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

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

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

Can You Really Submit an Op-Ed Anonymously?

Can you really submit an anonymous op-ed?Events of last week struck me regarding the concept of anonymity these days.  Like everyone else, I’m curious to learn the author of the now infamous New York Times anonymous op-ed. (Analysis from Slate and the BBC is fun to read.) I will let others jump into the mud pit to wrestle over whether the author is a patriot or a coward. I’m interested in how one actually remains anonymous in the digital age.

Word is that the op-ed author approached the Times through an intermediary, and his/her identity was confirmed by the paper.  If you or I wanted to get sensitive or confidential information to an outlet like the Times, could we do it and remain anonymous?

You can go right to the media outlets for answers. The Times, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Forbes, NPR, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and USA Today, among others, offer ways to send a confidential news tip.  SecureDrop and old-fashioned postal mail are the most common, but here are a few options:Read More

No Reputation is a Bad Reputation

no reputation is a bad reputation David PRSome businesses do well operating “under the radar.”  During my career I have met many executives who have purposely kept a low profile, avoiding publicity as they focus intently on their business and their market.  The strategy sometimes makes sense when companies face large logistical and operational challenges that supersede public relations and marketing.  Some executives also shy away from PR because they don’t want to draw the attention of potential competitors.

My experience is that this only works up to a point.

In recent weeks, I have encountered several companies that are facing significant online issues.  One is a a great company that took flying beneath the radar to new extremes.  The company has thousands of employees and multiple offices, appears to be very successful and yet has almost no online presence.Read More

PR Lessons from 2017

The past 12 months have been fascinating in the world of public relations. We have a president who communicates off-the-cuff each morning to his more than 45 million Twitter followers, and for the first time in at least eight years, most of us can name the White House Press Secretary. Communications from the White House has never been more high profile. We also learned this year that no amount of PR wizardry or spin control can save executives, even at the highest levels, who are guilty of sexual misconduct. Here are a few main PR lessons from 2017, when perception and reputation ruled the day.

Words Matter

Each day, major news networks focus part of their daily coverage on what President Trump tweeted that morning. Whether you agree or disagree with him, he is showing that he can control part of the news cycle and that words still matter. Trump’s tweets have a huge impact on how he is perceived. His word choices and tone are interpreted by both his supporters and detractors, and he often makes mistakes that cost him on the perception front. He recently “called-back” a tweet, claiming it was instead written by his lawyer. Again, it doesn’t matter what side you are on, but even in this age where visuals and short videos dominate, words still matter.Read More