Magazine article Marketing

A Marketing Promotion in Association with Nexus Communications: Why Listening Is the New Talking

Magazine article Marketing

A Marketing Promotion in Association with Nexus Communications: Why Listening Is the New Talking

Article excerpt

In the first two parts of the 'Digital Emperor's New Clothes' series we tackled social-media tokenism. Our third article, in conjunction with Nexus Communications, points out how digital advances are transforming crisis management

People hate your brand. Even as you may bask in social community adoration, there will be some dissatisfied customer out there ready to let off steam in 140 carefully crafted characters.

Crises and anti-brand feelings rarely 'brew' now, but instead come at you fast and furious through social. As such, crisis mode has been reborn as a constant.

As the horsemeat scandal showed, even brands that think they are clean and well-covered can find themselves under fire from a never-imagined direction. Every business has a skeleton in its cupboard, whether you are aware of it or not.

This world is changing fast. Where once a company had 24 hours to dust off its crisis manual, get a response statement drafted and signed off and put counter measures into action, now it often has only minutes.

A crisis can be an opportunity

If this is giving you the fear, the good news is it doesn't have to. But it does require you to be listening - all the time. Crisis PR has changed from being the 'wartime' to the 'fulltime', so it must be integrated into how you do business.

'You shouldn't run away from social,' says Keith Beech, head of crisis at Nexus Communications. 'You can't hide from it, or your customers, even if you're not there yourself.' Rather, he is a strong believer in social offering brands opportunities to deal with a crisis quickly and efficiently.

Social media may give you less time to prepare, fewer places to hide and more 'Chinese whispers' filling in the gaps in real-time. But when dealt with smartly, it can become a business opportunity to be seen as a listening brand.

If you are saying to yourself you have a crisis-management manual, so you know where to go if anything happens, you're already in trouble Have you tested and updated it? Can you access it from anywhere? Is it action-led rather than corporate-led?

If you haven't got ongoing 'peacetime' activity running, you won't be regularly revising your positioning statements. If you're not listening in to what people say online, then you're absolutely missing the point of what digital now adds in terms of giving you more actionable intelligence.

'It needs to be seen as a living document, part of the everyday life of the brand,' says Beech. 'No matter how well and comprehensively done at the time, if it sits on a shelf and gathers dust, then, by its very nature, it will be out of date.'

Research carried out by Nexus earlier this year among communication directors found that more than a third had not updated these plans more than once a year. With the pace of digital change, this is clearly not enough.

The critical issues lie in crisis-handling capability, as 50% felt hampered by a lack of live digital and social information to help them make decisions; 36% limited by the speed of old-fashioned processes and systems; and 44% by a lack of getting the people in the right place at the right time.

One of the reasons marketers and communications directors may be so terrified of social is that, as it's a seven-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day medium, they think their weekends will be spent hitting refresh to stay on top of things.

This is where alerts come into play. If you are measuring the sentiment of conversation about your brand and, say, 9% negative is an average, you can set an alert so you'll hear if the figure goes above 15%. …

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