Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Branding, Culture and Communications

In our workshops for not for profit groups, we cover the relationship of organisational culture, communicating with staff and branding. And we show how all three intersect to present your image to the world.

We came across this very good blogpost on branding and internal culture which is worth a read.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Manage Social Media Before It Manages You

In the past few weeks we've been helping an agency to pull together a social media policy. The intent is to come up with a simple document to guide staff on how and when to respond and contribute to social media when they're on company time.

And last week Australia's biggest telco,Telstra, announced a social media policy for its employees.

With more and more people communicating online, and brands increasingly finding themselves mentioned on Twitter, Facebook etc, organisations interested in protecting their brand need guidelines on how to manage these digital discussions.

We base our approach around a few fundamentals we hope are easy to understand and easy to apply.

  • Organisations should be clear about who can represent their brand on social media platforms. Can all staff take part or only designated people. When first starting out ask yourself do you want everybody involved? Or is it better to limit participation to say staff with communications or client service responsibilities? At least initially.
  • It is in your organisation's interests to ensure the people who represent your online interests have personal profiles on Facebook and other sites that are consistent with what you expect from your spokespersons.
  • Google never forgets. Staff need to be careful about what they post online. Materiel destined for online audiences must be accurate and respect commercial in confidence, privacy, copyright, trademark and other requirements. It will be an art finding the balance between speed and accuracy.
  • It can be tempting to respond with sarcasm, fury or even be condescending when commenting on online information you think is misguided, plain wrong or mischievous. Online conversations are easily inflamed so remind staff to keep conversations professional and to the point.
Social media is not going to go away. Nor do I think will it completely replace more traditional communications.

Now is the time to learn how to learn to manage social media before it manages you.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Communications Lessons From Susan Boyle

A middle aged woman from a Scottish village looking very much like the lady next door stuns a TV audience with her angelic voice. Her story captures the mainstream media and sweeps through the online world.

With 25 million YouTube hits and nearly a half million new friends on Facebook people everywhere are applauding Susan Boyle's entry into the singing world. In the coming weeks her success on that UK Talent Show may well continue to be a hot media topic and win her even more digital endorsement.

Ms Boyle's fame may be short lived. As easily as the media is jumping aboard her bandwagon, it could just as easily get off at the next stop. In the ways of instant celebrity she could be into her first minute of Andy Warhol's 15 minute of fame. Or she goes on to fulfill her ambition to sing as a career.

Personally I wish her every success. In this era of often vapid celebrity it's encouraging to see real people recognised for good things and the fact that from apparent ordinariness they can offer us something special.

But Susan Boyle's story is as much about communications as it is about singing.

If Susan hadn't gathered the courage to enter that talent show and risk the potential for failure and ridicule, the world would be ignorant of her great gift. And I'm pretty certain there were those in her Scottish village who predicted her failure even as she set out for London.

Many of us work for organizations, manage our careers or lead our lives in a state of nervous timidity, continually anxious about stepping out to try something new. Susan Boyle's story shows that only by daring to communicate can we achieve the recognition we deserve.

Ms Boyle's story is counter intuitive. Her voice does not match her image. Her "branding" seems all wrong. Perhaps in recent years we have grown too accustomed to style over substance as the media has over-exposed us to the antics of celebrity heiresses, errant footballers, high fliers of finance and others. And yet despite all the coverage and attention those people have received - often at the expense of the worthwhile causes that are the real stuff of our communities - in the end they leave us with little of real value.

Susan's story is about substance elbowing
aside style. And that people, just like those in that initially skeptical London audience, will always stand to applaud the "real thing" when they see it. They just need the opportunity to see it for themselves.

Thanks Ms Boyle for reminding us of two fundamentals of communications. To win
firstly you must dare. And cool always crumbles before character.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Be Clear About Why You Should March In The Social Media Parade

In the past three months I've noticed the interest in social media continues to grow in Australia. The references to Twitter, Facebook and other platforms have increased in mainstream media stories and every communications-related conference now has the almost obligatory social media panel discussion.

Whereas twelve months ago many people were skeptical about the new media, now those same people want to know more about it and how it can help their business.

Social media is certainly an attractive addition to conventional marketing and PR. And given time it may even replace more traditional practices in some areas. But before you join the ranks of the passing social media parade, please take the time to think through what you want to achieve and how best to incorporate the new media into your operations in a planned and sustained way.

Suitable objectives for introducing social media into your communications mix could be:
  • To find out what people are saying online about you and your brand.
  • To correct misunderstandings in on-line conversations and confront errors of fact .
  • To manage your brand's online reputation.
  • To contribute to online communities that share your interests or to form or support such communities.
  • To use social media to proactively share information with individuals and communities online.
  • To contain or reduce the costs of conventional communications.
Undoubtedly there are many other reasons. The point is don't just launch into the new digital spaces because it is topical, trendy or because others are joining the parade.

Before you commit money, time and effort into the new media clearly and specifically articulate your communications objectives and have solid ideas on how you want social media to work for your organisation.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Social Media Moving Beyond Communications to Entertainment

This blogpost by Mitch Joel on how social media is moving beyond communications to entertainment is worth a read.

It seems that not only are we increasingly communicating online, we see social media as a form of entertainment.