5 Crisis Management Tips We Can Learn from Zuckerberg | eNews from OWC

There’s no question that over the last decade Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has grown from a flip-flop wearing startup bro into a full-blown tech tycoon and astute businessman to be reckoned with. There is, however, a debate on how well he’s handled the recent Facebook-Cambridge Analytica debacle. While Zuckerberg’s initial absence and radio-silence approach is ill-advised during a crisis, it’s clear he spent his time out of the spotlight when the fiasco first broke getting some much-needed media training. There were several ways he handled the congressional hearing surprisingly well, and a few where he faltered. Here’s what we can learn from the latest PR disaster taking the world by storm:

Be transparent … quickly and of your own volition.
Before attending the congressional hearing, Zuckerberg was relatively absent from the conversation, allowing a news vacuum to open and anyone with a theory to fill the void. Don’t let others create fake news to explain your story. Get in front of controversy by being as transparent as possible, disclosing all the facts as quickly as possible and making yourself available for questions from the media. Answering “no comment” is an unacceptable response. Get the facts out and get them out fast.

Control the narrative, not the reporters.
Don’t threaten to sue The New York Times and the Guardian for publishing the facts. This is a sure-fire way to turn your most important potential allies against you. Covering the news is a reporter’s job, but the way they frame a story is a choice – and your interactions with them influence that choice. Are you making their job easier or more difficult? Are you dodging their questions or creating an open line of communication?

Guide the interview and stick to your messages.
One thing Zuckerberg did particularly well during the hearing was control the interview. He stuck to his talking points and stayed on message employing a few strategic tactics, like:

  • Building a bridge. If a reporter starts to wander into areas you don’t want to talk about, answer the reporter’s inquiry briefly, then build a bridge back to your key points. When Zuckerberg was pushed on certain sensitive topics, such as defining what Facebook is, he took control of the conversation by bridging to a topic he felt was relevant and supported his messaging.
  • Rephrasing tricky questions. It’s important not to let anyone put words in your mouth, but don’t argue. To avoid getting stuck in a semantics war, restructure loaded questions to guide back to your talking points and where you feel comfortable with phrases like “I think what you’re asking is …” A great example of this is when Zuckerberg addressed regulation questions with a question of his own: “I think the real question, as the internet becomes more important in people’s lives, is what is the right regulation? Not whether there should be or not.”
  • Flagging key points. Emphasize that the statement you are about to make is one the reporter should remember. Zuckerberg did a great job of illustrating this tactic when responding to Sen. Leahy’s question on Facebook’s role in violence in Myanmar saying “Yes, we’re working on this and there are three specific things we are doing…” He then proceeded to list the three actionable tactics, along with the reasons behind them, succinctly in only 36 seconds.

Be prepared.
This is another area where Zuckerberg shined. He arrived calm and collected with soundbite messages prepared and his key objectives defined. He even brought a now-notorious binder of notes to help him answer tough questions about hot-button issues should he get stuck. Preparation goes a long way to helping you feel more in control and at ease.

Say ‘sorry.’
It’s important to humanize your brand by being sincere and apologetic. Apologizing doesn’t have to be synonymous with admitting fault; it’s about expressing concern that the crisis occurred. Express concern for any victims and their families. If a mistake was made, apologize. There’s a common saying: “People buy people, not products.” It means that people choose to do business with people they feel connected to, like and, above all, trust. Zuckerberg has spent 14 years as the face of Facebook, yet when the news broke, he was missing from the conversation and so was his public apology.

While crises are inevitable, we can choose how we respond when they do happen. Let Zuckerberg’s reaction to the recent troubles Facebook is facing be a lesson to you. Remember: don’t delay, apologize, be transparent and be accountable.

April 20th, 2018|Categories: eNewsletter|Tags: , , , , , , |

This is the state of the media for 2018. | eNews from OWC

Fasten your media seat belt for 2018, communication of all kinds is stronger than ever. Despite warnings and howls, facts still have impact and new platforms have learned how to deal with a hostile environment. Rumors get corrected. Spin is detected. New voices are heard whether we like it or not, which is how things are supposed to be. Though America is a free-for-all and this year every business need to be among the “all,” now more than ever before, it really is “lead, follow or get out of the way.”

Download a PDF of this version here.

Here’s what every company needs to know for the New Year:

Earned media is on the rise (really). According to Forrester Research, we are living through a fundamental reassessment of the role of advertising and editorial coverage. Earned media, like news stories and features, is more measurable and effective than ever before. Consumers are increasingly wanting to connect with people and stories, which presents an opportunity for editorial coverage. Eighty-one percent of senior marketers still believe that earned media is more effective than paid media.

Mobile and online consumption has new breadth of reach. In the U.S., roughly nine-in-ten adults get news online (either via mobile or desktop). According to the Pew Research Center, there are now many different audience strategies that news outlets use, through newsletters, original podcasts and allowing comments on their articles. By 2017, 61 percent of these highest-traffic digital-native news outlets had apps for at least one of the two main mobile operating systems (iOS and Android).

The crackdown on false news proves fruitful. A recent study reported by The New York Times reveals that propaganda and outright lies have a wide reach but reduced impact. “For all the hype about fake news, it’s important to recognize that it reached only a subset of Americans, and most of the ones it was reaching already were intense partisans,” according to Dr. Brendan Nyhan from Dartmouth College, who led the study. This year, we’ll see powerhouses like Facebook and Google continue to battle false news. Facebook will use its Related Articles tool to combat misinformation in the News Feed. Meanwhile, future leaders are taking matters into their own hands — right from the classroom.

The New Year has already brought media firestorms, but the trend is toward verification and fact. As always, the most powerful tool in business is an accurate message delivered with a clear voice. That is our mission and passion. Let us know how we can help you prepare for any potential issues that may come this year. Wishing you a prosperous 2018!

February 2nd, 2018|Categories: eNewsletter|Tags: , , , , , , , |

The One Thing You Need To Know About Reputation Management | eNews from OWC

Year 2018: Every Reputation at Risk

What is the lesson of the radically altered reputations of 2017? It is that bad news travels faster than ever before, and there’s nowhere to hide. For companies and their leaders, the need for preparedness has never been more relevant. For every reputation that crashes, so does a company’s market value. It doesn’t take a major scandal to bring disaster, every business is vulnerable to a misleading sentence in a report, a disgruntled employee or consumer on social media or the malice of competitors. As we enter 2018, take heed and be ready.

The five roads to preparedness:

  1. Reputation Management Plan:Short and actionable, ten pages max with all the team players’ cell numbers and social handles at the ready.
  2. Vulnerability Audit: Assess all risks with the team including litigation, data breaches, misconduct of any executive or employee and political climate.
  3. Team Timekeeper: When reputation is at stake, the pre-assigned crisis team and their backups need to convene immediately. The timekeeper knows when thinking time is up, and it’s time to start talking.
  4. Ready Response: There will be only minutes to respond to Twitter and Facebook crises, and not much more for a reporter on deadline. Find words in advance and clear them with the company attorney.
  5. Event Simulation:Surprise your team to see if you’re prepared to hit the ground running. Make it as real as possible using simulation tools that mimic your social channels. Is your response authentic and in keeping with your brand?

In today’s climate, unexpected blows are to be expected. The good news is that successful crisis response can actually enhance reputations. A leader at the helm prepared to speak with conviction and authenticity is not an accident, and can turn accidents into opportunities.

Best wishes for the new year.

December 29th, 2017|Categories: eNewsletter|Tags: , , , |

8 tips from Crisis Boot Camp | eNews from OWC

Last week I spoke on “How to Lead Your Organization’s Social Media Messaging in a Crisis” during PRNews’ Digital Summit in Huntington Beach.  Here are some key points from my remarks and those of my fellow presenters at Crisis Management Boot Camp:

Download the PDF version here: 8 tips from Crisis Boot Camp

  • Be ready — and few are.  Only 50 percent of companies have a ready-to-go crisis plan — and only 5 percent of those have a designated response team.  A plan only helps if people are assigned and trained in advance to do the work, and there’s a lot of work to manage.
  • Assess your risk.  Measure the crisis on a scale of one to 10.  Not every crisis requires a 10 response.  Check out OWC’s Crisis Response Risk Assessment Tool. 
  • Prepare emergency “holding statements.”  A major crisis breaks fast, and a response needs to go out within an hour and a half.  A holding statement is the company position on a potential threat or foreseeable emergency.  Think it through before it happens.  “Semper paratus” (“always ready”).
  • Don’t leave your fate in the hands of outside web developers.  In a crisis, people will check your website.  Do you have a person in your office who has the access and training to upload changes to your site?  Most don’t, but you can change that today.  It’s easy with a modern content management system such as WordPress.
  • Be timely and ready to go on camera.  Are you prepared to respond with a YouTube or Facebook Live video within 90 minutes of a crisis breaking?  Especially if the source of the crisis is itself a video, you must respond through the appropriate platform and be prepped like a seasoned pro.
  • Social strategy is media strategy.  Sixty-two percent of U.S. adults get their news from social media, and 18 percent do so frequently.  So, bad news travels even faster.  Monitor social so you know immediately when you’re being discussed in blogs and on Facebook and Twitter.  Here at OWC we use Hootsuite and Google Alerts.
  • Robots aren’t just driving our cars. They’re now a part of newsrooms.  The Associated Press has a robot that takes information from SEC filings and press releases and automatically produces wire reports on earnings that are completely devoid of context and nuance. It’s now more important than ever for organizations to expand on sparse news reports with a more complete message through company-controlled platforms.
  • We’re all in the data business. What would a data breach mean to your clients, customers, employees and how quickly would the news spread and on what platforms?  In a breach, IT will be too busy to help.  Management needs a plan.

Crisis comes just when things seem to be going so well.  We all heard about the Oscars Sunday night.  We’ll see in real time how Uber deals with the self-inflicted blows to its image and brand.  Three out of five CEOs believe corporate brand and reputation represent more than 40 percent of their market capitalization which is why crisis preparation and response is a bottom-line job.

March 2nd, 2017|Categories: eNewsletter|Tags: , , , , , , |