You talk­ing to me?

Finweek English Edition - - BUSINESSTRENDS - SVET­LANA DONEVA svet­lanad@fin­

SEV­ERAL MONTHS af­ter the oil disas­ter caused by BP in the Gulf of Mex­ico, the com­pany’s much-ma­ligned (and now for­mer) CEO Tony Hay­ward ap­peared in a minute-long TV ad­ver­tise­ment ex­press­ing just how “deeply sorry” the pe­tro­leum com­pany was about the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects of its oil spill. BP’s at­tempt at scrap­ing to­gether the re­main­ing shreds of its rep­u­ta­tion was a clas­sic ex­am­ple of the “too lit­tle, too late” cliché and the en­tire event is now tacked up as the “worst case” ex­am­ple of what hap­pens when com­pa­nies fail to man­age their rep­u­ta­tions in cri­sis sit­u­a­tions – es­pe­cially in a world of so­cial net­work­ing.

The idea is the cen­tral premise of me­dia spe­cial­ist and main BBC World pre­sen­ter Nik Gow­ing’s study, en­ti­tled Sky­ful of Lies and Black Swans, and his re­cent ad­dress in Jo­han­nes­burg to se­lect busi­ness group­ings. Gow­ing says most com­pa­nies’ ex­ist­ing meth­ods of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the pub­lic and man­ag­ing their brand rep­u­ta­tion – typ­i­cally, com­mu­ni­ca­tions agen­cies and care­fully en­gi­neered press re­leases – are no longer ad­e­quate in a world where the power of in­for­ma­tion has shifted away from tra­di­tional me­dia sources to cit­i­zens with ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion and a mo­bile de­vice to share it.

One of the big­gest web trend news sources – mash­ – ad­vises com­pa­nies to make use of rep­u­ta­tion track­ing ser­vices that lend cor­po­rates an un­der­stand­ing of the con­ver­sa­tions and sen­ti­ments about their brands as well as their ma­jor com­peti­tors’ brands. Mash­able rec­om­mends sev­eral web-avail­able ap­pli­ca­tions, such as Buz­z­log­ics’s In­sights ap­pli­ca­tion, which tracks all brand men­tions in the bl­o­go­sphere, and Nielsen Buzz­met­rics, which tracks so-called brand health in­di­ca­tors on all con­sumer­gen­er­ated me­dia, such as Youtube, blogs and so­cial net­work­ing web­sites.

And key to new gen­er­a­tion brand man­age­ment ac­cord­ing to Gow­ing? Once you know who’s talk­ing about you, talk di­rectly back to them.

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