Archive for February, 2010

Crisis Management

When crisis happens, it can be regarded as a turning point. An efficient crisis management can not only solve the problem, and harness the responsible branding images, while a poor reaction could result in the breakdown of the company. It happens randomly. However, there may be some symptoms before its happening: growing uncertainty, loss of control, growing isolation, or even attack). A good company should prepare a plan for possible crisis. When a crisis happens, it is very important for the organization to react quickly, take control, clarify the problem and take the responsibility. In a crisis management, the company has to deal with several relationships: media relationship, relationship with victims, government relationship and response to general public. The crisis story will be interpreted in a narrative way, which means, there will be heroes and villains involving. It will be wise to figure out who is ally or enemy and how to get as many allies as possible.

Recently, there are two poor cases of crisis management.

Toyota crisis
“Toyota it’s just getting worse and worse because they didn’t come clean in the first place.”
“It came across to the public as if they were hoping the government would not find out… it looks like all they cared about was their bottom line.”
“The first rule of PR is get ahead of the story”

by Glenn Selig, founder of public relations (PR) firm The Publicity Agency.

Tiger Wood crisis
Although he apologized in public recently, he is still far away from being forgiven by the public, because of Mr. Woods’s stiff delivery and of taking several months to address the matter
“People will be Tiger golfer fans again, but that does not translate into a resurrection of an endorsement career,” said Kevin Adler, founder of Engage Marketing, a sports-marketing firm in Chicago.


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Science Media Center and CSR

The former post about new media issue worked very well for me. I found that my memory straightly after class is the clearest. Therefore, I just want to keep the habit to write the content of the class every week in the evening of Wednesday (hopefully I can keep it for the next weeks).

Today, we had an extremely interest guy talking about science PR, and he arouse my great interest in science PR.

 The points he mentioned on the class include:

Why the Science Media Centre exist?

This is the needs of both the media and the scientists.

What are the strategies?

Rapid reaction (breaking news); round up (planned agenda); meetings with journalists and experts

How to choose story?

News worthy; or according to journalists’ agenda

 He said there were only 6 people in his office. They built a bridge to connect media together with experts. They give journalists news and give experts to disseminate their ideas. So they are a perfect platform of science information. It is a complete charity, so it only receives funding but does not have the responsibility to give donators something back. It is important to build the trust with media colleagues, so there is no spin. The centre is set up by a group of passionate people with the hope to develop the science environment in the society.

 So from what he mentioned before, I see there is a great social responsibility of these people, and of course they have a very clever business mind to run the centre.

I think this model of science and media business can work very well in China too. There is a great space to develop the contemporary science environment in China. And the dissemination of scientific information is quite free. I just see a great opportunity in this aspect. Talking about my idea with Viola a little bit, both of us realized the concerns of doing this, which are, the funding problems and difficulty in building the networks of scientific and media support in the complex social environments. But I will still keep an eye on it. 

The second part of the class is mainly the debate, of course, this is again another heated one, for most of us have already had some normal perceptions about the problem.

The term-CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), is first known to me by far. With more corporate understanding the severe situation about our earth, they began to fulfill their social responsibilities, such as donating charities or helping the poor. But constant controversy has been raised about the ultimate motivation of their so-called ‘socially good contribution’.

 Is CSR window dressing?

My opinion is that the good behavior of corporate will definitely do a lot of good to the people who need help. But for the rest public, it is necessary for us to look clearly what the corporate real purpose of doing CSR is.

There are potential business benefits of CSR: firstly, it can be one big attraction of recruiting new people, giving the company a good title, such as ‘top good companies for graduates’. What’s more, CSR is long term reputation management plan, and it helps to build up a positive social image. Here, long term means that there is no short term outcome (increasing sales) for the company, however, if a crisis happens, the good image, which were already in consumers’ mind, can contribute to the successful solution. Thirdly, CSR can differ one corporate from the others. For example, there are two brands of biscuit, one normal brand, and the other brand with 1 pound donation to the charity for each purchase, in most cases, the consumer will prefer to buy the second one. Finally, fulfilling CSR can help companies to get license to operate, and pay less tax in some areas according to the local laws. This is one of the ways government uses to advocate environment protection.

Therefore, based on the four business benefits of CSR, the company would always like to do it. CSR can improve the reputation, solve problems, and also save money. For me, I just think there are no points of not doing it.

 But what I would not like to see is that some companies utilize CSR activities as a tool to distract the public from their main ethical problems. McDonald, BP (British Petroleum), and BAT (British American Tobacco) are all problematic. They have issues of bring damage to health or environment. They every year would spend a lot of money on charity. What usually appear on media are about their good deed, but not about how many problems they have caused.

Therefore, I want to conclude there are purposes for corporate to do CSR. CSR is good, but its purpose needs to be well aware of.

Global PR 2

There was another interesting term, high context culture and low context culture.
Britain and Germany have low context culture.
During the class, I did not know which culture we have in China.
Now I understand that we are in a high context culture.
I only want to describe one social occasion happening in UK and China. The reasons can be easily got.
An English man asks another person for dinner, he will say directly: hey, do you want to eat together with me?
A Chinese person will say: hi, how are you, are you busy recently, it is such a coincidence that both of us are free today, let us do something, how about going out for a dinner?

Today’s topic is globalization of PR.
There are a lot of reasons which stimulate the process of globalization. We analyze this question from the normal angle, ranging from political reasons to business factors. Because the globalization of business is quite evident in the world, the internal branding is already not a new thing. The global reputation management took an important role in the whole corporate business. So when the pubic is consuming a international brand, he or she is also buying the brand’s value (could be understood through advertisements, products services, and corporate social images). The big names, such as Mcdonald’s, Nike, Wall-Malt, all do very well in their marketing campaigns. Along with the development of international connections, the clients of PR are from more countries or the clients want to reach consumers beyond the nation boundaries.

Our debate topic is very interesting: will PR in future be totally international or not? I think the answer to this question defends on different occasions. What I could say is that the globalization is the general trend for PR. The long plan for any PR agency will be internationalized. But they should tailor the strategies according to different need of clients. It is not a yes or no question. But it definitely arouses my attention to the big international PR agencies in UK. I have looked at a lot of their websites. To my surprise, a lot of them have offices in China. I am very happy to find that.

One case study in Pam’s PPT let me to think over for a while.
It was a picture of Chinese Warrior Exhibition in British Museum.
Pam asked us: Chinese Warrior is so fragile and precious, but why Chinese government did that?
Before this class, I never thought about this question. I only worried if there would be market of these warriors. I only paid attention to the surface of this issue. When talking to the purpose of Chinese government, they are very clever. Instead of selling a lot of ticket of the exhibition, they got more media coverage in UK and a lot of British people would have the chance to know Chinese culture. This was a perfect time to export the ‘invisible’ culture abroad.

Today, I want to talk about my reflection after reading the book ‘Naked Conversation’. It talks about how blogs influence how business works. It is a very interesting book to read, involving a great number of case studies to illustrate the author’s points. In terms of the blogsphere theory, I totally agree with the author’s idea.

The relationship between blog and corporate

Consumers tend to not trust big companies. It is generally believed that big companies place their own profits in a higher place than the interest of consumers. There are always negative issues happening which affect consumers, such as product’s quality problem or its threat on consumers’ health problem. Thus, consumers are often suspicious of advertisements. Confronted with such a situation, corporate has to break down the wall with customers.

The proliferation of Internet provides business a perfect platform to communicate with its public.

First, online communication can build trust. The online public sphere is difficult from the normal corporate branding, which disseminates information on the behalf of the company. With blogging and social networking branding, the image of individual promoter was set up, thereby enhancing the credibility of the information sender. The blog affords a window into a company, where consumers can share comments of others having primary experiences with the company’s product. And the section of colleting feedback from consumers involves more people to join the conversation.

Second, the cost of online marketing is completely free. The information do not need to be paid, and can be spread from one country to any corner of the world. The global scope and influence of Internet is magnificent.

Thirdly, the blog websites such as blogger, wordpress and social media networks both have big credibility in Google search, which means, the relevant information on these websites are more likely to be found in the first few pages of Google search. Therefore, making links from blogs the corporate’s main website can draw a lot of traffic to the core page.

There are some questions answered in the book about online business blogging.

What kind of product can be branded online?The product which delivers an experience that exceeds expectations

Whose blog is more popular?
Individual who have his or her primary experience of using the products
Professionals who suggest the best products

How to blog (four success tips of blogging)
1 talk, don’t sell
2 post often and be interesting
3 write on issues you know and care about
4 blogging saves money but costs time

How should corporate cope with blogging?
1 Continuously gather customer feedback
2 make it a point to share knowledge freely
3 expertly build word-of-mouth networks
4 encourage communities of customers to meet and share
5 devise specialized, smaller offerings to get customes to bite
6 focus on making the world,or your industry, better

famous blogs which nearly keep update everyday
Scoble’s list of favorites of blog: