Pay attention to your customers… they are your digital brand ambassadors !

Screenshot-2018-1-27 3 Tips to generate more digital word-of-mouth (WOM) - Atlas Copco

3 Tips to generate more digital word-of-mouth (WOM)

In today’s modern digital environment, customers are in the driving seat together with brand owners. They no longer browse your company website for information or to find a solution to their need. No… They turn to their peers, their social media networks, refer to reviews, blogs, etc.

So, does that mean the role of the strategic marketer is evaporating? No! Brands have to put that audience to use. Digital word-of-mouth should not only be monitored but also promoted and used as an effective way of maintaining and gaining further brand equity. We’ll discuss three quick tips to get you started.

Pyramid of credibility

Let’s begin with a very easy question. Which of the following sounds more credible to you?

  1. Brand X: “We have the most reliable product in the market, come and buy from us!”
  2. Friend/family: “I’ve used Brand X’s products and they really outlast the competition. You should definitely try it!”

Well, we as strategic marketers would like to believe it is option 1. However in reality it is more likely to be option 2.

Why is that? Well  it’s all about credibility. In the end, it is our job to boost sales for our products. Customers understand that and start trusting other sources more when it comes to influencing their buying decision. This can be summarized in the ‘pyramid of credibility’.

Pyramid of Credibility – based on Burgers (2011):

Pyramid of credibility - based on Burgers (2011)

Just try to apply this to yourself. Think about any of your last purchase decisions and how you browsed for information. Think about what you perceived as credible information and what kind of material you didn’t trust…

Edelman (2007) already found out in his ‘Trust Report’, that customers trust peers 75% versus vendor PR at only 20%. When we looked at a more recent study (Little, 2015), it claims that 92% of customers trust peer recommendations over advertising and PR.

Importance of brand advocates

In the above pyramid of credibility, we have defined that ‘ambassadors’ or ‘brand advocates’ play a big role in influencing customers’ buying decisions.

Word of mouth in the digital world

Beard (2013) defines brand advocates as ‘highly satisfied customers who go out of their way to actively promote the products they love and care about’. He also quotes Rugetta (2012), who claims that brand advocates are 50% more influential than your average customer.

Why are these so important in today’s digital environment?

  • Increased brand awareness

Basically, it’s free publicity. You’re not paying brand advocates to promote your brand. They are doing it out of their own free will and by doing so, increase the exposure of your brand

  • Digital word-of-mouth fuels growth

Beard (2013) shares the opinion that this type of third person communication fuels business growth, as they are perceived as more credible by potential customers.

  • Customer loyalty

Brand advocates are happy with the products from a certain brand. So happy that they want to share their positive experience with the world. How much more loyal can you get?

3 Tips to generate more digital word-of-mouth

Great, so how do we get started? Well, it is indeed a fact that strategic marketers cannot just sit back and enjoy the ride when it comes to digital word-of-mouth (WOM). Active participation and monitoring the discussion is key into ensuring the right outcome.

Here are three easy tips to get you started:

  • Promote actively

Word-of-mouth doesn’t start by itself. Strategic marketers have to ensure that customers have easy access to test their products (trials) in order to start writing about it. OK great, my customers try out my product. What’s next?

Not every customer will be willing to write about his/her experience with your product. Even if you provide them with a platform to share their experiences, you need to motivate people to do so. This can be done by promoting it through online campaigns or setting up a proper online networking strategy.

And basically, also here we can talk about a snowball effect. Once you get a couple of customers to talk about your products in the right channels, other customers will hop on-board.

  • Engage in the conversation

Great. The discussion has started. Now what?

The strategic marketer has to turn to his/her moderators. The interaction with a brand can determine the likeability of brand advocates continuing to write about your brand. That same interaction might seduce other doubting brand advocates to also pick up their digital pen and start sharing their experience with their network(s).

When doing so, make sure you add a human touch to your interaction. Successful brands like Taco Bell, very often have funny discussions with their followers on Twitter, motivating other customers to share their experience.

how Taco Bell joins the conversation on social media

ut we could also take a step back and ask ourselves: “why do we need all this word-of-mouth? Is it only to promote our brand through different channels?” Well, the answer is simple: NO. These discussions, conversations,… can become really valuable as customer input for further R&D and product development. You get first hand feedback of how your products perform and whether they meet the market requirements. Put that information to use!

  • Reward loyalty

Brands like Apple have a large brand advocate base. Look at the cues they have outside their stores when a new iPhone is released… Thousands of brand advocates are waiting to share their experience with the newest innovation. Some of them do it already leading up to the launch, based on speculations, specs and potential improvements they see themselves.

It goes without saying that not all brands have that luxury. That’s why it is important to have a strategy in place when it comes to rewarding your brand advocates. Don’t get me wrong: you don’t have to send out discount coupons to your brand advocate base, just to keep them motivated to write about your product.

Every product, brand, industry,… can have a different approach. Wild ideas could be to involve the brand advocate actively in the development and/or testing of a pilot run of your newest product. Make them feel important and valued and you can rest assured that they will continue to share their experience with their followers. According to Scoutsheet (2017), non-cash incentives have been proven to be 24% more effective at boosting performance, compared to cash incentives.


Digital word-of-mouth is an easy and cost effective way to come to more revenues for your company (Scoutsheet, 2017). Because customers in this digital age have multiple sources of information, we have to understand the different levels of credibility. Brand advocates, who are mostly boosting your digital word-of-mouth, rank high.

Promoting to write about your product is thus extremely important. But never forget, they will always need access to your product first. So, keep in mind to potentially offer trials, based on the market situation that you are in.

When people are sharing their experiences, don’t shy away from jumping into the discussion. You will motivate other customers to start writing and maybe most importantly, you get instant and valuable market feedback to take back to your R&D department.

Last but not least, think about rewarding your brand advocates. Non-cash incentives are proven to be way more effective than cash incentives (Scoutsheet, 2017). So, make sure you think your strategy through.


Reference list:

Edelman. (2007). Edelman Trust Report. Retrieved from

Little, J. O. E. Y. (2015, March 24). Who Do You Trust? 92% of Consumers Trust Peer Recommendations Over Advertising. Retrieved January 13, 2018, from

Beard, R. O. S. S. (2013, December 24). What Are Brand Advocates? Why Are They Important. Retrieved January 13, 2018, from

Rugetta, R. O. B. (2012). Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force. USA (2017, June 15). Retrieved January 13, 2018, from . (2014, January 10)/ Retrieved January 15, 2018

Burgers, J. O. S. (2011). Geef nooit korting!. Culemborg, The Netherlands: Van Duuren Media.


Community manager… a full-time position !

Social Media has undeniably become a part of our everyday lives, even for universities, companies, non-profit organizations or Crown corporations. All are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites for communications, marketing and advertising. And this activity is time-consuming and require real skills and knowledge.

Let’s go around the question !

social media management tools


The Community Manager MUST know the industry : you can not provide a good service if you are not concerned by the company. So, first of all, identify the client, the needs, the goals, the concerns. Understand the focus, the interactions, the sensitivity and THEN develop a plan : increase brand awareness or increase number of sales or improve number of loyal fans,…



Remember that in Social Media…there is the word Social… Develop a long term strategy, a one-shot is never an option, loyalty is always better and emotion has more impact than content. Direct recommendations between contacts are infinitely more promising than pure advertising.


The choice of the used social network is crucial, regarding the target. 90% of Instagram users are younger than 35 (Source: ScienceDaily) Instagram has become the social media network for targeting millennials. 32% of teenagers consider Instagram to be the most important social network. Female internet users are more likely to use Instagram than men, at 38% vs. 26%. Posts tagged with another user (56%) or location (79%) have significantly higher engagement rates (Source: Simply Measured) So don’t forget to add ‘with whom’ and ‘where’ to your Instagram posts.

Approximately 79% of adults use Facebook (Source Pewinternet ) : as for social media, it’s just as critical to know your audience. It’s important to have a look at the demographics.


Technology offers now to follow the campaigns with metrics. Do not neglect them !

  • Reach: Post reach is the number of unique users who saw your post.
  • Clicks: This is the amount of clicks on your content, company name or logo.
  • Engagement: The total number of social interactions divided by number of impressions. This shows how well your audience perceives you and their willingness to interact.
  • Hashtag performance: What hashtags created the most engagement?


Don’t forget… You’re not alone on the market! So, analyze who are your competitors and which are their strengths and weaknesses, and yours. Don’t hesitate to realize a SWOT analyze.


If you receive negative message through Social Media, don’t ignore them, manage it and answer ! It’s the same as a mini-crisis, don’t deny, don’t ignore, be honest and transparent.

manage social media negative comments

Communications & Social Media Data Curation

Let’s chat about Data Curation…

Follow my data curation on SCOOP IT, identified by 3 topics : “Communications & Social Media”, “Healthcare & Communications” and “Did you know?”


What is data curation and why do we have to use it ?

Data curation is the art of maintaining the value of data. A Communications & Marketing Specialist must act as a data curator by collecting data from many different sources and then aggregating and integrating it into an information source that is many times more valuable than its independent parts. During this process, data might be annotated, tagged, presented as a big “library”, and published for various purposes. The goal is to keep the data valuable so it can be reused in as many business applications as possible.

9 Facebook Social Marketing Tips for 2018

Interesting article : Business Blog January 2018


New year, new you. Whether you’re just starting up your business’s Facebook page or looking to bolster engagement on an already established page, the New Year is the perfect time for some serious remodeling. Social media marketing (SMM) is growing in importance every day, so let’s make 2018 the year that your brand truly takes off.

Not sure where to begin? No problem. We’re put together a list of nine tried-and-true social marketing tips for 2018 and beyond. Read on if you’re ready to dramatically enhance your brand presence on Facebook.

1. Create a Vanity URL

When you first create your Facebook business page, you’ll be assigned a random URL, consisting of a lot of numbers. To make your page easier to find and your links more recognizable, you should turn this link into a vanity url. This will transform your URL from something like to the much clearer Check out the Talus Payments Facebook URL for an example.

If your business name is already taken, don’t despair. Slight variations, like including a hyphen, the word “official” or your country name work almost as well.

2. Choose an Eye-Catching Cover Photo

An eye-catching photo is the first step to drawing a potential customer or fan in. The best Facebook cover photos should observe the specified dimensions (851 x 315) to avoid unsightly image stretching and not be too heavy on the text. It’s best to pick a single focal point to avoid overwhelming the eye. Also remember that mobile users will see less of your image than desktop users, so test your image on different platforms to make sure no important information is lost at other resolutions.

Stuck for ideas? Click here to see Hongkiat’s list of really creative Facebook Timeline Covers.

3. Post Quality Content

With all the competition out there, having a quality product isn’t necessarily enough to set you apart from similar businesses. One way you can attract the attention of fans and potential customers is to post engaging, quality content. Instead of focusing solely on self-serving content, such as links to your sales, share relevant and interesting content from your industry with your audience. This can inspire conversation and increase engagement.

4. Use Humor

When you’re sharing content, don’t be afraid to be funny. Studies have shown that users generally respond positively to brands that use humor appropriately on social media. Jokes are an effective way of humanizing your brand persona and eliciting an emotional response from your audience. Just remember to keep things tasteful and avoid controversy.

5. Answer Criticism with Empathy

Dealing with criticism on social media is difficult, with even well-known brands like Wendy’s occasionally missing the mark. Although it may be tempting to block and delete any negative messages your brand page receives, this method can quickly backfire and cause consumers to lose trust in your brand.

Instead, turn a potentially negative customer experience around by responding with empathy and courtesy to all complaints received. A sincere apology or an acknowledgement of a complaint will show customers that your company is committed to addressing issues and providing quality aftercare.

6. Respond Promptly to Messages

According to Adweek, 42% of consumers expect that a company will respond to inquiries left on your Facebook page within an hour. While this isn’t always possible, you should endeavor to answer all messages you receive, whether they’re positive or negative.

Facebook indicates on your page how responsive you are to messages and this may impact on whether potential customers bother asking for quotes or messaging you for possible appointment times. Your responsiveness also acts as an indication of your level of professionalism.

If you manage to respond to 90% of messages in 15 minutes over the past seven days, you’ll even earn a “very responsive to messages” badge to display on your profile. This shows customers that you’re always available to help.

7. Optimize Your Posting Time

To get the greatest engagement from your Facebook posts, you need to make sure you post when your target audience is online. Data from CoSchedule suggests that the optimal time to post on Facebook is generally between 1 – 4 p.m., particularly on weekends and late in the week. However, this will vary depending on the type of product or service you’re selling and the demographic it appeals to. Use Facebook Insights to pinpoint the best posting times for your niche.

8. Schedule Posts in Advance

Part of maintaining a successful social media presence is posting consistently. Companies that go days between interaction with their fans are more likely to lose followers and less likely to build a strong rapport with customers. That’s where scheduled posts come in.

If you want to post at optimal times (see above) but can’t guarantee you’ll be available during those hours, scheduled posts are your best friend. This feature allows you to queue up several posts, which will then be published at the times you specify. If you make sure to regularly schedule posts, you won’t experience an unprofessional lull in your social media communications, even when you’re out of the office.

9. Link your Social Media Sites

If you’re active on more than just one social media site, you can let your fans know where else they can find you by linking your platforms together. While a mention in your About Section is a quick and easy way to link your accounts, you can also use a third-party app like Tabsite or Woobox to add custom tabs to your page. Each of these tabs should then be linked, with an appropriate thumbnail, to another one of your social media platforms. This will increase your brand exposure.

By simply applying these nine tips to your social media strategy, you can easily make 2018 the year that your business hits the big time.

Good to know…Réseaux sociaux !

Guide des formats optimaux 2018 pour les réseaux sociaux

INFOGRAPHIE-Social media

Conseil 1: La qualité du contenu versus la quantité

Bien que plusieurs études recommandent des temps de publications précis afin de maximiser l’engagement, il est important de comprendre que le premier élément qui aura un impact sur l’engagement d’une publication est le contenu partagé via cette dernière. Ainsi, il est recommandé de se concentrer sur la pertinence et la qualité du contenu plutôt que la fréquence de publication. Pensez qualité avant quantité! Tout contenu créé doit être avant tout (1) pertinent pour l’utilisateur cible et (2) doit répondre à des objectifs d’affaires et des objectifs web précis. Facebook se base sur trois principes et donne une panoplie de conseils pour quand vient le temps de créer et d’évaluer le contenu.

Conseil 2: Comprendre la logique derrière les algorithmes

Autrefois, les divers réseaux sociaux présentaient l’information dans un ordre linéaire et chronologique. Ce qui veut dire que les publications étaient vues lorsqu’elles étaient publiées. C’est maintenant loin d’être le cas et c’est pourquoi le temps de publication est légèrement moins important. Les différents algorithmes utilisés par les plateformes sont plutôt complexes et plusieurs données sont prises en considération par les algorithmes: le type de contenu, la personne qui l’a publié ainsi que votre affinité avec cette dernière, les types de pages que vous aimez, etc. Un des facteurs les plus importants est celui de l’engagement. Plus un contenu est aimé, commenté, consulté et partagé, plus les plateformes le mettront de l’avant à des usagers ayant le profil de “personne intéressée à ce contenu”. De fait,l’algorithme de Facebook fonctionne comme un cercle vertueux: chaque post viral augmente la portée du suivant et ainsi de suite.

Conseil 3: Pensez mobile

Ce n’est plus un secret pour personne, l’utilisation des appareils mobiles ne cesse d’augmenter et la tendance ne se renversera probablement pas. Eh oui, 80% du temps passé sur les médias sociaux se fait sur un appareil mobile et plus de 56% des utilisateurs Facebook se connectent uniquement via mobile.  Ainsi, il est primordial (et même nécessaire!) de s’adapter à cette tendance. Par exemple, pensez à intégrer des sous-titres lorsque vous diffusez une vidéo, assurez vous que votre site est bien adapté pour une navigation sur mobile et optimisez le matériel que vous diffusez!

Crisis Management


I followed a MOOC regarding crisis communication and crisis management and I though that a summary will be useful for all passionate about communication like me. So, please take it as a working tool and do not hesitate to send me your comments to improve it.


Crisis is everything what keeps an organization not performing its mission
Something real, perceived, from nature, human error or you have no control over

Having a crisis plan can limit the damages (reputation !)
Find out who the key audience is and how best to reach them

Communication :
– Is not one-sided
– Involves more than words (body language, tone of voice, attitude,…)
– Needs to pay attention to different groups (gender, racial, cultural, … backgrounds)
Know your audience !

Common communication issues
1. Your message isn’t reaching your key audience (what channels are used ?)
2. Your key audience doesn’t understand your message (language “too” complicated ?)
3. Your key audience disagree with your message of find it offensive (try tp meet the opponents)
4. The media misrepresents your message (organize a press conference or meet the journalists)

THE BEST WAY TO DEAL WITH A CRISIS IS TO PLAN IT BEFORE IT HAPPENS → all organizations should have a crisis committee and a crisis plan, including the following elements
1. Determine the seriouseness of the situation
a. Possible negative consequences to the organization ?
b. What to do to minimize them ?
2. Develop position statements, anszer to potential questions
3. Notify everyone who has a major role in the organization
4. Appoint a “spokesperson” to deal with the media
a. Never refuse to talk to a reporter
b. If you don’t know the answer, say so
c. Say “I am not going to answer this question” if you don’t want to give details
d. Ask when the paper will be published
e. Assume what you say
5. Oversee the crisis management process : update regularly
6. After a crisis, bring all interested parties up to date
7. Thank everyone who helped to handle the situation

• Find out what the problem is
• Be honest in all situations, have the door open for conversation and common ground
• Talk with opponents
• Be flexible
• Treat everyone with respect
• Always take responsibility and apologize for anything that was your fault
• Repeat your message so that people remember in the long run

Identify the problem
Try to talk with your key audience / opponents face to face, listen, keep communication open and stress similarities rather than differences between you
Be honest, avoid rethoric, be flexible without betraying your mission
Always take responsibility and apologize when error is yours
Keep restating your message clearly, in terms people can understand, calmly, with facts


3 elements are common to a crisis :
A threat to the organisation
The element of surprise
A short decision time
“process of transformation where the old system can not longer be maintained”, not the routine

Crisis management : dealing with threats before, during and after they have occurred
Identify, assess, understand and cope with a serious situation

8 types of crisis
1. Natural disaster
2. Technological crisis
3. Confrontation
4. Malevolence
5. Organizational misdeeds
6. Workplace violence
7. Rumors
8. Terrorist attack / man-made disaster

Crisis management stages
Stages :
• Detection (warning signs ?)
• Prevention (crisis preventable or not ?)
• Preparation
• Response (“application of preparation”)
• Recovery (post-crisis)

Crisis prevention
• Manage issues, repitation-relationships
• Scan, collect, analyse information
• Take preventive action if needed
• Evaluate threat reduction effectiveness

Crisis preparation & planning
• Diagnose vulnerabilities
• Access crisis types
• Select, train, team/spokespersons
• Develop crisis management plan
• Recognize organizational, managerial, individual team challenge process

Recovery & follow-up
• In-person updates & conversation with staff
• Manager rounds to all patients
• Security update to staff, patients & visitors
• Resources for employees
• Employees forums
• Identify weaknesses & resolve
• Review crisis communication plan & adjust as necessary
• Create a timeline of activities & share with leadership
• Debrief with communication staff

Some crisis response strategies
• Attach accuser, scapegoat
• (Deny crisis exists)
• (Minimize seriouseness)
• Deny intention or volition
• Provide money or compensation
• Apologize

Internal communication vehicules
• Q&A security tips
• Tips for managers
• Talking points for patients & visitors
• Incident update emails
• Incident briefings & plasma screens
• Intranet microsite / home page

External communication vehicules
• Social media
• Media releases
• Home page update

Types of crisis response

How could crisis response could affect perceptions of company differently ?
Align the perception to protect the image of the company & the CEO in case of corporate crisis

Both the messenger and the message matter> The CEO who provides the response is judged separately from his/her company. Apology is the most conservative but may be the safest response. A denial response or a lie is proven as risky.
Remain silent in the wake of a crisis can be a dangerous approach : the competitors, disgruntled workers or other stakeholders can define the crisis in the eyes of the public. Remember that what you say can be used against you.

The evolution of using social media in disaster response
No one can deny the power of social networking but must learn how to use the social media ! Tell your followers why they should follow you…
Use #FollowFriday or #TriAlerts as keywords
Social media is not expensive of you just remember to network and use the tools available to you.
Ex: RedCross & Dell launch a Digital Operations Center to empower communities suffering during disasters to use social tools to seek help


How to prepare for a crisis : Crisis Communication Plan (CCP)

Developing a strategic plan
• What’s the purpose of the company ?
• Write a mission statement that tells customers, employees and others why your organization exists (slogan)
• Identify core values or beliefs that will guide the behavior of members of the organization
• Assess the company’s stenghts, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT)
• Establish goals and objectives (numbers, %,…), or performances targets to direct all the activities that you’ll perform to achieve your mission
• Develop and implement tactical and operational plans including plans for contingency (alternatives) and crisis to achieve goals and objectives

Crisis Communication Plan
Information to know during a crisis
• What is happening ?
• Is anyone in danger ?
• How big is the problem ?
• Who reported the problem ?
• Has a response started ?
• What resources are on scene ?
• Who is responding so far ?
• Is everyone’s location known ?

Plan = the prepared scenario document that organizes information into responsibilities and lines of communications prior to an event

4 critical elements
• Crisis communication team members with contact information
• Designated spokersperson
• Meeting place/location
• Media plan with procedures

The team
• Decides what actions to take
• Carries out those actions
• Offers expertise or education in the areas relevant to the crisis

• Maintain connectivity
• Be readily accessible for the news media
• Show empathy for the people involved
• Allow distributed access
• Streamline communication process
• Maintain information security
• Ensure uninterrupted audit trails
• Deliver high volume communications
• Support multi channels communications including social media
• Remove dependencies on paper board processes

Successful managers decide where they want the organization to go and then determine how to get there.
Planning for a business starts at the top and works its way down.
It begins with strategic planning—the process of establishing an overall course of action.
Step one is identifying the purpose of the organization.
Then, management is ready to take the remaining steps in the strategic planning process:
Prepare a mission statement that describes the purpose of the organization and tells customers, employees, and others what it’s committed to doing.
Select the core values that will guide the behavior of members of the organization by letting them know what is and isn’t appropriate and important in conducting company activities.
Use SWOT analysis to assess the company’s strengths and weaknesses and its fit with the external environment.
Set goals and objectives, or performance targets, to direct all the activities needed to achieve the organization’s mission.
Develop tactical plans and operational plans to implement objectives.

What is a Crisis Management Team (CMT) ?

A crisis can create 3 related threats
• Public safety
• Financial loss
• Reputation loss
Crisis management can be divided into 3 phases
• Pre-crisis
• Crisis response : concerned with prevention and preparation
• Post-crisis : better prepared for next crisis and fulfills commitments made during the crisis including follow-up information

Crisis Preparation Best Practices


Crisis Media Training Best Practices


Crisis Communication Channel Preparation Best Practices


Initial Crisis Response Best Practices


Master List of Reputation Repair Strategies


Crisis Types by Attribution of Crisis Responsibility

Attribution Theory-based Crisis Communication Best Practices


Post-Crisis Phase Best Practices


Crisis Management Team :
• PR
• Legal
• Security
• Operations
• Finances
• HR

Dealing with news media

Importance of adequately prepare for news media regardless the format and whether the company is communicating during a crisis or non-crisis situation

You should have a good reason for holding a press conference. Wasting the media’s time on a frivolous issue will only set you up for challenges later on. You should also have a brief prepared statement that you will read and restate if necessary. Today’s press conference messages are often drafted by someone in public relations or media, and reviewed by legal counsel when warranted. If the task falls to you, keep it short and simple, addressing the following:
• Who?
• What?
• Where?
• When?
• How?
• Why?


Why social media is useful during a crisis

The growth of social media over the past few years has been exponential; according to Nielsen, Twitter alone grew 1,382 percent in February 2009, registering 7,000,000 unique visitors in the United States for the month. By February 2010, Twitter had 75,000,000 registered users and between 10,000,000 and 15,000,000 active tweeters. Meanwhile, Facebook has more than 400 million active users worldwide, according to its website, with each user averaging 130 Facebook friends.


Other continuing trends in social networking include microblogging on sites such as Twitter, which is rapidly becoming the fastest source of news on the Internet. The site acts as a personal newswire, passing on information about shared world events as they affect people in real time.
Why you should Tweet during a crisis :
Using Twitter or social network to reassure users during a crisis
• Any kind of acknowledgment online will result in lowered negativity and improved perceptions and may lead to fewer people calling the call/emergency centre
• Companies need to think about who posts the information, not just what is posted – a trusted community manager may be better than an anonymous account or an executive
• Companies can improve the effectiveness of their acknowledgements by explaining the nature and cause of the issue
In addition to brand marketing and cross-promotions infiltrating social networking sites, digital experts predict social media will become more exclusive, with people filtering out clutter from unwanted sources.
Another highly targeted web trend is the emergence of micro magazines—digital publications aimed at a specific audience that attract advertisers wanting to reach a particular group of people.


Social networking sites continue to grow in popularity; Facebook is the largest social networking site on the web with more than 400 million users worldwide. Social gaming is a popular trend on networking sites, and many users are not typical video game players; instead, they fit the female over-40 demographic. Developers generate revenue from social networking sites by charging gamers real money for bonuses or virtual goods. Microblogging is another popular social networking trend. Key events around the world are often reported on microblog Twitter first by users who experience the events firsthand. Business owners use Twitter to connect with their customers more effectively. Celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher are media savvy and use Twitter to promote worthy causes. Digital experts predict social networking will become more exclusive in the future, with people filtering out clutter from unwanted sources.
The Internet is moving in a more exclusive direction through membership-only sites such as Thrillist, which cater to specific audiences via subscription newsletters. Micro magazines, which target very specific audiences and are distributed via email or RSS feed, are also becoming more popular.
Applications for smartphones and tablet computers such as the iPad are hugely popular, offering consumers numerous shortcuts to their favorite websites in addition to games and services. Two current trends are location-sharing applications, facilitated by the GPS functionality on modern smartphones, and cross-media applications such as those that tie in with particular television shows, celebrities, or music radio stations.

The risks of using social media
Social media sites are free BUT can be translated to monetary costs 84% of the time : top costs are the following
• Lost productivity
• Lost revenue
• Loss of organization, customer or employee data damage to a company’s brand reputation
• …
There are no “social media insurances”. Most common types of social media risk and liability :
• Advertising liability
• Defamation
• Employer hiring/firing practices
• Security breach / privacy breach
• …
Law firms should review their policies to ensure that electronic communications are covered.



Social media marketing

Retaining customers is the purpose of customer-relationship management—a marketing strategy that focuses on using information about current customers to nurture and maintain strong relationships with them. The underlying theory is fairly basic: to keep customers happy, you treat them well, give them what they want, listen to them, reward them with discounts and other loyalty incentives, and deal effectively with their complaints.

In the last five years, the popularity of social media marketing has exploded. Most likely you already know what social media is—you use it every day when you connect to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or any number of other online sites that allow you to communicate with others, network, and bookmark and share your opinions, ideas, photos, and videos. So what is social media marketing? Quite simply social media marketing is the practice of including social media as part of a company’s marketing program.
The days of trying to reach customers through ads on TV, in newspapers, or in magazines are over.

Social media marketing provides a number of advantages to companies, including enabling them to:
• create brand awareness;
• connect with customers and potential customers by engaging them in two-way communication;
• build brand loyalty by providing opportunities for a targeted audience to participate in company-sponsored activities, such as a contest;

• offer and publicize incentives, such as special discounts or coupons, which increase sales;
• gather feedback and ideas on how to improve products and marketing initiatives;
• allow customers to interact with each other and spread the word about a company’s products or marketing initiatives; and
• take advantage of low-cost marketing opportunities by being active on free social sites, such as Facebook.
The main challenge of social media marketing is that it can be very time consuming. It takes determination and resources to succeed. Small companies often lack the staff to initiate and manage social media marketing campaigns.

Social networking experiment shows effects of mass mobilization. Emergency management in the social media age = CHANGE IN THE MINDSET
• From “come to us” to “we’ll come to you”
• From “we’ll decide what community needs” to “community will tell us what they need”
• Public is a resource, not a liability (not an official source of information)

Why social media ?
• Speed
• Reach
• Automatic warnings
• OSOM : One Source, One Message
• 24/7

1. Proactive and effective use of social media can help achieve a mission
2. To use social media effectively, agencies need to build and maintain credibility and trust in the space and be seen as open, transparent and honest
3. Agencies play a critical role in information flow and will encourage and engage in the exchange of timely, relevant and tailored information via social media

 Bridging the gap :
• Understand concerns, build trust
• Flexible policies and procedures
• Practical examples and cases studies
• Advocate on behalf of community

Because customers are vital to a business, successful companies practice customer-relationship management—retaining good customers by keeping information on current customers, to foster and maintain strong ongoing relationships.
Companies that ask customers if they can contact them are engaged in permission marketing.
Mass marketing is the practice of sending out messages to a vast audience of anonymous people.
TV advertising is a form of interruption marketing that interrupts people to get their attention (with the hope they will listen to the ad).
Social media marketing is the practice of including social media as part of a company’s marketing program.
Advantages of social media marketing include the following:
Create brand awareness
Engage customers and potential customers in two-way conversations
Build brand loyalty
Offer and publicize incentives
Gather feedback on products and marketing initiatives
Have customers spread the word about products and marketing initiatives
Use low-cost marketing opportunities
A challenge of social media marketing is that it can be very time consuming to stay in touch with your customers and potential customers.


The plan will be different if designed for government agency, nonprofit organization or private company. Moreover, they are key elements that are expected to include.

What type of information does a Crisis Communications Plan contain ?

Purpose of a Crisis Communication Plan :to effectively manage communications through a formal, clearly defined channel in order to mitigate crisis, or serious negative repercussions for the company or the sector, and maintain a reputation of leadership and transparency on vital issues and breaking news.

Objectives of this crisis communications plan:
• Prepare the Association staff to effectively and nimbly manage crisis communications;
• Help staff respond in a unified, professional manner that reinforces sector leadership and creates loyalty;
• Strategically enhance the organization’s brand/role, and the public understanding of the value provided by the nonprofit community;
• Manage the distribution of critical, often sensitive, information to the media, members, and public; Inform members of the company’s position to help shape a consistent sector-wide response


Crisis Communications Checklist Overview
Safety – Ensure safety of all staff and site. Call 911 if needed.
Notification – Notify the president & CEO immediately.
Crisis Communications Team – Key staff and, if needed, the chairs of the Board and the Marketing and Communications Committee (MACC), will convene to strategically review the situation and manage the communications surrounding the issue.
Note: In some cases, a larger Crisis Management Team may be needed when action surrounding the crisis involves more than just handling communications. In those cases, the Crisis Communication Team would be a part of the larger team, though the guidelines in this manual only outline the steps to take in the communication needs surrounding a crisis.

 Before Going Public
o Determine crisis communications lead person who is responsible for ensuring all tasks are completed (most likely the director of communications).
o Determine the crisis communication spokesperson who will answer all media and other inquiries (most likely the president & CEO).
o Assess the situation to determine the facts (see Detailed Crisis Communication Plan on page 6)
o Determine appropriate response/action (see Appendix 3: Decision Tree).
o Create plan of action for internal and external communications.
o Develop factual, detailed messages that reflect the status of the crisis, the Association’s response, and, if possible, proactive steps to resolve the situation.
o Prepare talking points and provide a script for the receptionist receiving incoming calls.
o Determine if a press release, web and/or voicemail updates are necessary.
o Assess what resources are necessary to manage the crisis (i.e. cell-phone availability, press conference needs, on-location resources – signs, lectern, visuals, etc).
o Appoint staff to:
Serve as the official spokesperson and manage media;
Keep the chairs of the Board and the MACC informed;
Contact partners, allies, members, etc. and assist with sector-wide talking points, if appropriate; and record crisis details, actions taken,external responses, resolution.

 Going Public
o Begin placing telephone calls to critical internal audiences, including staff, board and/or legislators, etc.
o Begin media and other external audience outreach, use press release if appropriate.
o Update web site and organization phone mail, if needed.
o Evaluate message effectiveness as the situation progresses.
o Implement methods for updating key audiences with ongoing information.
o Distribute post-crisis communications.
o Evaluate crisis communications efforts


How to design a Crisis Communications Plan ?


10 steps to developing a plan :
1. Choose and set up your monitoring platform(s)
2. Determine your monitoring schedule
3. Ensure local language supports teams
4. Determine what constitutes a crisis

5. Determine what you WILL respond to
• Customers service issues
• Features requests
• Other inquiries
6. Determine what you will NOT respond to
• Rumors
• Internal affairs
• …
7. Form you Crisis Communications Team
8. Decide who will respond on the company’s behalf
9. Decide what to report on and how frequently
10. Build support beams


How to use key messages to tell the company’s story and how to incorporate key strategic messages in online and traditional media tools
AND how to help managers communicate timely, effective and truthful messages while adhering to sound business principles

Practice writing key messages that tell your company’s story

Public relations can truly mean the difference between life and death for an organization, or the difference between profitability and failure.
Your message strategy consists of a positioning statement and three support points.
Your message strategy makes it easier to deliver the same message across all marketing media including Web sites, brochures, advertisements and presentations to investors, industry analysts and prospects. Consistent execution of the same message is a critical factor in successful marketing. Messages that Matter uses a formal, systematic methodology to help you develop the right message strategy.
Your positioning statement becomes the central idea or theme for all your marketing activities. A positioning statement is a short, declarative sentence that states just one benefit, and addresses your target market’s No. 1 problem.
A good positioning statement easily adapts to various media. It should be simply stated and works in every aspect of your marketing effort. So in summary, a positioning statement is:
Short sentence-less than 12 words (not counting product name)
• Simple language
• Adaptable to various media
• A compelling statement of one benefit
• A conceptual statement…not necessarily copy
• Supported by 3 additional benefit claims
• Satisfies 4 evaluation criteria (unique, believable, important and useable)
Once you’ve developed a positioning statement, you need to bolster it with three supporting claims.

Incorporate key messages using online and traditional media tools

Keys to Media Relations Success
Communicating with the media starts with knowing how their operation works, what they need and how they need it. You must know what they are looking for and structure your information to fit their needs.
• You and reporters have the same goal: accurate, timely communication of information.
• Misunderstandings occur because of a lack of awareness of how the media works and of what a reporter needs. Unfortunately, faults charged to the media are often a reflection of an industry or person who made the job tougher or did little to help the reporter “get the facts.”
• The news media is comprised of individuals who have a job or assignment to do. They have individual biases, as we all do, but the vast majority are reasonable and receptive.
• A good reporter is one who asks questions. You will find working with the news media much easier if you understand that asking the tough question is part of their job.
• Reporters seldom have the time to research a subject as much as you or they would like. Instead, they depend on you to work with them in getting the full picture.
• Many reporters are skeptical, by training if not by nature, so accept it. Your part of the equation is to supply useful, accurate and meaningful data without losing sight of your point of view.
• The success of your approach depends largely upon your ability to understand the relationship between you and the reporter and your knowledge of your role.
• Meet with reporters and editors one-on-one, prior to when you need coverage (an editorial backgrounder) and keep the presentation as short as possible. You lose effectiveness if you talk too long and you may miss an opportunity to learn what they want to know from their questions. Your purpose is to establish a dialogue, rather than a speech. Listen to them. Try to elicit the tough questions while you are there to answer.
Some Do’s and Don’ts in Dealing With the Media:
• Have research to back up what you’re saying.
• If you don’t know something, say so. Promise to get back quickly with the correct information – and do it.
• Never play reporters off against each other or threaten to go to another reporter with a story.
Reporters are people too, so little things are important, like:
• A personal note on a fine story a reporter has written.
• A tip on a matter unrelated to what you are doing.
• A personal invitation to a social event.
• Be aware of how the same reporters can “pop up” covering different beats within one, or different media organizations.
• Never lie or attempt to answer a question you don’t really know the answer to. Again, if you don’t know something, say so, and get back to the reporter with the correct information.

Television and Radio Interviews: Understanding Your Role

Broadcast (television and radio) is a headline service. Make your point and stop. TV news is to journalism what bumper stickers are to philosophy. Broadcast needs “talking heads.” It needs a spokesperson, a voice, a face.
The news director and producer determine what is to be covered, in coordination with the assignment editor.
The assignment editor is the primary contact for news; the producer is the primary contact for feature shows.
There is a weekend staff, as well as an after 7:00 p.m. staff, with the weekend and evening shift making assignments and news decisions for their segments.
News reporters are looking for the action/conflict in the story. The evening news is drama – visual and moving.
TV news looks also for the local angle to the national story of the day.
Primarily, TV wants it in 30 second segments, no time to “background” the reporter.
News reporters have a maximum of three hours to spend on the average story, most of the time far less, including the filming of the story. This produces only a couple of minutes on air, and boils down to around 30 seconds for your message.
News interviews or segments are short, to the point, and concise.
“Cutaway” or “Reverse Shots” can be expected, where the spokesperson is asked to remain on camera while other angles are shot for later insertion in the interview, showing your reporter listening

10 Key Media Interview Tips
1. Establish ground rules. Don’t hesitate to speak to the reporter ahead of time about the duration of the interview and the topics you will or will not address.
2. Identify yourself. Give your full title and provide biographical information when appropriate.
3. Stick to the point. During the interview stay focused, use short and concise sentences, and use everyday language. Formulate each response to make your point upfront, followed by supporting and explanations.
4. Be clear. Avoid acronyms and jargon. Imagine that you are speaking to a neighbor or relative who is not involved in planning.
5. Avoid saying anything “off the record.” It is better not to tell a reporter anything you do not want to see in print or on television. Remember, off-the-record isn’t retroactive. You can’t tell a reporter something and then take it back.
6. Use humor carefully. A facetious remark often seems sarcastic on the air or printed page.
7. Maximize non-verbal communications. What you wear, your body language, and your gesticulations should support your message and build your credibility as an expert.
8. Take control. Always remember, you don’t have to answer the questions they ask! Understand and utilize bridging phrases to transition from the question that was ask to the message point you want to make (see more detail on bridging in the last section of this document).
9. Offer to check the facts. Always offer to review factual information and quotes for accuracy. If the reporter declines to let you review copy for a printed article and you are concerned about being misquoted, ask the reporter what he or she intends to quote from your interview.
10. Provide informational materials. Never send a reporter away empty-handed. Provide news releases, journal articles, a biographical sketch, or a summary of your main points.

New Media Tips
Many organizations use third party applications such as HootSuite or TweetDeck to manage their tweets. HootSuite enables users to view several columns — such as their recent tweets, follower stream, direct messages sent and received, and more. This application also allows users to pre-schedule tweets and includes a built-in URL shortener, which enables users to track how many visits their links receive from Twitter. TweetDeck is another application through which you can view multiple columns and shortern URLs. This application also provides users with the ability to post their Twitter content to platforms such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.
Post information about your organization’s activities and honors, as well as news articles related to your field. See the additional information below for tips on how to connect with others on Twitter.
Twitter is a reciprocal space. Do your best to retweet relevant links and news from your followers. It is also appropriate to include further commentary about the information you are re-sharing. It will make the content more valuable to your followers.
It is appropriate to ask your followers to RT information if a message is important or time sensitive.
Make sure to congratulate your followers or online partners on their good work. Twitter is about sharing and collaborating.
You can find new people to follow by searching for relevant keywords at If you’re using a third party application like HootSuite or TweetDeck, you can set-up a search column to keep tabs on people tweeting on a particular subject. This is a great way to find new people who are interested in similiar issues and connect with them on Twitter.
Be selective with who you choose to follow by following those who seem like legitimate sources of information. Quality of followers is more important than quanity on Twitter. Do not follower spammers back.
Facebook Fan Pages are a “one-stop-shop” for posting many of the items you may want to share, including photos, videos, news articles, event information and more.
Make sure to stay active on Facebook by posting links and information on your wall. Encourage fans to interact with you by asking them questions, too. If a fan posts something on the wall, be sure to thank them for their comment or respond to them appropriately.
Facebook gives you the option to post pictures directly to your page, or to add a tab the imports your photos on Flickr. If you want the conversation to start on Facebook, it’s recommended you post the pictures directly to the page. Also, it’s important for every picture you post to have a caption to give your fans some context. The same is true with videos. You can also add a tab that imports your YouTube videos, but can also upload the footage directly to Facebook if you want your fans to be able to comment on the page.
You can invite your Facebook Fans to events through your page by creating a new event item. Facebook will send users an invitation, which they can choose to accept or decline. Fans may also add this information directly to their Microsoft Outlook calendars through Facebook.
Use YouTube as a venue to post videos featuring a spokesperson or an event such as a groundbreaking or awards ceremony. In order to keep the content fresh and current, your organization may choose to invest in a small hand held camcorder, such as a FlipCam or Creative Vado.

LinkedIn is a great space for professionals to connect and share information online. Organizations can create either an interest group or company profile. Once you have created a company profile, LinkedIn will automatically pull information about each employee into the corporate profile. This serves as a directory for those in your field seeking information about individuals at your organization.
Additionally, LinkedIn serves as another space to promote other Web sites, such as your blog. Both your individual and your corporate LinkedIn profiles offer the opportunity to use the BlogLink application to feature your blog. Additionally, the SlideShare application allows you to post PowerPoint presentations. Events can also be shared on LinkedIn.

Help management to communicate truthful messages

There are usually two things happening during a crisis:
1.) the issue at hand that needs to be dealt with
It could be a fire in one of your buildings, a disgruntled former employee who shares internal documents, embezzlement or corruption, kidnap and ransom, a hurricane takes the roof off your warehouse, your plant goes down because of flooding or a power grid failure and production is halted, etc. You get the idea.
Or, it could be a known issue — one the management team or the general manager know about and may not have briefed the communication team. I’m inclined to think this is the case with many recent break downs between companies and their communities.
2.) communication with all stakeholders and the public at large where applicable
This includes employees and their families, local authorities and emergency personnel, business partners, vendors, board of directors, analysts, and the investor community as applicable, as well as the physical and virtual communities affected — directly and indirectly.
Communicators and PR professionals are taught that during a crisis, they should use the ICE method to guide the response. ICE stands for Information, Communication and Evaluation. These three areas and the processes associated with them will help you stay organized and keep the crisis response team and the crisis management task force on the same page.
I — Information
Gather as much information as possible about the event: who, what, when, where, why, how and more. Check and double check the facts, and get updates often. Do you have open communication lines with the people in the field and those close to the crisis? Do you have a process to capture information as it becomes available?
C — Communication
Once information has been gathered and verified, communicate to employees and other key stakeholders, including the media, as appropriate. Keep a log of all requests for information from each stakeholder group. Do you have pre-approved language you can insert key facts into to aid with speed in initial communications? What’s your process for ongoing updates? Who needs to be involved in approvals?
E — Evaluation
Monitor media stories and online conversations to make certain information is being presented accurately. The crisis response team must act immediately to correct any incorrect or misleading information. Update information frequently and verify progress in the organization’s response.

Towards a more practical end, international business behaviors are frequently governed by governmental and industry regulations requiring that marketers:
• be legal, decent, honest , and truthful;
• show responsibility to the customers and society;
• follow business principles of fair competition
Ethical Norms and Values for Marketers:
• Do no harm.
• Foster trust in the marketing system.
• Embrace ethical values.
• Strive to be truthful at all times.
• Offer products of value that do as claimed.
• Stand behind products that fail to deliver as claimed.
• Honor commitments and promises.
• Strive to serve the needs of customers.
• Avoid using coercion with all stakeholders.
• Consider environmental stewardship in decision-making.
• Value individual differences and avoid stereotyping customers in a negative way.
• List to needs of customers and make reasonable efforts to improve their satisfaction.
• Give back to the community through volunteerism and charitable donations.

Communicate to various stakeholder groups

Experts in stakeholder management and public relations have provided many different ways of identifying key stakeholders or publics. At the heart of these attempts is the question, “How much attention does each stakeholder group deserve or require?
It is impossible that all stakeholders will have the same interests in and demands on the organization. Once organizations have identified their stakeholders, there is a struggle for attention: who to give it to, who to give more to, and who to ignore. Sacrificing the needs of one stakeholder for the needs of the other is a dilemma with which many organizations struggle. When these conflicts arise it is important to the success of the organization that it has prioritized each stakeholder according to the situation.
A stakeholder is a group or individual who is affected by or can affect the success of an organization. The definition has been expanded to include groups who have interests in the corporation, regardless of the corporation’s interest in them. Employees, customers, shareholders, communities, and suppliers are those most commonly classified as stakeholders within an organization.
Organizations choose stakeholders by their marketing strategies, recruiting, and investment plans, but “publics arise on their own and choose the organization for attention.
Grunig and Hunt developed the model based on the work of Esman (1972); Evan (1976); Parsons (1976).
• Enabling stakeholders have some control and authority over the organization, such as stockholders, board of directors, elected officials, governmental legislators and regulators, and so on. These stakeholders provide an organization with resources and necessary levels of autonomy to operate. When enabling relationships falter, the resources can be withdrawn and the autonomy of the organization limited, restricted, or regulated.
• Functional stakeholders are essential to the operations of the organization and are divided between input—providing labor and resources to create products or services (such as employees and suppliers)—and output—receiving the products or services (such as consumers and retailers).
• Normative stakeholders are associations or groups with which the organization has a common interest. These stakeholders share similar values, goals, or problems and often include competitors that belong to industrial or professional associations.
• Diffused stakeholders are the most difficult to identify because they include publics who have infrequent interaction with the organization, and become involved based on the actions of the organization. These are the publics that often arise in times of a crisis; linkages include the media, the community, activists, and other special interest groups.


Grunig developed a situational theory of publics to explain and predict why some publics are active and others are passive.
Those publics who do not face a problem are nonpublics, those who face the problem but do not recognize it as a problem are latent publics, those who recognize the problem are aware publics, and those who do something about the problem are active publics. He identified three variables that explain why certain people become active in certain situations: level of involvement, problem recognition, and constraint recognition.


Level of involvement is measured by the extent to which people connect themselves personally with the situation. However, people do not seek or process information unless they recognize the connection between them and a problem, which is the level of problem recognition. Whether people move beyond information processing to the information seeking behavior of active publics often depends on whether they think they can do something about the problem. Constraint recognition is the level of personal efficacy a person believes that he or she holds, and the extent to which he or she is having an impact on the issue is possible. Those who think that nothing can be done have high constraint recognition and are less compelled to become active in the resolution of the problem. Another consideration, referent criteria, is the guideline that people apply to new situations based on previous experiences with the issue or the organization involved.
Stakeholders who are also active publics become the obvious top priority publics.
Therefore, an organization must develop strategies to help mediate issues with priority publics. These strategies will depend on whether the stakeholders are supportive or nonsupportive and active or inactive. Therefore, you would develop strategies based on four groups, advocate stakeholders (active and supportive), dormant stakeholders (inactive and supportive), adversarial stakeholders (active and nonsupportive), and apathetic stakeholders (inactive and nonsupportive).
• Advocate stakeholders. This is the group that you want involved in supportive actions such as third-party endorsements, letter-writing campaigns, donations, investments, and attendance at functions. Communication should be action and behavior oriented.
• Dormant stakeholders. This is a group that is not ready to be involved. If inactivity is due to lack of knowledge, messages should focus on creating awareness and understanding of the issues that affect them. If the publics are aroused, but not active, then communication should address potential causes of apathy by reducing perceptions of constraints or using affective cues to increase emotional attachment.
• Adversarial stakeholders. The initial response to this group is to be defensive. However, defensive communication will not work on this group, it will only entrench them in their position. Defensive communication is better intended for aroused publics who have not decided whether they are supportive or not. Instead, organizations should use conflict resolution strategies that involve nonsupportive stakeholders to seek win-win solutions.
• Apathetic stakeholders. Again, the gut reaction to this group is to ignore it. But if this group faces an issue but is not aware of it or does not see its resonance yet, it may still move to an aroused, then aware, and then active public. A better strategy is to increase awareness of the issue with an invitation to collaborate with the organization on the issue before it becomes a problem or crisis. Since it would be difficult to get this group involved, most of the communication effort should be focused on increasing the salience of the issue and invitations for involvement.
The defensive approach is a reactive behavior that acts principally in the self-interest of the organization. The responsive approach is a reactive behavior that considers its impact on stakeholders. The assertive approach is proactive behavior that promotes self-interests in an attempt to control an organization’s environment. And, the collaborative approach is proactive behavior that uses dialogue to create mutually beneficial solutions that incorporate the interests of both the organization and its stakeholders.
Developing positive relationships with stakeholders is a necessity for organizations. The first step is to identify your stakeholders and then prioritize them according to organizational goals and situations. A common tendency is to respond to the squeaky-wheel stakeholder. If the organization has not properly prioritized its stakeholders and their relationships, this group may get more attention than is deserved. This model demonstrates that the squeaky wheel may not be the stakeholder with the greatest priority. By using the steps outlined in this chapter, organizations can take a more systematic and comprehensive approach to prioritizing stakeholders.
To help organizations deal with varying situations, the four segments approach of the contingency model helps to create an effective public relations strategy. The understanding of these four main approaches offers you a theoretical foundation and a practical guide to practicing strategic public relations.