Friday, November 15, 2013

Monitoring: Management’s Strategic Crystal Ball

“Monitoring: Management’s Strategic Crystal Ball”

By Rochelle Snyder
Sr. Account Executive

If you, your product, your brand, or your reputation is visible, someone out there is watching, counting, analyzing and probably commenting. You need to monitor news media and social media at a reasonably high level in order to provide analysis and recommendations to management for action, or inaction. Monitoring is essential to successfully maintaining message control and reputation management.

In reality, observation of the media is management’s strategic crystal ball. Surveying coverage combines early warning indicators, surprisingly important insights and alerts, a context for what’s actually happening, and significant hints about the future. Leadership always wants to know about tomorrow, today.

Monitoring: Strategic Intentions and Goals

Examining what’s trending filters media activity and online conversations as indicators/snapshots of ongoing reputation change. Part of the process may offer an opportunity to be a part of those conversations, if appropriate. Aggressive observation offers vital strategic insights and preemption opportunities in the event of surprise incidents. Here is a useful profile of how to best supervise your presence in the media monitoring.
  1. A real-time pulse: Your reputation or the traction of various issues – as well as what’s likely in the minds of the public, advocates, media and critics. 
  2. A listening dashboard: Uses a variety of online tracking tools tailored to the marketplace. These tools capture online social media conversations, search activity, website engagement and perception data. In particular: 
    • What are the influencers saying?
    • What is the community saying? 
    • What are the audiences doing about it? 
    • Lead to recommendations for responding, where/when appropriate 
  3. Social media monitoring in particular can: 
    • Mine conversations: Who’s talking, what are they saying and where are they saying it that can help provide insights. 
    • Serve as an early warning system: Is an issue taking hold and increasing in frequency and tone, or is the trend fading? 
    • Track share of voice: Who’s receiving the most attention and what are different competitors for mindshare/opinion saying? 
    • Discover top influencers: On sites, forums, blogs, communities and more. Identify and equip supporters and evangelists for the brand/issue, while noting opposition messages, strategy and followers. 
    • Observe evolving sentiment and passion: At a glance analyses (using word associations/tag clouds). Are the conversations generally more transactional or neutral; are they charged with emotional language and value judgments? 
    • Profile your target audience: What are the interests and needs of those you’re trying to reach and how do they identify themselves? 
    • Move from interrupting to engaging in conversations: To build relationships, regain control of the brand voice, develop community consensus around the company’s reputation and preemptively prevent some issues and questions from taking hold. 
If you want to know in time, you have to be listening now.

Getting Started:

Here’s what we do at Risdall:
  1. Prepare regular executive-level reports focused on the events transpiring and broader publicity.
  2. We interpret the key insights from: 
    1. Meltwater (or other tool/service) media monitoring.
    2. Search/online marketing tools Risdall subscribes to and uses. 
    3. Scans of LexisNexis and specific trade media identified by the client and our experts. 
    4. Expert documents that reflect the direction in which the client’s reputation and other important factors are being portrayed in the media, and other public and private spaces. 
    5. Protocols that trigger action options in the event of surprise incidents or circumstances, whether positive or negative. 
Remember, this is the type of strategic information management needs but often fails to have; and providing incremental but powerful and useful options for decision making and strategic planning.

Monitoring is management’s strategic envisagement; an early look into tomorrow. Management always wants to know a lot more about tomorrow, today.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Questions for the Crisis Guru

From younger practitioners, “How do I gain the experience necessary to have the credibility needed to do meaningful work in the field of crisis management?"

This is an update of my posting on this topic on November 14, 2013. Please see the new # 1, provided by Fred Aubin, CD MCGI, CEO & Founder of Strategic Red Team Consulting, Ottawa, Canada. Thank you, Fred.

There are a lot of places to get experience, and experience in the real world of crisis is essential to have credibility and opportunity in the field. Crisis Management is the currently the most sought-after area of public relations practice; colleges are even offering degrees in crisis management, which is a mystifying since very specific and powerful real life experience is a prerequisite to practice. My suggestions follow those of Fred Aubin’s in #1:

1. “Depending on one's social beliefs and personal capabilities, joining the military, police services, fire services (any first responder org really), International Red Cross, or UN High Commission for Refugees, etc., are good places to gain necessary experience and credibility points in crisis management.”

2. The American Red Cross is always looking for disaster volunteers to be trained and on call for various local and other crises and emergencies.

3. America’s Blood Centers, which provide blood to about 50% of America’s communities, also likely have programs in which volunteers can be a part of the mix and learn about this facet of medical and emergency experience.

4. The Salvation Army has disaster relief and disaster recovery activities requiring volunteers. There is training, and it’s definitely worth investigating.

5. Your local emergency planning committee or commission. Every community in the United States has an LEPC. They spend a great deal of time planning for community emergencies, coordinating the activities of public and private agencies, and are always in need of volunteers for hands-on experience and to be an active part of the LEPC process.

6. Take an EMT training course – better yet, get certified as an EMT. The most powerful missing ingredient in crisis experience – at any level – is being with, helping, and understanding the victim dimension of crisis.

7. Locate your local Department of Homeland Security office and see what voluntary opportunities they might have, or can suggest in your community.

8. The Security Department in your own company. It’s kind of a long-shot, but when disasters occur in companies, chances are the security operation has lots of influence, and key responsibilities. Check it out and see what they might be able to help you do on a voluntary basis to gain some experience on this very interesting and important facet of crisis response.
Photo by Charles Gorrill

9. Police and fire auxiliaries in your community, or perhaps a larger one nearby, are always seeking volunteers for a wide variety of tasks in what is generally a really interesting and friendly learning and teaching environment.

By James E. Lukaszewski


James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA is the author of Lukaszewski on Crisis Communication, What Your CEO Needs to Know About Reputation Risk and Crisis Management, available now at

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Getting a Code of Your Own

When it comes to talking about ethics, there is one interesting concept I haven’t seen discussed a great deal: What is an “ethical practitioner?” Or, more broadly, “How do we define an ethical person?”

Many people I’ve known and respected over the years have developed, over time, a personal code of their own.

Perhaps the most famous personal code belongs to Benjamin Franklin. If you’d like an in-depth discussion of Franklin’s 13 Virtues and how to have a virtuous life, just Google “Benjamin Franklin virtues” and lots of information will come up. Here are his 13 Virtues:
  1. Temperance
  2. Silence
  3. Order
  4. Resolution
  5. Frugality
  6. Industry
  7. Sincerity
  8. Justice
  9. Moderation
  10. Cleanliness
  11. Tranquility
  12. Chastity
  13. Humility
Mr. Franklin actively lived these virtues, practicing one per month, and writing about his virtuosity in Poor Richard’s Almanac. There were originally 12 virtues, but later in his life, according to his biographer, as Benjamin Franklin became more popular, more well-known and a world figure, one of his friends came to him one day, so the story goes, and suggested that Benjamin needed to add a 13th virtue to his list. And that virtue was: Humility. Mr. Franklin, it’s reported, added it to the list and actively practiced and wrote about his acts of humility.

But the question remains, how does one develop a code of their own? The PRSA Code covers the ethical practices of public relations. There are other codes already in existence that are extremely helpful; the Ten Commandments come to mind. But the main point is to have thought through for yourself the components of your life that make you an ethical person.

Knowing your own code helps to actually determine and be able to explain the key ingredients of your ethical personality. In my judgment, these include:
  1. Integrity: A code of moral principles to which you ascribe and adhere, and can actually explain.
  2. Trustworthiness: People feel safe around you, protected, comfortable.
  3. Selflessness: You are always acting from someone else’s perspective, for their best interests, from their point-of-view.
  4. Verbal Vision: You speak and think in the context of tomorrow and moving forward, rather than focusing on those negative things that happened yesterday.
  5. Candor: Truth, with an attitude, delivered promptly. Candor is a behavior that builds trust. Lack of candor is a behavior that corrodes trust.
What Do Ethical People Do Each Day?

They are:
  • Counselors: meaning they teach, they coach, they act to be wise and share their wisdom.
  • Pragmatists: suggesting the doable, suggesting the achievable, suggesting the getable, suggesting the learnable, helping people get what matters to them done.
  • Truth-seekers: understanding the individual emotions of truth, as well as the factors and data that accompany circumstances.
  • Occasionally, a Dutch Uncle (when needed): This behavior is carried out by someone who cares enough about others that they tell them the truth continuously, directly and helpfully.
  • Constructive Doubters: ask useful, helpful questions that probe and build understanding for the future, to help focus people and ideas forward.
How Do You Go About Getting a Code of Your Own?

Start with questions you need to ask yourself, then write down answers to discuss with yourself, and perhaps others you trust.
  1. What do you believe in? Write it down.
  2. Who are you? Write it down.
  3. What are your personal limits? Write them down.
  4. What are your aspirations? Write them down.
  5. What are your principles? Write them down.
  6. What are your virtues? Write them down.
  7. What are your daily intentions, as a communicator, as a member of society, as a family member, and in other roles you play? Write them down.
  8. What is your destiny? Where are you headed? And how, specifically, do you intend to get there? Why? Write it down.
While all of this seems a bit complex and complicated, I think you’ll find the exercises I’m describing here extremely helpful, personally clarifying, and appropriate as you strive to be an ethical person, an ethical practitioner, and live an ethical life.

If you have questions, or would like to know more about developing your own personal code, you can reach me 24/7 at I look forward, as a friend and colleague, to helping you achieve the objectives you’ve set for having an ethical life.

James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA is the author of Lukaszewski on Crisis Communication, What Your CEO Needs to Know About Reputation Risk and Crisis Management, available now at

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