Image and reputation in the age of digital communication


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PR is the key marketing discipline when it comes to both promoting and protecting image in the modern world of social networks. This presentation by the Asia CEO of the world's premier PR consultancy addresses the crafting and co-creation of persuasion narratives, digital storytelling through the news feed with stakeholders, producing and packaging content for the new public mind.

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  • The new public mind is now part of the new normalAdvertising becoming behaviorally ledConsumer behavior/citizen behavior
  • Conversation about reputation managementAs trust goes down, consumer expectations go upConsumers want to make up their own minds; they expect to have relationships with organizationsTechnology gives them their voiceIt’s not just bloggers; influencers of all kinds are getting a voiceImpacting on expectations
  • New customer expectations - organisations are under increasing pressure to be transparent in their dealings Corporate rhetoric must match reality (cf. greenwash) It is ever harder to keep things secret in today’s cut and paste culture You have to be prepared to reconcile contradictory business practices. was forced by the US government to provide a live video feed of the oil well hub, sharply increasing transparency in the way the company tried to manage the crisis.
  • New customer expectations – people increasingly expect organisations to engage with them openly and directly, online or offline. Organisations are under increasing pressure to be accountable for their transactions.
  • New customer expectations – people increasingly expect organisations to engage with them openly and directly, online or offline. Nestle compounded the recent Greenpeace palm oil situation by getting into fights with its fans on its Facebook page and asking its users not to use an altered use of the Nestle and KitKat logos, causing an outcry in the community. It subsequently refused to communicate with its users at all, causing further outcry and additional negative media coverage.
  • People trust friends, family and colleagues more than they trust anyone or anything else – and by a considerable margin. They also continue to believe and trust media and ‘expert’ reviews (good news for PR professionals).This picture is broadly the same across Asia…
  • Nielsen research indicates that word of mouth recommendations tend to be more highly trusted and valued in Asia than in other parts of the world - perhaps due to the continued strength of the family unit and respect for elders.In the West people much more cynical.
  • Interesting, the Chinese appear to trust people they don’t know even more than people they do know.
  • The following principles apply when deploying social media to build awareness and engage with users.We’ll take a look at some of these now…
  • Dell China Direct2Dell customer service blog People can talk to each other, share experiences, and gain direct access to product experts who can helpBad service, faulty notebooksNot just listening but seen to be listening – actively
  • People trust peer-to-peer communities more than top down communities. So provide platforms/communities to facilitate people communicating and transacting with one another - eg. BM’s ‘Extra Caring’ work for Wrigley China.Challenge To strengthen leadership against key competitors (Lotte, Orian), who make similar functional claims for their products (containing Xylitol for healthy teeth) To build brand preference and a strong emotional bond with 18-35 year oldsSolution- A 9 week, integrated ‘Extra Caring – Go Action Daily’ campaign that leveraged Chinese peoples’ propensity for small, unexpected acts of caring that are typically not asked for but come from the bottom of the heart and tend to go unnoticed Campaign website, featuring an online game/competition in which contestants were encouraged take an ‘Extra Caring trip’ across nine ‘Extra Caring islands’ to which they and upload and share their daily caring actions to their own communities, for a variety of weekly prizes Competition entries could be in the form of blog posts, videos, photos, e-cards etc, with the most active contestants awarded weekly prizes Dedicated campaign widgets featuring Caring messages updated on a regular basis, with link to website Developed collectable e-stamps that participants could download, in conjunction with online portal NetEase Online survey to identify caring trends amongst 10,000 18-45 year olds from across China, run in conjunction with online portal, and used to stimulate media interest Ran media roundtables with top Taiwanese psychologist Prof. Zhang Yiyun, who also contributed blog posts on caring topics Commissioned Jiong, a well-known local cartoonist and blogger to develop flash cartoons and blog posts on the theme of daily caring actions Ran consumer roadshows with product samples distributed in office buildings and cinemas in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou Ads run on QQ’s wapsite, China’s largest social network, encouraging mobile phone users to visit campaign website B-M was lead agency for the campaign, developing the campaign strategy, co-ordinating all other campaign agencies (see above) and handling media and influencer outreachResult 163k competition entrants, uploading 52k caring actions 9,773 groups formed on the campaign website Over 94m page views on the campaign website, from 6m user sessions Online ad CTR 0.18% (14m impressions) Widgets downloaded 15k+ times 185 media articles, worth RMB 2.2m (USD 323k) ad value or RMB 6.6m (USD 970k) PR valuePeople won’t just come to a new community; you have to drive traffic.Mobile platform.
  • If you are one of those who believes that 1% of any online community are the influencers, then you need to apply your resources accordingly.
  • BM Sina Weibo micro-blog for Qualcomm – telling the Qualcomm story as it is, in a human voice, with ability for direct interaction with Qualcomm leadership & experts Should not be using ad speakActually being able to communicate in a human way just marketing space
  • Organisations must look to build relationships over time. Overly promotional material does not resonate - consider the level of interest in advertising on Facebook, for which click-through rates are abysmal.American Express’ Open Network is a good example of using social media to build and deepen long-term relationships with small business owners by providing a platform where they can share best practices and access AMEX experts. AMEX purposely lets the community run itself, keeps a low profile and rarely intervenes, unless to add value.Equally, organisations need to engage and stay involved on an ongoing basis. You can’t just walk away from branded social media channels…
  • Storytelling helps bring a story to life – research shows that people are three times more likely to click on something that is image-based rather than pure text.It also helps build credibility & trust – the more authoritative the source of the information, and the more even-handed the content – the better.
  • Until recently, most crises fitted the left column – and were mostly the product of poor corporate behaviour.Now we have a new category of crises / issues are emerging in which the consumer/citizen voice plays a key role in causing eg.- Customer service: Dell Hell Advertising claims: Lexus RX400h – magazine ad headlined High performance. Low emissions. Zero Guilt. The world's first high-performance hybrid SUV. Category-leading low CO2 emissions. The ASA upheld the complaints it received about the ad's misleading claims.Greenwash: complaints about Airbus A380 claims about green-ness Marketing conduct: J&J Motrin Mums Smart mobs: in the Philippines in 2001, a group of protesters organized via text messaging gathered at the EDSA Shrine, the site of the 1986 revolution that overthrew Ferdinand Marcos, to protest the corruption of President Joseph Estrada. The protest grew quickly, and Estrada was soon removed from office.
  • Trends in crisis & issues communications #1 - ProfessionalismThe recent/ongoing case of Nestle & Greenpeace is a good example of the evolving role of the internet in issues and crises, and how activist/grassroots campaigns are becoming increasingly professional, and potentially damaging.The Nestle/Greenpeace story was initiated with the launch of a new report highlighting Nestle’s increasing use of palm oil in the manufacture of Kit Kats (and other products), as well as the company’s relationship with SinarMas, a leading palm oil manufacturer in Indonesia which has been regularly accused of illegal destruction of tropical rainforest to plant palm oil, and the impact on the country’s dwindling orang-utans. The media initially picked up on a guerilla stunt that was simultaneously run in front of Nestle offices across the globe. See image above. Some media also ran video of the the story was not new – Greenpeace had hit Nestle (and other companies) with the same allegation in 2008, and Unilever had dropped SinarMas and another major Indonesia palm oil producer in Feb 2010 – and media pick-up was relatively limited.In addition to the report and guerilla stunt, Greenpeace used the web as a key part of its campaign, producing a highly emotive video making the link between KitKats and the death of Orang-utans, providing web badges for online downloads and advocacy, and leveraging existing Greenpeace websites and social media channels in multiple countries and languages. also used some quite innovative techniques to publicise the issue and sustain interest.Here is a live-stream of Greenpeace/Nestle conversations on Twitter:
  • Trends in crisis and issues communications Speed – paradox of transparencyNowadays, issues are developing into crises in warp time, fueled by online chatter, user-generated content and the increasing popularity of real-time ‘recommendation’ engines such as Twitter and Facebook. Search engines also have an important role in crisis situations, being the first port of call for many users and increasingly aggregating real-time information eg. from Twitter etc. The sheer availability of content means that users know they can access latest news & information in multiple formats, as well as many different different points of view.Hence, organisations need to be constantly monitoring relevant conversations and channels, and be able to respond quickly.
  • For most organisations, a crisis is not a crisis until it hits the front-page of a credible newspaper. In this scenario, an INTEGRATED approach to response is necessary.Today, many crises are emerging from the internet. However, as we’ll show during this presentation, it is possible to try and manage these issues before they are taken up by the mainstream media.(This slide highlights the case of Prita Mulyasari, a housewife in Jakarta who had sent email to complaint about services received at the hospital to a mailing list. The hospital learned about it and filed a lawsuit against her for defamation. Her friends and families rallied behind her in social media network (including chat room); caught the attention of presidential contenders and became national headline. Court ruled in her favour. The national parliament subsequently demanded closure of the hospital.)
  • There is mo such thing as a ‘digital’ crisis.However, there are a number of principles and techniques to try and manage online rumours and conversations before they hit the mainstream media.I’ve only time to highlight a couple of these principles…
  • Apology communications
  • Image and reputation in the age of digital communication

    1. 1. Image & Reputation in the Age of Digital CommunicationBob Pickard - July 22nd 2010<br />
    2. 2. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)<br />A publicist pitching a journalist<br />
    3. 3. Pre-modern analogue public relations<br /><ul><li>Based on relationships with face-to-face key
    4. 4. There was attention span & focused thinking
    5. 5. Analogue methods were used to propagate information
    6. 6. Primitive technology
    7. 7. Deliberate and slow
    8. 8. Text was King
    9. 9. Ample time for stories
    10. 10. We measured media</li></li></ul><li>Sigmund Freud had <br />an American nephew<br />
    11. 11. Bernays<br />has been called the <br />‘Father of Modern PR’<br />
    12. 12. Public relations has ‘scientific’ roots<br />Bernays defined a PR professional as a “practicing social scientist” whose “competence is like that of the industrial engineer, the management engineer, or the investment counselor in their respective fields.”<br />He said that to assist clients, public relations counselors use and apply their understanding of behavioral sciences such as anthropology, history, social psychology, and sociology.<br />
    13. 13. Modern digital public relations<br /><ul><li>PR becoming more a science
    14. 14. E-relationships
    15. 15. Digital methods
    16. 16. No attention span; distraction is a constant
    17. 17. People continuously online
    18. 18. Technology massively propagates pictures, videos and ephemera
    19. 19. ‘Content’ is King
    20. 20. Scant time for stories
    21. 21. We measure impact</li></li></ul><li>Image building demands storytelling<br /><ul><li>The story is the most important things a company needs to tell its target audiences...</li></ul>so that<br /><ul><li>Those people will do and think...
    22. 22. ...what we want them to do or think
    23. 23. know of the company
    24. 24. feel favourable towards its brand
    25. 25. recommend its products to others
    26. 26. invest in the stock
    27. 27. make positive comments online
    28. 28. want to work there</li></li></ul><li>THE NEW PUBLIC MIND<br />
    29. 29. Communication is all in the mind<br />
    30. 30. Stories tap into the unconscious mind<br />It is unconscious thoughts, feelings, and desires that drive purchasing decisions we make each and every day of our lives<br />People tend to remember products when they are woven into the narrative of media content<br />They tend not to remember brands that don’t play an integral role in the story because people can see them as being ‘just ads’<br />
    31. 31. PR pros know about storytelling<br /><ul><li>PR people spend their careers trying to convince executives that they should invest more in ‘earning’ editorial media coverage of their brands in news stories rather than ‘buying’ paid coverage through advertising.
    32. 32. Because people can readily identify ads when they see them – and we tend to think that ads are supposed to be present during times and places we expect them to be – they attach less credibility to their claims.
    33. 33. But if they see a product featured in a news narrative, people are less likely to be suspicious and more likely to trust brand messaging that isn’t visibly purchased.</li></li></ul><li>The news is a story product<br /><ul><li>The news is a product which media companies sell, and people have attached a value to it with paid subscriptions a tangible measure.
    34. 34. News product has been produced by standards-based journalism that is supposed to be:
    35. 35. motivated by the pursuit of truth
    36. 36. resourceful in the use of research
    37. 37. informed by facts
    38. 38. governed by standards and edited with balance
    39. 39. News content is still big, but journalism getting smaller.</li></li></ul><li>Decline of news story quality<br /><ul><li>The economic basis of the traditional news media business is crumbling, and so the quality of editorial product is declining fast.
    40. 40. As a result of lower quality, people trust media stories less than they did before:
    41. 41. there are fewer good reporters around, and not as many exacting editors
    42. 42. battles about editorial ethics versus just going with what a company hands you for content are less frequent
    43. 43. money is the only thing that seems to matter
    44. 44. now more than ever, speed trumps accuracy</li></li></ul><li>Reduction of news story quantity<br /><ul><li>Media companies have tried to make the news more entertaining and opinionated (rise of spectacle and sensation), and the result of this debasing of ‘journalism’ is a further reduction of news’ credibility.
    45. 45. Therefore, there are fewer eyeballs reading a shrinking number of trusted news media stories.
    46. 46. Less signal, more noise: the supply of journalism-grade news is shrinking; aggregated raw content keeps expanding.</li></li></ul><li>Where PR storytelling is shrinking<br /><ul><li>OK, so if a brand’s involvement in a story is still the best way for a product to get noticed...
    47. 47. ...then what do PR people do if there are fewer trusted news sources producing a reduced number of stories that will be credible enough to have commercial impact even if we ‘earn’ coverage successfully?
    48. 48. Where can PR communicate narratives if the storytelling zone is shrinking?</li></li></ul><li>Where PR storytelling is growing<br />Entertainment media, through embedding brand narratives into the ‘plot’ <br />Social media, through creating brand-centric networks and creating ‘conversations’ <br />
    49. 49. The new reality<br />Reduced trust in institutions<br />Governments seen as out of touch and able to exercise less control<br />Decline of ‘fourth estate’ - newspaper readership <br />More demanding citizens and consumers<br />Want to make up their own minds<br />Expect to have a ‘relationship’ with organisations<br />Believe they have a voice, and more likely to use it<br />Wider range of influencers <br />NGOs, analysts, bloggers, etc<br />Spreading a wider range of news and views<br />
    50. 50. Transparency<br />
    51. 51. Accountability<br />
    52. 52. Dialogue<br />
    53. 53. Trust for those with no conflict of interest<br />
    54. 54. Most trust in word-of-mouth in Asia<br />
    55. 55. Chinese also trust others they DON’T know?<br />Source: <br />Millward Brown ACSR,<br />May 2009<br />
    57. 57. Persuasion 1.0<br />Going back to Dale Carnegie in 1936, we know that making people feel important is the precursor to persuasion<br />Once PR-driven interactions make people feel important (‘someone is listening to me’), then stories are sold as conversations<br />Much of this is designed with the objective of getting people to commit themselves in writing to a brand online (i.e. publicly, in front of others)<br />“Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.”<br />
    58. 58. Persuasion 2.0<br />According to Robert Cialdini’s research, we know that when people commit themselves in public to something, they have created a new ‘image template’ of themselves<br />e.g. ‘as the kind of cutting-edge person who uses this cool product’ – which they will advocate to others within their personal networks of trust – Trojan Horse-like – as a credible peer<br />People will do and say whatever is necessary to conform with their new public image (including aping a brand’s PR-devised story), and to evidence complete consistency with what they’ve said in ‘conversations’ online<br />This is what Cialdini calls “the principle of consistency”<br />
    59. 59. Less signal, more noise<br />News content is still big, but journalism is getting smaller<br />Journalism as spectacle and entertainment further debases media credibility<br />Paying bloggers is not credible – you can’t buy trust<br />Opportunity for organisations to become media owners and communicate direct with their customers & stakeholders<br />Co-creation is key<br />
    60. 60. Modern means to build an image<br />#1 – Listen & learn<br />#2 – Be authentic & transparent<br />#3 – Go peer-to-peer<br />#4 – Focus on the 1%<br />#5 – Be human<br />#6 – Build relationships<br />#7 – Commit for the long-term <br />#8 – Use storytelling<br />
    61. 61. Listen & learn<br />
    62. 62. Go peer-to-peer<br />
    63. 63. Focus on the 1%<br />
    64. 64. Be human<br />
    65. 65. Build relationships<br />
    66. 66. Use digital storytelling<br />
    67. 67. Every company a media company? <br />IF a declining media business can no longer generate an ample supply of compelling story content...<br />IF, owing to its resource constraints, media is becoming an automated and uncritical B2C conveyor of pre-packaged marketing information passed to them by PR people...<br />THEN why can’t corporations fill the void themselves and communicate stories directly to the public.?<br />
    69. 69. Everything that famously goes wrong is now called a ‘PR disaster’<br />the BP oil spill<br />the Toyota recall<br />the Tiger Woods spectacle<br />
    70. 70. Corporate Achilles’ Heels<br />Not-so-new<br />Food safety<br />Product safety<br />Lay-offs/closures<br />Environment<br />Human rights<br />Nationalism<br />Terrorism<br />Pandemics<br />New, and growing<br /><ul><li>Customer service
    71. 71. Advertising claims
    72. 72. Greenwashing
    73. 73. Marketing conduct
    74. 74. Smart mobs</li></li></ul><li>Professionalism of NGOs & activists<br />
    75. 75. Speed<br />
    76. 76. A crisis starts when it hits the front page?<br />
    77. 77. PRotecting reputation<br />#1 – Corporate rhetoric must meet reality<br />#2 – Expect the unexpected<br />#3 – Prepare assiduously and rehearse disaster<br />#4 – Move fast – first mover advantage<br />#5 – Be responsive and look to listen<br />#6 – Admit mistakes and accept responsibility<br />#7 – Don’t get into fights where critics tend to win<br />#8 – Don’t be heavy-handed or arrogant<br />
    78. 78. Be prepared to apologize – sincerely!<br />
    79. 79. Thank you!<br />Bob Pickard<br />President & CEO, Asia-Pacific<br />Tel: +65 8126-2767<br /><br /><br />Talk to B-M online:<br /><br />