Tag Archives: social media

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.

 

 

5 Ways to build relationships on Social Media

5 Steps to Building Relationships with Social Media

Taken from and Thanks to: Jack Kosakowski – @jackkosakowski1 – “a passionate practitioner and proselytizer in the social selling space” (Act-On).

1. Connect
Stay alert to opportunities. You could make a connection with anyone you meet,
interact with, or run into at a grocery store (you get the picture). Many people you
meet will be potential connections or advocates; if you connect with authenticity
and transparency, on a personal level, you’ll begin to develop a relationship that
may pay off later.
Don’t sell at this stage, just connect and build a network.

2. Prospect
Prospecting is a continual process. You meet people and evaluatate whether there
is mutual benefit to building a relationship; if there is, you make a connection. You
should add new people to your prospect funnel continually; just as with the sales
funnel, some will drop out as time passes.
Prioritize vigilantly, and focus on the most promising prospects.

3. Listen
This step is the most important part of social selling. Monitor your social feeds
throughout the day as you’re running meetings, building relationships, and closing
deals. As companies and prospects in your social funnel are communicating, you
will be listening and soaking it all in. This will help you learn what’s important to them.

4. Engage
Now that you have the right prospects and you’ve been listening, you can begin
to engage. Start commenting and adding value to prospects’ social media posts
across various channels. Most companies and professionals don’t get many of these
engagements, so they will appreciate the added ‘bump’ your interaction provides,
as it reaffirms their own presence on these platforms. (Don’t we all love getting a
few extra likes and comments?) Be genuine as you engage and give your honest
feedback. Insincere flattery will cost you the potential for honest conversation
moving forward.
Engagement on social media is a process, and it needs to be done across multiple
channels. As your trust with the prospect grows, your authority in your space will
become stronger. This is a place to separate yourself from the competition.
As you engage, you build credibility.

5. Add Value
Start contributing to the relationship by educating people who are looking for
answers. You’ve figured out what’s important to them and you’ve started to
get noticed. Now you begin demonstrating the value that you can add to the
relationship. Start sharing your content and be strategic about it. If you’ve done
your due diligence in the listening phase, then it won’t be that hard to post contentSocial Media 1
that you know they will find valuable.
But take care to get it right. You need to make sure that you are adding value – and
first impressions are everything. Your prospect won’t let you waste their time twice.
Deliver the right content, in the right place, and at the right time you’ll get lost in the
crowd – or written off as irrelevant.

Be smart, be persistent, stay engaged, and always add value.

‘MUST HAVES’ FOR BOSSES REVEALS NEED FOR LOCAL STUDY

 

purpose-driven-leadership[1]

REAL Communication Consulting’s Desiray Viney ran a workshop entitled, ‘Must Haves’ for The New Age Executive at Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business this week.

Attended by managers and directors of business, industry and NGOs, it produced much discussion around the qualities, attributes, skills and actions of an effective manager or leader in this volatile, uncertain and fast-paced world.

Participants were asked to work through a given list of twelve (from leading writers) and to select and rank their own Six ‘Must Haves’ for Executives list. It culminated in this list:

  1. Have the courage and skills needed to lead an organisation in today’s environment – To build the confidence of your people to achieve the impossible: constant improvement, growth against a backdrop of extraordinary challenges and growing stakeholder expectations.
  2. Know that all people in your organisation are important – make the effort to be in their presence. Don’t be too far removed from those who matter most – within boundaries. People at the “bottom” are more informed and empowered than ever. Respect them. While they need your wisdom and direction, you should draw on their input in your decision-making.
  3. Ask the difficult questions and have the tough conversations on all levels of the organisation. Know the facts crucial to making wise decisions, and make a conscious decision that knowing the truth, being respected and doing what is right is most important, more so than being liked or avoiding conflict.
  4. Communicate purposefully! Don’t allow an information vacuum. Give feedback. Muzzle your voice, listen to what others think, and schedule face-to-face interactions.
  5. Know that values drive people’s behaviour, strive to create a values driven organisation. Remain true to your own values, which should match those of your organisation. Enable people to strive for excellence, and celebrate when they achieve. Have fun too.
  6. Have a Plan, acknowledging the speed of socio-political and economic change and how these interact and impact your business. The rate of change is very fast and it’s becoming more difficult to predict these forces in society, but you still need to strive to understand them.

Taki Anastasis, Sunshine Bakery’s chief executive, distinguished between the leader and the manager roles and explained how sometimes there’s a gap in their understanding of certain issues and how they communicate their understanding of values and instructions etc.

Kai Steinfeld, MD of Pfisterer, maintained that “In a global production-based company, having a vision and planning is essential.”Innovative leadership

This workshop raised a number of issues in Business. Clearly, every business is unique and requires leadership appropriate to its operational environment. It also highlighted the need for more research on how local company bosses communicate and implement their vision, values and strategies. Information collected would provide the appropriate data and findings to advance leadership in South Africa.

 

 

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.

Why are students choosing to air their most private ‘stuff’ on social media????

Why the heightened anxiety about young people using social media to air their sexual activity?
Is this just deviant and unworthy behaviour, and should students be banned for abusing their access to new media? Access is great but what about responsible and constructive use of social media? Who are the arbiters of responsible use?

After reading and hearing about this story in the media, I went online and examined only one site and its content. I admit there was indeed a load of absolute and utter you-know-what. However, there were also a few entries I did find that, if critically analysed, could raise some interesting issues. Take, for instance, the number of comments referring to rape on campus – could this indicate perhaps that this is a real and general social problem rather than just a campus issue?

As I discussed this news story with others, I sensed two major issues emerging: the information that flowed out of it could indeed be a symptom of a social malaise and it could be a significant indicator of social media’s powerful role in the identity development of young users?

Computer-mediated communication (CMC) is human communication and information sharing via new media technology and has been shown to facilitate the formation of ‘virtual’ or online identities behind which many users hide in order to raise questions, put out information, test opinions etc. Hence, because of the anonymity allowed by social media, people are more ready to disclose personal information and to experiment with different personas, role-playing, and even creating an idealised version of one’s self.

As a communicator and media analyst, I decided to explore this phenomenon of students’ off-loading online. I wanted to understand whether these private, individualistic ramblings-as-entries could, in any way, be seen as representations of what some academics may refer to as ‘the suffering subject’ trying to negotiate a sense of being and belonging. Is this sensationalist media content a call for help?

What are your thoughts on this matter?
Before you rush into it, let me offer some current thoughts for you to consider before you send your comments:
1. Issues of policy, legality, privacy, confidentiality – As with all new media content, these prevail and need consideration and debate
2. Use of institutional networks: Risk management is a major issue for universities etc where students are using internet and intranet for their own purposes. The universities have the right to set the rules for use within that context.
3. Democracy offers freedom but responsibility: media and individual freedom: who determines the extent of the freedoms; who are the role models of responsibility?
4. Media and Society: Media representations reflect the state of their society. Is this a global or local issue?
5. New media offers access and interactive engagement: Social media forums are sites of change and action. Throughout history alternative media have emerged where the mainstream media exclude certain groups who challenge and confront the dominant groups.
6. Expression of individuality; development of a sense of identity and community, but are these virtual or real or both?

Please Comment! Join the conversation on this current topic …….

REAL’s May Newsletter

Moving ahead with PR Boot Camp workshops
These are aimed at local businesses, groups, NPO & public service employees and individuals who want to strategize around Public Relations planning to build and improve stakeholder relationships.

The workshops take participants through an intensive process of engagement, using new information and relating it to their own work situations. Participants interact with people from different companies and groups, sharing their experiences; while the workshop manual acts as a personal record, report or workbook of what can be done and applied in the workplace.

These two full-day workshops will take place on Tuesdays 4 June and 11 June at Chamber House, at the Royal Show Grounds, PMB. from 8.30 to 4.30 pm.

Social Media is quite a challenge
Although I’ve managed to get onto Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn and had a few hits and comments on the REAL website, it’s not yet converting into business in a monetary sense. It’s also very depressing when my monthly report comes from FaceBook, telling me I’ve made -80% progress! Any suggestions would be welcome. Ty Bache of Smashing Web Development has been a star! But as I said before, it’s an ongoing and growing process!

“It is not failure itself that holds people back; it’s the fear of failure that paralyzes you.” – Brian Tracy

The future seems quite bright
I’ve joined PMB Chamber of Business and Business Network International and met many new people who will refer my services to others, hopefully. I’m extending my “list of experts” – experienced practitioners in various areas like social media, marketing, web design, writing and editing, DTP etc. As I network and grow I will be needing these experts when I outsource specific tasks.

I am still in on-going talks with a high-profile, accomplished Corporate Communication and Branding expert, hoping that we could collaborate on certain future projects.

Blogs flowing slowly
Thus far, I have written blogs on a range of topics. My work-in-progress is a summary and comment on the little book entitled “How to fix South Africa – the country’s leading thinkers on what must be done to create jobs” edited by Ray Hartley. In a nutshell, it’s all been said before… we know we need to train people for the job market and for self-employment, but we can’t rely on government or big business to do it all. We must start a bottom-up approach by getting the youth into small businesses where they can be skilled, without demanding high salaries!

Why is the Bredasdorp rape case getting all this attention?

Why such a focus on the Bredasdorp rape story when rape has become a regular occurrence all over South Africa? Here are some thoughts……

Ordinary people have had enough! Now, using new media as activists, concerned citizens, special interest groups, NGOs etc are forming coalitions, focus groups, and the like, to address public issues threatening our society and to pressure government to seriously address problems like violence against women and alcohol abuse for the benefit of society ….more…

1. Social media as sites of mobilization
The rise of ordinary people protesting, petitioning and advocating against violence and injustice in a participative, democratic manner is seeing a redefinition of the citizen. Through the use of social media, there is a growing activism culture focusing on creating awareness of issues impacting both the public and society and on getting people active in communities that were previously seen as marginalized and disempowered. This phenomenon of participation may be fragmented, but nevertheless is political-personal expression directed not only against those in power but could be leverage for positive social change. It represents new options for ordinary citizens to affect changes in social policy and behavior.

Here in South Africa people and groups have been voicing discontent about the numbers of violent rape cases for some time now but the powers weren’t listening nor responding adequately. Perhaps the traditional channels of expression were ineffective. Now the agitated citizenry is using the power of social media to circulate the protest and garner support and, it would seem, the Bredasdorp case came at the right moment when a number of factors came together simultaneously to carry it to such a great height in our discourse and our consciousness.

Hence, the growth of engagement with online pressure groups has resulted in new sites for creative activism and social change.. They offer great possibilities for bringing collective pressure to bear on political and corporate groups, resulting in action. Depending on the different situations, the subsequent action could suggest that, “social networking technology has come to play a larger role in both creating and maintaining corporate [and government] reputations and damaging them” (Beal et al., 2008). The phenomenon of a changing media environment of ‘continuous connectivity’ and ‘collective participation’, where citizens can participate in ongoing discussions and debates in the public sphere, is now contributing to a new form of political engagement. Citizens can use both traditional and new media to form pressure or advocacy groups to publicise and promote their views, activities and campaigns, and to win public support and grow their membership to pressure or lobby government, either advancing or staving off government regulations.

The Bredasdorp case confirms that the present state of violence, crime and corruption in South Africa has also resulted in a growth in public activism and a new kind of citizenship where citizens seek to educate themselves and maintain community vigilance. As citizens, using new media, they are developing discursive strategies to effect change in policy and practices, using petitioning and advocacy through the Internet, coalition building and aligning with social movements. Their voices join to form alternative identities and public sphere, and work in the interest of social change. This indicates people’s new-found ability to make judgments, and make decisions to communicate and generate awareness to mobilize others to action, thereby inducing the government to be more accountable and socially responsible.

Ultimately, ordinary citizens are exercising their political rights, using critical news coverage to stimulate social discussion and concerted actions and to create awareness through collective initiative and social movements, articulating interconnectivity between people of different classes, genders, and races, and acting as advocates for social change.

2. Political and Media manipulation

The media has always played a pivotal role in disseminating relevant information around social and public issues, raising points of argument from all sides of the debates. The media’s power to influence therefore is crucial to communicators – individuals, groups and organizations – who want to affect change in society, whether economic, social or political. How (through intensity, frequency etc) media present information and stories influences public perceptions.

Common strategies used by media to divert readers’ attention away from certain issues, people or actions (eg agenda setting, accumulation and framing) include placing undue focus on one news item while seeming to ignore similar stories elsewhere. Some might say that – as was stated in a recent news story – the ANC is strategizing to wrestle the Cape out of the hands of the DA in the next election. Speculators say there will be more negative news and criticism around events in the DA-led province to perhaps give the impression that the violence there is on the increase or that it is getting out of control – usually it’s areas like Limpopo that get much coverage for crime, violent rapes etc.

3. Women Activists for Women’s issues in the media
Women’s pressure groups are growing and are bringing all cases of violence against women into the open through the media in the hope that government will act to end this scourge. However, those in government, particularly the women, also want to be seen to be supporting these calls in the hope that the public will perceive them as part of the solution… Take a look at who is on the scene when the SABC TV cameras are rolling at the homes of victims – comforting and commenting….
Ends.