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: , , , , , , |

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: , , , |

6 ways to add fireworks to your networking | eNews from OWC

Networking is an art that takes practice to master.  The wider the network, the greater reach your message and your brand will have.  After all, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. So how do you start to make these connections?  A new contact can provide new viewpoints and new opportunities.  Here are six tips to network like a pro.

Download PDF version of this issue: 6 ways to add fireworks to your networking

  • Develop a roadmap.  The first step to successful networking is to figure out where you should be headed and what stops to make along the way.  Before the year ends, create an events calendar with dates for all major industry conferences and meetings.  Start local and go from there.  Make it your mission to attend at least 10 events each year.  Conferences like Fortune Brainstorm TECH and Thrive are popular for business leaders and key influencers.  Watch for speaking and panel opportunities.
  • Do your research.  Before an event, pinpoint who will be there.  Look at speakers’ social media activity and browse through recent media coverage of them.  Subscribe to newsletters and news alerts from major outlets like The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal and business trades such as Inc., Forbes and Entrepreneur.  Collect information so that, when an introduction occurs, you can work what you have learned into the conversation.  It only takes one tidbit to strike a connection.
  • Step outside your comfort zone.  Make a point to talk to new people.  If you’re an introvert, start a conversation with someone who is standing alone.  They may appreciate that you were the initiator.  For the more socially confident, stake out a high-traffic location like the bar or near the check-in table.  This will give you access to many potential connections.
  • Be a giver.  Start with your business card.  Make this exchange more memorable by handwriting additional contact information or a keyword relating to your conversation on it.   Introduce your new connections to the people you’ve already met, especially when you see a reason why they should meet.
  • Be smart about social.  The number of Fortune 500 CEOs on Twitter continues to rise.  Social media allows you to network at the palm of your hands.  Conferences always have a hashtag – use it for your posts and to see what other attendees have shared.  Join the conversation, ask questions and jump in when you see an opening.  This will be the easiest way to network.
  • Stay connected.  After a conference or a business lunch, don’t stop networking.  Keep in touch.  Connect with new contacts on LinkedIn, and while you’re at it, publish a post about the event, its value and your key takeaways.  Don’t just build your network, stay engaged with your network.

It’s crucial to meet new people to grow a business or build a brand.  You’re not trying to become fast friends, but rather establish a professional relationship that will benefit both parties.  The more opportunities for growth and exposure, the better.  With the rise of social media, the world has become more connected than ever.  Take advantage of the tools that are already at your disposal.

 

Send the invite, pick up the phone. Practice these tips at your next summer party.

 

On June 23, 2017, OWC CEO and Founder Tracy Williams (far right) moderated the “Scale Your Business, Build Your Future” panel at the 2017 Los Angeles Business Journal Women’s Summit. The event hosted hundreds of thriving women entrepreneurs.

July 6th, 2017|Categories: eNewsletter|Tags: , , , , , , |

#twitterforbusiness from PR pros | eNews from OWC

The first step in perfecting the art of Twitter is to make sure to share the most topical and genuinely informative tweets. Maybe that’s you already, and the feedback is great. But are you really enhancing your reputation with the target audience? Are your competitors tweeting even better? Twitter isn’t a private bubble, it’s a fish bowl. We’re on display, so we need to know how we’re doing.

There are plenty of analytics tools to gauge the value of social media efforts, but with so many options finding the best one for your brand is daunting. What’s the set industry standard for success? There isn’t one. We’re on our own in judging key measurements like engagement rate. We’re both the product and test laboratory.

Download PDF version of this issue: #businessfortwitter from PR pros

OWC advocates the following tactics, which we work hard to apply to our own Twitter account, @owcpr.

  • Get comfortable with numbers. Tweeting just 10-12 times each week can be outreach enough, but the effort isn’t worthwhile if nobody communicates back to your brand. Twitter Analytics is a free tool that offers basic tracking to start measuring your audience. It tells you what you’re doing well and instantly identifies the duds.
  • Know the facts. Engagement rate is the metric that matters to social media managers and enthusiasts alike. While some analysts argue for a benchmark of 1-3 percent engagement rate per post, the reality is that there is no industry standard. Competing tools use entirely different formulas to calculate rates, which makes comparisons difficult. The simple fact is: we want engagement. If we’re not getting it, something needs to change.
  • Take charge. With no set standards, the right tool for the right objective is up to us. Taking on the challenge is the first step towards finding the right metrics for your brand. Research the analytics tools – each has its benefits and quirks. At OWC we use Simply Measured for a more detailed look at engagement. We’re also trying out Sprout Social, a lower-cost alternative that uses mainly replies, likes, mentions, re-tweets, detail expands and hashtag clicks to come up with a basic engagement rate.
  • Play smart. Keywords are social media gold. You can use them again and again. Which keywords get a reaction from your audience? Analytics will tell you. Monitor industry insiders and experts and compare your performance to theirs. Copy their success. You already know that tweets with a link and a visual element outperform all other tweets. As you weave in pictures, videos and animated GIFs, check the engagement rate. Do more of what works. Do less of what doesn’t. Always do something.

Social media for organizations is about connecting, defining and analyzing how your brand presents itself. We want to grow and engage. We want more followers, more responses, more recognition, more action. Tweets should be the sharpest tool in your daily communications kit. Finding the right analytics program – and using it – will sharpen your Twitter approach to a fine edge.

April 11th, 2017|Categories: eNewsletter|Tags: , , , , , , |