Enrol the C-Suite in Social Media

March 14th, 2017

No Comments

Isn’t life easier in a company when the senior leadership is supportive of the plan? My point here is that when you enrol the C-Suite in social media, the job of the communicator is almost free of hassles.  Once the c-suite sees the tremendous value and impact for their business, they will ensure that there are appropriate resources to deploy these strategic communication tools. Public Relations and social media together can have a tremendous impact on a brand or company profile. After all, they are in charge of the art of communication.

Shout to Seneca College Public Relations

I had the pleasure of speaking with the Seneca Media classes February 13th. They are graduate students in pursuit of a certificate in Public Relations and Social Media. These are the communicators of our future. I was stressing the importance of social media and public relations teams, within an organization, to ensure that the senior leadership embraces the power of their work.

The headlines of my presentation were intended to provide some coaching to these up and coming professionals. I suggested some ways of they might successfully enrol and engage senior leaders in their company, with social media and public relations. Social media and public relations should be regarded as valued practices and assets within the marketing mix.

CEO Support a Clincher

If you can become top of mind with the CEO or head of a business, your work will be that much easier. With a CEO supportive of social media and public relations in the mix, the rest of management and the organization will quickly align. CEO’s that value the impact of social media and public relations are no doubt witnessing strong consumer relations and enhanced brand loyalty. CEO’s that take an active role in social networks themselves will experience the power of these networks. We know from the latest Signal Communication Leadership CEO index that Canadian CEO’s are really just beginning to embrace the networks, let alone the value. The goods news is that the communications team can coach and counsel members of the leadership team to impactful social networking for the business.

A Senior Leader “sponsor”

A senior leader within the organization, leading the department that houses social media and PR, will also make a huge difference. A strong voice fighting for inclusion of social and PR, will help entrench the agenda within an organization. This will help raise profile and understanding throughout an organization. Social media and PR cannot be seen as add-ons. They cannot be there only in case of emergency. They must be seen and utilized as communication assets ongoing entrenched in the sales and marketing strategies.

Strategic Benefit Understood

Some might view social as tactical. I view it as strategically tactical. Social Media and Public Relations must be seen and understood as strategic, within the communications strategy of a brand and business.

Perhaps it is core to the brand’s voice in the market.

Perhaps it is critical in leading, protecting and reinforcing corporate reputation.

Perhaps it is a critical channel with which to support direct to consumer relations.

Or, all three of the areas of brand and business strength can be supported by a strategic plan in social media and public relations. The wonderful world of social media has so many analytics available now. There are rich and robust data and tracking platforms. This is not a subjective call.  Communicators; you can prove yourself with objective analytic proof. Go for it!

Social Role Defined and Supported

Social Media needs to have a clear role in the mix of marketing and sales. It can play a clear role, as the voice and face of a brand and business. Once that role is defined, the business must then invest in the assets; like they invest in other media assets. Social media voice is as important as an advertising buy. View it as “media”, just as you would view print, television, radio, outdoor and in the home. It is “media” – be sure that its role is defined and supported.

Part of the Marketing Mix

Social media deserves a box on the checklist, like all other aspects and elements of the marketing mix. Social media can play a critical and leading role in Product – Place – Price and Promotion. Don’t let social media become that eleventh-hour consideration. Don’t let social media only become important when that negative tweet is thrown your way and someone happens to stumble across it. Put effective monitoring and listening in place. Lead the conversation for the brand and business in social networks. That clearly puts social media and PR in play, as part of the marketing mix.

Keep it Top of Mind

PR folks need to practice what they preach. PR folks need to tell their story, show the results internally, build alliances, create stories of success and show the value that they bring to the brand and organization. The marketing folks will showcase their new ads. The sales folks will highlight sales. The supply chain team will show the new innovations. Step it up communicators! By showing your accomplishments you will be sure to have continued investment and belief in your efforts.

Wrap Up

If these variables are taken seriously, I truly believe that you will find those senior leaders in your organization and the C-Suite value social media. You will be demonstrating impact and value in the mix of the business.

Wishing communicators of the future much success. C-Suite executives…be proud and glad you have them.

Cheers !  @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

 

Embrace Change

It is time to Embrace Change

January 10th, 2017

No Comments

How’s that status quo going out there? If there is one thing for sure in 2017, change will continue to be at the forefront. Time to embrace change.

Change is constant in a world that embraces and drives for greater efficiency. Change is constant in dealing with streams of innovation and a passion for doing things more quickly. One can decide to embrace change or take a seat on the sideline of these exciting times. I’m not suggesting that one should blindly follow along. Take a stance. Follow and lead within the change that is taking place.

Is that harsh? Perhaps so. However, I truly believe that embracing change and taking a stand for leading change will propel one’s career and guide them toward their aspirations.

Not too long ago, job and career pursuits saw young people working hard to “get in” to the blue chip firm or corporate entity. Corporations offered thousands of jobs with multi-level positions and a clearly articulated multi-runged corporate ladder to climb.

With challenging economic times and many traditional business models judged as broken, businesses have had to change to maintain their position in the market. Two hard examples of reality are Kodak and Blackberry. Another sector example might be traditional travel agency models. Passion for breakthroughs by competitors, a strong sense of consumer desire, technology, apps, online marketing and aggressive pursuits of innovation have upset what were solid traditional models.

It used to be you could “get in” at the bottom level and if you worked hard you would progress up and through an organisation. One of the challenges to that model is that organisations are challenged more today than ever before. They can’t take the time to nurture, build, train and grow with their people. The market is just too competitive. They need the best and they need the best now. They need to hire the experts to deliver the results now, in real time.

Some would say that millennials are less loyal than previous generations. Are they less loyal? Perhaps they are more willing and able to accept change. Let’s face it, moving from one job to the next is not the easiest task to undertake. In making a move from one place to another there are new people, new responsibilities, different corporate cultures, new office politics. Every time one changes job, the individual is met with new challenges. Perhaps the millennials are the best example of embracing change. They adapt, accept, move…

The other reality check is that progressive companies and their leadership will continue to drive a change and innovation agenda. If you don’t want to be part of the solution in delivering the change, you’re probably not long for that company.

I am not suggesting for a moment that one should blindly accept change. IF you can accept the change and believe in the intent – why not jump on board and enrol yourself in the opportunity?  Clinging on to the past, the good old days, the way things were, is not truly embracing change and what the future beholds.

If you embrace change, you are more likely to become a thought leader with an ability to own and promote that change. If you can’t enrol in the change – get out.

What is the change that you are resisting today in your life, work or play?  How could you embrace the change and be happier in your pursuit? Or, how might you discover that the change underway is not the path you are choosing. Seeking an alternate change agenda is in your hands. What stance can you take to help lead the change?

Celebrate the past for what it was. Revel in the memories, the collegiality, the good times, the storytelling. With that as your foundation, you can embrace what the future might be and the path of change that will lead you to discovery.

Cheers to change ! Embrace it.

@FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

Employees On Social Media Networks

January 2nd, 2016

3 Responses

I’m often asked about how companies and employees work together in “social networks”. There is a wide range from restrictive, to total trust. Some companies may still feel that social networks are not a place for their employees to be a voice for their business. I actually think that this approach is one that misses real opportunity for business. Employees can be ambassadors, envoys, supporters, promoters of business through their social networks. Moving from a constrained and restrictive policy driven approach, one moves to the other end of the scale where the business expectation is that employees will just “be smart”. By being smart they converse and participate in social networks by being polite, factual, friendly, neighbourly and helpful. An employee speaking about their employer, business, brand or not for profit in this context; can only help build a positive reputation for the business. I know that the folks at Molson Coors (former employer) have also adopted the use of Post Beyond . It is a wonderful platform that is based on encouraging employee advocacy for one’s business. A series of social posts are created to amplify through employee social networks. Employees are also encouraged to create their own posts. Now that’s progressive !

As employees and employers consider collaborating through social networks, I offer up these ten tips to help you generate corporate and community goodwill through these emerging channels.

Top 10 Social Media Tips for Employees

Transparency

  1. Be aware of your association with your company in social networks. Is it evident ? Are you actually using your business in your profile…@AndyorAmyBusiness ?

State your role

  1. Identify yourself—if you and your employer have agreed that you are going to be an ambassador in social media, let people know your real relationship to the business. This will help establish what information you can share, within your knowledge and scope of your role in the business.

Content Context

  1. If you are posting something that is not in the voice of, or on behalf of the company, let people know. It may not be necessary to state “opinions here are my own and not representative of my employer”…but that is essentially the context that you will want to establish. Remember, you may be seen as speaking for the company. Setting the record straight is important.

Fact Based

  1. Use good judgment and strive for accuracy and fact based information. Social networks often turn up the noise on debate and opinion. You are best to engage from a place of fact, rather than subjectivity and personal opinion. Detractors can shoot holes in opinion but it is difficult to dispute the facts.

Legal

  1. Obey the law. Don’t post any information or conduct any online activity that may violate applicable provincial or federal laws or regulations, including copyright, fair use and financial disclosure laws. Make sure your brand folks or internal counsel are ok with the way you represent images or assets.

Confidentiality

  1. Be sure that what you are posting is not commercially sensitive material. That new brand launch or organizational announcement in a few weeks is likely something that your communications team should lead. Hey…when it is public…they’d likely love to have you share it for them…when it is public.

Be respectful

  1. Respect your audience. Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in your workplace. You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as politics and religion. If you show respect, you will likely be shown respect in return.

Inform, Don’t attack

  1. Avoid personal attacks, online fights, and hostile personalities – there is simply nothing to be gained by entrenching with “trolls” on issues. Social ping pong has little added value on an issue, for either party.

Interesting Stuff

  1. Add value. Provide worthwhile information and perspective in your social posts. No doubt your business, community cause, or not for profit has some interesting news or information to share that is of value to your audience. Share it !

When to call support

  1. If your social engagement turns to something more “official”, involving members of the media, competition or industry affairs – you are likely best to quickly engage the official spokesperson in your business for a response. Keep your social networking light and lively and relevant to what you are truly confident and authorized to speak about.

I hope this helps ease the way for you and your employer to be more active in social networks. If you’d like to chat further about tips and thoughts feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @FergDevins or @DevinsNetwork. Cheers !

New look Devins Network

April 20th, 2015

No Comments

The Devins Network will be showing up with a new look from today forward, but we are still in pursuit of the same conversations. After conferring with a couple of friends, I felt that it was time to do a bit of a refresh on design and utility of thedevinsnetwork.ca. I do want to thank Stacey Hood who was there with me from day one, in December 2013, on creating my first site. I’m now working with the terrific creative team and friends at JIB who have been great counsel on this new site. Nothing like a great “back of the house” support team.

Getting in the groove…

The basis of this site is really to be in communication, conversations and dialogue on a number of areas that are of interest to me and my clients and prospective clients. Thus the “blog like” feel of the front page.

After 30 years in the beer business in roles of PR, Marketing, Sales, Employee Communications, Crisis Communications, Government Relations, Social Media, Community Relations, Industry Affairs I have found it challenging to “choose one area of focus” and trod forward. I have been delighted with the inquiries and the work that my associates and I have worked on over the past sixteen months. It has been a truly varied bucket of opportunity, challenges, learning and experience.

Strategically Tactical Conversations…

I’ve met with CEO’s and CMO’s on social strategy, small businesses on the importance of a social media presence, Kenora Rotary on “social networking”, prospective clients in “strategically tactical conversations” related to their issues, brand teams on PR / social integration, transformational work related to a national supply chain, fresh out of school graduates on their future pursuits, individual entrepreneurs on how to build their own brand presence, elected officials on managing the diverse mix of comms in their world, major brands on possible tools in their communications tool kit, on line educators, start ups seeking opportunities with business, Re-Shift media and their unique “Social Brand Amplifier” model for Facebook, Trespass Apparel and their adventures in Canada, industry associations in navigating government affairs, the @ConeyMusicFest now in its seventh “maybe annual year”, Bladder Cancer Canada, Integram Marketing, Filmmaker Billie Mintz @Imagin8r, and even Hockey Canada and the team at “InMarket” and their spectacular #CenturyTour #TourneeDuCentenaire caravan that has criss crossed the country the past eleven months.

Community…

I have also maintained involvement in a few “charities and not for profit” organizations where I strive to provide strategic counsel and support and learn lots through my participation with them and the wonderful array of community leaders who have chosen to make a difference. Proud to support our associate Helena Devins and the work that she has done with Making Waves Ottawa.

With thanks to…

A shout out and thanks to the folks at NATIONAL Public Relations and Capital Hill Group for their kind offer of “office space and facilities” as I have settled into the virtual office world. I have also had the pleasure of enrolling in a number of the programs, webinars, workshops and discussion forums hosted and led by @ChrisBrogan and @RobHatch. These guys just sing from a similar song sheet and have been an inspiration and provided many provoking thoughts on my journey as an entrepreneur.

Special thanks to the team of associates that have delivered such a great first year for the Devins Network. You are awesome Charlotte, JP, Helena, Clark, Bradley, Dea, James and Beth.

Let’s start a conversation…

The Devins Network Inc. continues to take on communications challenges that you might be facing for your business, brand, organization, community or not for profit. Our client range is wide, from complex multi national marketers to the entrepreneur or a student looking to pursue a first rung of a career ladder. The Devins Network looks forward to engaging with you in a strategically tactical conversation that is focused on reaching your goals and aspirations. Cheers ! I look forward to our conversation. @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

Tapping the Front Line…Employee Brand Champions

February 28th, 2014

No Comments

Ok, after 30 years in the beer business you’ll have to excuse the “tapping”, old habits hard to get beyond for sure ! After the wonderful two weeks of Canadian Olympic joy and celebration, I couldn’t help but reflect again on the importance of engaging the front line as brand champions and ambassadors.

After all, who better to be a voice and ambassador for your brand, than those committed individuals that are are creating, designing, making, distributing and selling your products. They live and breathe and rely on the employment of their brands to sustain who they are in their communities. You are paying them for their service and they can help even more if they can represent your brand in their community. They have built in affinity to the brand. The strength of this affinity can be passive or fully engaging. I believe that the degree of affinity to the employer brand is something that is totally in the hands of the employer. And, one must believe (I do anyway) that many of Canadian companies had a lot of proud employees, given the terrific efforts of Sport Chek, Canadian Tire, RBC, Ritz, Molson Canadian during the Sochi games; to name just a few.

To start with, employers need to be very good listeners and open to real feedback and opinion. Do you actually know what the sentiments of your employees are at any given time ? You may or may not like what is being said at “the water cooler”, but you can bet money on it that what is being said there is the “reality” of your business. They are either speaking about what they have heard as truth, or they are surmising what is going on through their own interpretation and building stories off of each others’ interpretations.

So why not harness those conversations ? I’m familiar with an internal social network at Yammer.com that allows for social networking within a company with company emails. It fosters communication, dialogue and casual conversations across the company. It is easy to integrate into your internal communications initiatives.

I have also been impressed with what I have seen and heard from SoapBoxhq.com . They actually harness the front line thinking and turn that into a powerful engagement tool for the employer. It might be about seeking out ideas for new innovations, or something as simple as what food might be offered in a meal plan in the lunch room. The key factor is that all of this encourages harvesting the voice, opinions and engagement of employees to get involved and be active ambassadors and thought leaders within their company. The mind power that can be harnessed within the ranks is powerful. And I believe that loyal employees want to contribute. Why not unleash their creativity and input ? Their voice unheard and not respected is an asset under utilized.

In a world of social media, the employee can play such an important role for the company in telling their stories about the brand, the workplace, their work environment, the creative process, the innovations and the corporate responsibility that their company represents (or not!).

I’d encourage you to check out what SoapBoxhq.com is up to if you want to really get advanced in working with your employees to build internal loyalty, engagement and increased leads for your business.

Cheers to unleashing the power within…your employee brand champions.  And…another big shout out to our Team Canada and the inspiration that they give to our nation. Cheers ! @FergDevins