Yesterday a jury rendered a “not guilty” verdict in the high profile Casey Anthony murder case. The decision sent shock waves through much of the nation as everyone from legal analysts to regular citizens expected a guilty decision.
While I will not attempt to analyze or unravel the legal decision, there are key takeaways in the case that we can apply to our public relations and communications strategies.
Post verdict, two members of Anthony’s defense team, Cheney Mason and Jose Baez gave a statement. Mason took the opportunity to gloat while Baez offered a toned down approach that acknowledged there were no real winners. Baez had the smarter PR approach. Casey Anthony’s defense team won big for their client. If she had been found guilty she would have faced the death penalty. The team obviously had reason to celebrate a life saving victory. However, an innocent child is dead and the public, who has passionately watched this case, largely agrees that justice was not served. In business, you may face an unpopular decision that requires a sensitive and balanced response to mitigate the negative PR.
Even in the best of circumstances, no one likes a sore winner. Mason seized the moment to retaliate against the negative criticism of his client. His statements further isolated him from the public and added to the negative perception. When you win an unpopular decision, you may be tempted to raise your glass and do a happy dance, but it is smarter to temper your victory celebration with a nod of respect to the opposing team.
Communications requires that we look ahead and consider the long term impact on our brand and reputation. Baez seemed to partially understand this in his initial response. In business your opponents could be your customer base, and while you may need to fight for an unpopular win you have to manage the relations with your customers. It is a tricky position that requires sensitivity and balance.
Nod to the other side. Baez indicated that the case had no winners. He brought the focus back to the core of the case, the death of a child. It established a neutral foundation, a place of agreement that could pave the way to rebuilding some public good will.
Educate on the win. Baez discussed the win in relevance to the workings of the justice system. Throughout he balanced his happiness for his client with his sadness that a little girl had died. You may not immediately turn an opposing crowd but you can leave them with key points that allow them to focus on the process and diffuse some of the negative energy of their passion. You can shift the focus and give your audience an alternative way to consider your victory.
Growing up my mother would often remind me that “the people you meet on the way up, are the same people you meet on the way down.” It was an old adage that reminds us to keep our egos in check and take no one for granted. Mason allowed his ego to take center stage. He used a critical PR moment to assuage his hurt feelings and lash out at opponents. When you find yourself the “hated winner” check your ego at the door, and focus on laying the foundation to build a bridge of forgiveness. Whether your “haters” are justified or not, focus on engaging them rather than widening the gap.
Even a victory can require a crisis communications strategy. If you remain focused on creating good will with your audience, you can begin the road to recovering from negative perception. One statement or action will not cure the situation but can set the tone for reconciliation and demonstrate your brand’s commitment to professionalism.
Have you ever had to manage negative fallout from a victory? What lessons did you learn?
- Video: Casey Anthony not guilty (cbsnews.com)
- Casey Anthony lawyer: “There are no winners” (cbsnews.com)
- Casey Anthony lawyers slam “media assassination” (cbsnews.com)
The access and ease of using social media platforms is not a guaranteed formula for success. Utilizing social media in your campaigns and outreach should not be approached with a half-hearted effort or ill-formed plan. This article from AdAge (reprinted below) recaps social media gone wrong and how we can learn from these failures. What examples would you add?
Lessons From the 2011 Suxorz Awards Teach Us How to Avoid a Campaign Catastrophe
Quick! Which is the worst social media faux pas?
- Inviting consumers to follow your company — via a locked Twitter account; or
- When a customer posts a negative comment about your business, track his identity and learn where he works. Then, contact his employers with the suggestion he be fired?
New York’s Social Media Week featured wall-to-wall sessions on how marketers can do social media right, but nothing can hold a candle to the sheer Schdenfreude of watching the brands and agencies that are doing it wrong.
Horribly, horribly wrong.
Enter the Suxorz Awards. Brainchild of Blogads CEO Henry Copeland, the Suxorz have been calling out the worst in social-media marketing since 2008 (disclosure — I was a panelist at the inaugural SXSW session).
Here’s how it works: a panel of four marketing experts nominate their picks for worst-of-the-worst social-media campaigns. Then (this being social, after all), the audience picks a winner in each category. Competition can get fierce, and no one on either side of the stage is discouraged from opining. It makes for a lively evening.
Herewith, the contenders for the 2011 Suxorz awards — together with some lessons learned, because really, we’re not just here to laugh at them. Really.
Category 1: Meme Purgatory
No, you can’t bottle viral. Nominees were VW’s Sluggy Patterson, star of videos, tweets and a blog. An irascible old coot, Sluggy invented a complex game in which he punches people every time he espies a VW. Smirnoff’s BrosIcingBros.com, a site that basically encouraged binge drinking; and another awkward character, Dell’s Dr. Ashley PDA who has bad hair, hypnotizes patients with a GPS device and thumb-wrestles with them when they’re out cold on his couch.
And the winner is: Cisco’s Ted From Accounting series, an unabashed attempt to cash in on Old Spice’s popular video campaign. The videos were as long as they were utterly baffling. The audience actually begged the presenters to hit the “stop” button.
Lesson Learned: Character development counts. So does some sort of obvious link to the brand. But do try not to make it an overtly negative one, e.g. advocating hitting people, drinking irresponsibly, or simply boring their socks off.
Category 2: Missed Connections
That’s why they call them the “basics.” Thousands of Hungarians launched a Facebook campaign to launch Starbucks in Budapest. It worked — Starbucks opened a restaurant and erased the fan page, along with its 3,000 biggest fans and brand advocates. Pharmacy chain launches on Twitter. Their pages features the legend: “@CVS_Cares’s Tweets are protected. Only confirmed followers have access to @CVS_Cares’s Tweets and complete profile. You need to send a request before you can start following this account.” (And no, requests to become a follower are not acknowledged.). Leo Burnett’s you have to see it to believe it “HumanKind” video in which Chief Creative Mark Tutssel drones on for so long even he seems to regurgitate the Kool-Aid.
And the winner is: Denny’s menu footer call-to-action (visible right underneath dubious-sounding Senior Country Fried Steak) inviting diners to follow the chain at twitter/.com/dennys. So far so good — until you click through and learn “dennys” is some guy in Taiwan named Dennys Hsieh. He tweets in Mandarin — or maybe it’s Hokkien?
Lesson Learned: Hire a proofreader. And a copyeditor. Dot those I’s and cross those T’s.
Category 3: Mean People Suck
Does not work well with others. In the U.K., Dr. Pepper launched a Facebook status takeover campaign. Motto: “What’s the worst that could happen?” Answer: updates like the one to a 14-year-old Glaswegian girl’s page, “I watched 2 girls one cup and felt hungry afterwards.” Oops. Nestle fared no better on Facebook when a protest erupted against the company practices that are endangering orangutan habitats. At best, Nestle replied to comments with phrases like “Oh, please.” It also threatened to sue users for infringement when they modded the Kit-Kat logo. Finally, Mercedes Tweetrace campaign, which forced people to “like” the campaign before they could participate in what amounted to an attempt to spam Twitter with Mercedes-oriented tweets.
And the winner is: Hands down, PriceChopper, the supermarket chain that tried to get Jonathan Hoster fired from his job for being “negative” after his tweet negatively compared one of their stores to the rival Wegman’s chain.
Lesson Learned: Don’t hate on your customer, clients and prospects. Duh.
Category 4: You’re So Vain
Even celebrities must learn social graces. Up was Kenneth Cole’s very un-PC tweet during the demonstrations in Cairo, and Fast Company’s Influencer Project, which proved “influence” is really a code term for “spam” and “affiliate scam.” And LeBron James opened a Twitter account at the height of speculation about where he’d land, and tweeted nary a word to address the speculation.
And the winner is: Alicia Keys’ oh-so aptly named Digital Death campaign. The cause was noble: to raise a million dollars to fight HIV/AIDS in the third world. The means? Less well plotted. Keyes enlisted a host of celebs to put the kibosh on tweeting, blogging, and general social-media’ing until the target goal was raised. When it wasn’t, rather than rally with calls to action, all this social-media firepower was under a self-imposed moratorium to do…nothing.
Lesson Learned: It’s not as about you as you think it is. And when it is about you, it’s not necessarily about the part of you that you think it is. Plan accordingly.
The floor was then opened to audience nominations, which were not in short supply. The TSA’s attempt to wrangle bad publicity on full body scanners at airports, BP’s response in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, Charmin’s Facebook page (because it’s a Facebook page about toilet paper).
Following a spirited debate, PriceChopper was awarded the 2011 Suxorz for, well, pretty much violating every precept social media is supposed to be based on. The evening’s “social-media DJ,” John Accorino, posted a note of congratulations on PriceChoppers Facebook page.
It’s not there any more.
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Related articles and resources:
- Public Relations and the Social Web: How to Use Social Media and Web 2.0 in Communications
- Ur Doing It Wrong: How Not to Suck In Social Media (adage.com)
- Twitter Revolution: How Social Media and Mobile Marketing is Changing the Way We Do Business & Market Online
- The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, 2nd Edition
VW’s new ad scores for the cute factor. What’s not to love about a sweet kid in a Darth Vader costume? I thought the ad was adorable and fell deeper in love when I saw the adorable little boy, with the heart condition, out of costume. The ad went viral but is that enough to sell cars?
The struggle between creative and bottom line dollars is nothing new. Corporations want Marketing and PR to deliver visibility and creativity but if sales are down those departments are the first to be cut. Truthfully, I never bought into the epic battle with lines drawn, companies need all of the disciplines working together to reach their goals and today that is easier than ever to achieve.
Many say the lines have blurred between marketing, PR, sales and SEO. In truth, the lines have been articulated requiring deeper skill sets. What has changed are the lines of control. To be truly effective the disciplines must work collaboratively, sharing intelligence and co-creating ideas and campaigns with mutual respect for everyone’s unique skill set. The bottom line should be the same for everyone for without customers or profit you are not in business.
Yes there is room for cute kids with the force as long as that force drives action to the bottom line.
This is a guest post by award winning and Emmy-nominated TV journalist Dwann Holmes Olsen. One short year after coming off the air to focus Media & Marketing for Non-Profits and SMBs, Dwann was named (1) of 30 Future Leaders of America by Ebony Magazine. With a long history of success, Dwann now helps ministries and business owners with marketing and media relations.
Years ago when I first started off in business on my own, it seemed like I was featured in the media all the time! Every where you looked, there was my head-shot with a different story.
Once the first article came out, I noticed something. More and more reporters started calling and with every new article, there seemed to be a new burst of energy from within and even on the outside.
No, the phones didn’t start ringing off the hook, but there was some clear indication that overall interest and website traffic spiked every time my company was featured in the media. Then next thing you know, one article led to another, to another …all without me having to spend a dime on lofty magazine ads, although I always made sure to have some sort of affordable media presence in my community so that by the time the articles and coverage started flowing, my brand was somewhat recognizable.
Then years later as I began to study what kind of stories seemed to draw the most attention, it was quite obvious.
HONORS & AWARDS!
Anytime you can win some sort of award, trust me, the buzz about your business will keep building.
For instance, when I was named one of Ebony Magazine’s TOP 30 FUTURE LEADERS of America, it seemed like everyone I knew was just as excited as I was. Not only did my local paper do a blurb on it but my hometown I grew up did one, so did my birth city. But that wasn’t it. My Pastor announced it from the pulpit, the Chancellor of the University I graduated from sent me a letter and the college paper announced it as well. It was like INSTANTLY, my credibility was being leveraged, in ways I never imagined. All because I had a goal of wanting to be featured and I had a magnificent producer who worked to make sure my “entry” packet was stellar.
So, today I want to encourage you to set your sights high and GO FOR IT!
No matter what industry you are a part of know that there is always some sort of award, honor or competition you can strive for that could potentially net you spectacular complimentary press from all kinds of media outlets. (TV, print, radio etc…) (Tip: Use AwardSync to find awards by topic, region, role and more)
Just follow these simple steps to get started.
- Get Research: Take your time and find out about the prestigious local and national industry awards that you or your business may qualify to compete in.
- Get connected: Do your best to join at least (1) local and (1) national industry specific trade organization that will help keep you in the loop regarding competitions
- Get Busy: Once you’ve done the research and gotten connected it’s time to GET BUSY and start apply for competitions. Since there is normally a cost associated with the application I recommend doing this on a quarterly basis and budgeting a certain amount of your funds for competitions.
- Get Coverage: Once you start winning or even placing in the TOP 5, it’s time to GET COVERAGE by creating and distributing professional press releases regarding your recent honors.
There’s NOTHING like being honored by a group of peers, especially those who are clearly at the top of their game in your industry.
Unfortunately, many solo-preneurs seem to forget or don’t seem to realize that good news surrounding winning a local, national or even international award is definitely worthy of announcing.
Meaning, it really is okay to brag on yourself when you are singled out for a stellar contribution. What’s even better is that the news media are the ones reporting on you, which in turn helps add a little bit of influence and integrity to your brand.
The great thing is that after you win, you are then able to create a press release that any local news outlet would want to highlight, especially if it looks like you’re a local SUPERSTAR right in the midst of your community.
That’s when you have to be prepared to Tell Your Story Like a Pro!
Is media a part of your marketing strategy? If not, why haven’t you leveraged this tool yet?
About Dwann Holmes Olsen
Dwann Holmes Olsen helps small to medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and ministries with their media and marketing strategies through coaching, consulting and producing. You can learn more about her signature media coaching program for business owners at Tell Your Story Like a Pro .
The Age of Conversation Official Charity – Charity Water
The first piece of news is to confirm that the charity that benefits from each and every sale of each and every book, is Charity Water. Charity Water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations. 100% of public donations directly fund water projects.
Amazingly, just $20 can give one person clean water for 20 years. An average water project costs $5,000 and can serve 250 people with clean, safe water – so purchasing a copy of the Age of Conversation 3 really can make a difference to someone’s life!
October 15th is Blog Action Day and this year’s focus is water. Many of us may take it for granted but many around the world do not have clean and safe drinking water, something vital to human survival. Charity:Water is also the official charity for The Age of Conversation 3, so we’re asking that you support both Blog Action Day and Charity;Water by tweeting, sharing and blogging about the topic and buying a copy of The Age of Conversation 3 on October 15th.
Read Gavin Heaton’s full post here: http://www.servantofchaos.com/2010/10/blog-action-day-and-the-age-of-conversa…