Monthly Archives: June 2017

Building a modern marketing organisation of the future Pt.3 – csuitepodcast interview with MOI

Interview starts at 25:46

The third part of Episode 45 of the csuitepodcast featured the Managing Director of my show sponsors MOI, Matt Stevens, who I spoke to over skype from Singapore.

Matt Stevens, MD MOI

Matt Stevens, MD MOI

I was talking to Matt ahead of interviewing the panel members of MOI’s Disrupt Forum and he said that he chose the topic of ‘building a modern marketing organisation of the future’ for the event as he felt that business buyers are changing the buying process faster than marketing and sales organisations can change themselves. He added that customer behaviours have changed quite drastically in the consumer world, and these behaviours are now being seen in the purchasing of low value business technologies and even complex enterprise sales. On top of that, cloud technology, in the technology sector, has completely changed the way organisations are able to sell to their audiences, in some instances completely transacting online, providing a completely different challenge to B2B Marketing. His aim, therefore, for the series of forums is to therefore provide marketing leaders with knowledge and understanding, allowing them to share best practises, so they can respond to this change and effectively sell their technologies in today’s world.

Matt feels that the speed of change is catching everyone out, especially around buyer behaviour. A lot of the focus in the forum is around culture and he believes that is difficult to shift, adding that from a marketing perspective, there is an expectation to be able to respond in real time, but keeping up with that change is very difficult. He said that marketing therefore needs to be agile and learn to think of change as a constant, not a response and that we need to understand how we can keep up with customer behaviour change in B2B marketing.

Another aspect that Matt touched on is innovation budgets, enabling businesses to keep up with change.  He believes more innovation budget should be put into piloting techniques in small doses, thinking about fail fast, but succeed quickly, as this gives you the ability to prove results to the rest of the business, which allows for change to become a priority as it can be seen as beneficial to the business as a whole.

Marketing mind-sets within marketing organisations have changed according to Matt.   Whilst marketing is being held back by rest of the business, he said that the one saviour is around customer centricity – we live in a customer centric world, which puts marketing in the right place to drive change. However, he also believes that there is still a lot to be done for marketing to truly transform.

Matt added that we live in a world of influence that we can’t measure as effectively as we used to.  Therefore, to respond to the modern buyer, he said that we need to look at the cultures within the organisation, but the process and measurement behind that culture needs to fundamentally change too.

Disrupt forums are run London, Singapore and San Francisco and Matt has seen there are cultural differences across three areas. In San Francisco, around Silicon Valley and broadly out to North America, Matt said that they are more receptive to pioneering news concepts and piloting new ways to engage their audience, and there is a lot less resistance from the rest business because the theory of failing fast is widely embraced.  However, in Asia, their budgets are smaller, they have a tendency to stick with the success that they have seen in more traditional forms of marketing as there is less risk. He therefore described the two regions as polar opposites, with EMEA sitting right in the middle.

In summary, Matt thinks that one of biggest gaps is the measurement piece.  MOI’s own research from the Disrupt Forums has shown him that marketing leaders see their biggest gap is in the strategic minds within their marketing organisation. He therefore thinks there a need to understanding how to build programs, rather than the execution of their individual elements, that join together to achieve the ultimate goal of revenue.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Building a modern marketing organisation of the future Pt.2 – csuitepodcast interview with Microsoft & Apttus

Interview starts at 6:25

The second part of Show 45 of the csuitepodcast continued the discussion about ‘Building a modern marketing organisation of the future’, that I recorded at MOI’s Disrupt Forum.

L-R - Scott Allen, Joel Harrison, Gemma Davies, Russell Goldsmith, Julia Porter, Lorraine Graves

L-R – Scott Allen, Joel Harrison, Gemma Davies, Russell Goldsmith, Julia Porter, Lorraine Graves

My two guests for this part of the podcast were Scott Allen, CMO at Microsoft UK and Gemma Davies, Marketing Director of Apttus, a Quote-to-Cash and Contract Management Cycle Technology Company that, as Gemma describes, drives vital business processes between a buyer’s interest and the realisation of revenue

Given the topic of the evening was about building marketing organisations, we started our chat by looking at both their team’s structures and the kind of people they look for.  Scott said that the way he hires has changed over the last five years, with his team now being part scientist and part creative. He explained that traditionally, your marcomss professionals would have been great at content marketing, understand digital, good at social engagement, social media, social listening, and great at delivering local experiences, events, but now they also need to be part scientist, which means they need think about how they are more of a financial analyst, more technically proficient, understand data and how to analyse it and how to use data to make forward making decisions. Scott often tells his team to look 10% backwards and 90% forwards as he believes that if data is used in the right way you can absolutely deliver marketing better than the competition, but also make you better marketers too.

In comparison, Apptus clearly has smaller and more nimble local teams than Microsoft, with individuals performing multiple rolls.  Gemma said this means there are less specialists and more generalists, which she believes gives their employees the opportunity to maximise their learning and development.

Both Gemma and Scott agreed that their organisations are sales led – in fact, Scott feels that ultimately all organisations have a sales led focus.  We therefore discussed where the process begins to shift that focus to marketing.

Gemma said that every marketing function has to start with the business outcome in mind as when this goal is understood, they can ensure they have right performing team in place with the right skill sets.

At Microsoft, Scott encourages his marketing team to see customers more, to add value and often open doors within customers that the sales team wouldn’t necessarily get in front of. They think about the customer first and ensure that marketing is embedded in what he describes as the ‘sales rhythm’, so that they can understand what the sales team needs to achieve and what the customers do, which, according to Scott, ultimately makes them better marketers.

In continuing with the theme of building a marketing organisation, and whether culture of the business can be driven by the way the marketing is led, Scott said that everything needs to start at the top with the mission statement.  At Microsoft, that is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. Underneath that statement though, is the strategy, i.e., what you are trying to achieve and what ambition you have to achieve that strategy.

As a leader, Scott therefore talks about creating clarity, generating energy and setting the team up for success, which he then hopes drives a culture of a SMO team that people want to be a part of.

Scott is running five programmes in the UK:

  1. Customer obsession – understanding customers better, running storytelling days, putting posters of customers up to see what they are doing, inviting customers to team meetings.
  2. Growth mind-set – allowing the team to take time out to think of some of the things they wish to go forward with.
  3. Being diverse and inclusive – not just male to female ratio but in terms of different skill sets, mind-sets, and a mix of introvert and extroverts.
  4. Making a difference – bringing back to the team some of their personal passions, for example charity work as a team.
  5. Looking beyond the marketing department – look at how other resources within the business can be marketers for the organisation too.

Gemma felt that their two companies were closely aligned and have a similar approach.  She said that Apptus has a cultural mentality around ’one team’. She has a big internal initiative where, like Scott, she sees every individual within the organisation as a marketer, where they all have a responsibility to represent the business. Marketers are now taking ownership of this cultural piece, which linked well with the theme of the conversation as she felt that marketing is at the heart of the business, driving the strategy and the business culture.

Scott added that you need to bring the vision of the CEO back to the team so that they can relate to how they can make a difference to make the business grow and be successful.

Each of my guests gave an example of how their team’s work develops into a campaign and starting with Scott, he gave the example of ‘Future Decoded’, a Microsoft 2-day event taking place for the fourth time at Excel on 31st October and 1st November that attracts around 11000.  Scott explained that it’s seen as a chance to change the mind-set of customers of where Microsoft is going and the innovation they are driving.  Whilst it’s a marketing led event, Scott said an army of people from within the organisation that are needed to ensure its success.

Gemma’s example was their Apptus ‘Accelerate’ event, which she described as the “quote-to-cash event of the year”, which took place in May in San Francisco, which had 3,500 attendees from multiple industries.  She said that key to its success is bringing their partners, experts and different people from the organisation together to change and shape the industry going forward.

Finally, in keeping with the theme for the podcast, each speaker gave some advice to companies wishing to create a modern marketing organisation.

Scott’s advice was to:

  1. Always be yourself, break what you need to achieve now into constituent parts that add up to the whole.
  2. Look at what other organisations are doing in their marketing.
  3. Take your leadership team with you on the journey.

Gemma’s advice was to focus on the business outcome, understanding the direction of the business and having clear accountability and responsibility for what the marketing function needs to deliver. She also added the need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team and to fill the gaps.

Thanks to B2B creative agency, MOI, for sponsoring this episode.  More information about their series of Disrupt Forums is available at their website.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Building a modern marketing organisation of the future – csuitepodcast interview with Capgemini

Show 45 of the csuitepodcast was sponsored by B2B creative agency, MOI, and was recorded at their recent Disrupt Forum that took place at the Soho Hotel in London, where I interviewed each of their panel speakers on the topic of ‘Building a modern marketing organisation of the future’.

L-R - Scott Allen, Joel Harrison, Gemma Davies, Russell Goldsmith, Julia Porter, Lorraine Graves

L-R – Scott Allen, Joel Harrison, Gemma Davies, Russell Goldsmith, Julia Porter, Lorraine Graves

The first of my guests was Lorraine Graves, Head of Marketing for Cloud Infrastructure Services at Capgemini, one of three core business units that make up the Capgemini organisation.  Lorraine explained that they typically work with large businesses across both the Public and Private Sectors, including HMRC, Heathrow Airport, Rolls Royce, large banks and retailers. The audiences that they have to target are therefore key decision makers and influencers, i.e., CIO, CTO and COO, and she said that the focus is to deliver the right business outcomes.  To achieve this, Capgemini uses a full range of marketing activities including account based marketing, demand generation campaigns, relationship marketing, events and thought leadership.

Lorraine said that Capgemini is a matrix organisation, which therefore allows them to pull expertise from specialist teams such as their offshore design team, campaign management, digital and bid marketing.  This enables them to ensure they use the right resources to deal with the business requirement.

Capgemini are building a business where everyone is involved in marketing and have a culture that embraces agile marketing, where they put the customer first. As Lorraine explained, the agile manifesto focuses on individuals and interactions over processes and tools. The requirements and the solution evolve, plans need to be flexible, customer input is key, the work is tested early, and teams need to develop a continuous improvement mind-set.  Lorrain said that the agile marketing message is extended to all employees as Capgemini’s people are essentially Capgemini’s brand.  Therefore, with 9000 staff in UK, and 190,000 globally, internal communications is very important to achieve this, ensuring that everyone understands both the marketing and the business success matrix and how they are contributing. The intranet is therefore a key channel and Lorraine said that they also use tools such as Yammer, but that it’s about keeping the message fresh so that their people want to engage, particularly through social media.  The most successful thing they have found are ‘Success stories’, which she said is a great way to bring delivery to life, sharing how business was won, the highs and lows, and importantly the lessons learned, which therefore keeps people informed.

Lorraine’s one bit of advice to those wishing to transform their business into a modern marketing organisation is to ask people to take ownership and cites Capgemini’s current internal comms campaign, which has the strapline ‘It starts with me’ as a good example to follow.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Terrorism Overseas: Managing the Unimaginable – csuitepodcast interview with TUI UK & Ireland

Some of what was discussed in this podcast was extremely sensitive, given we didn’t just talk about protecting corporate reputation, but in certain instances, we referenced events that had involved the loss of human life.  I therefore hope anyone who listens feels that it was handled appropriately.  As you can expect, everyone who I interviewed along with myself said the same in that our hearts go out to all the families and friends of all those victims of all the incidents discussed.  

Interview starts at 31:59

In the final interview of the csuitepodcast that I recorded at PR Week’s Crisis Communications Conference in London, I spoke with Fiona Jennings, External Communications Director for TUI UK & Ireland

Chatting with TUI UK & Ireland's Fiona Jennings

Chatting with TUI UK & Ireland’s Fiona Jennings

We opened the chat by discussing how the company coped with the event of 26th June 2015 after thirty-eight people lost their lives when a gunman opened fire on tourists staying in the popular resort of Port El Kantaoui, just north of Sousse in Tunisia, thirty of whom were British citizens travelling with Thomson.

Fiona said that the situation was obviously overwhelming, which is why it is important to have a crisis plan in place, which has been practised and scenario planned against. As a large travel company that takes 5.5m people away [each year], Thomson has a lot of detailed plans and scenario crisis exercise four times a year and so are fairly well prepared.  However, she added that any crisis is unpredictable and so a plan needs to be flexible and agile.

Fiona explained that in the first few hours after an event, it is about understanding and verifying the facts that you can. You need to ensure what you are communicating is accurate and that it is carried out as speedily as possible, which she said can be challenging.

Fiona said that the rules in these situations are to:

  • Communicate with empathy – a crisis is never about the business, it is about the people it affects
  • Be transparent, authentic, believable and honest
  • Communicate as and when you can
  • Put the customer at the heart of everything

In a crisis over seas of the size of the one in Tunisia, Fiona said that it’s necessary to communicate with a number of different organisations, including The Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Red Cross, Met Police, Counter Terrorism Police and the Emergency Services on the ground.

Another challenge TUI had to face in this instance was not just the returning home of customers who were holidaying in Tunisia, but they also had to manage the 70,000 thousand people that were booked to go out to the same country that summer. Fiona explained that the business needed a huge amount of time to reallocate flights and find hotel rooms for these customers. Very few people cancelled their holiday and instead rebooked somewhere else, so it was an enormous job to help everyone.

Due to a civil case against TUI, the specifics of this event could not be discussed in detail, but there were learnings that Fiona shared:

  • Put the customer at the heart of everything is key
  • Over-communicate, especially in the first 48 hours – tell everyone, externally and internally as much as you can
  • Ensure your senior leaders stand front and centre in a crisis and allow them to tell the story of the business, what is being done to help customers overseas and in the UK
  • Work with external partners in a coordinated way
  • Work with the media and gain their help – Fiona told of an example where they used the media to get the appropriate numbers out to help prioritise the huge volume of calls (over 30,000) that they received from holidaymakers.

Following the many recent terrorist attacks including, Paris, Nice, London, Manchester, Fiona thinks all businesses, not just the travel industry, will need to plan and train their staff to deal with this kind of crisis. She felt that, sadly, businesses will need to be aware how this type of attack could affect them and so unfortunately they will need to be prepared and train staff.

Fiona’s final message was to communicate with honesty and transparency and as one voice, but also to look after yourselves and your teams because you really need to work together in very stressful times.

This episode of the csuitepodcast was sponsored by Global Communications Training firm WPNT.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Crisis Communications Training – csuitepodcast interview with WPNT

Some of what was discussed in this podcast was extremely sensitive, given we didn’t just talk about protecting corporate reputation, but in certain instances, we referenced events that had involved the loss of human life.  I therefore hope anyone who listens feels that it was handled appropriately.  As you can expect, everyone who I interviewed along with myself said the same in that our hearts go out to all the families and friends of all those victims of all the incidents discussed.  

Interview starts at 26:37

In the third interview of the csuitepodcast that I recorded at PR Week’s Crisis Communications Conference in London, I spoke with Neil Chapman, Partner of Global Communications Training firm WPNT, who kindly sponsored the show.

Neil was actually a previous guest of the podcast when I last discussed Crisis Communications, back in Show 20, and so I started by asking him which organisations he felt had their crisis communication right and who had got it badly wrong over the last 12 months?

However, he didn’t want to give specific examples without knowing from the inside what’s happening.  He said he always has empathy with the responders, and whilst we see the headlines and social media chat, which generally are going to be critical, he knows that they would be facing pressures and challenges.  He therefore has sympathy for the responders in an organisation and seeing how they are handling the crisis communications.  According to Neil, in training, to gain long term success, it is not just about communicating effectively with the media, but also the right stakeholders.

WPNT specialise in the training on how to prepare to respond in a crisis and Neil explained that they like to break things down to different skills – it’s not just interviewing well, it is also stakeholders planning, organisational planning, managing press conferences, managing volumes of call, and structuring statements that the company is producing.

The other aspect is how social media plays out in a crisis.

WPNT have a proprietary closed system called ‘Storm’ that allows participants to take decisions, which they then see reflected in the system, which replicates real time social media, as well as the interaction between media and social media and other stakeholders. Neil’s experienced team then react to the decisions to show how this may play out in the public.

via WPNT

via WPNT

Neil said that if the participants are not big social media users, they don’t realise how fast the reaction could be or the interaction between the stakeholders they are trying to reach, i.e., customers, employees, investors and the mainstream media.

Therefore, Neil’s key message in terms of crisis communications training is that any organisation should understand what an effective response looks like to them, so that the team can then practise a specific set of skills to be effective and work towards it. For example, how do you lead a team while under stress with a seemingly fast ticking clock over you?  These are skills that are useful every day but essential in a crisis.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Importance of stakeholder engagement in crisis management – csuitepodcast interview with National Trust

Interview starts at 12:48

Please note, this particular interview was recorded before the awful events at Glenfell Tower.

Some of what was discussed in this podcast was extremely sensitive, given we didn’t just talk about protecting corporate reputation, but in certain instances, we referenced events that had involved the loss of human life.  I therefore hope anyone who listens feels that it was handled appropriately.  As you can expect, everyone who I interviewed along with myself said the same in that our hearts go out to all the families and friends of all those victims of all the incidents discussed.  

In the second interview of Show 44 of the csuitepodcast, that was sponsored by Global Communications Training firm WPNT and recorded at PR Week’s Crisis Communications Conference in London, I spoke with Nick Foley – Head of Communications for the National Trust.

with National Trust's Nick Foley (right)

with National Trust’s Nick Foley (right)

Nick talked through a case study on how the National Trust faced scrutiny after a devastating fire tore through the 18th Century mansion, Clandon Park, in April 2015.

Image via http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/clandon-park-fire-earl-onslow-10770361

Image via http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/clandon-park-fire-earl-onslow-10770361

This was a huge reputational challenge as the Trust exists to protect around 500 properties and places like this on behalf of the Nation forever, and so the fire struck at the heart of what they are there to do.

Nick told of the events of the fire, that broke out late afternoon and quickly spread from the basement to the roof and by the evening it was a blaze. This was all played out in front of media and onlookers.

It was therefore important that the National Trust owned the story and so wanted to ensure people came to their owned channels for information and updates, rather than relying on third parties.  They therefore focussed on using the power and reach of their own Trust members and supporters – they have over 4.5million members.

Nick can call on a team of around 10 people at headquarters to manage a situation like this, plus three regional communications officers. However, they also tapped into the expertise of the people on the ground, i.e. those leading salvage operation or who had rescued things from the fire.  They were all crucial in helping the Trust tell the story.

Since the drama of the fire, the National Trust has wanted to take people on the journey with them, keeping those interested updated throughout the process.

The first phase was the salvage operation, which takes 6 – 7 months, seeing what can be saved and restored. Next came the fire report, investigating what or who was to blame for the fire – it turns out it was due to a manufacturing fault in the fuse board.  Although, the report did also point out areas the Trust could have done better and as they were open about it, told their members how they were addressing these concerns.

The National Trust then announced its vision for the house. The ground floor was to be restored, as it had to some extent survived intact. However, as the first and second floor had been destroyed, they wanted to make this a more innovative and fresh modern community space that and so launched their plans in front of a large media audience in the original marble hall of the house in January 2016.   Nick said it was important to get the journalists back to the house to see for themselves that much more had survived than anyone could have possibly hoped for when the fire first took hold.

Nick shared four key lessons from the experience:

    • Be true to your values. It would have been easy, once the fire was over, to not say much. However, as a membership organisation, the National Trust wanted to be honest with the members, staying true to their principals to be open, honest and transparent, so as to ensure support from its members. A camera was set up opposite the site, so people could see what was happening live. They were also honest about their safety record and the processes involved, about the scale of devastation of the fire and how long the process would take. But they also knew that nothing beats actually seeing the situation and so they decided to open the gardens to the public only a few weeks after the fire, which resulted in about 3,500 turning up over a number of weekends to see what was happening.
    • Spotting the opportunity within the bad news. No one was injured in the fire as everyone was evacuated safely. Not all was lost, in fact, around 400 items were saved from the collection due to a well-rehearsed salvage operation. There were also opportunities in terms of the public’s response – the Trust received many messages of support and sympathy as well as financial offers and volunteering offers of physical help, not just from the UK but from around the world.
    • Own the story. The National Trust has 1.5 million followers on its social media channels alone and Nick explained if they could get to them directly, it would go a long way to get their buy and in support for what they were doing, but to drive people to those channels you need great content. They therefore set themselves up like a news room, sending ex-journalists who were in the team to talk to key players and experts, in-house photographers and videographers to the site to capture the key moments.

They also asked their own experts to write first person pieces on what they were doing, the salvage operation, what items had been saved and how they were caring for them. As the Trust had control of the house, the salvage operation and the salvaged items, it meant they were able to drip feed the content through their own channels and could then pass it on to media, which helped shaped the story they wanted to tell.

      • Act decisively. Nick said that the Trust committed to restoration early on, which stopped rumours of the house being knocked down. Meetings were held with about 200 different groups to consult very widely of restoration plans. All the way through, they filled the void and told people what was going on.

Finally, in terms of measurement, Nick said that 97% of the media coverage in the first year was neutral or positive, with two thirds of that coverage showing that the Trust was a caring brand. The social engagement was also very strong and wide reaching, with Facebook posts reaching over one million people and web articles reaching nearly 150,000 unique users. Plus £100,000 was raised via the Clandon appeal and the open garden days were sold out.

Nick added though that it is not just about the statistics, but also about how they reenergised and engaged with their communities. Therefore how something that felt terrible at the time turned into something quite positive and has inspired people to get involved and look into the rebirth of Clandon, over the next few years.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Police Communications in crisis situations – Sussex Police csuitepodcast interview

Show 44 of the csuitepodcast was sponsored by Global Communications Training firm WPNT and recorded at PR Week’s Crisis Communications Conference in London.

Some of what was discussed in this podcast was extremely sensitive, given we didn’t just talk about protecting corporate reputation, but in certain instances, we referenced events that had involved the loss of human life.  I therefore hope anyone who listens feels that it was handle appropriately.  As you can expect, everyone who I interviewed along with myself said the same in that our hearts go out to all the families and friends of all those victims of all the incidents discussed.

Talking with Katie Perkin of Sussex Police

Talking with Katie Perkin of Sussex Police

My first guest was Katie Perkin, Head of Corporate Communications at Sussex Police, and we spoke about Police communications during crisis events that prove to be very challenging from a comms perspective, given how fast moving situations can become.   Sadly, the interview took place just after we had witnessed events of that very nature, but Katie felt the Police had done a fantastic job responding and dealing quickly and effectively with them. She explained that Police communicators are well practised and have detailed plans for dealing with situations like these.

One of the things the Police has made sure they have been very quick to do is the instant response online to such events. Passers-by and possibly those involved often post photos and videos online immediately and it is important and critical that the public know that the Police are there and aware of the event and are seen to be dealing with it.  Katie explained that this is a very difficult issue to manage as this also may be the first time a victim’s family or loved one is made aware that they have been hurt or killed. The film the public take could also be important to the Police and so while they cannot tell people what to do with it, Katie wanted to remind people to consider the thoughts and feelings of those involved.

Katie acknowledges that it is now a different time with citizen journalism, where the social norm seems to be to get your phone out and film an event. This footage may be useful but it can be damaging. For example if it is an ongoing terrorist incident, and people are posting in real time, then they may be unwittingly helping the terrorists know what the Police are doing. The media are aware of what they need to do in such a situation in terms of live broadcast, but Katie doesn’t necessarily think the public are and so it may be something that [the Police] need to better explain to them.

Katie said that she is in awe of Police officers putting themselves in danger to protect people and they deserve the public admiration. However, with situations such as those in Manchester and London, people will start to ask questions [such as in certain instances, why suspects may have been known to the Police] but the key is not to pre judge.  The Police are very good at looking back at where things have happened and doing thorough reviews. However, she said that the Police Service is completely committed to being open and transparent and looking at any learning from such events and applying that in the future.

Katie explained that the Police is well versed in exercising for incidents such as those we have seen recently, practicing the operational as well as communications response. Within her own department, Katie ensures she has a detailed plan for different crises that may occur and these are exercised, for example, through a table top exercise where members of the team take on different roles. They also have a pivot model, which is put into place in a major incident, and outlines all the different roles and responsibilities that are needed to be covered, and is very clear on all the areas that need to be picked up on so that there are no gaps.  She said that all organisations need to prepare in case of a crisis and one of the basic elements of that is to be able to get hold of your people, particularly out of working hours. Do you have all their details and at the push of a button can you contact everyone and let them know you need them in the office? It’s vital that this is in place.  Personally, I would have thought something as simple as a WhatsApp group could be an immediate help in a situation like that.

We also talked about the media fixation with the number of fatalities when an incident occurs, but Katie said this is simply down to human interest as they want to know how big an incident it is. If people [in communications] are dealing with an incident with a number of fatalities they need to be prepared for this.  She also said that you would need to work closely with your local coroner’s office in situations like that.

Changing the mood on the conversation, I also spoke to Katie’s about more proactive work that her team deals with and we talked about a campaign that they ran over Valentine’s Day, called ‘Long Lost Loves’.

Katie feels the Police service has become very good at engaging with people on social media and so they used Valentine’s Day as a hook to support operational policing efforts to track down some ‘Wanted’ people. They sent those individuals Valentine’s messages online through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and then asked the public to help track them down.

The response was phenomenal.

I particular liked the descriptions of each of the individuals below the videos YouTube:

susexlonglostvideo

People loved the fact the Police were using humour but at the same time were trying to achieve a serious objective. She therefore said it is important that the way the Police use social media is appropriate, they can’t just put appeals on without giving something back and that the public needs to see the humanity that is within the Police service.

Bringing the conversation back to Crisis Communications, and taking the humanity issue as a given, Katie gave us her top three tips for dealing with a crisis:

  1. Be prepared and planned. Practise this plan.
  2. Quick initial response. Get something onto social media to let the public know you are dealing with it.
  3. Look after your people. Unless you tell them to stop, in a crisis they will keep going and work themselves into the ground.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Applying the Science of Human Behaviour to the Art of Communications – H+K Smarter csuitepodcast interview

Interview starts at 20:34

In the final interview of the csuitepodcast that I recorded at The Holmes Report’s In2 Innovation Summit, I spoke with Matt Battersby, Managing Director for H+K Smarter at H+K Strategies about Behavioural Science and its relevance to communications.

with Matt Battersby (left)

with Matt Battersby (left)

Matt describes H+K Smarter as a specialist team of behavioural scientists and researchers who use behavioural science to solve problems and to create communications that are smarter and more effective.  He went on to explain that behavioural science is the intersection of economics, phycology, neuroscience and sociology – it’s about really understanding what we do, why we do it and how we influence it.

Matt had presented at the conference on the two systems of how people think, which he describes as both operating in your brain at any one time.

  • System 1 – your quick, more emotive, unconscious way of thinking, he called it your ‘Homer Simpson’ type of brain.
  • System 2 – your slower, more thoughtful, more reflective (classically more rational) way of thinking, your ‘Sherlock Holmes’ brain.

The vast majority of your decisions are through System 1, which you use far more than you think you do.  Using System 2 takes effort and energy, so you avoid it where you can and save it for something you really need it for.

To give an example of how this thinking can be brought into a campaign, Matt explained that one of his colleagues set up and ran a behavioural insights team within the NHS, specifically using it to get people to sign the organ donor register. This is a classic example of ‘intention action gap’, as 90% of people say they support donating organs but less than a third of people actually sign the register.

The team therefore looked at the message of an organ donor campaigns and whilst the typical message is very emotional, they looked at many different psychological triggers and found the most powerful to be ‘Reciprocity’ – when someone does something good for you, you want to do something good back.  Therefore, the message of ‘If you wanted an organ transplant, would you have one? If so, give to others’ was much more powerful than any other standard message. Other messages that they compared this to include:

  • Social Norms – ‘Thousands of people every day sign the register’
  • Positive Framing – ‘You could save up to 9 lives’
  • Negative Framing- ‘Every day, 3 people die because of lack of organ donors’

Each message had a different psychological trigger behind it and they looked to see which one was the most effective.  This shows that if you apply scientific thinking to your communication messages, you may get a different result to what you thought.

I recorded this interview ahead of the recent UK General Election, and so it was timely in that one huge challenge in the UK has been how to get younger voters to the polling booths.

Matt said that there is some great research on how you actually get people out to vote.  He explained that if you have a group of people who have said they probably will vote for a specific party, the standard approach would be to call them the night before and remind them why they love your party, why they dislike the others, and that their vote is important.  However, the science suggests a different approach is needed – to use the social norm, i.e., tell them lots of other people are voting, to be part of a movement – part of something.

Secondly, Matt said that you should not ask people if they are voting, but instead ask if they are going to be a voter, using the noun rather than the verb helps people see voting as part of their identity, particularly with young people, as it appeals to a sense of who they are, as it is much harder not to be something than not to do something.

[Writing these notes up post-election, I think it can be argued that the Labour party did indeed get the younger voters behind a movement.]

So in applying this to PR in general, Matt said that this can be achieved using two routes:

  1. How can we apply behavioural insight better, with more scientific thinking, to the questions we are already being asked by clients? Providing better communications solutions to their problems.
  2. How do we answer different problems? For this, Matt used the example of a project currently being worked on where they are using behavioural science to improve the communications in job adverts to attract more talent by changing the wording to get more recruits in.

Matt believes that any challenge can be tackled by applying behavioural insight to it and therefore by looking for the better and different is how he sees behavioural science growing in PR.

Finally Matt feels that many different skills and a wider range of skills are now needed within the PR industry and believes that there will be more behavioural scientists in the industry.  His recommended reading if you want to find out more about the topic are:

and

He also said universities such as LSE, UCL and Warwick University run short courses as well as Masters’ courses.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

 

Navigating a Fake News World – APCO Worldwide csuitepodcast interview

Interview starts at 11:45

For the second interview of the csuitepodcast that I recorded at The Holmes Report’s In2 Innovation Summit, I spoke to the CEO of APCO worldwide, Brad Staples

russ-and-brad

Chatting with APCO’s Brad Staples (left)

Brad had earlier given a talk on how corporate communicators can best navigate a fake news world, a conversation that followed on nicely from the interview I did with Nick Barron of Edelman in the previous show, which is well worth a listen.

In that podcast, Nick said that fake news had always been around, and Brad agrees, as he said it’s the nature of human beings to, from time to time, tell lies and untruths.  However, he added that the power and presence of the internet and the scale and impact of social media has just meant the manipulation of the truth has an impact that far exceeds the truth itself and it has changed world events.

APCO recently carried out its own research on the topic where they asked a representative proportion of UK and US population a series of questions about fake news and according to the findings, people don’t know what to trust because there is so much news and information available.  However, Brad felt that people do want to trust the news. Everyone questioned in the survey trusted traditional media more than social media, but 18-34 year olds were twice as likely to support social media output than the over 55s. When asked whether they could distinguish between fake news and real news, 72% in the US and 67% in the UK said they could not.

Brad made a point that Julian Assange and Edward Snowden represent an aggressive movement for transparency, for clarity and for putting data and information out unencumbered to the world at large. Their choice to disaggregate traditional media that would validate that information paved a way for what we see now, i.e., a gap for those who will put out disputable data as news. These instigators created a sense that to get facts you do not need to go to traditional media, as in the past.

Brad said disruptors who saw this opportunity, i.e. Steve Bannon, a supporter of Donald Trump’s campaign and now the White House Chief Strategist, have been able to capitalise from this moment because there is a hunger within the population to hear what you want to believe created by like-minded people.

The beneficiaries of this fake news have been the politicians, not just Donald Trump, but also Putin, Xi Jinping, and other new nationalist leaders who manage the media, disaggregate the media or simply chosen to ignore traditional media and prefer to work with social media platforms.

Also in APCO’s research was the question of whether people felt they could distinguish between fake news and real news.  It turns out that 69% of the US public and 53% of the British who responded, thought they could tell the difference, but when given some data that included both truthful and fake news coverage, it turns out Brits were better at actually identifying the difference.

Referring back to the title of his talk, Brad said that corporate communicators need to use caution to navigate the world of fake news. They need to be alert, aware and informed as well as using all the resources they have in their communications departments and using their agencies to make sure they have the ability to engage quickly from a position of authority and to rebuff fake news stories when they appear. He explained that many of his agency’s clients are big corporations facing challenges and changes they can’t get to grips with – unfamiliar markets or dynamics – so the fake news aspect creates opportunities for his business. Of concern is if the guidance or advice being given is correct at that moment and in that context.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!

Purpose driven brands – Pizza Hut Restaurants UK csuitepodcast interview

Show 43 of the csuitepodcast was recorded at The Holmes Report’s In2 Innovation Summit in London and my first guest was Gareth Hopley, Head of PR and Communications at Pizza Hut Restaurants in the UK.

Chatting with Gareth Hopely (left) of Pizza Hut Restaurants UK

Chatting with Gareth Hopley (left) of Pizza Hut Restaurants UK

Gareth had earlier taken part in a panel discussion at the event on the topic of ‘Purpose driven brands in an era of PR nightmares’, which had centred on brands with a purpose behind what they do, how that purpose is found, whether it should start internally and then be used for external marketing or whether agencies can help find the purpose to give you a reason to connect with your customer base.

Gareth said that it was heavily agreed on the panel that it is best to start with an internal purpose, which helps define who the brand is and that it should be authentic and genuine to what that organisation believes.

According to Gareth, Pizza Hut Restaurant’s purpose is ‘to be the most loved place to eat and work’ and the motivation behind this is that, as a restaurant business, the organisation wants customers to love to eat with them and want its employees to love to work for them and to feel connected to the company. Gareth said that the belief is that you will never make the customers feel better than you make your own people feel.  He added that the broader reason for this as a mission statement is that customers choose to spend an hour eating at their restaurants, for whatever reason, i.e., they could be celebrating or commiserating, but they have chosen Pizza Hut to spend that hour and so to make that hour great.  He said that you therefore need to ensure the workforce want to be there and support each other or they will not deliver the necessary service and therefore the business would fail.

Pizza Hut employs 8000 people in the UK and Gareth said that given they spend much of their time at work, it’s important to ensure they love it and care about the company.  Looking after the workforce is therefore extremely important and so Pizza Hut has partnered with Mental Health UK and Rethink. These charities were chosen because people are at the heart of the business – added to those thousands of employees, Pizza Hut also has about two and half million visitors to its restaurants every month.

Gareth explained that, with 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year, this will mean a lot of people that touch the business are likely to be affected at some time.

Pizza Hut therefore want to create an environment and culture, internally, where people feel supported and can connect with each other.  The aim is to get to a point where all team members can raise their hand and say, ‘I need help’, without feeling judged and Gareth thinks that all Pizza Hut Restaurant’s employees have reacted positively to the charity partnerships.  Their management are therefore trained to help use emotional and behavioural skills, teaching them leadership and how to recognise how their behaviour impacts those around them, how they can empathise and support their team and recognize when their team members need help.  Of course you can teach them how to make a pizza, Gareth says, but he adds that it’s this management training that will ensure the customer gets the best service.

Gareth shared a story about a specific team manager who had been impacted by a mental health condition and recognised the stress of being a manager but he felt he couldn’t ask for help.  As he explained, at Pizza Hut, you can be running a team of 30 to 50 people and be responsible for a multi-million pound business at a very young age and the strain of that exacerbated this particular individual’s situation. He was therefore given the time off that he needed and returned to company as a team member when he felt ready, but has since re-joined the management program. Gareth was very proud of the fact that this proved this particular employee felt he could ask for help without the fear of being judged or treated badly.

Finally, as far as other campaigns that have inspired Gareth, he said liked Heineken’s ‘World Apart’. He felt the ad showed many similarities in what Heineken were trying to do compared with Pizza Hut’s purpose – just as a restaurant connects people so does going for a beer in a pub.

The campaign shows pairs of strangers who were shown videos about each other and realised they had contrasting and opposing views. They were then given the option to stay and discuss their differences or not.  Obviously they chose to stay but Gareth felt the way the campaign was shot and delivered felt very genuine. He thought that what it was communicating about Heineken having a broader purpose of bringing people together in the world resonated very strongly with what Pizza Hut believe, i.e. no matter who you are or what you are wearing or where you come from, everyone is welcome in their restaurants.

All previous shows of the csuitepodcast series are available on the websiteSoundclouditunes and TuneIn.  There is also a growing community on Facebook and Twitter, where you can get involved in the discussion.  Finally, if you subscribe to the show, please can you give it a positive rating and review on itunes in particular as this helps it up the charts!