Don’t Forget the Basics

Posted on May 3, 2010. Filed under: Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , |

There’s a saying that things happen in three’s, and I recently found that to be the case when it came to a particular piece of communication advice. The message: make sure you provide a reliable space for folks to easily access clear and direct communication.

The first incident was when I attended a PRSA event in New York City in March where Chris Barger, director of social media at General Motors, was providing his keynote address. In sharing his list of lessons learned during the company’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, he stressed how setting up a company website that provided relevant information allowed company representatives to minimize conflicting messages and to easily refer the site to consumers when reaching out through e-mails, blogs, boards, Twitter and the like.

I then ran across an audio interview last week with Dennis Urbaniak, a Vice President at Sanofi-Aventis, who stated that one of the most important things a company could do was establish a place for people to dialogue and receive credible information. This would allow the communications team to set up a regular channel with its consumers and avoid being caught up in a reactive-only cycle to consumer questions and comments coming in 24/7.

My third ‘aha’ moment came via a BBC story reporting research findings on the reliability of medical advice on the internet. Of 500 sites searched, only 39% of sites provided correct information, with governmental sites providing the most reliable advice (100% accurate). Contrary to my expectations, the study found that company sites provided correct and relevant advice only 81% of the time, while news sites were on target only a paltry 55% of the time (researchers suggested that news sites had a potential conflict of interest with the maintenance of controversy, as opposed to outright providing incorrect information).

While it may seem like a basic 101 lesson in communications, I was surprised to find this a lesson many companies are still learning the hard way. Then again, maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise given the pressure communications teams have to get on the bandwagon with social media. The priority to maintain a strong foundation could easily be forgotten as teams scramble to ready the company with new tools.

In order to successfully communicate to your audience, you need to establish a reliable source of information proactively; not just to educate consumers and the media or as an effort to react to a crisis situation. It’s not just about pushing out releases to the press, creating innovative YouTube videos, or using various social media sites to repost your press releases.

It’s about creating a dialogue, maintaining consistent messaging regardless of the source, and creating a trusted reference to help manage the misinformation and quick-time reaction generated by the increasing use of online and mobile tools. And so while we all try to keep up with the changing messengers of communication, we ultimately cannot forget the message.  Seem obvious? You’d be surprised how easy it is to forget.

Emi Nakatsugawa is a media consultant in Dow Jones Media Lab based in New York City.

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Social media and the communications process

Posted on September 29, 2009. Filed under: Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: , , , |

It’s no secret among communicators that social media has become a major disruptive force. Its ability to amplify commentary and criticism has CEOs on edge. This puts communications professionals in a challenging spot. It wasn’t so long ago that they could work with their contacts to identify rumors early, then plan and take responsive actions before an issue spun out of control. Today, the time to market is increasingly squeezed. We no longer have a 24 hour news cycle. We have a 24 second Twitter cycle. What’s more, rumors can originate from anyone and from anywhere – even from outside the organization’s usual circle of employees, customers, partners, and stakeholders.

The impact on the communications process is evident. There’s a greater volume of information to monitor, research and understand; more trends to analyze; any number of hot spots to discover and watch; more people – journalists, customers, activists, and bloggers – to engage. In an era of ever-growing budget pressure, this enormous task has to be accomplished with great efficiency. So, it’s no surprise that communications professionals are looking for new ways and tools to help them reinvent their communications process.

At Dow Jones, we’ve spent a substantial amount of time with our public relations and corporate communications customers to understand how we can help them be more successful. We’ve built new tools and enhanced existing ones to enable them to be more productive and effective. Our capabilities are built around the communications process enabled by social media (Monitor. Analyze. Discover. Engage.)


The Communications Process

We are literally MADE for your communications success:

  • Monitor, research & promote the buzz;
  • Analyze issues, trends & strategies for greater impact;
  • Discover opportunities and risks in time to act; and
  • Engage and pinpoint the influential. 

In short our mission is to:

“Help clients create communications success at every point in their day.”

But we feel that’s not enough. You may not realize that Dow Jones has a wealth of public relations and media evaluation expertise. The Dow Jones Media Lab consultants and analysts have worked with hundreds of companies across dozens of industries and regions to understand the impact of traditional and social media on their brand, reputation and campaigns. We’ve started this blog, The Conversational Corporation, so that the Dow Jones Media Lab can share their insights into best practices in social media, PR, communications research, and media measurement.  

The first of these is from Claudia Schoenbohm, a writer and consultant in the Dow Jones Media Lab. Her post on social media as two-way communications is an excerpt from her Master’s studies at the London School of Economics. Her post will be available shortly. In the meantime, download our ebook “The Conversational Corporation: How Social Media is Changing the Enterprise” here to help understand the intersection between business and social media and the need to transform your organization into a “conversational corporation.”

We hope you enjoy the blog, which will be updated frequently with new information. Bookmark it, grab the RSS feed, and visit often.

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