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One of the most frustrating things that a company can do during a time of crisis is not to acknowledge what is happening. As I have mentioned many times in my blog posts the social media climate has changed the way that people access and share information, and because of this companies must change the way they respond to crisis or scandal or get left behind in a cloud of public resentment.
In a post by the Bernstein Crisis Management team, they discuss how companies are hesitant to join the conversation during times of crisis, but how it is essential to the integrity of the company to release accurate and truthful information. There are so many examples today of companies who leave for the weekend and come back on Monday only to discover that a social media storm has engulfed them while they have been absent. A company who does not respond or communicate effectively is often seen as lacking empathy and responsibility.
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Whether it is for a company, product or person, there is a myth that people must “create,” their brand, as if it is something that they must invent about themselves. The truth is that you already are your own brand. But in order to develop your brand are who you have to first define the things that make you who you are.
In an article for Mashable Online, Dan Schawbel talks about the steps that you must take in order to truly develop and discover what makes your brand marketable.
Schawbel says, “Brand discovery is about figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life, setting goals, writing down a mission, vision and personal brand statement (what you do and who you serve), as well as creating a development plan.”
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Too often publicists and professionals in the public relations industry are falsely labeled as “spin doctors,” people who will change or put their best “spin,” on a story. There are also those who say that that a publicist or PR agency has a duty to their client, and not necessarily to telling the truth. However, as I have repeatedly stated in other posts the public simply is not buying it anymore. As audiences are becoming increasingly Internet savvy the age where companies and celebrities could get away with twisting or completely covering the truth is ending.
There are many examples in the past few years where the fabrications after a scandal generated even more fallout than the initial problem. A good example of this is former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. Cain was a promising Tea Party politician who threw his hat into the ring for the Republican party nomination. However, shortly after announcing his intention to run for the nomination, a woman came forward with allegations that he had sexually harassed her during their time working together in the 1990’s. Cain and his PR team vehemently denied these allegations, claiming the woman was a fraud and liar. In an article for CommproBiz, Roshini Rajkumar discusses how skepticism is rampant among the public today. “Cain wants you to believe [the allegations] are all fiction. But the American public won’t rest with that…” The fallout continued when two more women came forward with similar accusations, and Cain continued to deny what he called the “baseless,” claims. Yet amid his denials, his once stellar public opinion was quickly dropping and soon his poll numbers were so low that he was forced to drop out of the race.
Sexual harassment is a serious allegation, and had Cain acknowledged that the allegations were true he likely would have had to drop out of the race anyways. The public may have appreciated hearing the truth, instead of spin and denials from candidate. In the Edelman Trust Barometer, it shows that the public trusts the government and CEOs of companies the least. Telling the truth may have cost him his presidential campaign bid but he may have escaped with something perhaps more valuable in the long run, his integrity as a politician.
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A month ago hardly anybody outside of the New York Knicks fans knew who Jeremy Lin was. A hot streak of wins and high-scoring games later Jeremy Lin is known as a clutch player, and is now the face for all aspiring Asian basketball players, who are often unfairly under recruited due to their race. The viral branding of Jeremy Lin has provided a few tips on how to create an authentic and lasting brand in today’s fast paced market. In William Arruda’s Personal Branding Blog, he discusses a few things that are important to remember when defining your brand.
The tips that Arruda outlines can be applied to somebody who is not an up and coming athlete or celebrity. The thing to remember about personal branding is that everyone can create their own bran. I found the most important tip to remember when solidfying your brand is to continue to play up your strengths. Whether your strength is that you are fluent in six languages, proficient on a computer program, an excellent persuasive speaker, it is important to define what makes you not only unique but valuable. Jeremy Lin had always been overlooked due to his Taiwanese/Chinese heritage, and the fact that he was recruited out of Harvard University, not exactly a major basketball powerhouse. However, these same “disadvantages,” are what makes Lin who he is; a skilled player of an underrepresented heritage in the NBA, from an Ivy League school not known for its athletics, and it is making his brand more appealing by staying true to his roots.