Social Media Lessons from an Unborn Royal Baby

Social Media Lessons from an Unborn Royal BabyBritish royalty news is usually not my cup of tea, but last week a reporter asked my opinion about the “delayed announcement” of the impending birth of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s baby. Harry and Meghan are breaking from recent tradition and will not offer a photo opportunity for the press on the day after the baby’s birth — as has been the case with William and Kate’s children.  (I’m not big on protocol, so I’m calling the princes, dukes and duchesses by their first names.) While this may seem like tabloid gossip and blog author pandering, the media relations strategy surrounding the birth provides a lesson in controlling your narrative while also shedding light on how social media attitudes might be evolving.

First, the scuttlebutt on the big reveal. Obviously, the birth of a new royal baby is widely anticipated news, but it is monumental in the United Kingdom. Harry and Meghan’s child will be seventh in line to the throne and in the spotlight forever. After the birth of the most recent royal babies, William and Kate had a public photo op on the steps of the hospital the day after the little ones were born. Kate set an unbelievably high bar. This satiated the British press and the royal-loving public around the world. Meghan and Harry are saying “nope.” Can you blame them? After my kids were born, I was exhausted and all I did was watch and get my hand nearly clenched off. In my opinion, the last thing new mothers want to do is get their hair done and step out in high heels for pictures. Most new moms want to be home in their pajamas and slippers with only their newborn and immediate family. I’m guessing Meghan feels this way – and Harry will agree if he chooses to remain married.

Some will say the royals have an obligation to cater to the media, but few people owe less to the press than Harry. Crazed reporters and paparazzi contributed to the chaotic scene which led to the death of his mother. Recently, he has said he has a low opinion of social media: “Social media is more addictive than drugs and alcohol, yet it’s more dangerous because it’s normalized and there are no restrictions to it.”

All signs point to Meghan and Harry setting a new standard for media relations. They have shown they won’t kowtow to the British media. My guess (with a big nod to my The Crown loving wife) is that they will release the first photos of the new baby on their Instagram account for everyone to see – with no special treatment afforded to the traditional press. They are making the rules, controlling the narrative and not giving a darn what anyone thinks of it.

More importantly, this could be a sign that the social media pendulum might be changing its arc. Too often today, celebrities and regular people alike over-share on social media. I have regularly said in my online reputation presentations that we need to resist the urge to digitally document everything that we do. We are not that interesting! Everything we do does not deserve to be tweeted, Instagrammed or Facebooked. My hope is that actions taken by Harry and Meghan will filter down to the rest of us commoners.

My favorite part of this is that the lessons – set your ground rules, be transparent and don’t back down – are coming from an unborn royal baby.

–John

For Southwest and Airbnb, Response Makes the Crisis | David PR 

For Southwest and Airbnb, Response Makes the Crisis | David PR How you respond to a crisis often impacts your business more than the crisis itself.  Evidence of this emerged last week with two high-profile incidents in the travel industry.  First, Southwest Airlines, typically a reputational darling, got dinged for its handling of passenger complaints following the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.  Next, Airbnb took a hit after reacting too slowly when a family found a hidden camera in the room they were renting.  In each case, the company wasn’t the source of the original problem, but how they responded caused damage to their reputations. 

The international grounding of the Boeing 737 Max impacted dozens of airlines and thousands of passengers, and it represented a logistical nightmare for every airline. While travelers might equate it with a weather delay, the reality is that the planes have been removed from service entirely. This caused a decrease in capacity that doesn’t get fixed once the weather clears.  And it’s not Southwest’s fault that the planes are out of service.  However, when the airline was slow to re-book passengers impacted by 737 Max 8-related cancellations, many went to social media to voice their displeasure.   

A family visiting Ireland booked a room on Airbnb. Simple enough, but the husband is an IT expert and discovered a camera hidden in a smoke detector.  This is in violation of Airbnbs rules but not technically the rental property matchmaker’s fault.  Yet, when the family called the problem to the attention of Airbnb, it took the company more than a month to remove the property from its listings.  Callousness in the response hurt them more than the actual issue.  Many news outlets covering the story focused on educating consumers about how to look for hidden cameras.  Others jumped all over Airbnb for its incredibly slow response.  Consumers are left to wonder if this is a rampant problem. 

When dealing with a reputational crisis, here are some tips: Read More

Weaponization of Reputation

Weaponization of ReputationThreats are part of life, and we learn about them at a young age. Profanity earns soap in the mouth. Bad grades and your phone is taken away. And my childhood demon, failure to eat vegetables means no dessert. The internet has taken threats to another level as some folks have taken to threatening your reputation as a means to an economic end. We are witnessing the weaponization of reputation.

Last week, attorney Michael Avenatti, famous for representing porn star Stormy Daniels, was arrested and accused by federal prosecutors of trying to extort Nike for $25 million. From CNBC:

Prosecutors said Avenatti threatened to hold a press conference accusing the company of being involved in bribing amateur basketball players. Avenatti allegedly timed his threats to coincide with Nike’s quarterly earnings call and the kickoff of the NCAA basketball tournament. According to a criminal complaint, Avenatti offered to refrain from that press conference “only if Nike made a payment of $1.5 million to a client of Avenatti’s in possession of information damaging to Nike … and agreed to ‘retain’ Avenatti and [the co-conspirator] to conduct an ‘internal investigation’ — an investigation that Nike did not request — for which Avenatti and [the co-conspirator] demanded to be paid, at a minimum, between $15 [million] and $25 million.”

So if you believe the allegations, Avenatti was trying to shake down Nike, but the muscle was not that he would turn-in the swoosh company to legal authorities but rather that he would use his media platform to ruin the reputation of the Nike brand. He threatened a virtual whack to the reputational kneecaps, allegedly.Read More

What is a Thought Leader and Do You Want to be One?

Thought LeadershipWhen I first started in the public relations business, I heard the term “Thought Leader” and kind of smugly laughed it off. My young PR guy brain believed it to be a euphemistic term for being influential, or a concept bandied about primarily in MBA classrooms. Today, I’m wiser (at least a little) and now completely understand the concept and believe it offers a great marketing opportunity for executives.

What is it?

“A thought leader is an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.” Source: Wikipedia, which coincidentally can help you become one.

Next, sounds like a good thing, do I want to be one?

You do and for several reasons: 1) Being a thought leader distinguishes you and sets you apart from your competitors. 2) It adds credibility and name recognition. 3) It brings you new opportunities, which might be new business or marketing-related. 4) It helps keep you on the top of your game. Once you become a thought leader, you have to nurture it and continue to build upon it.Read More

Bezos Flips Script on National Enquirer

In the 1996 movie Ransom, Mel Gibson stars as an executive whose son is kidnapped by a bad guy played by Gary Sinise. The boy is held for ransom, and in the movie’s most famous scene, Gibson appears on the local news and pours $2 million in cash onto the anchor desk.  He then says:

This is your ransom. Two million dollars in unmarked bills, just like you wanted. But this is as close as you’ll ever get to it. You’ll never see one dollar of this money, because no ransom will ever be paid for my son. Not one dime, not one penny. Instead, I’m offering this money as a reward on your head.

I couldn’t help but think about this scene when I read Jeff Bezos’s blog post last week, targeting the publisher of the National Enquirer David Pecker. Just as Mel turned the “hunter” Sinise into “the hunted” in the movie, Bezos flipped the script on the National Enquirer.Read More

How Companies Make Money on Instagram

How companies can make money on InstagramWe often hear about celebrities getting paid big bucks to endorse products on Instagram. Reality television personality, model and entrepreneur Kylie Jenner purportedly earns $1 million per sponsored post.  She has 124 million followers.  According to the Instagram Rich List compiled by Hopper HQ, others who are said to be cashing-in include singer Selena Gomez ($800k per post), soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo ($750k per), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson ($650k per) and a whole slew of entertainers, sports figures and Kardashian family members making six figures. Note: I’m not certain that stars like Selena Gomez, for example, are actually getting monster checks per single post. A quick peak at her Instagram feed shows several sponsored posts for handbag company Coach – for which she has a widely reported $10 million promotion and design gig. Is part of her deal a number of Instagram posts per year, for example?  Regardless, when you have more than 100 million followers who value your endorsement, it equates to tremendous reach, even if the figures might be inflated.

While this is fun from an entertainment-news-brain-candy perspective, it’s not necessarily useful information for companies which don’t have million-dollar marketing budgets.  The typical small business isn’t paying a celeb like The Rock to rep their product.  So how should you use Instagram for your business?Read More

NFL’s “No-Call” Heard ‘Round the World

Like most sports fan, I watched the NFC Championship game last Sunday with modest interest.  I’m neither a fan of the New Orleans Saints nor the Los Angeles Rams. (I’m a long-suffering Miami Dolphins fan but that comes into play a bit later.) The big story was the “no-call’ of a blatant defensive pass interference penalty near the end of the game.  If you haven’t seen it, Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis was fouled by Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman as a pass arrived from future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. For any football fan, it was almost a perfect example of defensive pass interference: A receiver tries to catch a ball but a defensive player grabs, pushes or otherwise interferes so the receiver doesn’t get a fair chance to catch it. In this case, Robey-Coleman annihilated Lewis well before he had a chance to attempt a catch.In most cases like this, a football official throws a penalty flag.  But not last Sunday.

Saints fan are outraged, and football fans everywhere are stunned as the no-call changed the outcome of the game and therefore which team would be in the Super Bowl. It’s one of those plays that will be remembered for many years to come.

In response, the NFL has officially said, well, nothing. Read More

Quick Guide to Online Review Management

David PR Group Online Review ManagementReview sites are here to stay, so we can’t put our heads in the sand and ignore them anymore. Sites exist to review all manner of businesses, and your business may have reviews that you have never seen – leaving the reputation of your business in the hands of the internet community without any input from the business owner or management.  Review sites have strong authority with search engines, and online reputation management firms which have attempted to suppress review sites with positive content are losing the battle. Many online reputation pros have thrown in the towel and are now recommending engagement to change review site content, rather than trying to push them down in search results.

Claim

Claim or create your company page on the main review sites. Your company may not yet have a listing on a site like Yelp, but any customer or interested party could create one without your knowledge and certainly without your consent. Business owners should look at the main review sites and either claim their page if one has already been created or create their own listing – this will give you a small level of control. If you have a claimed page, then you can enable the tools provided to businesses by review sites, such as notifications of new reviews and the ability to respond to reviews. This is the single most important reason to claim your page, so that you will be notified of new reviews.Read More

Top Online Reputation Trends for 2019

David PR Group Online Reputation Trends for 2019After a year that saw a slew of epic social media fails, like an Elon Musk tweet leading to a set of $20 million fines and numerous folks losing jobs over offensive posts, I can say with certainty that 2019 will offer a new batch of colorful online problems. Some of the old pitfalls remain, but there’s also hope as we learn to better manage our online lives – and hopefully be less judgmental of others. Here are five key online reputation trends for 2019.

Your job is watching you, but mainly if you screw up

While most employers truly don’t care what you do in your off hours, what you say on personal social media accounts can still get you in hot water and even fired. For example, last month Green Bay Packers Associate Head Coach Winston Moss posted on Twitter that the team needs to hold star quarterback Aaron Rodgers accountable for the team’s poor play. Moss was quickly fired. Lesson: Don’t publicly bash your organization’s most high-profile employee. Sure, we have freedom of speech in America, but you don’t get to say whatever you want with impunity. I’m not an employment lawyer so I can’t get into the finer points of what constitutes a legally fire-able offense, but I know that in some states an employer doesn’t need a reason to terminate you. My advice is that it’s best to keep controversial opinions to yourself, and don’t say anything on social media that you wouldn’t be comfortable saying in your company break room among all of your co-workers.Read More

Holiday Tips to Protect Your Online Reputation

As we close out the year, many of us will attend office-sponsored holiday parties and fun gatherings with friends and neighbors. Risks for online problems have never been greater as 2018 was marked by a rise in people losing their jobs due to negative social media posts and all manners of online reputation problems.

A few key tips for holiday party season:

More cameras than ever

Each year, it becomes easier for holiday party misdeeds to be captured digitally. The global digital surveillance market is projected to grow by more than 9% per year, and this year Amazon bought video doorbell company Ring for a purported $1 billion. More cameras are coming.  According to Pew Research Center, more than three quarters (77%) of U.S. adults own a smartphone. That means that three out of four folks at your party have a camera – and many are not afraid to use it. So when you are thinking about having that extra glass of wine,imagine that nearly every adult can take your photo in an instant. Be on your best behavior.  And when you are at a gathering with coworkers, don’t complain – about anything.  If you are not having fun, power through it and leave early.  Don’t over-imbibe,over-stay or over-talk because bad behavior can be memorialized online. Have a good time but as I tell my college-aged daughter: “Don’t do shots.”Read More