BP’s Oil Cam PR Fiasco

BP’s decision to stream video live from the sea floor to show how they are managing the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may have seemed a good idea at the time: evidence that the company is technically committed to capping their spill. If all had gone well with the capping of the well, the video streaming might have been a PR coup. Instead the video has operated almost like a trojan horse undermining all their PR campaigns.

Problem 1: you only need to look at the oil “gushing” out to know that you are watching more than 5000 gallons a day entering the ocean. Combined with BP’s earlier refusal to allow researchers near the well, this live evidence has provided America with reality TV show from the ocean floor. The fact that the gusher is brown and therefore mud rather than oil does not change perception that BP has failed. The visual perception of failure allied with the increasingly rabid and hysterical utterances from the White House is stoking  the embers of a PR conflagration. For President Obama, approval ratings plummeting, this is all about allocating blame to BP and keeping it as far away from the White House as possible.

Not all Americans are responding in the same way. There is within the USA, an increasing sense that this disaster is a logical outcome of a situation where the country has an increasingly desperate need for oil leading to more and more marginal drilling.  This constituency does not necessarily hold BP to blame, but realises that all oil companies are behaving the same way. The cost of oil is enviromental disaster.

For BP (“Beyond Petroleum) the spill is increasingly uncontained, to the extent that analysts are talking of break up and takeover. In this torrid arena, CEO Hayward looks increasingly out of his depth, not helped by the disastrously absent chairman. At first BP seemed too relaxed about the spill, now they are looking incompetent. Their failure to marshall the facts of the argument and the failure of USA CEO to be able to clarify the events before the explosion made BP look incompetent. BP also failed to understand the full political context of their spill and the likely response from Obama.

As mud, oil and gas gush from the well, perhaps it has been failure in a smaller way. Why have BP not taken the opportunity to shape the news agenda by providing some interpretation of the live cam. Some text explanation of what viewers are seeing would have been technically simple and ensured that they debate could be swayed their way. Typically, BP have failed to set the agenda.

Toyota Problems Deepen, Prius Recall Worldwide – A Reputation Management View

Toyota, known the world over for reliability, safety and quality is at its worst times, the problems don’t seem to die down and now the Prius Hybrid cars are being recalled for brake problems. The crisis is set to deepen further if cars are recalled in the US and Japan tomorrow.

From being the gold standard in management, the Toyota company is now facing the biggest reputation problem ever in its history.  The stock values fell and soon we had the Toyota Chief and President Akio Toyoda making a statement.

“The recalls are affecting several models in several regions and have caused anxiety among customers who are wondering if their cars are OK. For that we are very sorry”,  Toyoda also said the cars are safe, “We always put the customer first.”

The apology made by Toyoda hit the right chord and even the fickle stock value improved and in reputation management terms this was THE way to go ahead. However, as the worldwide recall looms large, the innuendos of mis-management in choosing their suppliers and even rumours of US politics making a play in this crisis with the current protectionist mood against foreign firms in the US, are all over the media.

Toyota insists the Prius braking problems and the recall has nothing to do with safety but for the motor giant – the largest car seller in the world these are dark times indeed!

Here at Reputation Management For.com we have these Business Reputation Management suggestions:

  • Toyota needs to bring out details on why the brake problems are not safety related.
  • Toyota needs to put out more information on how the recalls are being handled with  step-by-step instructions to their customers.
  • The company also needs to put out customer testimonials on how the recall was handled smoothly on a case by case basis and encourage their happy customers to make Tweets and posts on FaceBook and blogs.
  • Toyota needs to educate customers to identify the right brake problem and assure people all queries will be handled well.

Coming clean about things will help snuff out further rumours and nothing like voice of people in social networking sites to get positive word out. If things work out, the people’s car maker may turn things around, but these are trying times at Toyota and for now its “Toyota problems” and safety rumours that’s all over the media.

Reputation management – Is your good business getting a bad name

When you get a spam mail do not delete it and take sometime to read it (do not reply or react). If you notice the content of the mails are mostly promotional about all kinds of business. The majority of spam mails is to do with breast enlargement or about male enhancement. Do not be surprised to know that these mail as they claim comes from bigger companies than you own.

Now that’s a bait!
Some people ignorant of the fact what spam mail are suppose to be tend to reply them. What tempts them to respond is something interesting, well! It’s the big names like MSN, Amazon or Paypal attached to this email.

Now that’s what we call bait – you being skeptical shoot an email to that owner only to know it was spam. Unfortunately the damage is already done, you have authenticated and confirmed your email address, and now the spammer has all sources at his disposal to flood your Inbox.

What is the point.
Well give it a thought! If the spammer thinks that using reputed companies like MSN, Amazon or Paypal is perfectly fine, what makes you think that your business is safe. As we all know burglars are always on the lookout for huge cache, and they en route their plans using smaller companies because they know with smaller companies it is always a win-win situation. If this situation is not handled properly, imagine the kind of damage your business will inherit, you may even close your shop.

How to shield
Now urgency has pounced on you, there is nothing as important, but to shield your reputation before more people gives it a bad name. This not only results in loosing business even your identity too.

Smart move, you want somebody to take responsibility and guard your business and personal reputation.

Reputation managers will then try to capitalize on the already done damage until such time your reputation is secure. This is probably the best option and least you worry about the reputation of your business.

Send out a strong message and let no one think about using your company’s goodwill to fill their own coffers in future.

Toyota in damage control mode

At least a dozen fatalities have occurred when Toyota or Lexus vehicles have surged unexpectedly with drivers finding that they are unable to stop by stomping hard on the brakes. The complaints were rising up and Toyota has quickly come up with the damage control plan, lest it effects its reputation and ultimately the business turnover.

Toyota has proven to be a quick damage rectifier when they announced the news of solving the problem with a new brake override system. The 2005 through 2010 model-year Toyota Avalons and 2007 through 2010 Camrys and Lexus ES350s  are to be recalled by the automaker, who will reconfigure the floor surface beneath the pedal to create more space between the pedal and the floor. The company spokesmen announced, beginning from January, dealers will cut nearly an inch off the lower edge of the gas pedal and adjust the width and not only that replacement pedals will be available from April.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that on most recalls, only 72% of affected owners bring their vehicles in for prescribed repairs. That means Toyota dealers can expect to see 2.7 million of the 3.8 million vehicles recalled. That’s more than Toyota’s total U.S. sales in the pre-recession year of 2007.
Those recalls will be a lengthy process and a pretty tough job to re-establish their business reputation with the dealers alone, but with some online reputation management strategies along with the technical rectification will bring in a great deal of damage limitation briskly for Toyota.

Get rid off negative comments

Most businesses want their websites to show up on the first page of search engines. How good is it if your website  appears on the first page of Google or Yahoo? You search for your company/product name and to your surprise you find one or more listings on top. You have been waiting for this, but then the sudden change in weather on search engines is astonishing. Have a closer look, do you see anything unusual? Well it could be those negative comments about your products doing the rounds and inviting so many visitors and obviously putting your website on top. If it is so, you are in big trouble.

One negative comment is enough to frighten away many likely customers. How genuine these reviews or complaints are is not the question, but it is about the impact. Your company’s reputation is at stake besides loss of revenue in millions.

Reputation management has become a crucial tool, but then very few companies go for this service to counter negative propaganda waged against their firms. Airlines, banks, hotels are the most vulnerable and are always at the receiving end, by disgruntled customers or envying competitors. By being ignorant of reputation management these firms end up sorting issues through litigation, which is twice as expensive and time consuming as compared to hiring reputation managers.

In such situations, our suggestion is to ‘nip it in the bud’- suppress the negative comments and bring up the positive ones. It is all about customizing a strategy to corner negative comments and design a campaign to keep positive reviews of your company above others.

Safeguarding your business from on-line damages and ensuring its smooth run is tantamount to running a business itself. New and small companies need to understand how vulnerable they are and how important reputation management services are for their business.

Why should hotels need an online complaint review?

The hospitality industry is yet to master the tricks to deal with reviews on social media. The user-generated reviews are exploding and consumers are gaining greater power to broadcast on communities like  Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Yelp, or any group of the social networking forums. The pace of this change has certainly caught many hotels off guard. A recent survey conducted by the Market Metrix and Trip Advisor found that 85% of the hotels have no guidelines on how to handle the negative guest reviews.

The hotels have always worked hard to keep their guests happy, in part because of the fact of repeat business to maximise occupancy, they fail to realise that one unhappy customer can take a huge toll on their reputation. This could result in losing  five other likely guests. With the advent of the social media, the hotel management needs to keep track of a huge crowd viewing an online negative comment or review which may be untrue.

This puts us back to the square one and the question is how to deal with the negative comments.

The standard responses like repeatedly stating how you value their feedback, without properly addressing the specific comment does not do any good to change the negative review online. Instead you could even address it to  the concerned online forum or review site could be the answer.

The hotel management could perhaps follow the comments on TripAdvisor and can prove foul play in those cases which they think it is a fabricated story. Therefore, complaint recovery acts as one of the best ways to build customer loyalty and negate your negative reviews.

So, look out for your online reputation, negative or positive, private or public, its time to take a more active role in the online dialogues. Keep an eye on your business reputation before it gets too bad or out of your control. Never ignore the online reviews, because in a later period it might cost you dearly!

Russia business reputation

Would you do business with the Russians? Well you’ve got to be truly brave or obstinate of the bovine kind to actually consider it. Business fraud in Russia is rampant and has had a 12 % increase from that of 2007.

Russia has had huge trouble dealing with its bad reputation even though the country is now the largest producer of natural gas overtaking even the might of Saudi Arabia. But then that’s the end of the story as far as business diversification goes, being infamous for hackers, the mafia and what not, Russia is in the trenches as far as business reputation goes.

Transparency International has put Russia at 146 out of the 182 countries surveyed – at par with Sierra Leone! Places like Dubai are facing business dishonesty and debt, the slide in reputation has only begun in these places while Russia has a mammoth task ahead!

Meanwhile the world will remain wary of doing business with the Russians and that is how it stays.

Who is Responsible for Reputation

Most commentators are agreed that reputation is a company’s single most important long-term asset,  so you would suppose that if you phoned a company and asked for the person responsible for managing their reputation they would know who to put you through to. Not a chance. Ask for brand manager, sales director, PR wonk, bills payable and you are through (usually to an answerphone). Ask a receptionist for the Reputation Manager and they are stymied.

In truth, it is really only the business theorists who worry about reputations, within the company there is no evangelist or guardian for reputation. Companies are generally much more obsessed with their brands, and in the case of large companies whole directorates exist to police this entity. Directorates flanked by asinine designers and mid-level liberal arts graduates and a separate and expensive cohort of lawyers.

Some companies might argue that this is the responsibility of the CEO, but few chief executives spend time or have metrics for assessing and tracking the reputation performance of a company. The absence of metrics may be what make reputation management unloved: it is just too metaphysical for any jock manager to be able to get their heads around. I mean, nobody built a reputation around being a reputation manager in the way they do as brand director.

You could make an argument that reputation is an output of a company and in some sense not measurable, but then so is profit and every analyst in the world looks at that.

One of the issues facing a reputation manager is that reputation as a concept is seen as related to brand management and is subsumed with that “discipline”. This is a shame as brand management tends in practice to have a narrow view of the business and rarely considers how reputation is changing across time and in intensity. Brand managers also see reputation as a function of brand – look after the brand and the reputation will after itself. How wrong: you can rebrand but you cannot rerepute – in fact does not even exist. Yet rebranding is so often an attempt to fix broken reputations rather than broken brands per se.  As a builder would say: you can’t paint a wall falling down!

Companies need to get serious about their reputation and the discipline of reputation management. They need to establish some tracking and they need to separate it out from brand management or public relations. All the activities of the enterprise impact upon reputation – what other people think about you.  A truly great reputation is an oak forest – it takes a long time to grow but is difficult to cut down. You can lose a tree but it does not end the forest.

Bad press and reputation management online what’s the difference?

Bad Press in the 80’s and early 90’s

Bad Press Vrs Online Reputation
Bad Press Vrs Online Reputation

Back in the good old days when the Internet was just a urban myth used by the geeks and the MOD, health and safety had not banned the use of newspapers to wrap your fish and chips in, bad press often only last 24 to 48 hrs.   Life would turn to normal for those involved in the bad press after a couple of days as people threw the newspapers away and the TV news would move on to the next big thing.

Often you would keep your mouth shut and watch the news go away unless you had some one like Max Clifford on side who could help with damage control and even stop some of the stories appearing in newspapers.

Then came along the 00’s

It’s incredible to think how many massive companies and PLC’s still have not got their head round bad press online or as we call it Reputation Management Online.  The biggest difference today is often a well written article on an authoritative site can stay at the top of Google.  These articles and pages often encourage people to add remarks which helps cement the pages ranking in the search results.  So ignoring bad press online can actually hurt you more then if dealt with in a correct strategic manor.

Now what you definitely don’t want to do is reply on 3rd party sites defending your position are challenging people as this will make things much much worse.   What you need to do is to take a very proactive approach and smother the Internet with positive stories.  If you have a large brand then a couple of articles a week or blog posting will not cut it.  You need to very aggressive and supply content through many channels to bury any negative content that might be rising.Many of our clients need help and resources with creating content and managing profiles and channels online.

So how do we approach bad press online?

If you have a global company, brand or a celebrity and have already been effected by such negative content online already then this will require our Warpath package.

  • Track brand or company (unlimited keywords)
  • Dedicated account manager and team
  • Continuous searching of the Internet for any up and coming negative content
  • Weekly reports
  • Register and create social network profiles, blogs
  • Reputation management for 10 countries
  • Full online media monitoring
  • Aggressive and continual positive content produced and channelled
  • Micro sites built and marketed

To see all our rates and prices for online reputation click here

Worm in the Apple

Apple’s reputation has always been good thanks to the passionate advocacy of the Mac Fan Boy club who respond vociferously to any public criticism of their god. Regardless of the poor performance of the iPhone, they are hysterical in their support of any and all Apple products. The result is that few of the problems that arise with Mac products – broken screens, overheating batteries, poor reception are properly aired in the media. According to techcrunch, that may be about to change as the tech community begins to return back to Microsoft.

Partly this is down to fashion. As Apple has moved mainstream, it has begun to lose its cool among techheads and the silicon valley internistas. Now everybody has an iphone or Macbook, it is no longer cool to be seen sporting one. Much better a linux netbook and Android phone.

My experience is that many of the people I meet who use iphones complain like hell about them. People who use ipods love them without ever being aware of any other products. For many consumers, an ipod is the only portable music player – a walkman without competitors. That says more about the cluelessness of the competitors whoc are still struggling with the combining of hardware and software.

When it comes to the reputation management, apple’s fans have been the reputation managers for the company. Apple itself always seems secretive, paranoid and slightly nasty. The problems facing Apple are threefold in this area:

  1. what happens when the company has to manage its reputation and not rely on its fans
  2. what happens when things like appstore do not rally such a lot of money losing developers
  3. when competitors finally get it! or android enables the hardware guys to produce phones that match the slickness of the iphone?

To date negative comment about apple gets drowned out by fans… when the fall silent.. then it will be interesting.