PR as an Instrument for Human Resources
In the search for the perfect employee, more and more German companies are participating in the “competition for talent”. Necessarily so. Due to demographic changes in the country, competition for the best brains has been heightened. As in many other European countries, Germany is experiencing steady population decline. Increasingly fewer young people as opposed to increasingly more old: the population is expected to fall by about 17 million inhabitants by the year 2060, according to forecasts from the Federal Office for Statistics. One in three will be over 65 years old. And one in seven, about 10 million people, will actually be over 80 years old.
These days, competence in communication and dialogue is playing a pivotal role for companies that want to differentiate themselves from their rivals in this highly competitive market. And so it comes as no surprise that a new term has found its way into the vocabulary of personnel: Human Resources-Public Relations (HR-PR). In light of the skill shortage, an increasing number of personnel departments are finding out that HR-PR is an important component of their employer brandings. If companies deploy Public Relations – especially when it comes to increasing the awareness level for their products – horizons slowly expand: The idea behind HR-PR is to present the company as an attractive employer to potential applicants.
So what do we actually mean when we talk about “HR-PR”? Essentially the term relates to external communication. PR is used to communicate content, messages and stories, where HR takes centre stage: the focus is on the working environment in companies, on organizations as employers. This primarily entails classical presswork. Active issue management regarding all current issues in the working and living environment means having to find what those current issues are. It also requires mid to long term topic planning. Other elements are, of course, the placement of interview partners from each of the relevant sectors, as well as active contact with journalists. The tools of story telling can also be sensibly deployed. Trust can be created by telling stories, such as how employees can find an optimal work-life balance or how the company and its employees are mastering the challenges of an ageing society. This trust will be in the company as an employer and also in its products. Companies often underestimate interesting details from their working organisation and thus miss out on opportunities to have their voice heard.
In many organizations, involvement in associations and other cross-company initiatives can also be considered as HR-PR, such as talks and publications, which go beyond the realms of classical recruitment.
Thanks to Web 2.0, other opportunities are available for HR-PR: direct contact as well as uncomplicated dialogue with potential colleagues. Career starters and young professionals in particular don’t just inform themselves via the official career network sites of the company; rather they also use the social networks and online communities to find out more about their potential employers. Having a presence on important professional networks such as Xing is now a norm. Although many potential employees are also available via Facebook, so far only a handful of companies are using this channel.
In this context, employer rating websites such as kununu.de, jobvoting.de and bizzwatch.de should be closely monitored. Poor ratings from (former) employees about the company climate, the bosses or colleagues can create an Internet crisis in no time at all. Let us not forget the assertion of Edward L. Bernays, Father of Public Relations, who in the mid 1950s claimed that “PR begins at home”: The best ambassadors for a company are its own employees. They remain the most important HR communicators. With maximum credibility and authenticity.
Author: Michael Zühlke is Managing Director relatio PR
Social Media: Creating New Challenges and Opportunities
Social Media are redefining Crisis Communication protocols whether we like it or not. It is therefore essential that usage, monitoring and analysis of social media become an integral part of companies risk and crisis management, planning and operations.
Let me start with an example from Norway where we, as in most other countries, have strict protocols and routines for handling information about missing persons or people killed in an accident. The person in question has to be identified; the police locate next of kin and the local police, or a representative for the church or religious group, then pass on the terrible news to the family. In the last couple of years we have unfortunately seen cases where affected families have received the news via Facebook and other social media. People at the site and even those involved in the rescue operations spread the news of what has happened and who the victim is. The pain of the families who receive the news is unimaginable and receiving the news via Facebook cannot make things any better.
These examples are not just terrible, but they also show us a new landscape which needs a new map.
My second example: A company came under massive pressure from the media and the relevant authorities due to potential malpractice and bad management. It seemed as if the company had broken several laws and regulations in order to gain profit. As the situation unfolded, journalists used Facebook and Twitter to be listed as friends and followers of staff members and other employees. From the ‘semi-inside’ position journalists could access crucial information – right from the horse’s mouth! It didn’t help that some of the management team tweeted aggressively, not aware that their tweets ranked high when ‘googling’ their names.
Journalists are changing their ways of identifying, defining, and using sources. Social media can be like a candy store for journalists.
In other crises, we have seen examples of how support via social media from employees has helped crisis response teams in their efforts to defend the reputation of a company or a brand. Likewise, when the volcanic ashes interrupted flight traffic, the main airline companies in Norway used Facebook to reach out to those affected. In this instance, Facebook was a better tool for dialogue than any of the other web applications the companies had invested in. From other countries and crises we have also witnessed how social media can be used to mobilise the masses, create dialogue and possibly even stir-up revolution.
During the earthquake in Japan, Google.org initiated a platform for Crisis Management as well as Crisis Communication (http://www.google.com/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html).
Thus, my message to board members, management groups and others with key positions in companies is: Please include social media both as part of the risk assessment but also as a tool in your company’s crisis management response. Find a professional to help you in your national market.
Bear in mind though that you cannot control what employees are writing in social media. The only thing you can influence – in the long term – is the motivation of employees and customers, and their loyalty to the company. This is why the human factor is becoming more and more essential in all crisis management and communication.
And the key to the human factor is quality and open communication at all levels.
Note: Facebook in Norway
In Norway, with a population of 4,920,300, we have 2,554,600 Facebook users – more than 54 percent of the population with users equally split between men and women.
Change Management: Communication is vital!
Everyday there are media reports about mergers and acquisitions, reduction in the work force and restructurings of companies. Once an exception, change has become an everyday issue – especially in economically rough times. Today, change is – bizarre as it may seem – an on-going process. It is multi-facetted, involves all parts of a company and may affect anyone at any time. In this process, communication management is vital for the success of the operation.
Human beings are known to be creatures of habit. Usually they react with scepticism when confronted with something new. The reason: Change brings with it incertitude, the familiar coordinates are taken away, people regard a change in their routine as a possible threat. Often, this makes employees less willing to participate actively in the change process. In this situation, a professional communication management is vital for the success of change. There is no “patent remedy”, because every change process has its individual challenges. Nevertheless, there are some basic aspects to pay attention to when communicating change:
A survey run by the German research centre Emnid underlines the importance of communication in change processes: More than 80 percent of change projects are bound to fail due to mistakes in communication. This is not surprising: Very often, there seems to be no common understanding of the challenges, no common set of values and, therefore, there is no common basis for communication within the company.
Moreover, the overall time frame and schedule of change communication seems to be triggering failure: Change is either communicated too early, too late or too soon within the process. When employees get the news about a change directly affecting them from the media first, they tend to interpret this as betrayal. If management decisions are badly explained and remain incomprehensible, people may feel left out. This atmosphere is a major source for the spreading of rumours that may become harmful to the process and difficult to stop.
So what does this mean – effective communication management in change processes? First of all, it is not only concerned with the hard facts and figures, but includes the “soft factors”. Those affected by change must be prepared by transparent, timely and comprehensive communication.
Social Media – A New Tool in Change Processes
Social Media have been part of change communication for quite a while. Due to a recent survey of the University of Stuttgart more than 40 per cent of the respondents have personal experiences with Social Media (two years ago, it was only 20 per cent). Most popular in the context of change communication are online surveys, virtual communities and wikis.
The advantages of using Social Media in change processes are evident: timeliness, improved networking, user generated contents and dialogue functions get those affected by the change involved into the process. It is the people themselves that become active participants in the change project. At the same time, these new tools provide new challenges: Using Social Media means following their own rules. Only those that stick to the rules of Web 2.0 can profit from the potential of Social Media in change projects.
First of all, one must remember: Not everyone is a “digital native”! There are still quite a number of people around – especially the older members of staff – that prefer classical communication to Web 2.0. Therefore, Social Media cannot replace traditional communication; they are but one tool more within the communication mix. Newsletters, personal interviews and meetings are still – despite all the hype about Social Media – the “agent of choice” in business communication.
There are three aspects to make change communication successful:
What are the overall objectives of the change process?
- Corporate Culture
What type of employees are needed in the new company? What kind of environment do they need to be productive?
How shall the new company be structured? Which communication instruments are required at which point in time? And what are the main messages?
The more confident a company is and the more it integrates people into the process, the more will employees be willing to trust their employer. And this means that change will be more easily accepted.
Five Success Factors of Change Communication
1. Timely information policy!
Those in charge and employees must be informed on a regular and up-to-date basis. This helps to maintain the credibility of the board.
Good communication appeals to heart and soul – facts alone cannot counter fear.
3. Customised Messages!
Define separate messages for individual target groups within the change process.
4. Communication means Dialogue!
Dialogue must be in the centre of all communication – one-way functions will not do.
5. Communication is Top Priority!
The will to change must be visibly supported by the whole board and must have a high priority. This includes setting practical examples by individual behaviour.
Dr. Thorsten Hofmann is academic director of the MBA programme “Public Affairs & Politics” of Quadriga Hochschule Berlin (www.quadriga.eu). He is managing director of PRGS consultancy (www.prgs.de) and chairman of the “Crisis Task Force” of the international communication network ECCO International Public Relations Ltd.
An Educated Approach to Digital Marketing
In Finland, large industrial companies have been slow to adopt new digital media in comparison to their foreign counterparts. Finnish B2B companies are finally taking the plunge into the world of digital marketing and social media, but in true Finnish form, they are not taking these steps lightly. While many of their American competitors have been active on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogging sites for some time, this hasn’t meant that Finnish companies have blindly jumped on the bandwagon. They prefer to do their research first.
The University of Jyväskylä (Finland) has received a sizeable grant from Tekes, The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, for its research into digital marketing and communications. The university heads the million Euro research project that aims to increase the digital marketing and communications know-how of Finnish industry. The project is set to delve into the relationship between digital marketing and traditional communications and will work towards creating effective tools to utilise digital channels and social media in sales, marketing and R&D.
Finnish industrial companies are known internationally for taking their promises seriously. Customers consider these companies and their products reliable and high quality. This high quality is also expected in their digital presence and customer communications. “We are especially interested in finding out how the use of new media can help create savings and play a supportive role in sales and R&D operations, while simultaneously improving the quality and frequency of dialogue with customers,” explains Professor Heikki Karjaluoto of the University of Jyväskylä.
The research is carried out by The University of Jyväskylä, Aalto University, Jyväskylä Polytechnic University and Oulu University. There are 13 major corporations involved in the project. The industrial B2B companies represented include the likes of Elematic, Moventas, Rautaruukki, The Switch, UPM, Vapo and Wärtsilä. Radikal Advertising & PR, along with BrandSon, DiVia, Movya, Sanoma and Tieto are also actively taking part in the project.
“In the long run, we wish to develop our customer communications across new channels. This research project offers us a great way to do just that that. We are especially keen to find out about the opportunities that social media has to offer for the B2B sector. We are also interested in finding out how these digital channels will affect the traditional media mix,” says Pirkko Harrela, Chief Communications Officer, UPM.
“This project allows everyone involved to exchange ideas and it will help us develop our digital customer service concepts,” Kimmo Kanerva, Marketing Director of Rautaruukki explains. He continues by stating that he believes: “we will be able to gain a competitive edge through developing faster and more agile operational models.”
The Finnish B2B sector is serious about social media and new digital channels of communication. While it is too late for them to be the fastest to adopt these new approaches, we can expect them to become very efficient in utilising the opportunities they present. We are happy to be a part of this study that will, without doubt, provide valuable information not only for Finnish industrial companies, but also for the global B2B sector in the near future.
For more information:
- Professor of Marketing, Heikki Karjaluoto, University of Jyväskylä, School of Economics:
- TEKES – The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation:
Online communications in 2011
(Please scroll down for the Dutch version of this post)
A quick look back…
What do media, the general public, consumers and organizations all have in common? Their online activity grew significantly last year, in fact 2010 was a memorable year:
- Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter grew fast intheNetherlands.
- Facebook became the most visited website ahead of Google.
- Facebook welcomed its 500 millionth user, Twitter its 200 millionth.
- The Telegraaf Media Group took over the Dutch network site Hyves
- Apple transformed the PC and laptop markets by introducing the iPad.
- Old Spice doubled its turnover and enjoyed a rapid revival of its reputation via the social media campaign with Isaiah Mustafa.
We have 9 months left in 2011. What can we expect? Are organizations able to manage the dynamic social media? Or is social media already passé? Will this be the watershed year for mobile internet? In short:
What’s hot and not in 2011?
Bex*communicatie predicts certain trends and developments in the coming months. We focused our long list on four macro trends:
1. inside becomes outside
2. minority becomes majority
3. physical becomes virtual
4. small becomes big
Trend 1 – inside becomes outside
The world gets more transparent every day. People expect you to act responsibly and be acountable. If organizations cannot bear the responsibility for themselves, then their customers will do it for them through user generated content via social media channels.
In other words: reputation is identity. Authenticity is more important than ever. What do you believe, what do you promise, how do you behave? Organizations are authentic if these three answers are aligned. Real-time monitoring is important to verify the match between inside and outside.
Over the past years, the Internet has become more of a social and interactive environment. Once the crowd trusts the online channel, sharing experiences, sentiments and reviews will become even more pervasive. Interaction will be more important than sending and pushing information. Both consumers as organizations are working to this end.
Brand loyalty and consistent, approachable contact moments are fundamental to the growth of brands. In 2011, these contact moments need to lead to specific goals.
Social consumers want to be rewarded for their behavior. They are willing to visit FourSquare, and check in at StarBucks, in exchange for a free cup of coffee. Thanks to Groupon, social consumers join forces.
A mark of this development – say goodbye to privacy. With our online profiles we provide cut-and-dried information. A complex discussion concerning the ethical aspects of online privacy is waiting for us. Wikileaks is only the beginning….
Trend 2 – minority becomes majority
The web connects people with the same minds. They are chatting about their favorite brands and sharing experiences actively on a frequent basis. The opinion of the online community is critical for the creation of a certain image and to consumer purchasing.
Social media makes it possible for organizations to move into multiple networks. These networks activate cooperation, knowledge and innovation.
The explosion of blogs, social media postings, ‘likes’ and tweets lead to powerful consumers. Opinions and reviews are everywhere! In the old days, marketing was about sending a message. Today, it is about making real contact, inclusion and involvement.
For communications we need a new kind of “control”. Be aware: the word control is written between quotation marks. We cannot control an online buzz. The recent events in Egypt and other countries are clear evidence – but what we can do is listen. Take online monitoring as the first, essential component of a communication strategy.
Trend 3 – physical becomes virtual
The boundaries between the physical and virtual worlds are fading. With smart phones we can switch easily, for example with QR-codes, FourSquare or Layer. Location bases services (LBS) offer new opportunities to commit customers. And with these platforms, every consumer can become a marketer.
Trend 4 – small becomes big
Thanks to apps (user-friendly, small applications) mobile internet has exploded. GPS with mobile internet-access appears to be a crucial combination for (the future of) mobile applications.
Apps are making connection with internet, just like the browser. The difference? While the browser is answering your needs indirectly, apps will answer them directly.
Car manufacturers are installing apps that are able to measure tyre pressures, monitor oil levels and manage our favorite music. All these new functionalities become available in 2011.
As mentioned earlier, www.groupon.com will be a big success. Groupon combines the large internet network with the strength of social networks, adds regional characteristics and seduces people with interesting offers. It makes people think: “Damn, I made a great deal today”.
We cannot end a summary of trends, without looking into the future. At the moment we have phones, laptops and desktops. In the future, these devices will be integrated in our bodies. All this separate equipment is pretty annoying, right? Contacts project virtual reality within real vision. Nano robots guard the health of our bloodstreams. In short: generation cyborg is coming!
All this makes it possible to generate hyper local information. This form of hyper individualism is called B2U: business to user. That is the new credo.
In short: generation cyborg is coming and B2B and B2C are old school.
Please, do not hesitate to contact Bex*communicatie if you have further questions about the four macro trends and online communications.
Phone: + 0031 20 – 582 98 29
Online communicatie in 2011 en verder
Een korte terugblik
Media, burgers, consumenten en organisaties. Allemaal zetten ze sterk in op online communicatie. 2010 was het jaar waarin:
- Facebook, LinkedIn en Twitter snel groeiden in Nederland.
- Google voorbij werd gestreefd door Facebook als meest bezochte pagina op internet.
- Facebook zijn 500 miljoenste en Twitter zijn 200 miljoenste gebruiker mocht verwelkomen.
- Hyves werd overgenomen door Telegraaf Media Groep.
- Apple de PC transformeert met de introductie van de iPad.
- #TVOH trending topic werd op Twitter.
- De social media campagne rond Isaiah Mustafa de omzet van Old Spice verdubbelde en de naamsbekendheid vertienvoudigde.
We zijn nu drie maanden op weg in 2011. Hoe nu verder? Kunnen organisaties mee in dynamische wereld van social media? Of is social media over zijn hoogtepunt heen? Breekt mobiel definitief door? Kortom:
Wat is ‘hot’ en ‘not‘ in 2011?
In deze publicatie geeft Bex*communicatie een samenvatting van de trends en ontwikkelingen die zij voorziet in de komende maanden op het gebied van online communicatie. We hebben onze longlist teruggebracht tot vier macrotrends voor het jaar 2011:
1. Binnen wordt Buiten.
2. Minderheid wordt Meerderheid.
3. Fysiek wordt Virtueel.
4. Klein wordt Groot.
Trend 1 – Binnen wordt buiten
De wereld wordt steeds transparanter. Er wordt van je verwacht dat je verantwoording aflegt over je daden. Doe je dat als bedrijf niet zelf? Dan doet je klant het wel; in de vorm van social consumer generated content. Anders gezegd: imago = identiteit. Authenticiteit is belangrijker dan ooit. Wat geloof je, wat beloof je, wat doe je? En komen deze antwoorden met elkaar overeen? Realtime monitoring is belangrijk om te toetsen of buiten overeenkomt met binnen.
Het internet ontwikkelt zich tot een sociale, interactieve omgeving. Het delen van ervaringen, sentimenten en waarderingen wordt algemeen goed naarmate de crowd het online kanaal meer en meer gaat vertrouwen. Interactie wordt belangrijker dan zenden en zowel consumenten als bedrijven doen daar aan mee.
Merkloyaliteit en herhaalbare, laagdrempelige contactmomenten vormen het fundament voor de groei van merken. Daar worden in 2011 dan ook concrete doelstellingen aan verbonden.
De social consumers verwachten anno 2011 voor gedrag beloond te worden. Zij zijn bereid om via FourSquare in te checken bij StarBucks in ruil voor een kopje gratis koffie. En dankzij Groupon bundelen social consumers hun krachten.
De kanttekening hierbij is dat we afscheid nemen van onze privacy. Het vrijgeven van onze profielen levert namelijk kant-en-klare relevante informatie op. Over dit ethische aspect is het laatste woord nog niet gezegd. Wikileaks is nog maar het begin.
Trend 2 – Minderheid wordt meerderheid
Het web verbindt gelijkgestemden. Zij willen continu in dialoog met hun favoriete merk en delen hun ervaringen actief. De mening van de community is cruciaal in de beeldvorming en het aankoopproces.
Met behulp van social media bewegen organisaties zich in een veelvoud van netwerken. Deze netwerken katalyseren samenwerking, kennisgeneratie en innovatie.
De explosie van blogs, social media postings, likes en tweets leiden tot machtige consumenten. Meningen en waarderingen worden ongevraagd verkondigd. Vroeger ging marketing over het verkondigen van een boodschap; nu gaat het om betrokken zijn en écht contact maken.
Communicatie wordt een proces waarbij een andere ‘controle’ nodig is. En controle staat bewust tussen aanhalingstekens. Want de online buzz valt natuurlijk niet te controleren. Dat hebben we recent gezien in Egypte. Wat we wél kunnen doen is meeluisteren; online monitoring als wezenlijk eerste onderdeel van je communicatiestrategie.
Trend 3 – Fysiek wordt virtueel
De scheidslijn tussen de fysieke en virtuele wereld wordt steeds vager. Onze slimme telefoons maken het wel erg gemakkelijk om via een QR code, FourSquare of Layar over te stappen. Location based services (LBS)bieden nieuwe mogelijkheden om aan klantbinding te doen. Elke consument wordt op die manier een marketeer.
Trend 4 – Klein wordt groot
Dankzij apps (gebruiksvriendelijke kleine applicaties) heeft mobiel internet een enorme vlucht genomen. De combinatie van plaatsbepaling door GPS met mobiel breedband speelt een belangrijke rol bij mobiele toepassingen.
Net als de browser maken ook apps verbinding met internet. Waar je via de browser zelf moet zoeken naar informatie, brengen apps je direct bij datgene waar jij behoefte aan hebt.
Autofabrikanten installeren apps in hun auto’s die bandspanning meten, oliepeil bewaken en onze favoriete muziek beheren. Dit alles is standaard leverbaar vanaf 2011.
Het al eerder genoemde Groupon www.groupon.com wordt hét MKB succes. Het combineert het grote internetnetwerk met de kracht van sociale netwerken, voegt er een regionaal karakter aan toe en speelt in op de behoefte van de mens om verleid te worden door aanbiedingen, zodat je denkt: “dat heb ik maar weer mooi verdiend vandaag”.
We eindigen met een blik vooruit. Wat we nu nog doen met onze telefoons, laptops en desktops zal straks geïntegreerd worden in ons lichaam. Al die losse apparaten zijn immers maar lastig nietwaar? Contactlenzen projecteren de virtuele werkelijkheid op ons iris. Nanorobotjes bewaken onze gezondheid in onze bloedbanen.
Bijkomend voordeel zit ‘m in het kunnen aanbieden van hyper lokale informatie. Deze vorm van hyper individualisme wordt ook wel B2U genoemd: Business to User. Dit wordt het nieuwe credo.
Kortom: de generatie cyborg komt er aan, B2B en B2C zijn uit.
020 – 582 98 29
What is the true value of social media activity?
You probably all recognise the following situation: your client is convinced that using different online tools for their public relations and marketing activities is a good idea – but the marketing and communications director is finding it difficult to justify the cost versus benefit of social media activities. Within classic PR, evaluation methods are established, tried and tested, but in the case of social media, the industry is still in its infancy in understanding the value of online communications and searching for adequate analytics and measurement tools.
In the end, PR specialists need to take the matter into their own hands to prevent the interesting field of social media from being dominated by pure media agencies. The very first step is to eliminate the loopholes in the argument at the earliest opportunity and demonstrate the real value of online activities using all of the available information. The same dilemmas, the same questions, return time and time again:
- How much is an online campaign worth?
- How much is a fan/friend or a follower worth?
I would like to share with you one particular idea that I found in a blog (http://www.andersdenken.at/wert-facebook-fanpage-value/) and which is based on the typical cost, per thousand printed pages, of advertising). Taking the Facebook site of an Austrian city in the Tyrolean Alps — Innsbruck (www.facebook.com/innsbruck) as an example – we can start a simple calculation of the value of social media.
What is the value of a newsfeed on Facebook
The city of Innsbruck’s Facebook page has 14,260 fans. If you post a newsfeed, which on average creates 170 interactions such as comments or “I like” clicks, then usually an average of 130 fan contacts will also be notify. This makes a total of 22,100 impressions. If you posted one newsfeed per week, this would create 88,400 impressions per month for your brand.
What is the value of a Facebook fan?
A fan page with 10,000 fans has an audience penetration of 1,300,000. The number of fans rises by an average of 1,000 per month, which means an additional audience penetration of 130,000 each month.
What is the value of a Facebook fan-page?
The price you use for the cost per thousand impressions depends on you, but to simplify the calculation, let’s take €15 per 1,000 views – which is nothing out of the ordinary. That would mean that every newsfeed has a value of €331.50 (or €1,326.00 for four newsfeeds each month). Thanks to the additional audience penetration resulting from fans, you can add €1,950 each month.
In total, this means that every Facebook fan-page creates €3,276.00 worth of advertising each month. In other words, this is similar to the cost of the gross salary of one employee with nothing else to do than making one Facebook news item every week.
Social Media is better than classical advertising
Compared to classical advertising, social media newsfeeds have an effect for longer. Every time somebody:
- Comments on your pictures or your newsfeeds,
- Likes something
- Evaluates some content on your Facebook page
You are starting a chain reaction of notifications, which can reach an increasing number of people on a daily basis. In addition, the “I Like” notification can be compared to the advice of a good friend, giving it a higher value than that of an advertisement.
This calculation is certainly not the definitive ‘value’ nor the panacea for social media evaluation – simply an attempt to compare like with (almost) like: a methodology used by most media while defending the prices of advertising space and, perhaps, a methodology that is most likely to be accepted by decision-makers.
Some more interesting articles on this topic:
- How Social Media Helped Cisco to Shave $100.000+ Off a Product Launch http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/cisco-social-media-product-launch/#more-5093
- How LIVESTRONG Raised Millions to Fight Cancer Using Social Media http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-livestrong-raised-millions-to-fight-cancer-using-social-media/
- How Much Is a Facebook Fan Really Worth? http://gigaom.com/2010/06/11/how-much-is-a-facebook-fan-really-worth/
- Value of a ‘Fan’ on Social Media: $3.60 http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/news/digital/e3iaf69ea67183512325a8feefb9f969530
PR – hand in hand with social media
Norbert Ofmański, On Board San Markos Group Chairman, goes backstage on “Mate from the past”, the Internationally acclaimed campaign (SABRE, Golden Drum, Epica, Mercury etc.) that brought history to life with an imaginative social media programme created, directed and produced by the Group’s companies.
It’s all about how to make the best communication campaign on a low budget…
Some of the best ideas are hatched in times of repose and relaxation. But why is it that ‘Eureka’ moments so often happen in the bath? The Creative Director of San Markos (an advertising agency within On Board San Markos Group) was sitting in a bathtub trying to work out how to encourage young people to learn more about the history of Poland. The seed of an idea became one of Poland’s most awarded PR and Advertising campaigns – The Mate from the Past. The challenge – how to build interest in Polish history among the younger generation? The inspiration behind the idea was the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising.
How to protect momentous past events from turning into dusty cards in the annals of our history? How to bring history to life and make it part of the present? How to create a compelling narrative to keep young people eager for the next chapter and maintain their interest to see what happens in the end – even though they know the final result from their history lessons? We achieved this by using integrated communication tools and developing innovative online campaigns.
The relevance of history?
Celebrating historical events often turns out to be an empty ritual without any real relevance to the present. Even the cruellest events of WWII will slowly turn into a solemn celebration quite meaningless for younger generations. The Warsaw Uprising is such a case. In August 1944, the 63 day-long struggle between the citizens of Warsaw and their German occupiers represents one of the most dramatic and tragic events in Polish modern history. The average age of those who sacrificed their lives fighting in the Warsaw Uprising was just 18, and now only those of 80 years can really understand the importance of those events, and they fall slowly into oblivion along with the passing of those heroes in whose memory they are organized. Moreover, as research commissioned by one of the most popular Polish dailies reveals, almost half of Poland’s population describe the events of the WWII as ‘uninteresting’. As the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising approached, the City of Warsaw’s promotional department of was looking for a campaign that which would go beyond the standard memorial celebrations – On Board PTR, together with San Markos, decided to take up the challenge.
The project: ‘Bringing history back to life’
To prevent and protect the momentous events of the Warsaw Uprising from turning into a dusty volume in Polish history, we managed to harness new technologies to bend time and go back to 1944. We came to the conclusion that the stories told by friends and ‘mates’ are those that are most eagerly listened to, so we decided that the best way to attract the attention of young people is reaching out to them via Facebook. We created profiles of two insurgents: Sosna 24 and Kostek 23, who told their stories of everyday experience s “’ Live’ from the Uprising” on Facebook. We created a virtual diary enriched with images, music and songs of the period and documentary film shot with mobiles.
Passion was the real driver of the project. Our consultants and copywriters are extremely interested in Polish history and because of that, they were able to seamlessly adopt the roles of the insurgents. Of course, they were supported by historical evidence and sources, but they completely made up the fictional and highly personal stories of Kostek and Sosna. It’s worth mentioning that there were about 30 people from On Board San Markos Group involved in the project, following the issues, driving and managing traffic and building the content.
A rough sketch of the campaign scenario was prepared in advance with the more precise details of everyday events discussed during planning meetings at the beginning of every week of the project. The team had to adjust to the ‘natural life’ of Facebook, which is most often visited during the week rather than at the weekends. At least four commentaries were uploaded every day, together with pictures, songs, links etc. Thanks to the courtesy of Getty Images, it was possible to present young people with some of the most interesting pictures reflecting the everyday reality of those times.
PR activities outside social media
As the action was developing, it quickly turned out that inviting people via Facebook only was not enough. In Poland in mid-2009, Facebook was only just emerging in popularity and we also needed to reach people who didn’t have a Facebook account. So to do that, we contacted bloggers writing about historical subjects. One of the most popular Polish bookmarking sites – Wykop.pl (Polish version of Digg.com) also offered to promote the project for free. We used traditional PR through media as well, and the story of both of our protagonists was presented several times on prime time (the main news) television and across the most popular Polish TV channels – reaching over five million viewers. The Sosna and Kostek story was also widely reported by all the main daily newspapers.
“Mate From The Past. 1944 Live” was the first project in Poland capable of combining marketing strategy with modern historical education. We used new technologies and the growing popularity of social media to make the events of the past come alive, be more tangible, relevant and more interesting for young people. We managed to immerse them in the story of two fictitious insurgents and, by doing so, taught them the valuable lesson of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.
Our heroes soon became two of the most popular individuals on Polish Facebook. Together they had over 4,000 friends, who commented on their 800 posts, took part in 1,512 hours of lively debates and discussions about the Uprising. Among them were celebrities, artists, journalists, and most rewardingly – a younger generation who were able to ‘live’ our history. With the honourable patronage of The President of Warsaw, millions of people found out about Sosna and Kostek through reports and interviews on TV, radio, press and internet and almost 4,000 people experienced the death of one of their friends…
- More than five million TV viewers
- Almost 85,000 radio listeners
- Coverage in all Polish dailies, weeklies, consumer and trade press
The entire project was undertaken with no budget – everybody who took part worked pro bono. Working for free, individuals, organisations and institutions without whom it would not have been possible to complete the project. So there are, in fact, few things you need to have to create the perfect campaign: strong, committed resource and passion. And that’s true of all communications.
The changing role between advertiser and consumer
The relationship between advertiser and consumer is changing leading to uncertainty and curiosity. From both perspectives, incidentally. Consumers, looking for brand clarity, depth and engagement in the “relationship”, are struggling with that changing role. The advertiser on the other hand, is struggling with more mature and more critical consumers. Let’s look a little closer….
How it used to be
Traditionally, the role of advertiser is one of being a ‘sender’. The brand wants to sell something to consumers. The message becomes a slick campaign, where ‘product’, ‘low price’ or another USP attempt to push the consumer into the desired action. Through various channels advertisers disseminate and bombard consumers with their messages. Consumers love the overload of attention and some respond – and act according to the desired behaviour. Objective achieved. Or not? Once the budget is spent, the silence after the campaign can be deafening. The advertiser is still too often ‘the friend, only there when he needs you’.
This video shows -in an entertaining way- the traditional role between advertisers and consumers:
Where is it going?
In an increasingly complex society, the power structure between advertiser and consumer is shifting. This transforms the way services and products are developed and delivered.
A clearly discernible trend is ‘active participation’. The advertiser is no longer talking about his client, but with his client. About what? Well, for example about their complaints via the webcare team. But more and more about bigger stuff – like product innovation – a phenomenon called co-creation.
Why is this trend so desirable?
Active customers who participate in product innovation are more engaged. Engaged customers are taken more seriously by their brand and become loyal and grow into brand evangelists, ambassadors, and “friends of the brand.” When that stage is reached, aggressive advertising campaigns are not necessary anymore. Instead of the brief ‘advertising contact moments’ during a year, the brand has become top of mind 365 days of the year.
A good marriage = commitment
Creating relationships isn’t easy. And I’m not comparing it to marriage just yet. A relationship is one thing, maintaining it is another. Apple has been doing it with considerable success for many years. And with success, a brand creates a fan base – instead of simply ‘users’. But it requires patience, thorough and well-administered contact management and policy – and, perhaps most importantly, excellence in a product or service – making it worth becoming a fan of.
For your organization this might mean a complete mind shift. Maybe you are already doing this – but the key is combining quick wins with long-term vision. How can a short-term sales target form a foundation for a brand community on the long term? In the future, let’s hope we all can collaborate and share our experiences to help deliver answers – and a true customer experience!
Take a look at this short video. Is provides some clear insights and ideas into the process. Have fun!
In case of emergency: The new challenges of Web 2.0
Web 2.0 has its own set of rules. Facebook, Twitter & Co have changed the way that humans communicate. Business and media are no longer able to take sovereign decisions on what information should make it into the public domain. Internet users decide this for themselves. In crisis situations, the internet can act as a catalyst, upping the pace considerably.
Waves of redundancies, environmental scandals, damage to corporate image and criminal offences are among the classic scenarios of crisis communication. Today, these crises take on a new dimension in the form of Web 2.0. Whether they want to or not, today every company can become a hot topic for discussion in the virtual world.
Stories spread like wildfire on microblogging services like Twitter, on social networking sites, and on platforms such as Youtube or Flickr. The likelihood of crisis-relevant news and messages emanating from virtual communication platforms is growing. Unfiltered messages are disseminated on a global scale.
Nowadays, an increasing number of companies are taking seriously the idea of dialogue with the movers, shakers and opinion formers of the online community, social media networks and the blogosphere. What goes without saying: The more actively social media is used, the more strongly it resonates with internet users. Through Web 2.0, employees become communicators, who can have direct and unfiltered exchanges with customers, journalists, and all other interested parties. This can have far-reaching consequences for corporate communication. To ensure credible communication, the nuances and rules of the social media world must not only be considered, they must then also be embraced in practice when interacting at this level. Continuous web monitoring is a must. Why?: new crises can emerge through the internet simply because companies didn’t know or failed to consider the “rules of the game”.
Take, for instance, Vodafone, who in July of last year began their new promotional campaign “Generation Upload”. It was supposed to attract network users who upload their own content to the internet. The new strategy turned out to be a fiasco. Users strongly condemned the campaign: “hollow slogans, bad rates”. Advertising placards and videos were manipulated and then re-uploaded to the internet.
Greater time pressure and global presence
In times of crisis, maintaining public trust in the management and products of a company is of fundamental importance. Conveying precisely that message is the principal task of communication. Whoever is acting in a time of crisis must be in a position to speak on the subject. Web 2.0, however, with its direct network of different stakeholders, has reduced the reaction time available. Many more channels of communication must be simultaneously observed and integrated into the communication strategy. News stories quickly slosh around from blogs to newsgroups or social networking sites, and are then spread via twitter to a broader public. And nothing is ever forgotten on the internet: Everything is always just a click away on Google or Wikipedia. Pictures from cell phones or videos are accessible to everyone at all times and in all places via Flickr and Youtube.
Maintain room for manoeuvre
Don’t lose room for maneuver, or regain it as quickly as you can – the rules that apply in classic crisis communication also apply to Web 2.0:
The following points should be kept in mind in times of crisis:
- Permanent web monitoring: Observe the situation and the communication developments; comment on and discuss this (with primary sources if available) before an individual opinion becomes the group opinion, which could then be widely disseminated.
- Staff Briefing: Staff must be informed immediately about the crisis situation and the next steps. This must be done openly and promptly. Prescribed terminology must be established and always kept up to date. This should be based on Social Media Guidelines – Company guidelines for dealing with Web 2.0. If the employees themselves are active in the social web, then they too will be considered as a point of contact and source in times of crisis!
- Immediate information about the other stakeholder groups: The communication channels of Web 2.0 are the fastest and most direct way to keep the public informed. The most important of these is Twitter because it is the fastest tool for spreading information.
- Activating dark site: The dark site contains the most important information for all stakeholder groups in the event of a crisis. Depending on the scale of the crisis, this site will become the “Online Crisis Management Center”. It forms the nerve center for dialogue with stakeholders, the online community and the media. All information is focused here (press releases, hotlines, RSS feeds, corporate blogs where applicable).
- Background information: Information that is already available, as well as FAQ sections, must be amended and supplemented in the event of an acute crisis.
- Search Engine Optimization during the crisis: Check your Google ranking. Which search terms lead to which positions? Measures must be taken, where necessary, to counter this.
Many risks can be identified in the early stages. Whilst action in this phase cannot always prevent a crisis, it can help contain it. For this reason, professional crisis prevention is a prerequisite for responsible crisis management.
Besides traditional media monitoring, another important element of the early warning system is the monitoring of social media. Early signals, patterns and trends can be identified in the digital sphere through network analyses and topical analyses. One way to get a quick impression about upcoming topics and trends is by using Twitter. However, all relevant forums, blogs, and wikis should be professionally analyzed and evaluated.
The planning of procedural guidelines and codes of conduct during calmer times also provides helpful support in the event of a real emergency. The risks have to be carefully analyzed for all business processes, specific crisis and alarm procedures put in place, and the roles and functions of staff members must be determined.
Nobody is in the position to manage a crisis perfectly. However, advanced preparation does provide room for maneuver, so that the crisis can be managed in a professional manner that will limit the damage. In the end, it is the sum of errors that were detected early and the mistakes that were averted that separates good crisis management from bad.
The five most important rules for social media communication:
- Listen: Before plunging headlong into the world of social media, listen carefully to who is saying what and how in the various communities.
- Be open and honest: Honesty and transparency are of utmost importance in social media. Disclose who you are and the interests you represent. Hushing things up is self-deception and is sure to backfire.
- Be concise: Long-winded and meandering explanations are a social media taboo. Additionally, you run the risk of your message being taken apart and then quoted out of context.
- Respond promptly and politely to comments: Social media are dialogue-oriented; so respond to comments quickly, politely and in a constructive manner.
- Only publish what you would also personally be willing to say at any time and what you would also be happy to see “in print” next to your name: Social networks provide us with a voice to convey our emotions and allow us to vent our frustrations. The effects, however, can be fatal.
Social Media: Every employee can be a company spokesperson
The end of centrally controlled communications
by Lutz Cleffmann,
Managing Director ECCO Düsseldorf/EC Public Relations GmbH
(Scroll down for German version)
Who is entitled to speak for the company and when? In every well organised company, there’s a clear answer to this question. It can be found in the corporate communications manuals, accompanied by relevant Q&As and media training documents providing advice on what to tell to the press. The person in charge of communications, satisfied with a job well done, sits back and relaxes.
Out of the blue, the journalist calls: your company is deceiving the public with undercover advertising in Internet forums. Critical customers are offended and, to make things worse, some critics have already set up a special web page and forum to discuss this outrageous communications approach.
What happened? Did the marketing department hire one of those dubious ‘Internet enhancement’ agencies? Is a new activist group attacking the company? Are competitors fuelling the discussion? No, none of these. A sales force guy found critical voices in an Internet forum and – eager to defend his employer – reacted fiercely to the critic. But, in doing so, he personally offended the other party.
This case is not a fantasy case study, it is real. Worse still, the company concerned was already in trouble and under pressure concerning a completely unrelated issue. So unfortunately, this poor sales guy unknowingly delivered the evidence that the company was ‘arrogant’ and ‘unwilling’ to listen.
Believe it or not, social media has put an end to centralised and well controlled corporate communications. Today, every employee has access to a global audience, be it with communities like Facebook and LinkedIn or via one of the thousands of Internet forums. What was once pub gossip can now create a global reaction.
PR officers need to factor this into their communications planning. Social media guidelines are mandatory and you have to consider: these guidelines cannot be implemented simply by ‘giving the order’. Employees have to be convinced. You will not be able to manage with controls and sanctions alone, because you will not always be able to find out who is behind the nickname, the nom de plume or the obtrusive communication. And even if you could, it wouldn’t help much, because – as in the case described – sometimes people think that they are acting in their employer’s best interest.
Managing Social Media is a challenge for internal communications and rock-solid foundations need to be laid; upon which to build a positive image of your company.
Soziale Netze: Jeder Mitarbeiter ein potenzieller Unternehmenssprecher
Das Ende der zentral kontrollierten Kommunikation
von Lutz Cleffmann,
Geschäftsführer ECCO Düsseldorf/EC Public Relations GmbH (GPRA)
Wer spricht wann und aus welchem Anlass mit den Medien? Darauf gibt es in jedem gut organisierten Unternehmen klare Antworten. Sie finden sich in Handbüchern und sind mit Sprachregelungen unterfüttert. Der PR-Verantwortliche weiß alles gut geregelt und lehnt sich beruhigt zurück.
Doch dann kommt plötzlich der Anruf eines Journalisten. Wieso macht ihr Unternehmen unter Pseudonym in Internet-Foren Undercover-Werbung? Außerdem würden kritische Kunden beschimpft. Im Internet gebe es schon eine spezielle Seite, auf der Kritiker des Unternehmens diese miese Art der Kommunikation diskutierten.
Was ist passiert? Ist die Marketing-Abteilung einer unseriösen „Internet-Marketing-Agentur” aufgesessen? Hat sich eine Aktivistengruppe gegen das Unternehmen verschworen? Sind Wettbewerber am Werk? Nichts von alldem. Ein übereifriger Vertriebsmitarbeiter hatte in einem Internetforum kritische Stimmen ausgemacht und – ganz überzeugt vom eigenen Unternehmen – dagegen gehalten. Dabei ist er übers Ziel hinausgeschossen und hat sich dazu hinreißen lassen, den kritischen Kunden zu beschimpfen.
Dieser Fall ist nicht erfunden, sondern tatsächlich passiert. Zu allem Überfluss stand das Unternehmen auch noch von anderer Seite in der Kritik. Prompt wurden die Äußerungen des Mitarbeiters als Beweis für das überhebliche Verhalten der Firma herangezogen.
Mit den Social Media ist das Ende der zentralisierten und kontrollierten Unternehmenskommunikation gekommen. Jeder Mitarbeiter hat heute prinzipiell Zugang zu einer weltweiten Öffentlichkeit, sei es über Communities wie facebook und XING oder eines der zahlreichen Internet-Foren. Unbedachtes „Stammtischgerede” eines Mitarbeiters verhallt nicht mehr an der Kneipentheke, sondern kann zu weltweiter Resonanz führen.
PR-Verantwortliche in Unternehmen sind also gut beraten, diesen Faktor in ihre Kommunikationsplanung einzubeziehen. Richtlinien für den Umgang mit Social Networks sind unbedingt nötig. Dabei ist dann vor allem eines zu beachten: Solche Richtlinien lassen sich nicht einfach von oben herab durchsetzen. Die Mitarbeiter müssen vielmehr von ihrem Sinn und Zweck überzeugt werden. Mit Kontrolle und Sanktionen ist hier gar nichts zu erreichen, denn im Einzelfall wird sich kaum einmal beweisen lassen, wer genau hinter schädlichen Äußerungen steckt – und selbst das würde wenig helfen, wenn sie – wie unserem Beispiel – gut gemeint waren.
Social Media sind also nicht zuletzt eine Herausforderung für die interne Kommunikation. Nur wer hier eine überzeugende Grundlage schafft, wird das Bild des Unternehmens nach außen wirkungsvoll beeinflussen können.