Whether it is airing professional grievances or corporate secrets, personal social media use can be both a public relations and a security issue for companies. Yet, a Deloitte LLP Ethics & Workplace Survey found only 17 percent of companies with 1000 plus employees had any social media guidelines in place â€“ most of which support â€śexpressionâ€ť but rely on an employeeâ€™s responsibility to use personal â€śjudgmentâ€ť about content.
The future of employee social media policies, however, will become much more definitive as a companyâ€™s reputation and security can too easily be harmed with little recourse except firing an employee. Some companies are even restricting, blocking or banning personal social media activity at work. According to a survey conducted for Robert Half Technology, a staffing company, 54 percent of companies are curtailing personal social media activities on company time.
No matter the circumstances, the â€śwe vs. themâ€ť approach does not work. Addressing workplace social media behavior must be a holistic effort. To be successful, guideline preparation, dissemination and adoption should be created and promoted by a cross-functional team: key management, legal, HR, communications, IT and employee representatives, among others. Social media â€“ and its use or misuse â€“ is not going away and the PR implications are as serious as they are in crisis communications.
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After spending a long weekend with the entire family sans electricity or modern comforts in the Tennessee mountains, my thoughts turn to those on the disabled Carnival Splendor cruise line just pulling into the port of San Diego today after four days without electricity. Unlike my brief trip, these vacationers left expecting a luxury voyage, only to weather unsavory conditions including lack of hot food (SPAM became a staple) and water and – worst of all – waste disposal problems. One word: peeeeuuuuu.
After a fire in the engine room broke out on Monday (day two of seven) and the ship lost electricity, Carnival – so far – has successfully navigated a PR nightmare by turning its media page into a crisis communication hot spot for the Splendor. They’ve issued four news alerts, held two press conferences and used social media to keep ahead of the news with continuous updates on Facebook and Twitter and the Cruise Director’s blog. Then yesterday, in perhaps the best PR move yet, the CEO announced that all Splendor passengers would receive a complete refund, a free trip redeemable until 2012 and complete arrangements for travel home once the ship docks.
Unlike BP CEO Tony Hayward, who was completely disconnected from the lives of the Gulf residents during the oil spill, Carnival’s CEO acknowledged that this accident had ruined their clients’ vacation and was truly compassionate to the situation (I realize this comparison is not exactly apples to apples given the far reaching impact of the Gulf). And even though the news is a ‘”twitter” interviewing passengers by phone and text messages to show the ugly side of the ship, most reporters and stories have had to acknowledge Carnival’s quick and positive response. Carnival could have simply pointed to their “accident waiver” and performed the bare minimum to get the passengers safely to shore, but they rose to the occasion and – in my book- the company showed itself as a PR leader.
BTW – the true PR winner in all of this is SPAM. A new phrase has been coined – Spamcation. You go SPAM.
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Last week I attended TechMediaâ€™s Digital East event as a client was participating in the first session. The long drive for an early morning panel battling the DC commuters wasnâ€™t appealing, but I got there without a hitch. (Note to self: You must get of the office to more of these events.) The content was great â€“ kudos to TechMedia. Here are a few of my takeaways:
Mobile â€“ Channeling Kevin Costner
Weâ€™ve all heard it: mobile is here in a big way, but Scott Suhy, CEO of PointAbout, said it best: â€śMobile apps are not a field of dreamsâ€¦if you build it, it doesnâ€™t mean they will come.â€ť So what does that mean for PR? Mobile-driven companies, especially those focused on reaching consumers, need PR more than ever. Apps, as one panelist explained, are disposable and 99.98% wonâ€™t make it. Remember: while a beta launch is key to working out the kinks out before you go live, it also is prime time for a stealth PR effort to gain traction before the big launch. This may include targeted media and analyst sneak peak briefings, a blog or Twitter program geared to your end user audience, and getting some test users on board so you have results to show at launch time.
Online Advertising â€“ Kill the Click
Most of the panelists talked about killing the click. Sure, being able to track clicks has been a great ROI point for advertisers but it has become a crutch. If it takes at least three different ads or exposure points to really resonate with an end-user, the â€ślast clickâ€ť shouldnâ€™t get all the credit. In PR we have similar issues â€“ how do we prove value of a media placement? Just as there isnâ€™t a direct line from PR to sales, it isnâ€™t a 2+2 calculation. Some of the things we look at include media outletâ€™s reach, the sentiment of an article and how the placement met our initial PR objectives to measure value.
All in all it was a great day to get out of the office for some face-to-face time and even to spend some time in the car by myself to think and brainstorm. Please drop me a line if you have tips on other great DC-area events â€“ Iâ€™m psyched to get out there more.
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