June 27, 2012

I Love a Little CYA.....but it's Really About Communicating

In my experience a little CYA can go a long way. And while the general intent of CYA is to protect oneself, the best way to do it is often to simply be transparent and proactive. If you don't have the resources to respond to your customers on a daily/hourly basis on Twitter, let them know in the corporate description when they can expect a response. Do you have web-forms that seemingly send customers to an abyss of "did they even receive my inquiry?"

In today's world of social media and market competition, a lack of response can do you more harm than good - even if the response isn't what the customer wants to hear. Be sure to state how requests are managed, which ones (if any) will receive a response, and what the timeline is. From a customer's perspective, there's nothing worse than taking the time to reach out to a company to receive no response. So CYA people, be clear in how you communicate with your customers, and transparent in setting expectations. You'll save yourself a lot of trouble in the long-run and build a better experience for your customers at the same time.

June 24, 2012

Perspicuus Refero (PR)

Ok, so I don't speak latin and totally just made that up. But after reading about the Mercury employee that posed as a journalist at an event seemingly to provide intel back to Walmart, it reminds me that PR should really be Perspicuus Refero (my version of transparent storytelling). That's right, just because we have become known for our positioning and "spin", doesn't mean that truth shouldn't be at the core of everything we do. The sad part is, this isn't the first kind of story that's marred our profession and it won't be the last.

Here's my take on things:
  • If you can't be honest and transparent you likely aren't working for the right company/person or doing the right thing. As much as we often have incredible insights into the different departments across an organization, we aren't the CIA. If it's a covert operation that requires you to lie, it's probably reputation suicide and you shouldn't do it.
  • I've heard of similar situations and for some reason it's always the naive junior employee that seems to have been running around rampant with no guidance and subsequently gets fired with their former employer having no knowledge of their goings on. While I can't comment on this situation specifically, my response is "Balls!" A junior employee likely isn't this creative or independent enough to make this kind of decision. I just don't buy it.
Good PR focuses on building credibility and that is always based on the truth. If you have to hide something, fight the urge people and instead fix the problem. Do the right thing. Help change your organization to act better, be better, do better. After all, if you do no evil there won't be any evil to see, hear or speak of.

From Other/Fun

June 21, 2012

Social Media as a Source?

Ok, so it's been a long time. A VERY long time since I've posted. I went on vacation in February for a friend's wedding and came back to a new job. One that has me deeply entrenched in consumer PR. Ah the shock and horror of it all. I'm sure many of you are still wondering what the hell I'm doing. But rest assured it's been a great ride so far and I'm learning a lot that one day I'm sure I'll bring back to the land of communications for the aerospace and defense industry.

I had debated whether or not to continue this blog or to create a new one. And, given my lack of time to post anything these days, I thought I'd keep DTP going though the scope of the posts may get a little broader.

What prompted this return you may ask? A UK study that showed more than half of journalists use social media sources to source and verify stories. More shock and horror? This really is turning into a mixed-feelings kind of post isn't it?

I have two streams of thought on this. The first is WHOO HOO! All that effort (it's been years people!) getting executives and experts at your company has paid off. Journalists are using blogs as a credible source of information. That's a huge win for us PR folks. What was often viewed initially as an opportunity for blatant promotion, has now turned into a go-to-resource for people to find information. That's great news!

The other thought is, how much does the telephone-game change the truth. We all know that messaging, positioning, and a variety of angles are used to present information in the best way possible. In many cases that can get diluted and twisted around while it travels through social media forums. After all a lengthy bylined article can get stripped down into 140 characters in a matter of seconds.

I recently experienced such a challenge when a local reporter used a UK-based blog that referenced an article about a report to request an interview. Let me tell you, the premise of the interview was so skewed and in fact had nothing to do with the original report (though that was where the reporter's credibility was meant to lie) that the resulting piece was completely unfounded and off-base. I won't tell you that I was the only one in this mess who actually downloaded and read the original report ;)

The bottom line, is that social media can be an incredible resource - one that provides information in near-to-real time. The challenge is that ensuring sources are credible requires much more research that it did before. Food for thought on this happy Thursday.

Looking forward to connecting with you soon!