Is Twitter The Next News Network?

MH900053611After the tragic Boston Marathon bombings took place, everyone within our nation and abroad was immediately aware of what took place. Within just a week’s time, authorities, officials and the media worked around the clock to solve the crime and inform the people. Now that we can reflect on what took place, there is definitely some discussion on what news sources were the most credible throughout the whole process. Where did you turn to for your news on the Boston Marathon bombings?

If you paid close attention to the news reports throughout the crisis, you probably noticed that you were receiving information at a much faster rate than any other previous crises. Not to mention, you were probably seeking/receiving it from multiple sources, including social media. In the age of social media, we are used to getting our information now. In situations like the Boston bombings, the added pressure of the rapid pace at which social media churns information had traditional (and respected) news media all a flurry. (more…)

Dealing With A Natural Disaster

SCH087In the last few months, our nation has experienced a handful of major natural disasters. Hurricane Sandy swept through the Eastern and Midwestern states causing devastation and leaving people without power for days and even weeks. It caused damages of at least $20 billion to businesses, families and communities. We also had one scare pretty close to home in Hawaii. A powerful 7.7 magnitude earthquake occurring off the west coast of Canada spurred a tsunami warning in Hawaii the weekend prior to Halloween. At that time of the year, natural disasters are more abundant, which begs the question: Is your business prepared for a natural disaster crisis? (more…)

REPUTATION BOOSTERS

By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

Last year, homemaker extraordinaire, Martha Stewart, elicited warm fuzzy feelings. Today, in the midst of the corporate scandals with Enron, Arthur Andersen, and WorldCom, even Martha Stewart’s reputation has suffered amidst speculation regarding insider trading. Consumers are stepping back to scrutinize corporate America. In turn, businesses are looking to one of public relations’ cornerstones, reputation management.

Businesses are “focusing more on reputation management than at the height of the dot-com boom, when it was all about sales and products, and general respect for business was much higher,” stated Patty Farrell, KVO senior vice president and head of the agency’s corporate leadership practice. “Everybody’s business was booming; it was a different kind of communication then. Now there are reputation challenges, in addition to the financial crisis that brought about the recession.”

Reputation management concerns every company and means building up your business’ character in the eyes of your publics (customers, employees, stockholders, vendors, surrounding community, etc.). Strategic reputation management can prevent, or help you survive crisis, through good planning and being proactive.

Think of it as a fire drill. Openly and honestly consider your business’ weak points. Where and how could fires start? Next, develop a plan. Where are the fire exits and how do we get everyone out alive? Install fire alarms and sprinklers, know your local firefighters on a first-name basis, and give a donation to the fire department. Build a treasure chest of credibility with your key publics to lessen the effects of difficult times. Perfect practice makes perfect. Run your staff through simulations to prepare if a crisis hits. Be constantly vigilant that your business affairs and operations are in order, that your business actions are driven by the highest ethical standards, and that all of your publics are on the same page. An ounce of prevention…you know the rest.

SARS: SHARE ALL RIGHT STORIES

By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

In the wake of the SARS epidemic, The New York Times reported on April 23 “…after a rare admission of failure, [Beijing’s] national officials acknowledged having drastically understated the prevalence of the disease in the capital. The national health minister and the mayor of Beijing were fired.” Now, Beijing’s government is not only working frantically to control the spread of SARS, but also scrambling to restore public trust.

Beijing’s lesson is one from which we can all learn. At some point, every business is faced with something it doesn’t want its publics to know. It’s important to make the distinction between confidential or proprietary information, which the public has no right to know, and information that is grim but newsworthy. An obvious rule of thumb is that when it comes to matters of life and death, full disclosure is critical. “Understating” the facts doesn’t cut it.

But what about those gray areas when the media, your customers, and maybe even your employees want or need the scoop on something you’d just rather not share?

First, remember that problems can present opportunities to tell your story and show integrity. Every piece of “bad” news doesn’t have to be damaging if you are proactive, honest, and smart about presenting the facts. Good timing, good planning, good intentions, and good wording are all in order when it comes to managing an issue.

Second, to determine your story and how to deliver it, ask yourself: what is the silver lining in this situation? Who needs to know about it? When is the right time to share it? Will telling my story save lives, protect property, preserve the environment, minimize negative impacts to my community, and/or enhance my organization’s image? If so, remember SARS: Share All Right Stories.

PUBLIC RELATIONS BATTLE PLAN FOR WAR

By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

Effective public relations (PR) begins with good planning. How best to communicate with and positively influence your market depends on many factors including what your audience is thinking or doing now and what you want them to think or do. In wartime, there’s good and bad news when it comes to communicating with your publics.

The bad news is that we’re all brooding about and preoccupied with the war. The good news is, we all want the best for the world, no matter what end of the political or philosophical spectrum we’re on. Somewhere in between that good and bad news lies the fact that we’re all in this together, and therefore, no industry, business or person will escape the impacts of war and terrorism.

This is where planning comes into play. Every business will feel different ripple effects from the war. The key is to start thinking about the range of impacts war might have on your business. Here are some things to consider: could your business experience reduced employee productivity or customer interest as a result of travel delays, emotional distraction, or military duty? Will a slowdown in nationwide delivery services affect your product or service delivery? Are your products and services more or less desirable in wartime? If the battles are protracted, how long can your business sustain itself without cutting budgets, services or staffing? Will the war reduce or change your current customer base and if so, do you need to reach out to a new group of potential customers?

So think of the right questions, answer them as best you can, and develop some creative and positive ways to address the issues facing your business, from both a communications and an operations standpoint. Finally, communicate any resulting service changes to your primary publics.

The video game industry has already found its niche in wartimes. CNN/Money’s Chris Morris reported on March 25 that military-themed video games have been on Top Ten selling lists for months now and their sales have increased since the war in Iraq began. The industry has done a great job publicizing this, and is even developing new versions and games to address the demand.

Making your own battle plan in the midst of wartime will help you determine what you need to do, if anything, to keep your business afloat and communicate appropriately with your publics.

Hurricane Communication Tips for Businesses

hurricane preparednessKauai, Florida, and Louisiana (to name a few) businesses have learned from past experiences that one can never be too prepared for a hurricane or other natural disaster. Especially since each business has a base of people for whom it is responsible, whether it’s employees, vendors, customers, or the public at large. As we enter the heart of our hurricane season, we bring you these seven helpful tips to help your business prepare for a hurricane from a public relations angle.

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What to Say in Uncomfortable Situations

What to Say in Uncomfortable Situations

Sometimes in difficult situations, we don’t know what to say. We just don’t have the right words.  Thoughtful verbal discretion is an art, for sure, but it’s something we can all learn with some good examples and practice. So, as part of an ongoing series, we’re going to give you a scenario along with our recommended script.  One of these days, when you find yourself in an awkward situation, you just might be able to hearken back to one of these scripts and use the right words that will help smooth out the situation. After all, that’s the basis of public relations: having good relationships no matter what the scenario.  So here goes. (more…)