Category Archives: Reputation Management

How to Get on the Good Side of Legal

More and more, as public relations practitioners, especially if you work with clients on crisis communication, you will work with attorneys – either the client’s in-house attorneys or outside counsel. Bill Ojile, an attorney and partner at Armstrong Teasdale and former GFM client, recently met with the GFM team to share his insights on how to effectively work with legal counsel.

According to Bill, lawyers’ jobs are to make people uncomfortable, to ask a lot of questions and to be skeptical. He also noted that lawyers don’t write for everyday people, and they don’t write for the media; they write for every contingency. With that said, how do PR people and lawyers co-exist and together create the very best communications and outcomes for their mutual clients? Bill provided the following tips for how to navigate the legal waters:

Read more after the jump…

Tips On Identifying A Social Media Crisis

reputation managementSocial media is a great breeding ground for a crisis, whether justified or not.

But before your company or client pulls out all the stops to try to save its reputation, here are some common sense criteria to help navigate through the storm:

Where is the negative issue brewing?

Negative comments on your company’s social media pages should most likely be addressed as these comments are now on your “home turf.” Issues that fall into this category include negative comments or reviews by members or the general public. Since this commentary is considered to be on your home turf, it is worth a response. This does not mean comments found outside own social media properties will not be addressed; but it is a good first question to ask.

How “loud” is the comment?

The Internet is a BIG place, and without some filters a lot of time could be spent addressing everyone who shares negative issues on social media. Ask how much “noise” is being made about this particular topic? Pay attention to commenters with a small audience, but don’t fan the flames. More visible outlets might need a more proactive strategy.

Is the information blatantly inaccurate?

While many postings are about an individual’s specific situation and thus somewhat subjective, occasionally true misinformation will be posted online. In these cases, it is important to correct the facts.

What is the tone or topic?

If the tone of an internal conversation or post on a message board is not overtly negative, a response may not be needed. That said, if the comment raises slight concern, it should be addressed appropriately.

And remember to have a thick skin.

Free Advice for an Ice Cream-Loving Texas Billionaire

Marketers have long known that constraining supply often piques demand. Coors, In-N-Out Burger and Blue Bell ice cream are all examples of products that have created national reputations, in part, by not being available nationwide. People desired what they couldn’t have, and absence definitely made the heart grow fonder.

That level of customer fanaticism can help propel brands to amazing heights, but it also means that customers feel personally invested, and that can create complicated situations when the brand does not, in their eyes, live up to its brand promise.

Read more after the jump…

Is Controversy Good for Ratings?

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 2.45.29 PMSaturday Night Live (SNL) is no stranger to controversy and pushing the boundaries of comedy.

The latest controversy has to do with a skit about ISIS that was a parody of a Toyota commercial that ran during the Super Bowl where a father drops his daughter off at the airport as she’s embarking on her military career. Chances are the firestorm that’s taking place on media and social media will subside soon, but not before it drives thousands, if not millions of people to watch the video on its site and tune back in to SNL.

So, is controversy good for ratings? You bet. NBC Nightly News’ ratings are up due to the embarrassment it recently faced when Brian Williams admitted to “embellishing” his wartime experiences.

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Nationwide Turns to Social Media to Mitigate its Super Bowl Disaster

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 10.59.10 AMI’m pretty sure everyone agrees that Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is the biggest loser of Super Bowl XLIX. With just one shockingly bad play call, Carroll went from G.O.A.T. to goat.

But many people are pointing to insurance provider Nationwide as the second-biggest loser of Sunday’s Super Bowl. Its depressing Super Bowl ad aired in the first quarter of the game, and it was widely – and immediately – ripped to shreds. A decade ago, you had to wait for tomorrow’s newspaper to see how people responded. But Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms give advertisers real-time feedback – and allow viewer opinions to quickly go viral.

Fortunately for Nationwide, its social media and public relations team quickly came to the rescue of its focus group-challenged advertising team. Within an hour of the ad airing, Nationwide released a statement online explaining the ad and took to social media to join the conversation. The company noted in part:

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Communications Predictions for 2015

Implications for Search and SEO

After spending many years working in the Search Engine Optimization and SEO world, it is a constant challenge to keep the content and value portions of the communication process from being overshadowed by technical considerations.  Making valuable content that is created by the communications experts more easily discovered is the ultimate objective in SEO and search marketing enterprise. But, over-scheduled days and escalating client pressures can easily reorient one’s focus.Marketing predictions for 2015

Most communications experts create top quality content that engages readers and helps in the marketing effort. Strategies in communication are constantly changing though, so an interesting read from Direct Marketing News about marketing trends for 2015 caught my attention. The article provided quotes from marketing thought-leaders that may give cause to a quick re evaluation of communication strategies for the new year. And for those of us in the search engine part of the communications world, there are implications and challenges for us as well.

Patrica Mejia, CMO, Siteworx
“Marketers will need to remember the old edict that people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

Relationships are everything! Communications outreach can be a cultural effort that attracts visibility not only because of the benefits of a product or service, but for the reward of supporting a brand that consumers trust and believe in. The challenge: show customers that the organization itself is worthy of consumer trust.

Darren Guarnaccia,  Chief Strategy Officer, SITECORE
“Restore humanity to marketing.”

The glut of analysis tools and outreach platforms caused many in the search and communications industry to focus more on technical delivery strategies rather than content value.  The challenge: engage customers in creative, meaningful ways on platforms and systems they currently use to gather information.

Sandy Rubinstein, CEO, DXAGENCY
“Marketers lose sight of the most important marketing fundamental: giving consumers a reason to care about your brand.”

Distinguishing between a brand and a product is important. A product solves a need, a brand is a reputation and an incredibly important, long term business asset. Focusing content and outreach only on product information at the expense of brand and reputation can leave both the product and the brand shortchanged. The challenge:  balance brand and product/service communication to deliver facts about product value as well as about the trustworthiness of the organization providing it.

For SEO strategists, improving visibility for product pages is usually a primary objective. If this is the total focus though, many SEOs could be missing a larger opportunity to help clients manage brand and reputation issues. Products may come and go, but the brand can be built to last. The challenge:  invest time and effort in strengthening the brand right along with product information.

What’s Really Private on Social Media?

A few weeks ago I met someone who found herself the center of a news story after posting an update to Facebook that she assumed only her friends and family would see. Not too long before that I met someone whose personal photo – shared via Facebook – ended up making national news.

Privacy and the Internet

Image by Rob Jewitt via Flickr

In a recent blog post my colleague Amanda Brannum noted that media regularly troll social media feeds for story ideas; a fact recently confirmed by a reporter I met. During our time together, he kept half an eye on the Twitter feed on his phone. If you’re looking to get your story out there, there’s no doubt that social media is an important tool. But if you’re not so keen on your personal story making the spotlight, here are some important things to keep in mind so the media doesn’t find you:

1. Regularly check your privacy settings. It can be difficult to keep track of all the changes on various social platforms, but checking your privacy settings at least two times per year is a great start. Haven’t done it in awhile? Do it today and mark your calendar to check back in six months from now.
2. Don’t include personal information in your profile. It’s a best practice to leave identifying information like your mobile number and address, even full birthday, marital status and hometown off your social media profiles. This information is enticing not only to media looking for stories, but could be valuable to identity thieves, too.
3. Disable all GPS and location settings. Want to keep your home address private, or keep your favorite coffee shop a true haven? Disable the location function on your phone and your social media apps. It’s true this might create a few extra steps next time you want an app to know your location (nearest Starbucks, anyone?), but it saves you from sharing your location every time you post a photo or an update.
4. Create checkpoints. Protect your tweets, make your Instagram photos private, and set it so that you have to approve tags or posts to your timeline in Facebook. You call the shots – and if you want to protect your privacy on social media this is a great place to start.

Three Sneaky Reporter Tactics And Tips For How To Respond

For many corporate spokespeople, the prospect of facing an antagonistic reporter can cause long, sleepless nights and even longer media training sessions. But in reality these reporters should be no more difficult to work with than friendly reporters. You just need to some insight into their inner workings so you are well prepared to meet them head on. Check out these three tricks reporters use to get spokespeople to say more than they want and how to make sure you are ready to deal with them.

Reporter at work

Photo by Robert H. Goun via Flickr

1. I’m on deadline…
Reporters know they have to show some balance in their stories by asking for opposing points of view. By catching you off guard with this tactic, they are hoping you might just say something damaging or at least provide a ‘no comment’ comment, which often looks like you’re attempting to cover something up anyway. Don’t fall for this approach. Share that you would be glad to speak with them but that now isn’t a good time. Offer to call them back within the hour and use that that time establishing your keys messages, reviewing recent stories by the reporter and anticipating some of the tough questions you might be asked.

2. Multiple questions in one
Another tactic to catch you off guard and get you to share information you are not prepared to offer is to ask you multiple questions at once. This can be quite confusing as you struggle to determine the best response to the wide range of questions. Don’t take the bait. Listen to the questions and pick the one that you are most comfortable answering. If the reporter really wants answers to the other questions, they will ask again more directly. Remember that you do not have to answer every question that is asked. If a reporter asks about something you don’t want to answer, tell him/her politely that you’re not comfortable answering that question and bridge to something you do want to say.

3. Dead air
If you’re like me, pregnant pauses are almost as uncomfortable as labor. But don’t be fooled; this is just another trick some reporters use to get you to share more than planned by filling the conversation void. To be fair, some reporters may just be reviewing the list of questions they want to ask, but either way, don’t talk out of turn no matter how tempted you are. Provide your official answer and wait them out. If you have to say something, try something like “if that is all you have for me, I’ll let you go.”

Crisis Communication Plan: How To Plan For a Crisis

Photo courtesy Orange County Archives via Flickr

Photo courtesy Orange County Archives via Flickr

As communicators with nearly 20 years of experience each, the team at GFM has seen almost every kind of communications crisis out there. From crises you can plan for – such as announcing a bankruptcy filing – to those you can’t see coming – like a natural disaster forcing a temporary business closure – there’s one common thread: having a tested crisis communications plan in place makes all the difference.

Whether you’re drafting your very first crisis plan or refreshing an old version, here are some tips for making sure your plan is comprehensive:

Read more after the jump…

How to Avoid the Blame Game and Defend Your Reputation

When brands, organizations and people are publicly attacked, oftentimes the first reaction is to point the finger at others and begin the blame game.  How people respond to cutting criticism – being defensive and whiny or responding with dignity and grace – can make a huge difference in how the public reacts and responds.

Under Armour and its high-tech, wind tunnel-tested suits came under fire and were blamed by some on the U.S. speed skating team for the lackluster performances by the American skaters. After the U.S. team blamed the new suits, many skaters went back to their old, winning suits (also Under Armour). Unfortunately, the athletes still failed to win the expected medals.

Read more after the jump…