Crisis Management

Social Media: Your Reputation on Steroids

Posted on June 6, 2011. Filed under: Crisis Management, Marketing, Reputation Management, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I was so dismayed tonight – but not surprised — to hear New York U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner’s press conference awhile ago coming clean about his posting of improper photos to various women on social media.

I really don’t want to talk about him. But the whole disgusting affair makes me want to share my thoughts with you about the importance of protecting your good reputation online.Keep your rep angelic

Now consider that my background is in public relations. I’ve spent my career counseling clients about how to communicate their value while maintaining their dignity and credibility. I’ve spent countless hours going over copy, press releases, speeches and other materials to be sure that the chosen words are in keeping with the client’s values and that there’s nothing that could be misinterpreted in a way that would cast doubt on the client’s reputation.

Let’s shift to the online world where we tend to dash off emails and texts and blog posts and where we feel more relaxed than in the more formal communications of yesteryear. Beware. It only takes one off-message tweet or blog post to cast doubt on your positioning, message or culture. Those messages last forever online.

Be in the moment but don’t be impulsive. Take a minute or two to re-read what you’re about to send out to the universe. And listen to your gut. If anything gives you a little raising of the hackles on the back of your neck – EDIT!! Make sure that everything you write is in keeping with your mission, with your audiences’ expectations and your own self respect.

You know, when I am deciding whether to follow someone on Twitter, I go to their profile and read about a dozen recent tweets to see if they have anything to contribute to me and my Twitter stream. Recently I performed that ritual when a new local brand selling a family and environmentally-friendly product followed me.

I scrolled through their previous day’s tweets and found that they re-tweeted a tweet that included a profanity. That tweet communicated bad judgment and lack of sophistication in their marketing. It really turned me off.

But social media marketer that I am, I felt compelled to share a bit of well-meant advice. I sent a direct (private) message that said: Thnx for following. Congrats! Friendly tip…Keep curse words out of your tweets and RTs. It’s counter to your brand image.

I haven’t had a response, but hope they took it in the positive spirit that was meant. My message to you is to make sure to protect your reputation online with every tweet, update and post. We can be open, authentic, and personal. But it’s crucial that we understand where to draw the line online. If you put it out there, it’s out there forever. Make it worthy, make it valuable and do your best to share your finest attributes.

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Take-away From Toyota’s Woes: Smaller Can Be Better

Posted on February 5, 2010. Filed under: Crisis Management, Crisis Response, Jazz, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Please click the audio player right below for today’s tune — Duke Ellington playing Lotus Blossom — and see end of post to learn why I chose it. For email subscribers, please visit the blog to listen.

The largest company in the country that gave birth to the notion of ‘falling on one’s sword’ just gave itself a belated slap on the wrist for the results of abandoning its brand commitment to quality. Toyota president Akio Toyoda finally spoke formally about the company’s woes at a press conference today.

He apologized to consumers and shareholders and vowed that Toyota would refocus on quality, which has suffered — apparently since Toyota’s strategic decision to become the world’s largest motor company. The #1 spot didn’t do General Motors very much good from the standpoint of innovation and quality. It did indeed lose top billing to Toyota, which, ironically, has now dropped to #2 behind Volkswagen-Porsche – the result of global recession production pullbacks.

According to reporting in the New York Times, Mr. Toyoda said, “I deeply regret that I caused concern among so many people. We will do our utmost to regain the trust of our customers.”

He said that he hoped to restore Toyota to profitability and help revitalize the economy of Japan, but he would put restoring trust above profits. That makes sense. If trust is restored, profits will follow.

After reading the Times account, I decided to mosey around the Social Web a bit to see what people are saying and to check what Toyota is doing online to help turn around the situation.

On the Toyota Facebook page, there was a scary war of words going on among some of its more than 70,000 fans. Brand loyalists were chastising those who were concerned or angry about quality issues – even folks who had actually experienced serious accidents as a result of sudden acceleration.

Particularly heated were comments from a few fans with a political agenda who were putting forth the notion that the US government is pursuing the Toyota situation in an attempt to help GM return to the dubious status of ‘world’s largest.’ They must not have read Japan’s transport minister’s remarks, that he suspects Toyota delayed too long, putting profits before safety.

On Twitter, there were far fewer positive comments about Toyota and far more criticism of its delays and its departure from its quality ethic. However it was on Twitter that I found a link to Digg’s announcement that this coming Monday Jim Lentz, President and Chief Operating Officer of Toyota Motor Sales, USA will take part in a Digg Dialogg.

Members of the Digg community are posting questions for Mr. Lentz and he will be asked to answer the ones most-voted-on between now and then. I took the opportunity to ask a question about whether the drop in quality standards would cause Toyota to retreat from the “Let’s be the largest” strategy.

Personally, I’ve never believed that bigger is better. I’ve seen too many tiny client companies make incredibly valuable contributions to the world, their customers and their employees. It’s great to grow and achieve efficiencies and economies of scale, but it’s also critical to have open eyes about what might be lost along the way. If I thought I might lose the very values that define my brand, I’d definitely choose to keep it small. Thanks for the reminder, Toyota.

 Today you’re listening to Duke Ellington playing Billy Strayhorn’s haunting tune Lotus Blossom. A song inspired by this iconic image of Eastern culture seems a fitting homage to Toyota and Japan. Out of curiosity, I just googled Lotus Blossom Symbolism. A result from WikiAnswers® informs me that the Lotus Blossom is a symbol of having come through a hard time, on the way to better times. The lotus begins its life in the muck and mud of swamps and works its way through the water to become a thing of beauty floating on the surface in rarified air. Wow! How perfect is that? Toyota, may you be a lotus blossom.

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Tiger: Sad to Say

Posted on December 14, 2009. Filed under: Crisis Management, Crisis Response, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

This is a follow-up to my last blog post, Tiger Woods: A Social Media Perspective. I just watched yet another one of Tiger’s self-proclaimed ‘romantic interests’ interviewed on a national morning show, which got my Monday off to a pretty depressing start. Click on the music player to listen to an apt accompaniment, jazz saxophonist/composer Benny Golson’s poignant tune, Sad To Say.

Early on in what we now see as an ‘unraveling of the Woods brand’ his response to an emerging sex scandal appeared authentic based on his past history. It was my feeling that it would be his golf fans who would pull him out of this career ditch and that he would do well to further connect with them on social media. As he works to rehabilitate himself with his family and sponsors, this admittedly unsolicited advice could be even more significant.

Here’s why I think so. The central factor in this whole unhappy scenario is rebuilding trust. First and foremost, Tiger Woods broke trust with his wife and children through serial marital infidelity. The love of my life, Jeff Levine, is a talented and skilled psychotherapist who treats relationship issues including infidelity and sexual addiction. We’ve discussed this problem many times in the past few years as one politician or celebrity after another has offered emotional apologies, hied off to rehab or been out-and-out dumped by wronged spouses for similar behavior. I’ve learned from Jeff that overcoming the personality traits that cause people to flee from true intimacy/commitment to others and act out sexually can take many years. Sometimes the marital relationships survive and sometimes they don’t.

Business relationships can be easier to repair if monetary objectives remain aligned and public relations issues are overcome. But there’s a sense of coldness that’s emerged about Tiger Woods in all of this. From pre-nups to high-powered law firms retained to keep indiscretions out of the media to speculation about pay-offs to women for their silence, there’s a sickening quality to how Woods has used the wealth garnered through the mastery of his sport. What we wish to perceive as wholesome has somehow resulted in immoral license.

In what may be a helpful sign for the next phase of Tiger’s crisis, the Twitter stream has slowed long enough that I was able to capture a link to a post from Australian blogger Brian Giesen that presents a Nielsen Online Brand Association Mapping comparison of Brand Tiger before and after. I re-tweeted it and here it is again for all of you interested in marketing geekdom.

When I mentioned, above, who Tiger needs to rehabilitate himself with, I left out his fans. As I perused the #TigerWoods Twitter feed in the past few days, it’s the golf fans who are sticking by their man. They continue to focus on the best of him – his singular athletic ability – and to wish him well. It would be nice if he could summon some personal warmth and turn it toward them. The social Web giveth and it taketh away. It could also serve as a human laboratory for Tiger to learn how to assess, build and keep trust.

Although it’s written in a minor key, today’s tune resolves to a major, providing a hopeful sound. In addition to composer Golson on tenor sax, Art Farmer plays magnificent flugelhorn, Curtis Fuller is on trombone, Mickey Tucker on Piano, Ray Drummond on bass and Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums. The album is titled The Jazztet – Real Time.

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