Archive for Corporate Communications

PR Does Not Go With Pomposity

If your client gives you an astronomical budget for their PR campaign, does it make you happy?

It shouldn’t.

With increasing public scrutiny on big businesses and organizations, financial prudence and accountability is often the most important factor in keeping corporate reputation afloat. So when your client bestows a huge PR budget on the firm, it is not a blessing. Instead, such pecuniary openhandedness can augur a potential crisis that can derail the entire PR effort.

A lack of restraint on corporate PR spending can lead to a public relations fallout that may well spill over to your firm. Like the proverbial partner-in-crime, a PR budget that is perceived to be exorbitant by the publics conveys the message that the client’s firm lacks prudence and proper judgment – a surefire dealbreaker in this day and age for potential clients.

Hence, it is wise to tackle PR campaigns rather frugally in order to safeguard the reputation of both client and firm. In addition, firms should continue to put due emphasis on helping clients save money, not just spend it.


Scratching the PR Scab

Leave old wounds alone.

This adage applies as much to corporate crisis management as it does to interpersonal relationships.

When a company can’t shake off the last big disaster (example: if the CEO keeps mentioning ‘the incident’ at meetings), the effect could be insidious.

Even if it is with good intentions in mind.

I believe a company cannot be run well with some part of its drive based on fear. That aside, getting too hung up on old wounds also means that the organization will probably box itself in with regard to its environmental scanning and issues tracking processes of crisis communication.

The result? Failure to anticipate and avert crises of a different nature than the last one.

Keep your key messages human

Newspapers report projected targets of gold medals at sports events.

Better newspapers report the athletes to watch.

Which one do PR practitioners want to appeal to?

By focusing key messages on human factors, brands can leverage on the following 4 outcomes:

1.Ease of building brand relationships
One sure-fire way to make your brand more endearing and facilitate positive engagement with consumers is to have key messages that relate to them and which they can relate back to. The Johnson and Johnson (J&J) Credo is one such key brand message that clearly state the people-oriented nature of their business. While communicating such human-centered messages, constituents will be more ready to respond to any message put forward by the brand, for example advertising messages.

2. Greater tolerance of brand shortcomings
Human beings are more compassionate toward their fellow rational beings. During a crisis, publics respond more favourably when the key message of a brand is focused on the stakeholders that contribute to it. Emotional attachment can soften the impact of a factual shortcoming, preventing loss of faith and confidence in a brand among consumers and investors. The goodwill fostered between J&J and their customers helped the brand bounce back strongly the Tylenol crisis. Likewise, a football team dedicated to people development, like Arsenal Football Club for example, can divert fans from getting hung up on results and hence foster an internal culture of goodwill and patience that brands can learn from. Success can then be spurred from this internal goodwill – Google and Starbucks show us that.

3. Increase brand equity
By keeping key messages human, brands can leverage not only on brand equity of the brand itself, but on the equity of the many personal brands that can help create a whole much bigger (and friendlier) than its parts. Human interest has long been an integral part of the journalistic news value; much like how a story with a moving, human angle can attract readers and give substance to a news publication, a brand with human-centered key messages is a brand that can successfully tap upon the intangible assets of its individual constituents.

4. Differentiation of brand from competitors
Human key messages are a good way to distinguish a brand from its competitors. What makes the Barclays English Premier League (EPL) so popular over other accomplished football leagues in Europe? It is the emphasis on the players that make up the league. Official television programmes like the weekly EPL highlights do more than just show the game, but also invites viewers around the world to a sneak peek into the lives of footballers where other league programmes do not. Football fans are fans of the EPL by virtue of longtime identification of the personality of the teams, managers and players created and sustained by the media, so brands should not neglect the human aspects of all brand touch-points.

These outcomes can protect a brand with human key messages to a great extent from the impact of market forces, while serving to strengthen existing brand attributes. Focusing on making key brand messages human can go a long way to help ensure a brand’s survivability in the long run.

4 Reasons Why Customer Service Is Clumsy On Twitter

May I not help you?

It’s a customer service rep’s nightmare. Twitter. I can imagine this poor guy in front of his computer screen, blood pressure rising as the customer service Twitter feed that he is supposed to oversee updates itself as fast as his heart is beating. This is the problem that is probably going to shorten the lifespans of a lot of customer service reps whose companies have decided they want to ‘Go Twitter’.

But why is Twitter such a bad tool for customer service?

1. Twitter is Low-Bandwidth

A high-bandwidth medium, like the telephone, can convey the richness of an exchange between a customer service rep and the customer. Emails and help forums come a close second, with high capacity for textual explanation without the need to link to generalised help pages that leave the customer scouring for relevance.

Twitter is primitive: in the sense that everything is in a linear, simplified textual flow with no direct, one-step way to solve any technical problem more complex than ‘restarting the program’ or ‘going out and smell the roses’.

2. Twitter is Misunderstood by Companies

Some companies see Twitter as a quick fix to brand and relationship building – a magic pill on a magic bandwagon. Too often, they do not understand Twitter enough or plan strategically (as they would have in other things) because they think that they can just jump right in and then feel around only afterward. Without strategic planning prior to a commitment to social media, resources are not going to be optimised. You get 7 staff to deal with 17 tweets per minute, and suddenly a 30-minute call on hold actually sounds good to the customer.

3. Twitter is Misused by Customers

Increasingly, customers are thinking that Twitter is the Holy Grail for customer service. It is not. Just like how monorails are not the pinnacle of public transportation excellence. Some customers just cannot peel themselves away from the illusion that Twitter can provide a ‘one-on-one’ customer service experience. Others equate the ease of twittering to the ease of feedback for the company in question. Customers get complacent, unreasonable and irresponsible: those who have once bothered to Google now treat Twitter like Google and expect the same (if not higher) quality and promptness of response. Worse, Twitter’s 140 character limit encourages superfluous complaints that have not gone through much thought in the minds of the customers typing those tweets. It poses a real nightmare for reps: how to separate real concerns from the lazy ones.

4. Twitter is not made for Customer Service

In customer service offices around the world, elaborate and complex software programmes and sorting systems actively classify and categorise incoming customer service enquiries. Twitter? Enough said.

Convenience is bad rationale for a primordial way of conducting customer service through Twitter. It’s like jostling with thousands in a crowded room with the customer service rep trying too hard to stay alive in the middle to answer queries well. Good customer service is worth the salt that more traditional modes of communication can offer. Once again, it is wise to bear in mind that Social Media channels are not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, especially not when it comes to building good customer relations.