Tag Archives: Debbie Dryden

Crisis Communications Steps for the Social Media Era

It used to be that crisis communications managers had the power to “beat” the media cycle.  They had a window of time, albeit small, to gather the crisis team in a war room and assess the situation in order to craft and refine key message points for reporters.

The proliferation of citizen journalism and social media has changed how crises are covered, yet a majority of companies have not updated their crisis communications plan to reflect new strategies and techniques.  A recent study conducted by Gartner Communications revealed that 84.8 percent of companies worldwide have a general crisis communications plan; however, only 20.7 percent of them have a social media crisis plan.

Below are eight steps to remember when implementing a crisis communications plan in today’s environment:

  1. Act quickly – The “golden hour” of a traditional crisis communications plan is gone.  After assessing the situation, respond as quickly as possible in a rational, respectful manner.
  2. Listen and engage – Understand the motivation behind the posts.  Know what is being said and why, and respond appropriately.
  3. Be open and human – People want to see a human response to a crisis, not a formulaic or canned reply.  Gauge the sentiment in people’s posts, and validate their emotions in your response.  If the company is in the wrong, admit it.  The two little words that can quickly dispel a social media crisis are, “I’m sorry.”
  4. Use your judgment – Not every negative comment requires a response.  Look at a person’s history and their number of followers.  If they consistently post negative remarks, think twice about engaging with them.  Do engage with someone who has a respectable track record, and know when to disengage.  Sometimes continued contact can be counterproductive.
  5. Fix the problem – If the crisis is bringing a problem to your attention, admit it, address it, and fix it.  If something isn’t really wrong but someone perceives that it is wrong, remember that perception is everything.  Take the opportunity to educate them in a helpful, considerate way.
  6. Allow negative comments – Do not delete negative comments.  You will only fuel the fire.  People will post negative comments elsewhere and voice their opposition to your company for deleting their original posts.
  7. Know when to take it offline – If there is one person leading the cause, suggest a one-on-one conversation via phone or e-mail.  Remember that e-mails can be reposted, so be careful what you type.
  8. Become the information hub – Create a page where you post stories on the issue, both positive and negative.  Bring in a Twitter feed and other real-time feeds of people talking about the issue.  You can’t control the conversation, but you can control the placement of the conversation on your page.  Make your opinion prominently seen.

Is your company prepared for a crisis played out in social media?  To ensure an “issue” doesn’t escalate into a crisis, it is mandatory to monitor key social media outlets 24/7.  There are several free tools available such as Google Alerts, Technorati, and Blogpulse.  For companies with a budget for monitoring, check out BuzzLogic, Radian6, and Trackur.

— Debbie Dryden, VP, Thought Leadership

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Marketing in the New “Mocial” Environment

The marketing buzzword of 2011 will likely be “mocial” – the convergence of mobile and social media.  Mobile technology encompasses speed and accessibility, and social media enables people to stay connected.  Merging the two fits today’s new cultural communications environment, where time and attention reign supreme.

Most brand managers understand the power of social media and have incorporated at least one social media tool to communicate with customers.  This is definitely a step in the right direction.  Seventy-five million of Facebook’s 500 million customers follow at least one brand or company, and nearly 50% of Twitter’s 190 million do the same.

Meanwhile, the use of mobile devices has grown exponentially, and recent statistics prove that mobile users are much more likely to engage in social media.  Currently, there are more than 200 million users accessing Facebook through their mobile devices, and these users are twice as active on Facebook compared to non-mobile users.

Building a personal relationship via mobile is a surefire way to influence customers and their buying behavior.  The power of mocial is the ability to reach people at key decision-making moments.  A Harris Interactive poll recently showed that of consumers who receive some form of permission-based text marketing from a company, 34% said the messages have made them more likely to visit the venue and 27% more likely to make a purchase.

Mocial marketing offers an opportunity for a company to interact with customers, rewarding them when they visit your location to make you aware of their interest in your products or service.  Other ways to engage customers include: discounting/couponing, instant feedback, interactive competitions and flash events.

Domino’s Pizza is one company that has capitalized on mocial marketing and reaped the benefits.  It attributes a 29% increase in 2010 pre-tax profits to an effective use of promotions on Foursquare.  Companies that follow in the footsteps of Domino’s Pizza and put a sound strategy behind mocial have an opportunity to make significant financial gains of their own in 2011.

— Debbie Dryden, VP, Thought Leadership

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Recent Gap Jeans Giveaway – Success or Failure?

A couple weeks ago, Gap teamed up with the newly launched geolocation service Facebook Places to give away 10,000 pairs of free jeans.  By some accounts, the promotion was a great success, citing the fact that using only Facebook and traditional word-of-mouth advertising, all 10,000 pairs of jeans were given away in less than two hours.  However, the company fell short in execution — the effects of which will likely cost it in lost revenue down the road.

Promoted via Facebook, shoppers were instructed to visit a Gap store on November 5th, check in using Facebook Places, show the cashier the check-in acknowledgment, and receive a coupon for free jeans.  When the doors opened on November 5, a number of people were disappointed to find out that individual stores had as few as seven pairs of jeans to give away.  In addition, due to a lack of understanding about Facebook Places, many customers attempted to “checkin” online instead of going to their local store.

Facebook, the vehicle credited for the successful promotion, became the outlet where a majority of people complained.  As one person vented, “I don’t think people are mad about not getting free jeans as much as they are mad about the way that Gap handles their promotions and mistakes.”  Several people who identified themselves as loyal Gap customers vowed not to shop at the store in the future.  Only time will tell if these disgruntled customers will stick to their word and not shop the store.  And what a shame if the company loses loyal customers and revenue over a promotion that was poorly executed.

The company’s claim of success in the way of increased Facebook traffic, “likes,” and comments reminds me of the cartoon by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne that asks, “Who needs customers when you have friends, fans, and followers?” Well, companies do, if they want to be around in 2011 and beyond.  Social media has emerged at a time when marketing measurement is top-of-mind.  Although “likes” and Facebook traffic are good tools to monitor, a smart marketer knows that sales is the only figure that ultimately matters.  A program can only be deemed “successful” if it increases the number or frequency of customers.  How does your marketing department or agency measure its programs?  Is sales the primary indicator of a program’s success or failure?

— Debbie Dryden, VP, Thought Leadership

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A Good Move for Goldman Sachs?

There has been a lot of hype surrounding the recent launch of Goldman Sachs’ advertising campaign.  The firm that has built a reputation for being a group of elitist “bad boys” wants to change its image.  Perhaps it was the reference to the firm as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” in a Rolling Stone article that caused the firm to act.  In any case, the most profitable U.S. securities firm in Wall Street history wants the public to know that it creates jobs and loves the small-business community.

The firm’s first ad appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and it has been reported that ads will follow in other daily papers across the country.  Initially, I was surprised that their first effort to “repair their image” was via a full-page ad in two of the nation’s costliest media outlets.   If the firm’s message is one of inclusion and engagement, hence the tagline, “Progress is everyone’s business,” why is Goldman Sachs choosing to limit its campaign to a one-way message rather than engage the public with an integrated campaign that includes social media and public relations tactics?

A Goldman Sachs spokesperson said the advertising campaign is meant to “reflect the work we do for clients and the effect on the economy as a whole.”  Writing and circulating stories about the work they’ve done, the jobs they’ve created, and the industries they’ve helped would bode well in social media and traditional public relations.  In today’s environment, these tactics can be the most powerful weapons in a marketing arsenal.

What do you think?  Is Goldman Sachs on the right track to repair its image?

— Debbie Dryden, VP, Thought Leadership

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