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 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.
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
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
A show of hands if you’ve ever used the words “crushing it” or “killing it” to describe your company’s performance.
If you answered yes, you’re not alone. More frequently, these phrases are being used as an inherent part of global corporate culture. However, what if instead of motivating and encouraging your team, you’re unconsciously damaging a supportive and inclusive environment?
Let’s look into this.
In a tweet early this month, Australian start-up guru and well-known advocate for diversity and equality Annie Parker declared she would only “build, grow and elevate” this year.
Words matter. From this day forth, I shall not be crushing, killing or smashing things. I shall build, grow & elevate. The language of startups needs to change.— Annie Parker 🌈 (@annie_parker) February 6, 2018
What followed was overwhelming support from #girlbosses all across Australia. Annie Parker was right. The words “crushed” and “killed” gave off these aggression-fuelled, male-centric vibes that served no real purpose to a company’s growth.
Speaking to StartupSmart, Annie said words matter – no if’s or but’s.
“Whether you like it or not, potential employees, customers or investors will make judgements about you or your business based on how the language you use makes them feel,” she said.
As public relations professionals, we pride ourselves on the meticulous attention we pay to details, facts and words in the copy we write, but have we forgotten the power of language?
Inclusive language enables everyone in your organisation to feel valued and respected. It replaces those “kills” with “elevates”, all of which increase overall performance.
And this inclusivity starts from the top-down. Leaders can drive the actions and expectations of their teams.
Harvard Business Review columnist Kevin Allen said leaders who use simple and highly motivating prescriptive words set the right cultural permission for their organisations.
So maybe it’s time to reconsider language – after all, words can speak louder than actions.
This story was inspired by Bro-centric language: Why it’s time to stop saying we’re ‘crushing’ and ‘killing’ it. Read it here.
Words by Brittany Butler
Technology has melded with modern society to the point that our livelihoods, particularly as professional communicators, necessitate the use of telecommunications for daily business. Most importantly, society is becoming more dependent on social media of the networking kind.
It may not appear to directly influence your company’s core business, but having a social media presence is a powerful tool for all connected to a business: clients, employees and key stakeholders. It deserves attention.
The 2017 Sensis Social Media Report, investigating social media use of Australian residents, recorded that last year 64% of respondents – out of a sample size of 800 consumers – said they were more likely to trust brands if the business behind it positively interacted with its audience on social media. That was an increase on the 52% recorded in 2016.
This shows the community is placing more gravitas on a company’s social media interactions than ever before.
Your online presence is at the coalface of your business. It may be the first and last impression made on prospective customers if it is poorly designed and not managed well. Having a well-conceived and engaging social presence, on the other hand, can effectively disseminate your brand positioning and reinforce your business as an attractive prospect worth the investment of time or money.
Until recently, I struggled to identify the salience of social media. This changed during my studies in Texas, U.S.A. in 2016.
This time was characterised by mounting social tension surrounding the election campaign. Students were glued to their screens in communal gatherings during the debates and the talk in town concerned the celebrity-turned-presidential candidate whose influence centred on his social media juggernaut branded with the tenet of fake news and the slogan: Make America Great Again.
Then presidential candidate Donald Trump’s online presence was pervasive and unavoidable in nature. It was the first time I witnessed the social media realm so actively pursued in the political arena. It propelled his brand to centre stage and kept his agenda firmly set in the public’s eye. Seeing this taught me to never undermine the power of mass media communications.
The salience of social media can be found in the recent movement in the United States calling for an end to arms.
The mass protest unfolding in response to the Florida high school massacre exemplifies this.
Almost overnight, the student-driven movement: March For Our Lives, coordinated by survivors of the incident, mobilised a mass following on social media where their agenda went viral last week.
In a Reuters report by Andrew Hay, Professor of Civic Media at MIT, Sasha Costanza-Chock said of the movement that,
“It’s the perfect storm of young people whose authority to speak cannot be denied because their friends were just murdered, have control of social media, the ability to speak to mass media, have celebrity support and organizational infrastructure.”
Social media underpins the campaign by providing the infrastructure to disseminate the movement’s agenda apace.
On Facebook alone, the organisers set 77 event listings including one in London, UK, and their social media platforms amassed hundreds-of-thousands of followers – Facebook, 139,835; Twitter, 130,000; and Instagram, 69,000. Backing these is a dedicated website and GoFundMe page which accrued donations exceeding $2 million by 28,756 people in five days. Additionally, the official event application lodged to the National Park Service – the march on Washington – has been slated to attract 500,000 attendees. These numbers continually grow.
The success of the movement comes down to various factors:
- Most importantly, the organisers’ response was timely and relevant. Gun violence and firearm laws bear the weight of contention in U.S. society. In this sense, the movement had a head start – people were willing to either argue for or against it at –any impetus.
- Social media – their organisational structure – promotes their agenda, which is easily engaged with and shared by people.
- Their message has been clear and visual; the campaign has been represented consistently in videos, pictures, publications across all the official social media channels. Their representations are impactful and emotive.
- They engaged their publics:
- The survivors, themselves, are enabling the campaign. They are deeply connected to the issue and the ones with the most emotive impact given their personal experience in dealing with it.
- They have been active in approaching politicians, and irrespective of how their engagement was received by the officials, it still drew attention to their campaign and spurred further organic growth, as exemplified by a recent NRA conference which implicitly counteracted the movement but in doing so, directed attention to it.
- They have mobilised support and dedicated action from fellow students both nationally and internationally, again, the ones with the strongest ties to the issue, in ways which are affordable and accessible for students and families, for example, the National School Walkout scheduled for March 14 and the march on Washington, March 24.
- High-profile personalities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Oprah Winfrey and George Clooney have interceded for the campaign, which has given authority to the movement’s agenda.
- The media are deeply invested in covering their campaign which is the by-product of the points above.
The movement has been met with support shown in other ways. Most recently, sponsors of the NRA have been challenged to defect from the association.
The current atmosphere in the States has facilitated individual’s posts going viral as they make a statement on the issue. These people are not celebrities, and don’t have PHDs, they are normal individuals whose voices have resonated with cultural sentiment.
An emerging theme shows gun owners with variations of the rifle used in the attack (AR15), abandoning (and in one instance, destroying) the firearm in protest for tighter restrictions. Within two days, two posts: the first by Ben Dickmann, the second by Scott-Dani Pappalardo collectively gained 604,000 reactions and 302,000 shares. Pappalardo’s post, in the form of a video, has at the time of writing this article had 27 million views. The hashtags utilised for these posts – #outofcirculation and #oneless – have trended upwards in their circulation, with a long trail of other users engaging with them through similar initiatives.
With the right message and timing, the movement has stimulated global conversation and waves of action engaging hundreds-of-thousands, if not millions.
Of all this, the starkest realisation is that these waves of influence came not from those with the deepest pockets nor the most prominent in society, it came from high-school students and everyday citizens. It is a powerful display of how people can spur movements towards change with minimal resources and how social media assists in making it a reality.
This is a reminder to businesses to ensure social media is an important piece of their marketing pie. There is a world of interactions occurring in the online networking space be it Instagram, Facebook, snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter or on the blogosphere. It is imperative these are assessed, positively engaged with and managed in order for your core business to thrive.
Words and graphics by Aidan Taylor
If you missed it, have a listen to KDPR’s Kristin Devitt on ABC radio’s hidden persuaders panel last night with Steve Austin.
Talking social media, Tourism Australia’s Super Bowl ad & will the dual citizenship saga ever end?
Make 2018 the year you step forward and deliver your message with confidence and cut-through.
Join us for a 3 hour workshop covering how to build a media profile, interview techniques and presentation skills in 308 Queen Street’s Heritage Boardroom. Our experienced media trainers and PR experts are well positioned to help you understand how the modern media works as well as teaching techniques to deliver you message effectively and with ease.
Monday February 5
308 Queen Street, access via 88 Creek Street (C2 in lifts)
$495 per head
The workshop will assist you with:
- Understanding how media works
- Planning a PR Campaign
- Preparing key messages and QAs
- Understanding what makes a good media communicator
- Handling difficult interviews
- Public speaking strategies
- Use of voice and body language
Call us on 07 3136 2555 or email to reserve your place!
Call me un-Australian, but I don’t know the difference between a leg-bye and a follow-on, and the thought of sitting in the blazing sun for 12 hours waiting for something to happen out in the middle gives me a really bad headache.
But this week I’ve found myself turning ABC Radio on every time I sit down at my desk or jump in the car, smiling when I hear the Ashes telecast on a young corporate’s smartphone while he has lunch with a mate, and strangely enjoying getting caught in the First Day traffic log jam at 10 to 10 on Thursday morning.
It got me thinking about how much this time of year means to so many people who have toiled away in their various places of work all year, and how this week marks the transition into our glorious long languorous summer months ahead.
Yes, we are all still working at pace to finish 2017, and it is a testing time with deadlines looming and energy levels flagging, but the little distractions, the small celebrations, sustain us through to Christmas.
For me, I’m thinking a bit more cricket on in the background, a bit more rhubarb from the commentators, might be part of the musical mash-up at KDPR, when Bing, Mariah & Buble get dusted off ready for next Friday, 1 December. Look out!
I had the pleasure, the privilege indeed, of interviewing Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO on stage at this morning’s AMCHAM Business Briefing, and apart from his Olympian brain and encyclopedia of accomplishments, what really struck me was how powerful a communicator he is.
This is a man who has an extensive science background as an entrepreneur, engineer, neuroscience and educator. He is an inventor, an investor and one of this country’s great thinkers. But guess what? He held that room of 200 plus, using the power of storytelling to bring complex policy and science to life, making the topics he covered interesting and entertaining.
It served as a reminder how important communication and presenting skills are, regardless of what area we specialise in. If you can’t communicate it, how will you convince an audience, a market, a Board, a stakeholder to come around to your point of view?
Working with senior executives to polish their presenting skills is one of the favourite parts of what I do here at KDPR. It is so rewarding to see highly talented people, leaders in their field, grow in confidence in their speaking skills and become more accomplished presenters. Today I thought I would share a few of my key tips you may wish to try, for making every presentation count and becoming a speaker with whom people really connect:
1. Engage the audience from the start
People are in the room to hear what you have to say, but as opposed to a written report, they also want to feel like they have an opportunity to get to know you a little better. So take the time to smile, to make eye contact with a few people in the audience, to bring them in with some humour and warmth before you launch into the detail. If you know someone in the room and you can relate a point to their business, all the better.
2. Let your body do the talking
It’s true that it’s not what you say but how you say it. Yes, you can have the best data and graphs to back it up, but if your voice and non-verbals aren’t reinforcing your position with confidence and enthusiasm, it can all be lost on an audience. Especially one that has been there since 6:45am on a Friday morning. Dr Finkel moved about the stage and used natural gestures to reinforce his point. He even rearranged the furniture and reassured the audience he was an engineer so it was all good. We are not robots, be animated, be expressive, connect with the other humans in the audience.
Dr Finkel had a 20 minute window to present a summary of his Finkel Report, which was two years in the making, and discuss Australia’s opportunities with Electricity. That’s a lot of content to squeeze in to a short presentation. But this is not the forum to go through every line item of the full report. Far better to present key elements well than try to cover it all. When I work with executives on content, we develop a structure that can be adapted to different time lengths, so the presentation is always ready to go.
The biggest challenge for most people with public speaking is to venture outside your comfort zone. But I can assure you, done in a safe environment, trying some new approaches to your presenting style will deliver dividends you will not believe.
How artificial intelligence has influenced a communications professional’s day.
Although the term ‘artificial intelligence’ may cause many to think of high-tech robots taking over the world, the reality of this concept is far less terrifying.
Siri and Google Now are both household examples of artificial intelligence, so as mentioned – nothing to do with extraterrestrial life.
Much like our homes and everyday lives, in our contemporary tech-embraced society the media and communications industry is consistently transforming.
In all aspects of our jobs, innovative technological developments are providing communications professionals with unprecedented opportunities to connect with their desired audiences.
The goal of effective communications is to influence an audience’s attitudes and beliefs. So in a world where artificial intelligence exists as a key resource in informing the direction of communication tactics and discovering their success in influencing, as communications professionals we’ve struck gold.
Artificial intelligence developments in media monitoring, social media analytics, and algorithms like google analytics and SEO are all providing data-driven insights that essentially help shape strategic communications campaigns and ensure their success.
In this context, artificial intelligence is basically enabling communications professionals to approach creative endeavours through a more calculated and educated approach.
Although these innovative technologies often come at an initial high cost, the benefits including increasing productivity, efficiency and success prove to be well worth the investment.
However one thing these technologies cannot do is think creatively!
While artificial intelligence is proving a key tool in helping PR professionals better understand audiences, we need to continue putting our creative hats on to develop the how in this equation.
Creative campaigns and key messages don’t write themselves, and analytics can’t pinpoint the strategic tone and context communication strategies should mirror – proving the value of human connection in PR.
The interaction between human creativity and intelligence, coupled with artificial intelligence is something we’re excited to continue embracing and learning from.
At KDPR we’ll continue to apply these technologies, analysing the data they provide to hone our creative strategies, key messages, and tactics to keep making big wins for our clients.
We can’t predict a crisis, however we can prepare. Whether it be a business crisis or a natural one, communication is key. The question is, what is involved in a strategic crisis communications plan and what is the best strategy at the time?
Here, we discuss with you quick messaging and strategic messaging, how they complement each other and what purpose each have in a crisis.
This is where social media and digital platforms really come in to play.
Quick messaging means you can reach a broad audience in a short amount of time.
It also allows for real-time updates and push alerts. In today’s fast-paced 24/7 news cycle, the ability to communicate in real-time, directly to stakeholders and publics, can be the difference between a significant crisis event and minor blip, when handled immediately.
The use of social media in a crisis also allows multiple touch points for people to communicate with the company.
Having a strategic plan doesn’t mean it isn’t face paced, it is just a more streamlined approach to the messaging.
This includes drafting key messages and disseminating them to spokespersons in the organisation. Ensuring all spokespersons are trained in media and presentation is a valuable asset and investment in your company that can limit risk and stabilise a crisis.
Having a strategy also means you have the time to set in place proper monitoring systems such as media monitoring and social media mentions.
What has your company done to prepare for a crisis?
Every crisis is different and each need to be handled as such. With preparation and a mixture of both quick and strategic messaging, your company is on the front foot of any crisis.
Not having a planned approach can have some major effects on the business.
An absence of adequate internal and external communications could mean:
- Operational response may break down
- Stakeholders are left unaware, creating unnecessary disruption in an already tense and busy time
- Company reputation can be questioned and even damaged
- If the issue isn’t addressed straight away then it can often become worse and too complicated to fix with long-lasting effects
- The businesses bottom line may suffer
KDPR are experts in handling a crisis and strategically planning ahead. If you have any questions about crisis management give us a call, we’d be happy to talk you through our processes.