Tag: Social Media


Winter is coming: How to prepare for a social media storm

The words ‘social media crisis’ or ‘online issues management’ can conjure images of pitchforks, burning torches and mobs of angry villagers. It may sound like a scene from Game of Thrones, but with a little stretch of the imagination, it’s not difficult to see how the thick storm of a social media crisis/issue could feel like a chapter straight from George R. R. Martin’s bloody saga.

While social media has given consumers a platform to keep brands and corporates honest, it has also given them weapons powerful enough to destroy the strongest of reputations.

The results can be ugly; a barrage of abusive comments splattered across Facebook and streams of tweets as thick as blood. Ask any marketer who has navigated through the sensitivities of Halal Certification uproar and it’s possible you’ll get a nod of agreement.

But like all conflicts, there are strategies you can effectively employ to prevent issues from turning into crises, at the same time as minimising long-term risk to reputation (and employee sanity!).

Here are four strategies to consider when dealing with issues via social media:

#1 Plan ahead

Ask yourself this question: If a major issue or crisis hit your company or brand tomorrow, would you be ready to handle the floods of fiery comments?

Are you and your team prepared with:

  • A tried and tested escalation plan?
  • Community compliance rules that are clear and accessible to your audience?
  • Company policies and procedures, and any legal or regulatory constraints?
  • Have you undertaken scenario planning and developed pre-approved Q&As?
  • Are you adequately resourced?

If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail (disclaimer: this is probably our favourite quote at FORWARD). If you haven’t ticked the items listed above, it may be time to refresh your internal social media processes and procedures.

#2 Don’t broadcast the message, individualise it instead

Picture this: Your community manager has reported an influx of complaints made via the Facebook page about one of your products. The comments are coming through thick and fast, and you’re given the option to post a generic holding statement via Facebook. Would you consider this the best course of action?

There is definitely a time and a place for a broadcasted message, but when it comes to dealing with disgruntled customers, a more individualised approach can be more effective.

UK telco O2 faced a similar problem when, during a massive network outage, O2’s Twitter account became inundated with tweets from angry customers. Instead of issuing a generic statement, the company made the decision to respond directly to disgruntled customers with authentic, personalised comments. Their individual-centric approach received mass support from O2 customers, turning a negative crisis into a positive brand experience.

#3 Be true and authentic

Now is not the time for corporate jargon, wishy-washy statements or half-hearted responses.

If you have a position or particular viewpoint on an issue – i.e. your company agrees with halal certification – it must be stated clearly and communicated authentically with the utmost respect to those with opposing opinions.

Vegemite demonstrated this well when recently confronted by the nasty war over Halal Certification – an issue that saw dairy manufactures, The Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company, pressured by consumers to drop certification resulting in the termination of a $50K Emirates contract.

Facing a consumer boycott if the Halal Certification wasn’t dropped (but let’s face it, who would ever really boycott this delicious spread) Vegemite responded with the following:

VEGEMITE is proud to be a spread for all Aussies. Thats why we’re Kosher & Halal certified, as well as suitable for vegetarians. While we enjoy a bit of banter as much as the next breakfast spread, anyone who insists on posting comments of hate, religious vilification or unwarranted grumpiness will be removed from our social media pages. So, no matter how you spread your Vegemite, remember – we’re just here to #SpredTheLove.

This respectful yet firm response ensured Australia’s most beloved breakfast food did not bow to pressures that were against their corporate philosophy.

#4 If you made a mistake – own it

As tempting as it is to justify your reasoning and prove your competency, it’s near impossible to stir up support and empathy if you cannot first take responsibility for your mistakes.

There are countless examples of brands that have owned their mistakes, and gone on to turn their situation into a positive.

One of the most memorable is from the Red Cross, when one of their social media employees accidentally posted this:

“Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd”

The company’s social media director subsequently followed with a humorous tweet, acknowledging the mistake.

“We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys”

Although the mistake was one individual’s, Red Cross took responsibility as a company. Their quick thinking and instant acknowledgement of the tweet may have prevented more serious corporate embarrassment.

In summary, try not to justify or act defensively – even if there is a legitimate excuse for the mistake, your audience need you to own-up before they can see your side of the story.

Summary

It goes without saying that preparation, considered thought, and a fast response can be enough to quell the angry crowds when an issue arises via social. If you’re not already set-up to weather a social media storm, act now. Because if Game of Thrones has taught us anything, it’s that disaster can indeed strike when you least expect it.

Four Big Ideas From TEDx Sydney 2015

Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of being in the audience of TEDx Sydney 2015 at the Opera House. It is the first time I have attended TEDx, and after years of watching amazing TED Talks on YouTube, the day did not disappoint.

There were 19 incredible speakers and eight musical and entertainment acts that inspired and moved us. It was a full day and at the end, although we nearly all had TEDxhaustion (thanks, Julian Morrow), it was a truly inspiring, educational, challenging and entertaining day.

I’ve heard it said that your mind is like a parachute and that it only works when it is open. Well, TEDx Sydney 2015 opened my mind, made me think and challenged my beliefs about what is possible for my life, our future and the future of humanity.

My big four takeaways of the day clustered content from different speakers that really moved and inspired me. 

1) Hope and courage trumps everything

TEDx Sydney 2015 was book ended by two incredible speakers, Charlie Teo and Nadine Champion.

Charlie Teo is an Australian neurosurgeon who is a world leader in some of the most difficult and innovative keyhole techniques that saves the lives of people with brain cancer.

Charlie spoke about being shunned by the medical fraternity and, despite this, pushing forward to conduct surgeries with incredibly slim chances of success, based in some part, on the hope of his patients and their families.

In particular, he talked about quality of life and importance of the patient’s self-determination. He reminded us that while there is still life there is hope and where there is still hope there is still a chance that things can change for the better.

Nadine Champion is literally a champion (and apparently she hasn’t changed her name). She is a martial arts sensei and undefeated fighter. Through her talk, we followed her journey of growth to become a champion fighter by changing her thinking, confronting her fears, tapping into depths of courage and not turning away from pain. What we didn’t know is that she is also a recent Non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer survivor. It took all of her martial training to get her through her chemo and conquer the disease. She finished her inspirational talk with a demonstration of breaking a board of wood with her bare hand, the first time since the cancer. Inspirational, and not a dry eye in the house.

2) Our world is fragile but fixable 

A consistent theme of the day was the fragility and interconnectivity of the ecosystems of our planet, and the negative impact humanity is having on it. But there were also some great ideas on how we can change things for the better by thinking and acting differently.

Daniel Pauly, a marine biologist, shared some very compelling and frankly damning statistics about legal and illegal industrial fishing of our oceans. He provided a graphic warning to Australia that if we don’t think beyond our coastline and start protecting this great resource we may end up a great desert in our oceans with no life at all.

Hamish Skermer also known as “MC Faeces” is an Australian who has invented a compost toilet that is an environmentally friendly dry toilet that turns human waste into something useful – compost. He was entertaining, but at the same time brought home a serious message: We need change our perception about “number twos” and think of it as a resource.

3) Words count more than ever 

Unexpectedly for me, the highlight of the day was Susan Butler, the editor of the Macquarie Dictionary. She handles the selection and writing of new words. Far from being a nerdish job, Susan says she brings out “a mop and bucket” each year to pick up the genuinely new words left behind “after the party” and toss out the rubbish. Susan convinced us that the dictionary was not an anachronism in a digital world. Far from it. It still has relevance and by not being constrained to physical number of pages, new words and usages of words are not limited. Who knew charityf**k was an actual word? Apparently it is. So is dadbod. The people have spoken.

4) For things to change, first I have to change 

One of my most important takeaways from TEDx Sydney 2015 was that for our world to change, each of us has a role to play in affecting that change. Whether it is how we think, how we behave or what we will no longer tolerate. We cannot be passengers. From how we consume and what we waste, to what we create or what we demand from our governments and legal systems – we, the people, have the power to change the world.

Barrister Julian Burnside (a Living National Treasure) gave an incredible talk about the importance of justice and fairness and how he came to work in the field of human rights. His message was clear: Stand up for justice. Stand up for fairness. Needless to say, he got a standing ovation.

I could not possibly attempt to provide a review of the entire day or provide a review of each speaker. It was truly inspirational. I’d highly recommend going and watching the video of the event. Who knows, perhaps your parachute may open too! If you have the opportunity to attend TEDx next year I’d highly recommend it.

Also check out this video: Archaics Anonymous – In the Thicket one of the several great video presentations of the day.

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4 minutes with Emma Koubayssi

Your first job in PR?

I first got a taste of PR and publicity when I was studying at Glasgow University. I was hosting a radio show on Subcity Radio for four years and in my final year I joined the Comms team to help promote and raise money for the station.

It was an incredible experience and I was responsible for hosting and promoting three key events throughout the year. They were all music and arts focused and I was pursuing my passion.

It was a huge team effort and I did everything from helping to secure the artists and venue but ultimately promote the gigs and boost tickets sales. One of my proudest moments was our flagship event at The Arches – where we had 6- 7 acts and 800+ people through the door, a record in the history of the station.

It was tough juggling the role with final year dissertation, exams and general uni stresses but I loved it. You could say I was hooked!

After that I went on to work in one of Scotland’s busiest press offices. In Scotland they are passionate about two things – politics and football. And usually football comes first. So I cut my teeth at one of Glasgow’s famous football clubs – Glasgow Rangers, also known as one half of the Old Firm.

It was an eye opener to say the least. I didn’t know anything about football before started but I learnt a few things:

  1. To survive you need to adapt and you need to learn quick
  2. High profile often means high adrenaline and severe scrutiny from the media, your fans and your enemies
  3. Building relationships really is the crux of what we do

What is it you enjoy about working in this industry?

I guess that it is constantly changing and we are always learning.

No two days are the same and I like the variety of that. I also like that we can influence decisions and behaviours.

I learnt a huge amount about behavioural economics when I worked at London’s Kindred Agency and how it could drive social action and change. It really is quite fascinating.

From all of the marketing disciplines I also find that PR, influencer and content marketing is the most agile and frankly the most interesting. It’s not for everyone but I truly believe story telling is in our DNA. And I like telling stories and sharing useful, helpful content with people – in my personal life and also my professional.

We are often connectors. We like to join the dots, understand the whys and wherefores and then make things happen.   I often think I was born to communicate and bring ideas to life.

I probably had two career paths either PR or psychology and they are fairly similar when you think about it.

Best campaign to date?

It has to be the first project I ever worked on for the Scottish Government called Determined to Broadcast. We single handily converted a double decker bus into a radio studio, partnered with commercial stations to make it happen and secured local radio DJs and musicians as ambassadors.

The purpose of the project was to inspire and educate young people, using music and radio production to help develop their softer skills such as team working, problem solving and communication.

I was very junior but was the only team member in the country. My directors were working remotely so by default I got a huge amount of responsibility and it was the steepest learning curve of my life.

I got to manage the design & build and was the key point of contact for the school liaison, workshop training and facilitation, ambassador team and press and publicity. We managed a very high profile Ministerial launch with a live truck broadcast, it was fantastic.

That year I probably had the least amount of sleep I’ve ever had in my life but it was well worth it. I also won my first industry award and thought this is something I could get used to.

Why FORWARD?

FORWARD is a boutique agency but with big clients and big thinking. I enjoy working in a small team and for an independent company that values excellent work, creative minds, responsiveness and the people who make FORWARD.

The team is nimble and bold. We are on the front foot and able to offer clients something different to many agencies in the market – influencer and content marketing which is underpinned by strategic communications.

One last thing…

There are three kinds of people in the world – people people, places people and things people. Once you figure out which one you are it will all fall into place. I promise.

Emma is an Account Director at FORWARD

The 15 most powerful verbs for 2015

Everyone loves a list. I do too. So I thought I would share my new years list. Ta dah! But rather than technology trends or social media predictions, here are my 15 top verb predictions for 2015. Perhaps you could call these my new years verb resolutions:

1. Reflect

Take stock. Step back. Look at where you are now. What is really going on? What are your assets? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What’s in your blind spot? What do you need to work on? Be honest. Become more self-aware. Take some time to reflect everyday. What went well, what did you learn, what will you do differently tomorrow?

2. Plan

How will you know this year has been a success? Failing to plan is planning to fail. Now is the time to set some goals. Make 2015 the year to follow your plan, report against your KPIs, track how you are progressing and importantly be agile enough to re-set, re-frame or re-boot if required.

3. Align

Get everyone working on your projects turning and facing the same direction and reading from the same playbook. Nothing will kill a project faster than confusion and obfuscation. Align early and realign mid-project if needed.

4. Create

Whatever your category or brand, create a content SweetSpot: be informative, helpful or entertaining. Just don’t be bland. From there think creatively about how you can share the most relevant content with your audiences and influencers.

5. Collaborate

Whether it be internally or externally; with partners, customers or consumers; make 2015 a year of new and interesting collaborations and partnerships. Whether it is creating a co-branded experience, a media partnership or just a creative brainstorm with a client; collaboration multiplies your efforts, creates synergy and helps you reach a bigger audience.

6. Reciprocate

Pay it forward. Pay it back. Be generous. There is no better way to build relationships than giving freely of your time, energy, and insight (or if you are a brand, giving something for nothing). If you want someone to do something for you, think first what you can do for them? And if they did something for you how can you return the favour. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

7. Share

Be open with your communication, be generous with your time, and definitely give stuff you no longer need away. We all have enough, so how could you help someone who doesn’t? And share more on Social Media, obviously!

8. Think

Before you say, write or send anything. Think about your audience and how they will receive the message. It is always good to have a filter between your brain and your mouth. One of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.” Let’s add “Think first, speak second”.

9. Check

Check your spelling. Check your punctuation. Check your facts. Enough said. And don’t rely on auto-spell check on Word. Get someone to peer-review for you, especially if this is not your strong suit. Always triple check the spelling of a hashtag (think Sephora).

10. Publish

This is the year we are all going to become publishers. Especially if you want to be an authority on a topic or a go to brand that people come to for help and advice. Re-purpose your content. Write once and publish many times.

11. Update

Resolve to keep your profile up to date. Whether it is your personal profile, your corporate profile or brand profile. You can’t set and forget. It should be something that you regularly revisit – and update often.

12. Be curious

(OK technically not a verb, but whatever). Watch. Listen. Look up. Look out. Ask questions. Investigate. It is only by reaching outside ourselves that we get fresh insights into the world around us. Make time to read the paper, follow some bloggers, and resolve to read a book a month. Go and see an indie film. Watch SBS. Get out of your bubble. Go for a walk.

13. Outreach

No one is an island. To be successful, you have to reach out to others. We do this all the time in PR, but it is something that everyone should do. Who are your clients, your stakeholders, your influencers, and your consumers? Reach out to them. Have conversations. Never eat lunch alone.

14. Stretch

Stretch yourself. You can do more than you think you can. We all can. So push yourself a little. Go on. (oh and perhaps literally stretch your body, as well – this is the year to get flexible, people!)

15. Celebrate

Go back to your goals and KPIs. Celebrate every major (and minor) win. How will you reward yourself? How will you reward your team? Make sure you take some time out regularly and acknowledge what you have achieved. Have fun.

So there you have it the 15 most powerful verbs for 2015. For your personal life or your professional life. Do a little bit more of each of these in 2015, and you will have a brilliant year. I promise.

 

5 Reasons why bloggers add brand value

Blogging has become big business. Not only do agencies and brands liaise with established bloggers to create and amplify campaigns, but also the industry of brand publishing platforms and business blogs are increasing in value.

Major bloggers are now commonly represented by specialist agents and draw big crowds and dollars, successfully leveraging their audience share for conversion into social and economic capital. Leandra Medine’s curated blog on outrageous fashion trends adored by women and despised by men, Man Repeller, is estimated to be worth $8.1 million, with more than 1.5 million unique page views a month. Similarly, Australian blogs such as Gary Pepper Girl, Substance Blog and Fat Mum Slim all have powerhouse followings.

‘Ordinary’ individuals are well and truly cementing their place as authoritative voices in the competitive fashion, beauty, health and lifestyle industries, but why should businesses reach out to bloggers to engage with their brands?

1. Your audience is hanging out there

There are approximately 214 million blogs on Tumblr alone. The general popularity of blogging can be traced back to the ease and low cost associated to connect with like-minded individuals, share personal views and spark conversation. Humans are social beings, blogging and social media just expands the friendship circle.

2. Personality counts

Blogging is such a powerful tool for brands as the flexible linking of text, pictures and video content assists in engaging audiences with a powerful brand message, story or personality. We recently introduced Rentokil to a new audience and made the issue of pest control approachable with a sponsored post and giveaway on Retro Mummy.

3. Click this way

Blogs, and online in general, provide an important digital point-of-sale for customers that can drive traffic or influence purchase decisions. Today it is fair game to spot something on a blog, check Instagram and link to an online store to check price and availability all before buying. Bloggers are now realising the power of their influence and receiving up to $200,000 commission a year on sales driven by their sites, through platforms such as RewardStyle.

4. Community spirit

People look to blogs to document life experiences, express emotion, involve in community forums and present opinions or ideas in writing (hence the need for effective community management – the good, the bad, the ugly). Working with blogs, brands have an opportunity to speak with audiences through a trusted influencer in a familiar online community space. Helpfully, bloggers are your audience, “they are as much consumers as they are media to be consumed”, so they know how to tap into their audience (and yours).

5. Be like the cool kids

Successful bloggers engage with relevant brands in an exchange of their social following and cultural influence. The illusive idea of ‘coolness’ is forever being chased by marketers to add brand value, but it isn’t so easily attained. Coolness is most often attributed to cultural objects (people, brands, products, trends, etc.) inferred to be autonomous. AKA: zero cares given.

Bloggers are considered an independent and trendy alternative to the mainstream media. This concept is particularly prominent in the fashion blogging industry – there is a reason girls with messy hair and a nonchalant attitude have the biggest online followings.

To wrap things up, here are two of my favourite major blogger x brand collabs:

Oraclefox x Billabong
Stab Mag x Corona Extra