Tag Archives: public relations

Global movements affecting company Reputation

Global movements affecting company Reputation

Some thoughts on responsible leadership, public activism and reputation

Right now trust in mainstream media, government, business and NGOs is lower than it’s ever been. Organisations have to work extra hard at building trust, loyalty and reputation, and to avoid crises that may cause harm to their operations and reputations.

Management and Leadership changes

In the past, management would decide on its company culture, inform stakeholders and the public what it stands for and how it does its business, sometimes explicitly stated in a company’s vision and mission. Once done, the company would brand itself in terms of its culture and its products. And we, the public, would believe everything it said.

However, over time the public would rate a business on the extent to which its products and actions matched its goals. Too often public perceptions and ratings were ignored, leading to loss of reputational capital, while managers and leaders focused only on the other ‘capital’ – profitability. Today, because of the glaring evidence of crises resulting from public reaction to irresponsible leadership, organizations are being forced to act more ethically.       

Public perceptions                                  

The public expects organisations (including government) to keep their promises. Individuals want to trust a business they deal with. Their perceptions of and attitudes towards a company must be positive before they can trust it. And business certainly needs loyal customers and stakeholders. No company can afford to ignore the reactions to their behaviours. They do so at their own peril. Managers and leaders must listen and adapt.

Social Media and Advocacy

Meanwhile globally, the rise of social media, and the grassroots engagement it affords, has contributed to the growth of people power. Companies are constantly being watched and evaluated by the man in the street who happily shares his perceptions, based on what he sees and hears in the media. These perceptions gain momentum and can lead to mass action, causing negative outcomes for the businesses concerned. There are so many examples of this, but H&M’s recent crisis over an alleged ‘racist’ advert is one. With the growth of public and employee word-of-mouth marketing, research has shown that   advocacy statements by activists and ‘influencers’ on social media are far more powerful in terms of engagement and belief than content that comes directly from the brand or company.

Ethical Branding              

Ethical business builds Reputation

Ethical branding is crucial as companies become aware of the importance of good corporate citizenship, responsible behaviour and transparency in all their dealings with internal and external stakeholders. More than ever before, building public trust is crucial to any business operation and its survival. Managers and leaders must ensure that the company performs well economically, ethically, legally, environmentally and socially, that is, as a corporate citizen.

The King Report, now in its 4th form, is regarded as the ‘go-to guide’ on corporate governance for large companies. Government and SMMEs too would definitely gain by consulting the document. Basically, it highlights key aspects of creating a corporate environment for the 21st century and beyond where corporate citizenship and responsible leadership are key. Only by focusing on its role in society and behaving with transparency can an organization ensure its reputation and sustainability.

 

 

My PRISA National Conference Highlights

Some thoughts and comments on the PRISA conference held at Emperor’s Palace, Kempton Park on 9 and 10 June. The theme was “Managing Reputation on our Threatened Planet.”

As a Corporate Communication and PR consultant focussed on reputation management, I felt I had to attend. It would be the place to meet the movers and shakers, the decision makers of PR in South Africa. A great opportunity to network and meet people I could do business with……

But sadly, there were very few private business owners there, and the quasi-government organisations were represented by people unable to talk to me about possibilities. So I didn’t achieve my goal of finding connections for future work.

Regarding the speakers, the line-up on the programme was impressive, starting with Prof Jonathan Jansen, vice-chancellor and rector of the University of the Free State. In his usual irreverent style, he criticised the education department for not demanding excellence, and the general lack of a moral compass in a government that did not know the difference between social justice and transformation, between position and influence and between saying and doing. My favourite line: “Why don’t big business deliver textbooks?”

The very humbly gracious Advocate Thuli Madonsela, accepted the PRISA President’s Award and spoke on the impact of the Public Protector’s work on SA’s reputation.  Not a charismatic speaker, but wow, she spoke her truth, exuding honesty, quiet commitment and brave tenacity. She was so impressive! Best line: “I am a servant.”

Another speaker I enjoyed was Trevor Ndlazi, of the Reputation Institute. Reputation management is one of my special interests, so I was very pleased to hear that “Reputation IS a tangible asset that needs to be managed”!

Paula Fray, a media expert with a focus on development communication, was a very engaging speaker who clearly knows what she’s talking about from years of experience. You can’t beat that.

New kid on the media block, and very popular, is Emma Sadleir, a social media legal consultant, who puts the fear of g-d into you with her stories of how tweets and social media messages, if not monitored and managed, could cause a whole lot of trouble for your company’s reputation.

There were many other good and interesting talks and presentations over the two days, but the one that stands out for me is the presentation entitled “stakeholder interventions” by Nazir Allie, CEO of SANRAL. This is definitely the most inappropriate talk of the conference as it clearly showed how NOT to deal with your stakeholders! PRISA staff must be kicking themselves for such a bad choice! All Allie did was blow SANRAL’s own trumpet, and make it very clear that the only stakeholder SANRAL considers important is government legislators. Very little respect was shown to other stakeholders like the public. He firmly believed that the public must pay for what the government spends on social grants etc. Sadly, Allie has no concept of building and managing his organisation’s reputation. Great pity.

Overcoming the risk in getting your media release published optimally.

I’ve been teaching ‘writing for the media’ for many years, giving guidelines and tips to journalists and PR writers. And yet, I fell prey to one of the most common traps……..
I recently wanted to publicise an important activity within my own organisation and, as I have a good relationship with the local media, I approached a particular and highly competent business editor with my media release. He asked me to send in my CV as well to see if he could turn it into an interesting article. This I did. He used the information to write a very good piece and duly sent me a draft for checking before submitting. I was happy, returned it and he submitted it.

However, when it appeared, we noticed that a ‘sub’ had omitted the most important and recent information and retained items less important and newsworthy. Hence, the result was not the one I had hoped for. Getting a media release published was one thing, getting the desired outcome was another. So, in evaluating that PR exercise, I’m reviewing important aspects of writing a media release and getting it published – to your satisfaction.

The MOST important thing is, DO NOT submit any information you do not want used! Sending in my CV was my mistake. By doing so, I gave the editor the power to select additional information that he thought would make a useful or interesting article. And then in the subbing process the original important information was omitted. Hence, “there’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip” so ensure you only send what needs to be made known for your purposes.

Other tips to remember:
Tip 1: Create stories. The link to the media is newsworthiness – send only items that you think the audience would find newsy and interesting. Reporters and audiences like quotes. They add authenticity and immediacy to the story or piece. So give them a few – even quote yourself!
Tip 2: Timing your media release. And link to other news and events. Keep abreast of what’s going on in the news so that you can tap into what’s happening and create synergies with other events, special days and organisations.
Tip 3: Be organised and correct. Use a method like the 5Ws and 1 H for your media release to ensure the important information is included. Only add extra info if space permits. Write in the third person, not the first (we not I) – to meet the journalistic criterion of ‘objectivity’. And always proofread to be free of typos.
Tip 4: Essential inclusions – Source of info with contact details; date; a catchy headline; and a picture helps.
Tip 5: Tweak your press release according to the different media you use to suit the various audiences and to create ‘synergies’ (Tip 2). Come up with a number of creative angles for each story and submit the timeliest and most appropriate ones.

Keep writing, keep contact with the media and keep submitting your stories!

PR “Boot Camp” Workshops

Getting ahead in Public Relations – A Series of 4 Workshops

The venue is The Barn at Kwanyoni in Hilton [District Road 534, off Hilton College Road]
Each Tuesday morning 8.30 – 12.30, from May 21 to June 11

Who should attend?
Managers, supervisors, NGO staff, public service personnel and individuals who need to communicate more effectively with key stakeholders with a view to building relationships and enhancing reputation.

Objectives
To develop an understanding of why and how stakeholder relations can build a company’s brand and reputation through a strategy of targeted messages and actions.
This series of workshops teaches participants the basics of:
• The role of PR in building stakeholder relationships
• Developing a mission statement and corporate identity
• Constructing messages, selecting media and activities
• Specialised PR techniques.
The purpose is to enable participants to engage interactively with the information or theory by applying it to their own organisation. Facilitator, Desiray Viney, guides participants through the process of analysing their work situations; planning and strategizing; using techniques relevant to their own scenarios. Based on the experiential learning concept, using and sharing information facilitates understanding and retention. Hence, participants can return to the workplace able to contribute to the organisation’s PR plans and actions.
Cost
Each workshop costs R500 per participant. This includes the workbook and refreshments.
The cost of attending all four workshops is R 1,800-00 per participant – a saving of R200 – if paid in full in advance.
Ideally, participants should attend all four workshops to obtain a certificate of completion, however, each workshop is also offered as a stand-alone.
PR Workshops’ Schedule
Date Workshop Title Topics covered
Tues, 21/5
8.30 – 12.30 What’s up? Development, Role & function of PR
Who cares? Setting goals and Identifying Publics
Tues, 28/5
8.30 – 12.30 Who are you?
Do you care? Corporate culture, identity, image and reputation
Tues, 4/6
8.30 – 12.30 Say and do what? How do you communicate and behave with publics?
How? Why? Developing messages for publics to improve relations
Tues, 11/6
8.30 – 12.30 So what? Corporate citizenship – being part of a greater system.
What else? Explore PR techniques to build reputation & fulfil goals.

Contact
For information and bookings contact Desiray Viney at REAL Communication Consulting:
Cel: 082 875 7194 Email: dviney@realcommunications.co.za
Visit www.realcommunications.co.za