Showing posts with label Leadership. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leadership. Show all posts

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Abbott Ranks # 26 on Twitter's Leader Board

The December 2013 report of the Digital Policy Council shows 123 out 164 countries or three out of four heads of state have now embraced Twitter.

The biggest mover in the Twittersphere was US President Obama.  He occupies # 1 spot and gained 16 million followers this past year.  This pushed the number of people who follow him north of 40 million. 

Starting with the 2008 Presidential Election Obama has always been comfortable with social media but a noticeable upturn in his numbers occurred when the US Government shut down in September 2013.  Obama joined other politicians and citizens to tweet his frustrations about the situation.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) made the most spectacular debut onto the Twitter stage. SBY only joined Twitter in 2013 but 4.2 million followers quickly followed him. 

The Indonesian leader is a quick leaner. 
 He strategically took to Twitter to chastise Australia over allegations the Australian Government spied on Indonesian officials.

The Australian Prime Minister comes in at # 26 in the global Twitter rankings, a drop from his # 20 ranking the previous year.  Abbott has been tweeting since November 2011 and has 270 000+ followers. The PM is an infrequent tweeter.  Recent posts serve up mainly feel good content with little apparent effort to interact with others or converse on issues.

Still our PM is streets ahead of leaders from China, Denmark, Sweden and some Gulf countries who are yet to get on to the micro blogging platform.

While the adoption rate among some world leaders may have slowed, the number of people following political leaders continues to grow.  In 2013 83 million people  followed a world leader up from 10 million people just three years ago.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Global Chief Forecasts Communications Trends

Don't try to control the conversation, be prepared for never ending PR campaigns and acknowledge the  consumer is king.

That's what IABC Global Chair Robin McCasland advises leaders confronted by an ever-changing communications landscape.  

During her recent leadership tour of Asia, Robin briefed government communications chiefs in Canberra on trends in international communications. 

Speaking in a government town a few of Robin's observations run counter to traditional government models.  

For example while surveys routinely show public trust in government and corporate leaders is falling, administrations still put forward only the top echelons of officialdom who it comes to advocating policy to the public. 

Robin forecasts that in future, smart organisations will empower their employees to share the communications load and deal directly with citizens, consumers or clients particularly through social media.   Workers already know the issues and are the buffer between the community and their own hierarchy.  The time is coming when clever leaders will look at  workers not only for what they do, but how they can evangelise the corporate brand. 

The Global Chair also touched on the growing importance of peer opinions in decision-making, illustrating this with a personal example. When an  online dress buying experience turned sour, Robin took to social media to alert her friends to her dissatisfaction   Someone with Robin's global profile must have significant networks, so after the offending company learned of her displeasure they were quick to fix the problem.  
Which proves that while communicators can labour long and hard to present a persuasive case, often it's the conversations we have within our own circle that really decide how we act and the results we get. 



Saturday, January 15, 2011

Queensland Leaders Earn Praise For Flood Communications

This past week has been a torrid time for Australians particularly Queenslanders.  

While Queenslanders lived through devastating floods that covered an area the size of several European nations, the rest of the country sat transfixed by the unfolding tragedy. The floods completely stopped and then dominated the national conversation. And they are likely to be the key topic of conversation into the coming months.

Last week's events were both tragic and historic.  One aspect worth noting has been the quality of local leadership. Here in Canberra I could only witness the unfolding events, but it seemed that local Queensland leaders  did what their communities expected of them - they led.  They were supported by all the communications technology of the modern era, 24 hours news rooms, people reporting through Facebook, Twitter and other digital channels and extensive radio and newspaper coverage.  But we should not forget that their own personal communications in this crisis were good. 

Top marks must go to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh. For  weeks she and her team have had to face the flood crisis first in regional Queensland and then as it affected Brisbane.  She communicated with a mix of authority, technical detail and compassion. In numerous media appearances she impressed as knowing what she was talking about while being warm and down to earth. Her communications ranged from essential information about surviving the floods to the inspirational calls on future rebuilding.  Her tearful line about don't forget we are Queenslanders is likely to merge into State if not national folklore. 

Local mayors in affected towns and cities also communicated effectively.  They spoke with authority, genuine concern for the communities they lead and and every so often with a dash of that Aussie humour that can lift spirits in tough times. 

And really how refreshing all this was.   In  an age of public cynicism about politics, there were local politicians talking plain, in sync with their communities and obviously trying their very best in calamitous circumstances. 

Recent history such as the aftermath of the Victorian and Canberra bushfires shows that today's heroes can easily become tomorrow's villains.  In the coming months critics will pour over every shortcoming and failing before and during the flood crisis and in the reconstruction phase.  Of course there will be many things that could have been done better and indeed should have been done better.  

But let's remember when the pressure was intense and lives were in the balance, many of the people who will be criticised in the future, stood up, communicated well and provided leadership.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wanted - Visionaries Who Can Communicate: Apply Within

The world community faces tough challenges.

Issues like the global financial crisis, climate change and international terrorism are enormously complex. The threats in each are real and pressing. There are no easy answers and what is needed is a sustained, perhaps even a multi-generational approach to tackling these challenges which cut right across borders.

These problems impact us all , so it is good to remember the simplest way through complexity is clear vision and simple communications.

This past week two visionary communicators have been notable.

On Friday President Obama received the Noble Peace Prize. The award was probably more in recognition for his ability to inspire people and give them hope than for any one achievement this early in his Presidency. Obama is a communicator in his very own class and the power and persuasion of his words resonates beyond Americans to people around the world.

In this past week I came across leading Canadian environmentalist Harvey Locke who talks about the need to think and act on the grandest of scales to protect and strengthen the earth's fragile environment in the face of climate change.

Locke is currently in Australia talking about about his experiences in helping to establish the Yellowstone to Yukon conservation corridor in North America. At 3200km long Yellowstone to Yukon is the largest conservation undertaking of its kind in the world. It literally links landscapes in the western United States and Canada to preserve animals and vegetation. It is shifting conventional thinking beyond saving "small isolated islands" of threatened environments.

Locke speaks simply, persuasively and peppers his views with anecdotes and stories. In his efforts to encourage Canadians and Americans he underpins the conversation with basic but compelling messages:

  • Firstly the problems of climate change are so significant, no one person or organisation has the solution. Organisations should stop pretending they have a monopoly on the way ahead. They must paint the grand vision of what could be and allow the rest of us to define our own contribution on how this can be achieved.
  • Locke believes in personalising the story. Or in his case "animalising the story." He talks freely why large a North American conservation corridor is so important to the long term survival of buffalo, grizzly bears and other animals iconic to North America. He has chosen his case studies well to tug at the heartstrings of his listeners.
  • He stresses the need for simple conversations. You can't reasonably expect people to support what they don't understand so he cautions governments and scientists to stop over-complicating the information they provide to the rest of us.
Obama and Locke are people with vision and who communicate it simply and consistently. In their own ways they are powerful examples for the rest of us.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rudd, Turnbull And That Ute

This past few days accusations have been flying around the Australian Parliament about Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (or his staff) allegedly using his position to help a friend gain access to government-supplied finance.

The same friend has "lent" Mr Rudd a utility truck (ute) which he uses as a mobile billboard in his Brisbane electorate.

The Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull sees this a a flagrant abuse of Prime Ministerial power while Mr Rudd denies the accusations. An Auditor General's investigation into the matter kicks off shortly but right now it's a case of he said she said.

One PR outcome is certain. Either the Prime Minister or the Opposition Leader is likely to emerge with damage to his personal brand.

Mr Rudd has consistently advocated for open and transparent government. If the accusation is proven the Prime Minister's credibility and reputation will take a hit. He will be seen as failing to walk the talk on ministerial accountability and broken a key PR commandment: you can't say one thing then do another.

In the end if Mr Turnbull's charges fail he will be criticised for misleading the public. And many people will wonder why he chose to divert the national attention to a trivial matter and way from key issues such as climate change and an uncertain economy.

Meanwhile the rest of us will watch this issue unfold - mostly in the media - as both men go all out to prove their communications credibility. It's likely to prove a fascinating case study in media relations, reputation management perhaps even crisis communications.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Communications Lessons from Obama's Cairo Speech

This past week President Obama delivered a speech on building bridges between the US and the Muslim world. Immediately after he delivered the speech in Cairo it was posted to the White House and media websites around the world and so far has received warm endorsement in the US and abroad.

Obama is a masterful communicator, perhaps the most effective Presidential orator since Ronald Reagan. Aside from its strategically critical content, the speech was a significant piece of communications and something from which we can all learn as we speak out on behalf of our own organisations:
  • Obama spoke with a keen awareness of his audience - not only the 3000 strong audience at the University of Cairo but to Muslims listening throughout the world. He started by acknowledging the contributions Islam has made to world history and by noting his own personal credentials, namely his childhood experiences in the Muslim world. He established a connection between himself and those listening to him, acutely mindful of the cultural sensitivities that have plagued US - Arab relations in recent years.
  • He outlined how the US and the Arab community might connect better in five specific areas providing examples of how closer cooperation in each might be achieved. The speech had both vision and detail.
  • The speech was simple and clear. It was big on optimism yet at the same time he acknowledged that moving ahead was not going to be easy. So often great communications start by focusing on what brings people together and then identifying the way ahead for resolving the challenges that keep them apart.
Hopefully Obama's aspirations for a safer Middle East will be realised. At least they have started with more empathetic and effective communications than we have seen in a very long time.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Recession Proof Your Marketing and PR

We are living through a perilous economic period with lots of talk about budget cuts and job losses. It is a troubling time for communicators facing cuts in their PR budgets and job losses. If you are a corporate, government or not for profit communicator invariably your marketing and PR efforts are under sustained and serious challenge.

It would be nice to able to apply a marketing template and come up with an answer for the future. But we are in unprecedented times. We can only determine the way forward by reviewing the lessons of the past, understanding the changing environment we find ourselves in and applying all our skills, experience and intuition to the current situation. And of course we will all need a little luck.

Let me share some personal thoughts as you set out on the road ahead.

Firstly strip away all the high blown definitions of marketing and PR. Marketing and PR is about talking to your customers, clients or community and helping them meet their needs. Whether you are in a down time or a boom time you can only achieve real results through having a continuing conversation with these people.

Cease the conversation and you cease the relationship

So rule #1 in difficult circumstances is keep the conversation going. US studies dating back to the 1970s show companies that continue to market during tough periods increase their sales not only during the downturn but for up to two years afterwards.

When people slash marketing budgets they are effectively abandoning the conversation with the people that matter most. They leave behind a vacuum which organisations with more active communications often step in and fill.

Marketing in tough times is akin to the effort required by cyclists in the
annual Tour de France road race. At the start every competitor is fresh and ready to win. But as the race enters its mountainous stretches, the individual who puts in the greatest and most sustained uphill effort often sets himself up to win the race.

But while you should continue to communicate it can never be a blind effort. Now more than ever is the time to be strategic and to move forward with serious and sustained intent. This means:
  • Marketing to a simple, well thought plan and not acting on impulse or being paralyzed by fear.
  • Keeping whatever marketing and PR efforts you can in-house. Only bring in outside expertise for absolutely essential tasks you cannot do yourself. Now is the time to skill up your team in those PR and marketing jobs which in better times you may have outsourced.
  • Replacing high cost marketing activities with more accountable options such as structured word of mouth marketing, referral and alliance marketing, direct mail and communicating through digital media. These may be less glamorous than glitzy events, glossy publications and the glories of TV advertising but in the end they are likely to prove more sustainable and will certainly be less expensive.
  • Measuring all your outreach efforts so you can accurately calculate the return on investment (ROI) for each marketing tool you use. Starting now you need hard data to make conscious, well thought out decisions about where your effort and money (now both in short supply) should go.
And above all recognise that consumers, citizens and communities are in the process of redefining their concepts of value. Smaller wallets and lighter purses may mean they hold off longer on new purchases and they are more prone to negotiate. But when they do decide to act, they will be looking for a balance of price, reliability, performance and a sense of safety and confidence in the goods and services they purchase.

So if your marketing has gone missing in action during the recession, there's little hope of convincing them you are the one to meet these fundamental needs.

Without doubt organisations will need guts and persistence to hold their marketing nerve and continue to communicate. But the quality and level of your marketing now could well determine if your organisation makes it to the other side of this recession.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Trust May Be Declining But Still Critical

The executive summary of the annual Edelman Trust Barometer* was released in London last week.

Now in its 10th year the Barometer is a measure of the trust people around the world have in institutions. Not surprisingly in the midst of very difficult times in global markets, trust in business and government is on the decline.

Edelman reports "62% of 25-to-64-year-olds surveyed in 20 countries—say they trust corporations less now than they did a year ago. When it comes to being distrusted, business is not alone. Globally, trust in business, media, and government is half-empty; and trust in
government scores even lower than trust in business".

However not for profit organisations are the most trusted global institutions. Which should encourage those community groups, charities and others that struggle to get attention. State your case clearly and people are likely to respect what you have to say, more so than information from other types of organisations.

But does trust really matter? According to the survey the answer is a resounding "yes":

  • In the past year, 91% of 25-to-64-year-olds around the world indicated they bought a product or service from a company they trusted.
  • 77% refused to buy a product or service from a distrusted company.
  • Being able to trust a company is one of the most important factors in determining a company’s reputation, ranking just below the quality of its products, the treatment of employees and on par with its financial future.
  • Companies seen as responsible are significantly more likely to be supported in their efforts to sell goods and services, pursue changes in local laws, seek preferential treatment or have foreign investors assume a controlling stake in the business.
Trust from stakeholders is one of the most important assets a company can have. It is difficult to define and harder to earn. And paradoxically we most appreciate the value of trust when it is absent. Trust provides the foundation for effective public relations and that's why as communicators we need to be among the leaders in our organisations in continually nurturing and growing it.

The complete report is expected to be released in the next few weeks.

Source of information: Edelman PR

Monday, January 12, 2009

Twitter Triumphs

Twitter is the new media application that lets you communicate to friends and followers in 140 character bursts via the computer, mobile phone or blackberry. It's a great way to keep in touch or unless you're careful waste time.

I'm planning an article on social media and local governments and used my Twitter connections to find two case studies (both NSW Councils).

So who else uses Twitter? Thanks to US based blogger Paul Dunay here's a list of CEOs and other top US executives on Twitter.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Our Non-Prediction Predictions for 2009

It's that time in the calendar when pundits and commentators rush out their marketing and PR predictions for the coming year. But do all their wise words mean much ... really?

After January who reads these predictions anyway? By the following December is there anyone who remembers them? And how do the rest of us hold the punditocracy accountable for what they said at the start of the year?

But for all that, it is legitimate to comment on trends likely to affect how we communicate to our communities during uncertain times.

So here's my non-prediction predictions for 2009: the factors that will influence how we reach out to one another:
  • Firstly these will be the very best of times to communicate. Whatever your status as a communicator, today and tomorrow you will have more tools than ever to engage your audiences. The potential to go beyond traditional information gatekeepers and production processes to get your message out is simply incredible. Social media is the genie which can grant your communications wishes and in the past two years that genie has jumped from the bottle. New media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc may not be around forever but one thing is certain. In the aggregate they are perceptibly changing the way we relate to each other. They have put us well and truly in pioneer territory, and although we may not be able to see the new communications landscape, there's no turning back from here on in.
  • Paradoxically these will also be the worst of times to communicate. Two issues - the financial crisis and global warming - will dominate our conversations into the foreseeable future. Both are incredibly difficult to understand, harder yet to explain and the solutions to them are a good way off and far from clear. Yet every significant issue you and I wish to raise, may at some point be benchmarked against these two stories because together they define our times.
  • The future looks set to place a premium on leaders as communicators. In tough times people look to those in authority to provide explanations and point the way ahead. Yet few hierarchical figures in our organisations are good communicators. And even fewer are good at motivating those around them. It is never too late to instill in our managers and others the imperative of communicating well and give them the skills for that difficult but important job.
  • During the good times our societies are often individualistic and materialistic. But the high fliers and big names of the financial and business worlds have left the scene leaving precious little to show for their much lauded efforts of previous years. In tough times either we act together or we fail to act. Hopefully a sense of community and common purpose will return to our communities where a person's public value is marked by their contribution to the greater good rather than how much they earn. The rush to be seen to be green and corporate social responsibility may have already laid the foundations for this shift to authentic communications and commitment to communities.
Only two things are clear from this vantage point. No-one and nothing is certain. And our surest course is to communicate with integrity.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tough Times Demand Clear Communications

Right now we need communicators of the calibre of Franklin D Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Here's why....

Last week the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Glenn Stevens, said '...given the underlying strengths of the Australian economy about the biggest mistake we could make would be talk ourselves into unnecessary economic weakness.'

Stevens' remarks are a timely reminder that tough times call for clear communications. In uncertain times the only sure way we can chart a new course is through having leaders who communicate clearly, consistently and offer us a sense of hope and direction.

Forget the markets, economists, sharemarket traders, pundits and others to show us the future. They are the same people who got us into this financial meltdown mess,and how many of us really understood what they were saying anyway? It would be foolish to think they can succeed now when the issues to be communicated are so much more complex.

The demand will be increasingly for leaders in the workplace, business, the community and above all at the political level who can talk to us in simple, straight forward language about where we find ourselves and how to move forward to a better place.

I recently visited the Presidential Libraries of US Presidents Franklin D Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, arguably among the master communicators of the 20th century. Both made complex issues easy to understand for the common man and woman and, both carried a sense of grounded optimism in their public commentary even when the issues were hard.

In uncertain times people will expect their managers and leaders to talk straight and talk often. We are heading back to the future where simplicity, a sense of direction and (dare I say it) cautious optimism will become increasingly prized in the communications with our communities.