Tag Archives: Reputation Management

Applying the tourniquet

7 Jun

There’s a comfort in metaphors.  The gulf oil spill is or will soon be “Obama’s Katrina,” as if there was something heshould, or could, be doing.  Maureen Dowd says that the problem is that:

“Oddly, the good father who wrote so poignantly about growing up without a daddy scorns the paternal aspect of the presidency.” (via Clive Crook)

Clive Crook remarks at The Atlantic that, “Apparently it’s a great idea to elect a president who is calm in a crisis, except when there’s a crisis,” noting that we’re all acting like little Malia Obama, waiting for daddy to put a Band-Aid on the Earth…or maybe a tourniquet.

Leadership — in government and in industries — is about more than giving comfort and simply being there. It’s about mobilizing people around solving problems and achieving a vision.  Where there is a leadership crisis in the Gulf today isn’t that the government can’t convince people that it is doing everything it can to address the crisis, or that the President isn’t sufficiently comforting.  It’s that there is no vision for addressing the crisis.  Like in the wars of the past decade, we don’t know what success looks like — if it is even possible for us — that is, BP, the government and “humanity” — to cap the well, protect the coasts, and undo the damage that has been done.

But in many cases, leadership is a chicken and and egg question. Are leaders successful, or does success breed and create leaders?   Can a leader mobilize people around a vision while the crisis bleeds — and no one knows how to apply the tourniquet? Or will having a solution confer the opportunity for someone to lead — and define their own vision of success?

An Avatar for Real Marketing

21 Dec

The reviews of James Cameron’s Avatar were written before the movie premiered:  Visually stunning, weak/derivative/borderline offensive story. I saw it over the weekend; my Twitter-friendly review:  “Dances With Wolves meets The Lion King.” Maybe throw in a little Lord of the Rings. Is it a good movie? Sure. And if I were 13, I’d have been blown away.

But the more I think about it, the less impressed I am. When you’re making and selling a movie, that’s OK. Strip away the art (you can’t, I know, but stay with me for a minute), and you’re selling a 1.5-3-hour experience.  If you can get people to the door, it needs to impress folks enough to get them to tell their friends so that they walk through that door or buy that DVD.

As a communicator and marketer, “looks pretty but dumb story” is just wrong. It doesn’t work for brands and it doesn’t work for reputations.  What works?  Smart stories about what you do to make yourselves valued.  Real stories about the good you do, told by the people and businesses who benefited.  Long-term commitment to your customer’s cause.

“Looks pretty” is just a short-cut unless the organization has a strong brand story to tell at its core.  If you have that story, and know how to tell it…well, then you can move people.

PR 2.0 and the Shifting Sands of Credibility

18 Apr

I’ve gotten myself into a conversation with a thoughtful guy named Joel York at his Chaotic Flow blog about the ethical challenges PR firms face in this new world of uncontrolled media.   Check it out here.

His point:  your requirements for credibilty have to shift if you’re relying on bloggers forum posters and just plain folks to spread your message and build community.  The people spreading the message just don’t have the same filters at the traditional media.  As a PR rep or marketer, what is the standard? Is it OK to facilitate this kind of conversation? I might add — what is your responsibility for how and where they take your message?

The more I think about it, simpler the answer gets:

You own your message.  You create content and use various platforms to communicate it. 

You own your reputation.  You use your message and various platforms to protect it. 

And if you find that your message is eroded by media that are less and less credible, it puts the burden on you — as your own ‘media outlet’ — to set an even higher standard.  

A Matter of Reputation, Online

2 Apr

I’ll admit it: I google myself.  Not often — maybe once a month or so.  Just to check in — call it one part vanity and two parts reputation management…I just want to know what’s out there.   

I’m not the only one.  Seth Silverthorne at Harvard’s BNET delivers a necessary reminder to individuals and businesses to take their online reputation seriously:

“Reputation is what’s going to save you when a jilted paramour posts that you steal from the church, an angry customer criticizes your firm’s selling practices, and a former employee e-mails around a phony arrest record with your name at the top. Sure, a good attorney can help but, as they say, no one reads the corrections page in the newspaper.

Online reputation also becomes increasingly important with the spread of Web 2.0 and its emphasis on social and business networking. In the real word, your word is your bond. Online, its your Five Star rating that wins you more deals, wider influence, and a bank account of goodwill when that idiot blogger does decides to take a shot.”

But what to do?  First, as Silverthorne notes, treat people fairly, deliver what you promise, and be as transparent as you can in your dealings with your publics.   Nothing protects a good reputation better than earning one.

But, of course, some people just won’t like what you do.  The issue online is what comes up when people search for you in Google or Yahoo! and how that impacts you and your organization.  I won’t go into SEO strategy here — there are plenty of real experts out there.  But good communications and storytelling will ensure that you’re found.

I’ve worked with one client over the past year to ensure that bloggers in a profession understand that whether they like my client’s business or not, it offers a legitimate, credible service to consumers.  We created and maintain a blog dedicated to stating our case, respond to nearly every misinformed blog post and media article.  As a result, it is our own story — not that of negative bloggers — that appears first on most relevant key word searches…and when people see the negative, they’ll likely found a comment of ours as well.   

The new Web is a global small town.  People talk. Anyone searching will find the good and the bad.  And that’s OK — nobody’s perfect.  You can’t find everyone who might encounter a negative message about you.  What you can do is spotlight the good and address the bad, in ways that are relevant, open and online. 

And that way, you can be more confident that they’ll find you.

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