Showing posts with label trust. Show all posts
Showing posts with label trust. Show all posts

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Who Do Aussies Really Trust?

2014 Edelman Trust Barometer - Global Results from Edelman Insights

Trust is critical in content marketing or any other form of communications. The 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer shows who people around the globe trust. 

The Australian results are interesting.  Overall there has been an increase in the trust levels of Australians over the past 12 months. Specifically trust in:
  • Not for profits is marginally up.
  • Trust in media is up six points.
  • Business has taken a 10 point leap in trust levels.
  • There is a higher level of trust in government.
Interestingly Australians trust business slightly more than they do governments. 
Globally people want CEOs to communicate in a clear and transparent fashion, tell the truth regardless of the situation and regularly engage with employees.  For a clear majority these behaviours count more than CEOs being active in the media.

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. 



Thursday, April 14, 2011

Automation Poses PR Risk For Qantas

If you recently travelled Qantas from Sydney, you will have used the airline's automated check-in and bag drop services. 

The DIY check-in has been around a while but the self serve bag drop is new. 

Qantas seems hell bent on using automation to contain costs and remain competitive. For example it is cheaper to book a Qantas ticket online than over the phone. Hopefully all this results in better priced travel. 

Of course technology is replacing people in many industries. But is it the best strategy? The more hi-tech our world becomes, the more we crave hi-touch. As humans we want to engage with others when we travel, bank or are otherwise involved in transactions where making errors can cost us. Rightly or wrongly we think dealing with people is less risky than dealing with microchips. 

With the new automated bag drops (which are clumsy to use) aircrews may now be the only Qantas staff most people ever meet. That means the pressure is firmly on hard worked cabin staff to carry forward the company brand. 

In recent times how often have you remarked on improved service when you fly?  Probably not very often. Increasingly air travel is a frustrating experience. Airport parking fees are exorbitant, restrooms are smelly and on planes and terminals you pay high prices for everything including the coffee. 10 years on from September 11 security checks remain onerous. 

By removing people-facing staff, Qantas has embarked on a high risk strategy. How will the cumulative effect  of these changes be seen by customers? Will they be happy dealing with machines or do they prefer the friendly staff for which QANTAS has become rightly famous? The accountants might be happy but the marketers must be holding their breath.

It will be interesting to see the data on Qantas' customer satisfaction levels 12 months from now. My feeling is the new measures will be as popular as going through airport security.

In previous times Australians used to applaud the pilot when the plane landed safely.  However in less than a generation air travel has gone from an experience to a commodity.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Defence In Communications War

If the Australian Defence Force loosened its control over communications it would gain more control over its public image. 

I say this as the Australian Defence Academy is embroiled in a sex scandal which Australia's media is reporting in detail.This latest incident follows a litany of problems with the public image of Defence. These include claims of ongoing equipment cost blow-outs, inappropriate behavior by service personnel, poor maintenance and pay glitches suffered by frontline troops. 

Defence is known for keeping an iron grip on its media relations and communications with the public. This must frustrate the thousands of servicemen and women who perform creditably each day often in tough, tough circumstances. They really deserve to have their efforts recognized. 

Occasionally we learn about their work but mostly it is rare for Australians to meet a serviceman  or woman in the course of a normal year and hear or see what they do. 

I also know a lack of information from Defence has frustrated the generation of journalists I have worked with. 

Australians have a deep affection for their soldiers, sailors, airmen and women stemming from the legend of the ANZACs. So perhaps Defence would be better served sharing their stories in a open, transparent way with rest of us rather than only communicating  when faced with scandal.

Disclaimer: I served 30 plus in the Australian Army including as the Army's first Director of Public Affairs.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Repositioning Your Brand: Book Review

Repositioning: marketing in an era of competition, change and crisis
Easy read with practical information
is authored by US marketers Jack Trout and Steve Rivkin.

Both have written a book of uncommon wisdom for marketers in the post Global Financial Crisis world. 

It is hardly suprising Trout (and Rivkin) has produced this book now.  Communicators know that competition is fiercer than ever, budgets are under pressure and the old ways of communicating are under serious challenge. Since the 1980s Trout has been writing and offering solid, practical marketing ideas in compelling, clear prose for communicators of all descriptions.  My bookcase holds several of his earlier works and while their 80s and 90s covers now look dated and daggy each is well-read and much loved.

Repositioning calls on companies not to manufacture but to adjust the perceptions people have either of them or their competition.  Why?  Because people are complex creatures when it comes to communications. We are overloaded with information, few of us can tolerate confusion or risk, we lose focus easily and once we have made up our minds that’s pretty much it.  It is hard to move us from our existing attitudes so only by working within the framework of how people already think can organizations achieve sustainable results.

The authors suggest two basic strategies to get people to thinking differently about your brand.  Reposition the competition and/or go out all out to compete on a simply defined value proposition. Big companies often struggle to carry out either one. They are slower to turn around than the Queen Mary and because of their size and complexity many have trouble managing their way out of problems or managing their way into opportunities.   Of course big firms are well placed to compete on price.  However this is often a short-lived strategy and one only available to the bigger players.  For the rest of us someone else can always mark down the sales docket lower than we can, plus research shows most price promotions rarely succeed in the long run. 

Reframing the competition means hanging a negative on a rival to reflect a favourable comparison on ourselves.  Given most marketers are positive, upbeat souls and most managers are disinclined to controversy it can be difficult to steer an organization in this direction. Yet Trout and Rivkin cite examples in the olive oil, prestige cars, vodka and other industries showing how this strategy can fence in the competition.

We instinctively know successful marketers need to communicate value to the marketplace because as one chapter title proclaims “value is the name of the game”.  Value can come through doing something special, getting new technologies to the market first or stressing whole of life costs over mere purchase price. It can also come from adding premiums others cannot match or at its most basic by being  plain nice and helpful to your customers.

The book cautions repositioning is not easy.  It takes focus, management leading from the front and advertising and public relations combining in a linear, well thought out fashion.  The key ingredients for any repositioning strategy are time and commitment.

The book sells for $42.95?  Is it worth it?  It is to me.  Right now I am putting together a marketing strategy for an iconic project with high expectations.  It has involved many dedicated people for many years and the public has definite opinions.  I am sure Trout and Rivkin's insights will help me plan a better campaign. 

Monday, October 5, 2009

Don't Applaud the Death of the Newspaper Just Yet

A few days ago I downloaded some songs from ITunes. It was a quick and cheap transaction and within minutes I was playing selected songs from the 60s. My transaction was easy: in fact probably similar to thousands of other ITunes downloads made each day.

I precisely identified my preferences for music and the Internet delivered exactly what I wanted. And that got me thinking - there may be a downside to all this.

While the Internet is great at delivering information to suit our needs it is not so great at delivering other information which we either should know or possibly might want to know. And that's what makes the Internet so different from newspapers.

By and large our daily or weekly newspapers do a creditable job of sourcing, sifting and presenting a broad selection of news from our communities, states or from around the world. It could be information on politics, business, sports, health or a whole host of other topics. Newspapers lay out a vast array of information and each edition offers us the opportunity to learn something either we did not know or really need to know. And all the time we retain the right to skim straight past anything we don't not fancy.

The Internet on the other hand delivers only what you we ask for. That is its great strength and at the same time a fundamental weakness. By its very specificity it just might fail to introduce us to other material we could benefit from.

Some call this the echo chamber effect. Unless we take very deliberate steps to expose ourselves to contending voices, we stand in danger of seeking out only the information from the Net that supports our opinions and own world view.

This phenomen is nothing new. Research shows many of us choose to get information only from those media outlets that agree with and give voice to our opinions. Perhaps this is just part of the human condition: to hear what we want to hear. But the troubling thing about the Internet is it can silo our information with such cold efficiency.

Some social media commentators delight in predicting the demise of the newspaper. The evidence certainly seems powerful particularly in the USA and more recently here in Australia with the shrinking of Fairfax newsrooms and the iconic Trading Post disappearing from our news stands to morph into an online version.

I am more cautious about whether the predicted death of the newspaper is such a good thing. True they have their shortcomings but without print newspapers do we risk losing the daily opportunity to tune into the broad coverage of community information they provide? News that we can read over coffee, swap, share and circle with a pencil. Or even rip out and stick on the refrigerator door if it is particularly relevant to our lives. And without the traditional newspaper where will those without digital access go?

I'm a great believer in the digital age bringing in a golden age in communications. However let's be careful. We may gain something wonderfully valuable from these new digital platforms but in the process we may lose
something wonderfully valuable as well.

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, 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.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Distancing Yourself From Former Clients or Bosses

I came across this Chicago example of a PR agency distancing itself from a former client.

In Rugby League it's a bit like confronting a Kiwi haka.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Assumptions Are The Biggest Mistake in PR

Never assume anything when you communicate:
  • Never assume any communications task is easy. Invariably it won't be.
  • Never assume those you work with know what you are doing. They don't. Unless you specifically tell them.
  • Never assume those beyond your organisation have received your information and understood it. Chances are they haven't.
Recently I had a humbling experience.

At the end of a meeting with two key supporters of a particular program, they asked where this program fitted "in the grand scheme of things" and requested simpler explanations of the program that could be passed on to their members. Simple requests but startling statements. I had been dealing with these organisations since 2003. For six years I assumed because I knew, they knew.

PR-wise it was embarrassing. In building our relationships with these key groups, it seems we overlooked three fundamental PR tenets.
  • Always keep key people in organisations that support your program fully informed. In particular make special efforts to let them what is happening in times of significant change. Even if you can't reveal the full story tell them as much as you can.
  • Write your publications and produce your multimedia for others ... not for yourself. Sometimes we becomes so obsessed with how we want our information presented and what senior management will finally approve, we forget to ask if our intended audiences will actually understand our material.
  • And always follow up to see if your material hits the mark. I have worked with organisations where the energy involved in just getting "things out of the door" (often because of cumbersome approval processes) leaves the communications team too exhausted to check their information is received, understood and acted upon.
For organisations with a monopoly on services, funding or information, push down communications might still work. But even then I think those days are numbered.

If like most of us, your organisation competes for the limited time and attention of citizens, consumers or communities, you need to continually engage your audiences with easy to understand and updated information. Or run the real risk of being among the thousands of PR and marketing messages people discard each day.

Is this basic? Yes it is? And I can see some communicators thinking these observations are wasting valuable blog space. But no matter how good we think our PR is, from time to time it's good to challenge ourselves to never assume anything when you communicate with others.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stop Facebook Spam

Is sending media releases through Facebook spam?

I just got a media release on my Facebook page from Australian federal politician, Joe Hockey MP, about the Liberal Party's opposition to the Australian Government's latest Australian economic stimulus package.

I have asked to be removed from Joe's media release distribution list. Otherwise I'm happy to hear what he is up to in his electorate and his general comings and goings in the community.

Is sending a media release to Facebook friends (who you don't know) legitimate communications?

Or is it social media spam?

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

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.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Don't Waste Time Social Networking Unless...

Social networking is a big waste of time ... if that's all you ever do.

At some point your online conversations and relationships have to convert to offline action if you either want to change something or make something happen. Perhaps the real power in online conversations through Facebook, blogs, Twitter etc is to raise awareness of issues and give people sufficient information to motivate them to act in the real world.

It all comes down to persuasion and trust and we think US marketing guru, Seth Godin has got it just about right.

Monday, December 22, 2008

PR Tips For Not For Profits in Tough Times #2

Thanks to all of you who contributed ideas to our call for low budget PR ideas for not for profits facing tough times. We got a great response through Facebook, email, in conversations over coffee and of course through this blog.

We have put together a 19 page PDF report which brings together all these great suggestions.

I'll be sending it out to those contributors for whom I have contact details.

Email if you would like a copy and put the word Report in the subject line of your email.

Again thanks for your thoughts and good luck to the marketing efforts of all community groups in the coming year.

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.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Plain Talking In Motown

I have just returned home after three weeks in the USA. And what an exciting time it has been for a communicator to be in the US. Particularly watching the US Presidential Elections unfold at first hand.

But first let me tell you about the International Conference of the Public Relations Society of America, where 3000 communicators from around the world met in Detroit (Motown) to discuss the latest trends in communications.

The conference was dominated by two themes - the dawn of a new communications era brought about by social media and the need for authenticity in communications.

The discussion certainly ran hot about using on-line technologies to connect with audiences. It seems American communicators are far more advanced than their Australian peers in using social media. I estimate about 2/3 of those in Detroit were already using digital platforms like Twitter, Facebook etc both for their personal and corporate communications and the remainder simply know they have to catch up to remain competitive.

Authenticity was the other key theme - speaker after speaker emphasised that effective PR is achieved only through honest, open and two way relationships and the days of organisations telling people what to think are disappearing fast.

Citizens, consumers and communities expect to be listened to, and have their concerns acted upon. Following the collapse of the global economy we are seeing the exit of the 'smart guys'. Those who made a ton of money peddling information about products and services most of us could not understand. Perhaps, and hopefully, we are seeing a return to basic communications values such as respect, plain talking and tolerance for different ideas.

Certainly this was a theme taken up by Conference keynote speaker Craig Newmark founder of Craig's List, a site which gets 12 billion hits each month. Craig talked about the need to get involved, to listen, continuously engage with the community and treat people 'like you want to be treated'.

It all sounds a bit 'down home and folksy' but it's refreshing to see values-based communications back on the agenda.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lipstick: Not on my pig thank you

In the past week we saw a media storm in the US presidential election following comments by Barack Obama about the Republican Party trying to dress up its policies.

He used a colloquial term‘lipstick on a pig’ which is a colourful way of saying you can’t make something attractive if it plainly isn’t.

The Republicans took this as a criticism of their Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, who the week before had used a lipstick reference in her acceptance speech.

The media picked up on the ‘he said she said’ verbal seesawing that followed between the two parties. The air turned thick with claim and counter claim about lipstick, pigs and personal attacks.

What a waste of precious time and energy that all was. Especially when global warming, terrorism, the state of the US economy and other key issues call for immediate attention.

The Public Relations Society of America was the only group to emerge looking good. On behalf of its 32 000 members the Society called on both the Democrat and Republic campaign managers to commit to the highest standards of ethical practice in their campaign communications and forgo innuendo, incomplete information, surrogate messaging and character attacks.

It asked both campaign managers to sign pledges to this effect but have yet to hear back from either. The Society also started up a Facebook group, “Clean & Fair Campaign 2008,” as a quasi petition to support their stand on honest and open communications in the Elections.

For years I have belonged to the Public Relations Institute of Australia, the Australian Marketing Institute and the International Association of Business Communicators. Yet I can’t recall those professional bodies saying anything in public about honesty in public communications.

Well done PRSA for taking the lead.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Word of Mouth Marketing Part 2: Message Multipliers

In an information-overloaded world many of us increasingly turn to people we respect for information, advice and to help us make sense of the world.

We seek out these key influencers because they have particular skills, knowledge, experience or just wise way of looking at things. They often are at the centre of community, business, or social networks so if they support what you do, they can help you connect with people you might otherwise struggle to reach.

These ‘message multipliers’ are important whether you are in business, work in government or belong to a community group. Their value to you lies in the fact they can:
  • Give their personal credibility to your information within their networks.
  • Pass along your information in language their people understand.
  • Help you frame your issue so it makes more sense for people they know.
  • Allow you to include your information in their events, newsletters, websites etc.
You can identify key influencers among or through:
  • Your best customers.
  • Key professions associated with your cause.
  • Business and community organisations.
  • Local governments.
  • Local media.
  • Leaders of local school and parish committees, service clubs and sporting clubs.
  • Teachers and academics associated with your issue.
Even in this digital age personal contact remains the best way to approach key influencers. Invariably they are busy people and time poor but will appreciate meeting face to face.

At your initial meeting (unless they are already committed customers) your only job is to show how what you do will benefit the people they know. After all their credibility depends on the value of information they pass along to others.

Convince key influencers to support your issue and you pass a critical milestone in generating successful word of mouth marketing.