• PR lessons from Woolworths’ Collectables

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    Supermarket chain collectables such as Coles’ little shop and Woolworths’ Ooshies have proven to be successful with the public, with families loving the collectable and kitschy toy giveaways that have turned the once-dreaded trip to the grocery store into an exciting family outing. Families have even gone so far as to buy and sell rare collectables online for thousands of dollars!

    However, both Coles and Woolworths received much public backlash for their mass plastic waste in these schemes as they launched shortly after the supermarket chains supported the nationwide elimination of single-use plastic bags in stores.  

    In an attempt to restore their public image, a few weeks ago Woolworths revealed a new collectable promotion called ‘Discovery Garden’, where herb and flower seedlings grown in mini pots are the collectable elements. From a PR perspective, the upcoming campaign is a great move for the company.

     Here’s what we can learn from Woolworths’ decision to go plant instead of plastic:

     

    Listen to your publics

    Despite the collectable craze, a large number of parents have boycotted the giveaway schemes as public angst on plastic waste continues to grow.  There was an angry sentiment among the public, branding the Ooshies campaign as reckless, with a majority of the plastic toys expected to end up as landfill. This overtook Woolworths’ social media and the sentiment was seconded in the mainstream media. By making the switch to a more sustainable collectable, Woolworths have demonstrated that they not only listen to feedback from the public, but they actually do something about it.

    Building on the hype of an already successful scheme and but making it more nuanced in accordance with public advice will always give you success.

     

    Corporate Social Responsibility

    Now more than ever, publics are choosing organisations based on their perceived brand values and ethics. Publics are demanding transparency, sustainability and social responsibility from places they work, shop, play and live. Corporate social responsibility is a growing concept in the PR industry; it’s about building brand equity beyond lawfulness and profit-making. Woolworth’s move from plastic to plants is a reaction to the ever-growing public awareness of wastage and sustainability in Australia – and it came at just the right time. The sustainable alternative to the Ooshies campaign shows Woolworths to be environmentally responsible for the actions – a huge step in the right direction as far as the public is concerned.

     

    Build on the hype with strategic planning

    The supermarkets got it right – families loved the concept of having a children’s incentive to make the grocery shop just that little bit easier. Children and parents alike went crazy, so the media did as well. Every media mention is an opportunity to accrue value for your organisation’s brand. Key messaging, timing and use of all platforms should be considered when your organisation is in the limelight. Taking the time to create a strategic plan alongside mass public attention can be incredibly beneficial for brand equity and brand growth.

     

    If you would like to know more about KDPR’S brand reputation and strategic planning services, please get in touch with us today via (07) 3136 2555 or katecullen@kdpr.com.au.

  • PR learnings from Network 10’s flip decision on Celebrity Chef trio

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    The heat from the MasterChef kitchen rose to an all-time high with the unexpected exit of all three judges Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris. The Network 10 program announced on its official Twitter page last Tuesday 23 July, premature to Season 11’s grand finale, the trio would not be returning as judges for Season 12. The announcement left the judges and viewers shocked and confused as to how this came to play.

    Over the coming days, news unfolded that the unexplained departure was caused by an inability for Network 10 and the celebrity chef trio to come to an agreement on contracts after months of negotiation. With tensions still looming around George Calombaris’ staff payment dispute through his hospitality business, Made Establishment, many concluded that this was the final chop irrespective of Network 10 CEO, Paul Anderson putting the rumours at bay.

    With so much at stake, as previously rated the most-watched TV program across Australia, the question remains whether Network 10 shot themselves in the foot with this shock announcement. From a Public Relations standpoint, the decision felt rushed and lacked strategic planning, coupled with the sensitive timing of allegations made against Calombaris.

    Here’s what we can learn from the PR mishap involving MasterChef:

    1. Keep your employees in the loop

    There is nothing more damaging to a company’s reputation than a disgruntled staff member coming forward to the media explaining to the nation that the company failed to communicate. The first step of demonstrating a successful reputation externally is having a solid internal communications strategy in place. In the case of Network 10, notifying the trio prior to the public announcement would have avoided the incident of Matt Preston coming forward on ABC Melbourne’s radio detailing his understanding of the decision coming from MasterChef’s Twitter announcement.  

     

    1. Timing is everything

    Dropping the fiery announcement of new judges after 11 years, hours before the 2019 grand finale was perhaps not an ideal situation considering the importance of viewer ratings for television. In result, the Season 11 grand finale ratings slipped by 612,000 viewers from last year’s Season 10 grand finale. When it comes to major changes in a business, no time may be perfect but taking advantage of the most ideal time is crucial.   

     

    1. Strategic planning is key

    The Network 10 announcement was a pivotal moment for MasterChef with the judges having hosted the show since its inception in 2009. When it comes to business milestones, taking the time to create a strategic plan before making major announcements can either make or break your organisation’s reputation. Key messaging, spokespeople, use of platforms and timing all need to be considered with the environment your organisation is in both internally and externally.

     

    1. The changes are enhancing not diminishing

    For MasterChef, playing on the exciting unknown of “Who will be the next judges?” is something the program executed successfully. Whilst many media outlets reflected on the decision negatively, the guessing game of who will be fresh meat was an undertone in many discussions across news panels and social media dialogue. It is crucial to understand your audience and develop messaging to not only flag changes, but build hype for your audience to eagerly anticipate the next chapter of your company. 

     

    If you would like to know more about KDPR’s crisis communication and strategic planning services, please get in touch with us today via (07) 3136 2555 or katecullen@kdpr.com.au.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Swimming Australia fails to earn gold PR medal

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    A few weeks ago, Australian swimming, Shayna Jack was withdrawn from the world championships for “personal reasons”. However, news broke over the weekend that Jack had in fact failed a drug test. Jack has since responded with a detailed 2-page statement in an attempt to restore her reputation and provide transparency. She states that she discovered her A sample results on July 12 and her B sample results on July 19. These dates indicate that Swimming Australia (SA) was aware of the failed drug test 2 days before Australia swimmer, Mack Horton took a public stand against convicted drug user Sun Yang of China.

    Since Horton’s protest, he has received many threats on his Instagram and a lot of scrutiny for refusing to stand on the podium alongside Yang. Swimming Australia allowed Mack to maintain his position and supported his decision, knowing they were hiding their own drug scandal from the public. This has now intensified the vicious backlash Swimming Australia is experiencing and has resulted in people around the world labelling Horton as a hypocrite.

    Swimming Australia CEO, Leigh Russell claimed the organisation didn’t release an accurate statement regarding Jack’s absence from the world championships as they needed the test results back.  Jack’s recent statement proves that SA had the test results back nine days before making a statement, contradicting Russell. Russell also claimed SA could not announce the test results because of an agreement with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA). Former ASADA boss Richard Ings later declared this was untrue.

    To make matters even worse, Swimming Australia did not have an official address to the media at the world championships on Saturday when Jack’s story broke. This resulted in Horton being approached by media for comment and fellow Australian swimmer Cate Campbell having to speak on behalf of the team.

    Swimming Australia is now in hot water with their credibility and honesty being questioned, requiring extensive reputation management to stay afloat.  Here are our PR takeaways:

    What Swimming Australia did wrong:

    • Attempted to cover up Shayna Jack’s positive doping test by reducing her absence to “personal reasons”
    • Didn’t inform the public or offering a spokesperson to media
    • Allowed media to talk to swimmers and made Cate Campbell speak on behalf of the team
    • Didn’t provide an honest statement to the media, resulting in contradicting Shayna Jack
    • Failed to notify the swimming squad of Jack’s failed test
    • Let Horton make his global stance, knowing it would hang him out to dry once Jack’s news broke
    • Wrongfully pushed the blame on the ASADA agreement
    • Made all coaches and athletes who were aware of the situation stay silent for the three weeks before news broke

     

    What Swimming Australia did right:

    • Sent Shayna Jack home immediately
    • Took accountability for dealing with the media in the wrong way

     

    What Swimming Australia should have done:

    • Informed the Dolphins squad of the situation and offered support
    • Made a single spokesperson available for media
    • Limited media’s access to Shayna and the team, and ensured all media requests were directed to the spokesperson to avoid speculation and misinformation
    • Released a statement as soon as they were aware and held a press conference to offer consistent and accurate messages
    • Supported Shayna Jack in making a statement that aligned with SA
    • Not allowed Mack Horton to make a public stance against China to avoid personal backlash

     

    What Swimming Australia should do now:

    • Ensure completely transparency and accountability is maintained
    • Media train CEO Leigh Russell and ensure all messaging is consistent throughout Swimming Australia
    • Ensure no other swimmers, coaches or members of Swimming Australia talk to media to achieve seamlessness
    • Offer Shayna Jack the necessary media training and support she requires

     

    If you would like to know how KDPR can assist with your own media training or brand management, please get in touch with us today via 3136 2555 or katecullen@kdpr.com.au.

     

  • #stormourshelters: How animal shelters are capitalising on the internet’s favourite viral meme

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    Over the last few weeks, a Facebook post encouraging people to storm Area 51 has had more than 1.8 million people sign up and strategise on the best way to “see them aliens”, resulting in a plethora of memes and a rather stern response from the US military. 

    Image: @brandyn_wth_a_y (Twitter).

    However, the best response to #stormarea51 has been the animal shelters jumping onto the trend to drive more awareness of the pets they have up for adoption.

    Dressing up their puppies in tinfoil hats OKC Animal Welfare in Oklahoma started the trend and will be hosting a Storm the Shelter event on Saturday 27 July.

    Image: OKC Animal Welfare.

    So far the photos have been shared over 8,400 times on Facebook, as well crossed over to Instagram, Twitter and Reddit, and the shelter has reported adoption rates have been through the roof this week.

    Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center in Texas has followed suit, making out-of-this-world alien costumes for their cats, dogs and even lizards.

    Longview’s Facebook post says, “We won’t resist; you can take them all!”

    “Our aliens can go home with you for the best price in the galaxy. No probing allowed.”

    Image: Longview Animal Care and Adoption Center.

     

    Meanwhile back in Aus, the Area 51 meme has taken yet another life of its own with more than 20,000 people interested in Storming Bindi Irwin’s wedding.

    “She can’t say no to all of us,” the anonymous poster titled the event. CRIKEY! 

    If you need help managing your social media, the KDPR team assist you with:

    • Publicity and media relations
    • Social media training
    • Development of social media content plans
    • Photography for socials
    • Advice on how to get your business trending

    Get in touch with our experienced team today and take your socials to infinity and beyond!

    Image: thetab.com.

  • Instragram is now hiding ‘like’ counts… What does this mean for your business?

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    Instagram users in Australia will now be unable to see the number of ‘likes’ a post receives, as the social media giant trials changes to take the “competition” out of posting. Starting today, this trial update will remove the total number of likes on photos and viewings of videos on Australian user feeds and profiles, and permalink pages. If you’re sitting there freaking out about what this will mean for you and your business who utilise and rely on social media, never fear!

    Here’s what you and your business need to know:

    1. HOLD UP…your likes and engagement metrics will NOT be affected

    This change won’t affect measurement tools for businesses and creators on Instagram, and all likes and engagement metrics will still be available in those tools.

     

    1. You can still see your own likes

    Users will still be able to see the number of likes received on their own posts, but not others. If you would like to see who exactly has liked someone else’s post, you can click through to the list of users who liked the post, you just can’t see the specific number.

     

    1. RELAX…this is a positive change

    While you may have been stressed and confused when you woke up to this news this morning, this trial feature is designed to “remove the pressure” and take the “competition” out of posting. Instagram is giving you and your business the freedom to express yourself and be creative without fear of falling short in the number of likes.

     

    1. FOCUS ON AUTHENTICITY

    The economy of likes has increasingly lost its meaning. These days anyone can call themselves an influencer based on the number of tiny little red hearts they receive on a post. There is more to Instagram, and life than likes. This is a timely reminder that social media should be used as a way to genuinely connect with your community and stakeholders. Focus on delivering quality content for your followers that demonstrates your passion and creativity, rather than trying to produce content that will be ‘popular.’

     

    If you would like to take your business social media platforms to the next level and learn how to successfully engage with your audience, get in touch with us today to find out more about our social media training sessions. Let us plan and implement a strategic communications plan for your businesses’ social media and give your brand a voice.

    KDPR is a respected PR communications agency with a reputation built on consistent innovation, effective strategy, clear communication and lasting results. KDPR offer clients a helping hand in the ever-changing world of media and social media.

    Please contact KDPR’s Director, Kristin Devitt for more information on what we can offer you via phone on 3136 2555 or email her at kristin@kdpr.com.au.

     

  • Five reasons students need internships

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    A common concern of students nearing graduation is uncertainty around their employability and the best way to overcome this uncertainty is to prepare for professional life through interning.

    Here are five reasons why doing an internship is an essential part of your personal and career growth:

    1. Gain experience you can’t get inside of a classroom

    There is only so much you can learn in a classroom. Interning is the perfect opportunity for you to put the theoretical knowledge you have learnt into practice.

    1. Internships give you a taste of the real-world

    This is your opportunity to learn valuable skills about the workplace in general. Being a part of a team teaches you to work through challenging situations with the guidance of professionals.

    1. You can earn yourself a professional reference

    Having the opportunity to learn from an industry professional will allow you to find yourself a mentor or someone you could turn to for professional advice. Your team leader or supervisor could also be your future employer’s best point of reference.

    1. Build your professional network

    Internships are a platform to develop your professional brand. The people you meet in your internship may be people you work with in the future. This is your chance to meet like-minded people and establish a professional network.

    1. Gain confidence

    Interning allows you to be more agile and receptive towards other people’s ideas while being professionally assertive with your own opinions. Through your internship, you will expand your perspective and overcome challenges. These experiences will allow you to be more confident moving into the professional world.

    If you are still deciding on whether you should take on an internship, the answer should be a resounding YES! Get yourself job-ready and start your internship journey. Get in touch with our team for more information on our internship program.

  • The Nine and Fairfax Merger – the fallout for PR professionals

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    It was the news that shocked the Australian media community—the announcement that Nine and Fairfax are merging together to create a joint venture, becoming Australia’s largest media powerhouse, known as Nine.

    In order to wrap our heads around the merger, we’ve dived into what this means, how it will impact on media consumers, and what it means for the Australian media landscape, PR professionals and their clients, moving forward.

    The merger will see Nine Entertainment Co. and Fairfax Media Limited combining television, online video streaming, print, digital news, radio ventures and real-estate advertising under one roof.

    Nine will be the dominant shareholder with 51.1% and the board will consist of six directors, with three from each media organisation. The combined business will be headed by Nine Chief Executive Officer Hugh Marks, and the new board will be chaired by Nine Chairman Peter Costello.

     

    What the merger means for Nine and Fairfax

    Although it has been called a ‘merger’, Nine holds a larger share and has acquired Fairfax and its portfolio of newspapers, radio, real-estate business Domain and its share of online streaming service, Stan.

    The merger has been criticised by the industry as a Nine takeover and questions have been raised about ongoing editorial direction.

    Stan, created in 2014 and launched in 2015, was originally owned as a 50/50 venture between Nine and Fairfax investing $50 million each into the Australian streaming service. Under the new Nine, Stan and its content will be 100% owned and facilitated by the company.

    This may strongly impact what content Stan will produce in the coming years and how Nine will implement their current programs through the streaming service.

    Domain will also pay a massive role in the merger, with plans to connect the online real-estate platform with one of Nine’s leading programs, The Block. This will also lead to more targeted advertising, moving from the online digital new sites into television and with more advertising comes more money.

     

    The repercussions of the merger

    With company mergers in the current media landscape, there is always the consideration of job loss.

    With Nine taking ownership of Fairfax, the employees would all be wondering where they fit into this new venture and whether their job still exists.

    Nine and Fairfax have said the merger would deliver an annual saving of at least $50 million over the next two years.

    The $50 million question is whether some of the money is made up of Fairfax journalists’ wages.

     

    The legacy of Fairfax

    In the announcement of the merger, there was talk of the legacy of Fairfax and the role they have played in Australian media over the last 180 years.

    Fairfax is the mother company to many of Australia’s newspapers and online news sites including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review, Brisbane Times, and The Canberra Times.

    Will these newsrooms merge working spaces with the local Nine television studio offices? Will the content displayed across all former Fairfax newspapers and sites be the same content we see every night on Nine television? Is there so much talk of Fairfax’s legacy because Australian journalism as we know it will be changed forever?

    There are just so many questions that remain unanswered.

     

    Commentary to Date

    The announcement has garnered a lot of commentary to date.

    “The old rivers of gold that used to be the print publications are now the digital rivers of gold.” – Nine CEO Hugh Marks

     

    “The ability to leverage the great audiences that we have and the marketing inventory that we have, to grow Stan, to grow Domain, as we have done within a publishing context but to broaden that out into TV is something that everyone will benefit from.” – CEO Fairfax Media

     

    “To be fair, Nine has invested heavily in news in recent years—including regional news—and its reputation is generally good.” – Paul Barry, Media Watch

     

    “But I’d just say, though, that the ability of two businesses like that to be able to consolidate will put them in a stronger position to compete and, I think, in a stronger position to support quality journalism, whether it is in print or online or on TV.” – Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

     

    “Our changes to media law are giving the opportunity for Australian media organisations to look at how they can make themselves the strongest they can be.” – Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield

     

    “It’s a brutal end for Fairfax – but media is changing, and we can change it for the good.” – Guardian Australia’s Editor Lenore Taylor

     

    “The merger of Australia’s second biggest free-to-air TV network with the second biggest newspaper publisher will result in a $4 billion-company that is second only to News Corp in size and impact.

     

    That will put pressure on its media rivals, particularly the other commercial free-to-air networks, Seven and Ten.” – ABC Senior Reporter Anne Barker

     

     

    What does this mean for PR professionals and their clients?

    The media landscape is constantly evolving, diversifying, and refining its offer in a bid to attract and keep paying customers. PR professionals constantly monitor media movements and follow journalists as they move around news rounds and fulfil more general reporting duties. The changes will keep the PR industry on their toes navigating the new gatekeepers to editorial delivery.

    PR professionals will be monitoring what happens to the 160 regional newspapers where Nine has no presence or interest—will they survive the merger? Will regional communities be cut out of the media landscape?

    Concerns about media homogenisation are also valid in a landscape with little diversification of voice. Will Fairfax start to sound like Nine? Will media stories picked up by editorial teams be limited by whether or not they align synergistically with the Nine brand?

    What is the future of investigative collaborations, such as the one between Fairfax and the ABC, which resulted in the Royal Banking Commission? Will the Fourth Estate be able to fulfil its duty and hold government and the private sector accountable for the betterment of society when the Fourth Estate appears to be shrinking? Only time will tell.

     

    It is hard to know what the future holds for this new venture but Australia’s media and PR world will be watching closely to see what happens next.

    Words by Hannah Palmer

  • IGTV – a new channel offering a fresh way to tell your story

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    A new channel of opportunity has entered the marketing sphere with the launch of IGTV. Brands, personalities, marketers, and corporations now have a new method of telling their story and reaching their audience with the new video sharing channel on Instagram.

    Instagram, the photo and video sharing social networking platform, has released their new TV function (IGTV), making Instagram a strong competitor against platforms such as YouTube.

    What sets IGTV apart from YouTube and traditional television is the formatting of the videos; full-screen and portrait, suited to specifically fit the shape of mobile devices and revolutionising video viewership.

    While this orientation is not new to Instagram (Instagram stories have allowed snippets of portrait videos), videos are no longer limited to one minute and instead can be up to an hour long.  This gives media outlets the option to produce longer content on the app for viewers.

    Instagram, though, is not alone in its adoption of portrait formatting with the introduction of Snapchat Discovery in 2015, where user-generated content was easily uploadable, accessible and sharable.

    Instagram began as a platform to share photos and extended to video, live video, direct messaging and stories, modifying to suit the shifting social media paradigm. With YouTube gaining more than one billion daily views, Instagram has addressed the larger engagement rate of videos by producing a platform to directly compete with YouTube.

    What IGTV means for creators

    As Instagram has recently reached one billion monthly actives, the introduction of IGTV will allow content creators already with large fan-bases to share more with their followers with the TV function accessible in a stand-alone app as well as within the Instagram app.

    IGTV allows easy user access to different content creator’s channels as video from followed channels starts playing as soon as the app is opened. With ‘For You’, ‘Following’, ‘Popular’, and ‘Continue Watching’ pages, smaller creators, or channels, can reach broader audiences as their content is recommended to users who are most likely to enjoy it.

    Instagram has recruited big online influencers such as Lele Pons and LaurDIY to promote the new platform with uploads of casual vlogs, leading the way in expressing the sort of relaxed content Instagram wishes its platform to share.

    Video Style

    By limiting videos to the portrait orientation, the app is suited towards phone-filmed footage, encouraging more raw content.

    The production quality of videos uploaded to IGTV does not have to be as heavily edited or polished as a TV show or film, but rather it will have a focus on entertaining audiences with limitless options of videos ranging from vlogs (video blogs) to event footage.

    Advertising & IGTV

    Currently IGTV isn’t monetised and the platform isn’t being used for advertisements or as payment for content creators. Videos will have link-out options, allowing content creators to send traffic to other social networking websites, extending their Instagram audience to other platforms.

    With each video not needing to be entirely serious, businesses can attach links to their own websites, creating interesting content for users while promoting visitation of their external sites. 

    Videos, once too long for Instagram, can now be reposted to a new audience. Promotion of products and events can now be marketed through longer-form video on Instagram, reaching an already accumulated following as well as other users, who are most suited to the product or event, through the recommendation of videos.

    With a large population of influencers on the platform, businesses are encouraged to arrange brand deals with popular influencers to increase visibility of products as well as increase production creativity in their own content.

    IGTV provides a personalised feed, within the viewer’s phone, creating a platform with opportunities for marketing through entertainment. It’s a fresh way to tell brand stories and we at KDPR can’t wait to start creating IGTV for brands wanting to elevate their messaging.

    Words by Ciara Morgan

  • Big Data, Big Consequences

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    Facebook’s latest data breach has far-reaching consequences for businesses and public relations practitioners.

    In 2013, a Facebook app called This Is Your Digital Life paid users to complete a quiz which was used to create psychological profiles. Roughly 87 million personal data profiles were obtained when friends of these users had their data harvested – without their express permission.  If you want to check whether your data was accessed during the breach, check out Facebook’s tool

    Around a year later data from the quiz users and their friends was sold to Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy firm, and used to create targeted, political advertising for the Brexit and Ted Cruz’s 2015, and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaigns. This isn’t just a breach of privacy – this is mass manipulation.  

    Investigations surrounding the breach were incredibly serious, and Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before members of congress in April.

    Public Relations practitioners aren’t generally considered data-scraping wizards, so you might be wondering why Facebook’s latest data breach has anything to do with PR.

    Let’s begin with this: We all know understanding your audience is key for executing successful, engaging strategies in public relations. For years, phone calls, focus groups, and interviews were used to gauge audience insight, but they were often small and unrepresentative. Big data changed all that. Large businesses and PR companies often rely on the analysis of ‘big data’ to understand their audiences.

    Sue Unerman, chief strategist officer at MediaCom says,

     “Big data in this instance gives us a much clearer and specific understanding of the audience for long-term brand building. We can find out people’s likes, dislikes, understand what they’re searching for, what makes them laugh, what makes them cry and what they had for dinner last night.”

    Facebook’s scandal prompted them to change their terms and conditions, tightening restrictions on what, and how much data can be collected. Not everyone relies on big data, but ultimately, practitioners in many industries, from marketing to PR will be limited by these changes.

     

    The Repercussions

    The public outcry following the breach has been a major wakeup call for platforms which handle user data. If you struggled through Facebook’s Business Tool Terms before the breach, you’ll certainly have more trouble with the newer, more complex version. The changes have been for the benefit of user privacy, which is incredibly important. Will Facebook continue to tighten the reigns on their data? This is certainly an issue to keep an eye on.

    With platforms scrambling to appear accountable and transparent, another major issue becomes apparent – the loss of public trust. Communicating with online publics who are inherently suspicious could definitely create problems for public relations professionals.

    While we can’t know whether the public distrust is affecting consumer’s perceptions of businesses and their content online, caution in the online space should be taken in light of these events. Businesses and PR managers shouldn’t just update their privacy policy and forget this issue. Ensuring content is both truthful and meaningful for audiences will help maintain and grow relationships in this unpredictable digital space.

    To highlight just how wrong things can go online, let’s look at Mark Zuckerberg’s PR following the incident.  Soon after his hearing in congress, social media was littered with ‘Zuckerberg Lizard memes.’ While it’s clear Zuckerberg has never been a natural communicator, his ‘in-human’ mannerisms weren’t attacked at such a scale, or turned into viral memes before the breach.

    This brings us to another important consideration for PR – are you equipped to respond to negative sentiment that goes viral? Because If Zuckerberg, with his obvious media coaching can be ripped apart online, so can anyone. It pays to be media ready, but having a crisis-management plan in place is just as important!

    Words by Grace Tudehope

  • Why Honesty is the Best Policy

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    The Commonwealth Bank’s (CBA) latest scandal should be a warning for all major corporates that honesty and transparency are necessities for a trustworthy relationship between your organisation and its clients.

    On Wednesday, Buzzfeed Australia revealed the CBA lost personal financial statements for more than 12 million customers. They also decided not to reveal this breach of privacy to their customers.

    The CBA lost customers financial statements from 2004 to 2014, after several tape drives containing financial information went missing in 2016.

    This latest scandal comes after accusations The CBA breached money laundering laws, had used bribery and forgery, failed to provide advertised fee waivers, provided dishonest financial advice to customers, unethically avoided CommInsure insurance payouts, and charged fees to deceased customers.

    Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison said he expected the rest of the board members and executives of The CBA would resign; leaving consumers and investors wondering what’s next for the bank.

    The bank is currently in a crisis management situation as they are being investigated by the Royal Banking Commission.

    This situation could’ve been avoided if The CBA had been honest and transparent with its stakeholders. By being honest, The CBA may have been able to save its reputation.

    Honesty and transparency are crucial in managing business reputation.

    Honesty and transparency go hand-in-hand when it comes to creating a successful and thriving business. Not only does it build a trustworthy relationship between a business’ consumers and investors, it creates a flow of open-communication.

    It also helps stakeholders connect with the business message.

    Honesty will build stronger relationships and trust between the business and its stakeholders.

    It will build confidence in a business and also display transparency.

    Transparency can be defined as “the lack of hidden agendas and conditions, accompanied by the availability of full information required for collaboration, cooperation and collective decision making.”

    However, being transparent is about more than being honest; it’s about being the kind of business you want the public to think it is.

    The idea of being honest and exposing your business’ hidden internal operations can be a scary thought.  

    It need not be if your business is grounded in strong operations and processes delivering on your business goal.

    It is more important to be openly communicating with your stakeholders about your business’ operations, performance and issues, than for them to find out through leaks in the media.

    The CBA’s failure to meet its corporate responsibilities by alerting consumers of their privacy breaches has led to massive mistrust and issues.

    This has significantly damaged The CBA’s reputation.

    If The CBA had decided to openly discuss these matters with their stakeholders, perhaps they would’ve been commended for their honesty, rather than shamed for their secrecy.

    From a PR perspective, it’s going to be a tough couple of weeks for The CBA as it needs to do more than apologise if it wants it stakeholders trust to be won back.

    An apology from the CEO would be a start, but The CBA is going to need to show remorse in actions as well as words. To do that it is going to need to introduce new strategies and put in place proactive, positive and real steps for change.

    The CBA needs to figure out what its key messages are and it needs to stick to them.

    New management training programs and procedures are needed. Employees need to be retrained and most importantly it needs to introduce new measures to protect customer’s privacy.

    Once real steps for change underpin an issues campaign response, honest and transparent communication will be less scary. With that honesty and transparency The CBA’s reputation will start to rebuild, the brand damage halted, and positive relationships with customers begin anew.

    Words by Amy Reibelt

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