawn to all kinds of media – print, television, online and so on. Add to this, the clutter of competition in your own industry – which is only increasing by the day!

In all this, if someone walks up to you and gives you as assurance of guaranteed coverage, it can be only if you are gullible enough to think that any of us in the PR business wield that influence.

The fact is, none of us, yes, NONE of us have that, and to some extent, it would be an insult to the independent thinking of the media if we imagine such a thing!

While we could be your company’s image advisors, we are just facilitators to friends in the media – sometimes involuntarily pushing information we perceive as useful, and at times offering a helping hand when sought. We are only catering to the content needs of the journalist fraternity, and this is in their own terms.

In all this, we also see how well we could position our client PR needs, and offer some expertise in creating media oriented content, which will be relevant and consumed!

Look at PR advisors as partners in your long term communication strategy execution plan. Not as someone who could just wave a magic wand and get you instant headlines in the next mornings newspapers! And by the way, such a magic wand never exists with any PR advisor!

What should we ask from our PR agency?


Public relations agencies of different hue and size may keep pitching with your organization, to get an opportunity to engage with your communication strategy and execution. And we have always seen that organizations just look for these – does your agency have the scale, size and a national/international presence, and would you be able to reach across all (including social) media, in every nook and corner of the world!

There is nothing wrong, and in fact, it’s important to check on what credentials your prospective agency comes with! Well, at the same time, it is important to bear in mind, that the agency must also have the ability and agility to engage in PR strategy and execution of an organization of your kind.

You may hire the best of the agency in the universe, but think about this – is there a point if their strengths do not sync with your company’s scale and strength, and what if their capabilities are more specific to large sized companies, and not for the kind your company is – a niche small organization, yet with its own unique service offerings or qualities.

So why not check for the following few, when you think it’s time for a PR agency.       Does the agency have a history of delivering PR value to companies of your kind, and how often have they done it?

  • Do they have the agility – not just in the pitch of theirs, but do they seem to fit your scheme of things – would they find synergy in working with a client like
  • Do they have the kind of commitment to work with companies like you in the medium and long term, so that you eventually get the real benefit of engaging with an agency. Else, if you are just looking for one off bursts of media coverage, the need to spend time analyzing the agency can be done away
  • Do they have the de-learning skills for adapting to your needs? This is so important. Like it or not, large and global agencies come with a mindset, and even if they are willing to do their best, they may not be if your communication needs are vastly
  • Do they have an understanding of your specific industry needs, and would they be willing to invest the time and energy in gaining insights into your media visibility
  • Are they just a plain vanilla release churning agency? Or do they learn in-depth about you, see what works best for you, and showcase
  • How much more credibility and enhanced image value can they bring to the table (not just across, but over a period of 2 – 3
  • Are they contemporary? Are they social in the true sense? And they in the business of facilitating the journalist world’s news crowd-sourcing
  • In case your needs are local, do they have an insight into what works in that market/geography of yours? Sometimes an easy exercise in one part of the world, may not be even doable elsewhere. And they must be willing to tell this, straight on your face.
  • Do they speak of practical and doable communication work? Sometimes large agencies are too good at large scale events, which will fetch some visibility burst; but the value that you derive from such exercise is zilch.

So, if you are looking at a PR agency to help you in your long term communication plans, ponder over these questions, and make sure that you understand the dynamics of the value promised.

Happy image management. Happy PR’ing!

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