Author Archives: Michael Pranikoff

How To Make Social Content Directional and Actionable

PR Newswire’s Michael Pranikoff Explains How To Make Social Content Directional and Actionable from Zemoga on Vimeo.

PR Newswire is a long time partner and sponsor of the Business Development Institute (BDI) events in New York.  Yesterday, BDI held an event entitled “The Social Consumer”.   At the event, the recently launched Baskets & Bytes blog which focuses on the Digital Retail Space, interviewed Michael Pranikoff on the conference and discussion that Michael was moderating at the conference on Making Social Content Directional.

Michael will also be leading a free workshop for PR Newswire members next week on March 31st in Minneapolis entitled, “Work That Content! Tactics and Tools to Make Your Message Resonate“.

Be Prepared for Crisis

Crisis Communications is a very hot topic today. As  B2B and B2C companies forge farther into social media, the need to react quickly, decisively, and strategically is becoming one of the most discussed issues by marketing and communications professionals.

This fall,  PR Newswire hosted a Conversation on Crisis Communications in Dallas, TX.  Dallas is home to the largest number of Fortune 1000 companies in the country which makes it one of the top places in the country where communications professionals need this knowledge.  As we wrap up 2010 and polish our plans for the coming year, we thought that revisiting some of the learning from this session would be useful.

The panel discussion was moderated by Michelle Metzger from PierPont Communcations and featured Brandy King from Southwest Airlines; Craig VanBebber from Lockheed Martin, and Allen Manning – Assignment Editor for KTVT-CBS 11 Dallas, and myself (Michael Pranikoff – Global Director of Emerging Media for PR Newswire).

Speed

The panel all agreed that today speed is of importance today. However, it was quickly pointed out that speed doesn’t matter if the communications professional is not prepared and doesn’t have all the facts.  Craig VanBeeber of Lockheed Martin said that today’s communications professional is the most important person in a crisis situation in regards to getting the company message out.  While the Corporate Communications professional may not always be the person in front of the cameras, they are the ones advising and constructing the response.  That person needs to have access to all of the information as quickly as possible to coordinate an accurate and truthful response.

No Comment = Blood in the Water

Gone are the days of the “No Comment” answer.  Today, “…using no comment is like throwing blood into shark infested waters”, said Allen Mannging.  The media wants an answer, and stall tactics like that are going to make the media frustrated and cause them to not value you – the communications professional as a valid source.

Channel Surf

Using multiple channels today is also an important factor.  Southwest Airlines documented how they were able to use all of their available channels, from their spokesperson, to Twitter, their Blog, Facebook page, and more in order to quickly respond to a crisis situation.   Using all of your available channels also helps promote your transparency, attention, and concern in a situation.

Always Be Prepared

Finally, preparation is key in being able to respond quickly and accurately.  To many, this would mean having a crisis communications manual and procedures in place, but it’s a whole lot more than that.  Preparation for a crisis situation is an ongoing target.  We all know that developing key relationships with the local media and other key media points is essential to our jobs.   However, in a crisis situation, those relationships that you have cultivated and maintained will come in to play more than ever.   It is often these relationships that can help you to quickly get your message out that can often avert what may actually not have been a crisis in the first place.

Authored by Michael Pranikoff, director, emerging media, PR Newswire.

Hearing vs. Listening

Last week I attended and spoke at PR & MKTG Camp East in NYC.  I participated as one of the session panelists on Establishing Business Impact Metrics and Analytics. This afternoon session sparked a lot of conversation about social media monitoring applications and approaches,  but I wonder if through all the talking, was anyone really listening?

It’s often said that one of the most important things companies and organizations can do today is listen.

A whole new industry has risen up with multiple products to help us listen to what is being said in the many ways consumers and investors are today communicating.   There are countless stories and case studies about the results that we can expect if we are truly tapped into the conversation. BusinessWeek even speculated on the practice in their article Wanted: Social Media Sifters last week.

But I ask again, are we really listening?

There are many dashboards to help us, but they can also make us lazy.  They help us to decipher if our message is being heard by the masses or the niche markets we are trying to reach.   They help us add a new metric to our arsenals of graphs and charts that we can hand to our bosses, showing our good work.  But, are we listening or are we just hearing the noise?  Too often stories bubble up that become case studies to be discussed in blog posts and presented at conferences, where companies were burned because they weren’t listening.   This happens because someone got caught tuning out.  But, I’m not sure they weren’t hearing, they just failed to listen and act.

There are arguments that say it doesn’t matter what everyone is saying, only what the “influencers” have to say.   I’m not sure that I agree with them. Look at the story of Bob Golomb in the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.  The story is about the philosophy of the best sales person at a car dealership.   He didn’t judge a person on looks, age, or profession.   He treated each person like they were his best customer.

Do we do that online today with what our audiences are saying about us?

There are times when we cursorily hear our audiences.  They make mention about not being happy with a product or service issue, but often their voices go unanswered in social media. It’s not that we weren’t hearing them, but listening also implies action. I was always taught that when you are in a conversation with someone you need to be an active listener.  Active listening is what we must do today.  This implies that you are acknowledging what’s being said, and that acknowledgement offline is much easier than online.

Online, active listening means that we must acknowledge the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly.   Most of the time, someone just wants to know they were heard, even if there wasn’t necessarily an answer for them. Some of you might say that you’re from the PR team, the marketing team, etc. and that the response must come from sales or customer relations.  However, today because of speed, all of our activities within a company are tied together.

Bad customer service can cause a bad reputation and make the job of communicators much harder.  As I recently heard Frank Eliason – formerly of Comcast and now with Citibank – say at the BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas, Customer Service is the new marketing.

Authored by Michael Pranikoff, director, emerging media, PR Newswire.

Image courtesy of Suchitra Prints via Flickr Creative Commons.