Archive for the ‘Reputation’ Category

United Airlines and the Costly Culture

April 16, 2017

United Airlines protests.

When you hear the company name “United Airlines” what comes to mind?

When you hear the company name “Volkswagen” what comes to mind?

In both cases, you probably think of the well publicised and very damaging situations that have occurred, which have caused untold damage to these monstrous brands.

At the time of writing United Airline shares had dropped significantly resulting in a market capitalisation collapse of $570 Million.

While United Airlines was a very specific incident and Volkswagen was a very deliberate campaign of deception what they both have in common is that what occurred was not something that you could blame on “a” culprit in each company.

With United Airlines could you point the finger at the security guards who removed the passenger?

With Volkswagen could you point the finger at the engineers who were able to rig the emissions performance?

In each case, the individuals involved knew that what they did was okay with their bosses – why would they do such a thing otherwise?

In each case, their bosses knew that this was what they were expected to instruct their subordinates to do – why else would they give guidance like this?

In each case, their bosses, bosses had jobs to do and targets to meet and the expectation was that these must be achieved as a priority beyond all other objectives.

And so on up the chain of command.

The huge problem in large organisations is that very often something rotten is allowed to creep into the culture resulting in management and employees behaving really badly and eventually it just bursts through and shows its ugly face in a way that is quite extraordinarily shocking to everyone.

Oscar Munoz - United Airlines

For example with United Airlines the initial reaction of Chairman Oscar Munoz was to apologise to other passengers for the “upsetting event” but went on to push the blame onto the 69-year-old victim Dr.Dao for being “disruptive and belligerent“!

If you ever wanted someone to confirm the rotten culture at the airline, Mr.Munoz did it in his next communication to his staff where he praised them and stood behind them:

Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right

In a strange way, he was 100% correct – they did what was expected of them in these situations and as a result, he applauded them!!

At this point in time, the airline’s reputation was in tatters and Oscar and his team started to frantically backpaddle and within three days their tone had changed and fresh press statements included grovelling apologies to Dr.Dao for the appalling treatment and a full refund to all passengers on the flight (what difference was this ridiculous gesture going to do for anyone?).

The best PR advice when something like this occurs is to come clean and apologise immediately with complete sincerity. The word “Sorry” if people genuinely believe those that are delivering the apology can go a long way to reducing the damage caused.

However, just like in the United Airlines scenario a genuine “sorry” was not possible because the culture was too rotten to even contemplate doing such a thing – the expression ‘not being able to see the wood from the trees‘ comes to mind here.

Your reputation ultimately comes from what you do and how you behave and while good PR professionals can help to lessen the damage from a bad situation, it cannot change the culture, which can often be the reason why these things ended up happening in the first place.

Could your culture end up costing you?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Crisis PR consultancy from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Business Social Media – What should you be doing?

March 9, 2017

Twitter for business

Social media continues to evolve with users switching from one platform to another, so where does that leave us today for anyone personally using it for a Business to Business audience?

If anything this has become more straightforward than it was before as Google+ has become irrelevant and most of the new social media activity has happened with the “youth” platforms, which can be ignored for now.

For anyone in business I would recommend the following:

The Basics
You should at a minimum maintain a ‘sparkling’ LinkedIn account that puts your best foot forward at all times. You should treat this as your personal website ensuring that all details are up to date, that you have a professional photograph, that you try to get meaningful recommendations and that you use it proactively for connecting with other people in business.

A big health warning here is that if you are not going to maintain your LinkedIn account properly then it might be wise to delete it – anything that does not paint you in the best possible light should not be allowed.

For example I had one client who was ignoring connection requests for over a year – he nearly had a heart attack when he realised that many of those looking to connect with him were his clients!!

Basics with more ambition
For someone with a little more ambition I would encourage them to add Twitter into their social media mix and I would advise posting on both LinkedIn and Twitter to “make some noise” and let the right people know what they are all about. When posting try to use visuals where possible as nice pictures help posts to get more attention!

Twitter as a platform seemed to be fading away a little but our good friend, Mr.Trump seems to have reversed this trend!

As part of this “making some noise” strategy I would recommend following and interacting with relevant accounts on Twitter and doing the same with LinkedIn including relevant groups – try to pick groups where you will find prospects, not other people in your industry.

Trump loves twitter

The Avid User
If you really want to embrace social media you need to incorporate it into your working day, everyday.

A regular piece of advice that I give to clients is that social media is not a full time activity but it is a full time mentality – effectively, you are always “on” looking for natural opportunities to connect, start or join a discussion that demonstrates who you are and what you do.

You will have succeeded here if people in your sector recognise you as a prominent social media user. Even more evidence of success, is when journalists who are prolific online recognise you and contact you for commentary on topics relevant to your sector.

Pro Tip– When you are posting try to use a few relevant #Hashtags frequently so that after a while they become synonymous with you.

The Publisher
The real social media “guru” is the person who publishes their own material online.

Basically I am talking about those who are writing articles and opinion pieces frequently that are relevant to the sector that they work in. These pieces would demonstrate their expertise and personality and they can be hosted on their own blog or else published within their LinkedIn account (or both). These pieces can then be used as social media posts – if posts are not time sensitive they can even be recycled over time.

For those who are excellent in front of a camera or engaging into a microphone, then video (open your own YouTube account) or podcasts are others ways to capture their expertise and personality and these can also be shared as social media posts or incorporated into their blog posts.

What about Facebook and the new social media platforms?
You might be wondering why there has been no mention of the other social media platforms – in truth I don’t think that they are relevant for the B2B audience BUT …there is always a but…

..all of your social media activity demonstrates to the outside world who you are so you must be careful that you don’t do anything detrimental to your self image by what you post and how you behave online.

While I consider the above platforms to be the ones relevant for business you will often get a business contact sending you a ‘friend request‘ on Facebook or following you on Instagram or Snapchat.

In many cases you may feel obliged to accept that ‘friend request‘ but once this happens you do need to realise that all of your “personal” posts will contribute to others forming an opinion of you.

Other developments
One of things that I have observed in the last while is that the ‘reach‘ of posts (how many people get to see the posts) across all platforms has disintegrated in favour of sponsored or promoted posts so you have to work even harder than before to get noticed and create an impact.

The other trend to note is “live” video which is becoming a big feature on both Facebook and Twitter – while you can probably ignore the feature on Facebook (for the B2B audience) it can be quite relevant for Twitter, as long as the content is clever and interesting.

Facebook have threatened developing their own B2B type platform for a while as they want to dominate all social media but we haven’t see any evidence of this yet.

To summarise I would advise everyone in business to jump in at some level and try to push it to the next level over time, I will guarantee you that you will see results but like everything else in life you must stick with it.

For the naysayers who still think that social media is a big waste of time, I would like to say a big thanks for leaving an even bigger opportunity for the rest of us!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Trust and restoring broken reputations

February 11, 2017

Maurice McCabe

If things weren’t bad before, they became even worse this week for An Garda Síochána when it was revealed that an “incorrect” sexual abuse file was held against Maurice McCabe by Tusla, the family and child protection agency.

Everyone in the media is being extra careful to avoid stating the obvious conclusions as they risk getting into trouble legally. However, they have published the various statements by those parties involved and reported the facts as they came to light and they keep probing and probing for the truth in this sinister mess to reveal itself fully.

Incidents like this demonstrate once again why we need professional, intelligent journalism to bring us the truth as we can’t rely solely on social media to deliver this. Social media is fantastic as it gives us a powerful voice to demonstrate our dissatisfaction as loudly as we feel is appropriate.

We heard the statement by the Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, the leader of the organisation who has claimed that she know nothing of the sexual abuse shenanigans with the whistleblower, Maurice McCabe.

Tusla in the meantime have issued their own statement claiming that their file against Maurice McCabe with the atrocious false claims against him were a ‘clerical error‘.

The comical little addition to the Tusla story was that their official apology to Maurice McCabe was sent to the wrong address!

The public are no fools and the generally held, unsurprising conclusion about this story is that senior members of the Gardaí who were unhappy with their whistle blowing colleague tried to smear his reputation in the worst possible way to punish him and protect themselves.

Even worse in this sorry saga, Tusla were obviously happy to play ball with their Garda acquaintances.

This stinks to high heaven and leaves all of us with two awful conclusions:

We cannot trust An Garda Síochána and we cannot trust Tusla.

When you consider the crucial role that both of these state bodies are paid to provide, ‘trust‘ is not a negotiable, nice to have attribute. Trust is everything.

What next?

To begin the long road of rebuilding trust in both organisations there can be no more fluffing about and decisive action and clear communication is required.

Our strong advice to those in charge would be to get ahead of the story, remove all doubts and demonstrate in no uncertain way how important regaining trust is.

This is the time for An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny or Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald to take decisive action and remove Nóirín O’Sullivan from her role and get the investigation started immediately.

This is the time for Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone to demand a 100% honest statement from the CEO of Tusla, Fred McBride as to what actually happened. If this is as farcical as the ‘clerical error’ statement, he should also be removed from his role.

The reputation of these two state organisations is not negotiable – start demonstrating it.

Greg Canty 

Fuzion provide Crisis PR services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to Prioritise Caring

December 30, 2016

Caring

As we roll into another year we inevitably start thinking about the things we have achieved and the things we want and wish for in the new year.

If I was to express my wishes for next year in one word I would choose the word “Caring“.

I’m not sure if it is just now that I feel there is a real deficit of caring in the world, if it is just what I am seeing and reading or whether it is a reflection of my age and if I am starting to think and observe things differently?

I am worried that there is not enough caring in the world and I feel that this year has plummeted with awful incidents in Nice, Berlin, Aleppo and some of the horribleness that we witnessed in the United States by the President Elect, Donald Trump in his campaign.

Lessons in how to win elections were absorbed by a new generation and “caring” isn’t quite the word that comes to mind when you reflect on what we saw being played out for months and months in the lead up to the awful result.

Closer to home our year ended in Ireland with the homeless coming together under the simple ‘Home Sweet Home‘ banner and they occupied an unused office building, Apollo House to put much needed roofs over heads and put a public spotlight on this big issue, which is getting worse and worse. The homeless need this as they can’t go on strike to get attention.

We heard the involvement of high profile Irish musicians including Glen Hansard and Hozier being sadly criticised by some in the media as being a stunt by them to raise their popularity!

What has happened with the way we think about things?

The courts moved in double quick time (they can when they want to) incredibly to process an injunction against the occupants.

The very sad “win” was that the homeless were allowed stay in the disused office building until January 11th – Merry Christmas!!

When living in a disused office block over Christmas is considered a win for those poor temporary residents we have arrived at a very poor state of affairs. Unfortunately this was a win for them – can you imagine?

My wish for the new year is that we start genuinely caring for each other, that we teach our children the importance of caring and let them witness it everyday, that we teach caring in our schools, that we make caring a priority in our workplaces, that caring becomes part of the values that companies live by and that we put caring for people in our communities, on our roads, in our cities and countries before any other criteria.

Let’s start caring.

Happy New Year and a big thank you to all the readers of my blog posts – see you next year!!

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Strategic Communications, Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Donald Trump and Dublin Chamber of Commerce 

October 8, 2016

Donald Trump

At the beginning of this year I was voted onto the Dublin Chamber of Commerce Council – it’s like a big management team for the organisation, which plays a role in setting the direction for it and overseeing how it is run.

The Council is made up of 30 elected members and each year 10 must resign to be replaced by another 10, which can include the members who have resigned.

To get voted onto the Council you must put yourself forward for election and gather enough votes from members to make the grade.

It’s a tough and humbling thing putting yourself in the firing line, out there to be judged but that’s what you do to become a member!

If you don’t put in the work you won’t be elected and this means punching in sufficient effort so that members will recognise you and put their faith in you.

To rise to the pinnacle of the organisation and become President is another ballgame altogether and is testament to the very clever and robust set of rules that have been put in place to ultimately protect the Chamber.

Presidential Process

If you wish to become President you must first become Deputy Vice President (Number 3) and to achieve this you must first be a Council member and you must be voted in by the other members.

The very clever organisation rules only allow council members who are on their 3rd year to be eligible – quite simply you must be around council for over two years ensuring that you serve your time learning the ropes.

The Deputy Vice President normally becomes Vice President the next year and then President.

By the time this person takes on the role they will have at least 5 years under their belt and they will be fully immersed in the workings of the Chamber – this is a superb system for protecting the running of the organisation that plays such a significant role in the business of our capital city.

Now compare this to the role of President of the United States, possibly the most powerful and influential position in the world!!

Up steps Donald Trump. a loudmouth. brash, uncouth, moneybags who has enough balls and bravado to run and convince a lot of people that he is actually a valid candidate.

Would Donald be prepared to first punch in three years of meetings and learning the ropes with his peers before being able to run?

Would he put himself forward to be judged by his peers who have witnessed him in action close up for at least 2 years?

Would he then hang around for another two years of valuable learning, soaking up the ways of the organisation and the skills required to identify and tackle the real issues?

I doubt it …..

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR, Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Do we have a hunger for bad guys?

August 24, 2016

Pat Hickey - Olympic Council of Ireland

At the moment we seem to have an insatiable appetite for the bad guys – this often seems to start with the media, with us happily jumping on the bandwagon, lapping up all of the attention grabbing and often sensationalist headlines accepting all of what is being said without question.

Maybe all of these ‘shameful characters‘ are as guilty as they are portrayed and maybe they deserve all of those rotten tomatoes and for their reputations to be destroyed irrevocably.

However, maybe we don’t know the full stories and maybe just maybe the process of delivering those shocking, sensationalist headlines isn’t always that robust?

In the course of our Crisis Communications work we have seen 100% incorrect situations being portrayed by the media in a particular way, which would have Mr and Mrs Everybody unfairly believing the worst and as a result solid reputations are destroyed forever.

It can happen easier that you may think..

  • someone with a gripe concocts a story about their target
  • they start a disingeneous “legal process” against their target
  • the legal documents get deliberately leaked to the media
  • a “hungry for a great story” journalist gratefully accepts the gift and starts to write their sensational story
  • the target is told there is a piece being written about them the next day including the detail from the legal document (bear in mind if you are explaining you are always losing) – any comment the journalist asks? – this is offering a right of reply (they did ask = technical fairness)
  • the flustered target (often not used to dealing with the media) might say “no comment” (solicitors often give this normally suicidal advice) or they might in the best possible way try to give responses to the accusations
  • the article appears in the newspaper complete with the sensationalist headline “Greg Canty (it could be you!) accused of embezzling funds
  • the radio stations pick up on the story and interview the person with the gripe who is more than happy to tell their story
  • the target is called by the radio station for interview to rebutt the claims – once again, when you are explaining you are losing!
  • the person with the gripe drops their legal process – it was never serious in the first place!

Question – what arresting officer in Rio would have taken the pic above of Pat Hickey of the Irish Olympic Council and tweet it? Why?

Mr and Mrs Everybody are shocked and horrified and they start tweeting about it, venting their anger and it goes on and on – the story gets bigger and bigger and then it grows arms and legs with further titbits being added as the hate momentum builds.

Maybe they did these terrible things but maybe they didn’t?

The next time we read these sensationalist headlines we should pause and carefully question everything we read before fully making up our minds about these “villains”.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Crisis Communications from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland 

 

 

Sick notes and morality

August 1, 2016

sicknote

Eventually the day of reckoning arrived and it looked like we were hours from the court case starting.

We were there just to support my buddy and unfortunately his wife and his son had also been dragged into it.

The previous week saw plenty of movement with offers coming through to my buddy to repay him the significant amount of money that was personally lent by him to his previous employers, his great “friends” to prop up their business.

This was big – they were now admitting they owed the money and there was no more mention of the crazy things they had been accusing him of. Unfortunately their offer to repay was in instalments over 10 years, which could never be acceptable as one could not trust that this would be executed without fuss.

For this reason my buddy couldn’t accept the offer and to add insult to injury they had subpoenaed his wife and son to attend court as their witnesses!! This was crazy and totally irrelevant and I’m guessing a simple, deliberate tactic to upset them by dragging them into the intimidating atmosphere of court.

The intimidation certainly did not work and my buddy, his wife and son were in determined mood to fight to get their money.

We sat in the pub across from the court while the wheels of the court process slowly turned and while the solicitors played their games. The pub was full of little groups of people all with their solicitors huddled over cups of coffee discussing their respective cases.

At least today, nearly two years on, the case would be heard and this nightmare might finally come to an end for them.

An unexpected call came through …”sick notes

Sorry??

My buddies ex employers, the “friends” had both tried to excuse themselves and adjourn the case due to sickness. One had a note saying he was unable to attend due to migraine and the other was unable to attend due to stress! The poor things getting sick on the same day – it wasn’t even first day back at school – what would their mum and dad have said if they pulled that excuse!

Both notes were coincidentally for a period of 5 days, which would happily take them past the end of the week by which time the courts would have closed for the summer recess.

This is a stupid, blatant game that is too easy to play and even a doctor, another professional was willing to play their part in the farce.

The presiding judge was having none of it and ordered that the “patients” would be present the next day to commence the case.

The next day arrived, other cases were heard before this one and the opposing side argued that there wasn’t enough time to hear the case before the end of the week so it should be adjourned.

Bingo, success, they did it!! Doctors notes, shenanigans etc etc and another four months have been bought.

It is far too easy in this country to play the game and for clever and devious people to work the system and dodge their basic commitments.

I watched my buddy and his family, I saw the strain that they were under and the cruel stress that they have been forced to endure and will have to endure for even longer. This was the sad reward for my buddy who helped these people that he believed, trusted wholeheartedly, people he considered were great friends.

I truly hope that justice will be served eventually and that my buddy and his family will get their hard earned retirement nest-egg fund back.

People talk about karma and I’d like to believe in it but sometimes I wonder..

I’ll keep you updated.

Check out my original post “Pillars of Society to be exposed” for more background.

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR, GraphicDesign services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Did you just press the “Accept” button?

July 14, 2016

I accept your connection request

I know, you are busy just like me.

You are burning through your emails and you see those ‘invitations to connect‘ on LinkedIn, emails.

You’ve decided that you are happy to ‘connect‘ so you press the ‘Accept’ button and you continue with your other work.

Pressing the ‘accept’ button is not connecting!!

Next time press ‘accept’ and send that person a message – You might: thank them and ask them how their business is going?

Oh my god ….people actually communicate on this platform, don’t faint!

It might even surprise you that they might reply to you and you find that you are well on the way to nurturing a new connection without even lifting your bum off the seat ..magic.

The worst that can happen as a result of that extra 20 seconds is that you have stood out and they might think that you are a nice person.

So..stop pressing those buttons online and start connecting!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion offer Social Media Consultancy and Training from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

About us

June 2, 2016

About us -

I was working on a proposal for a prospect and I wanted to find out more about the people behind the business.

Who started the business, who is involved now, what are they like, what is their background, what is their journey that brought them to today, is this a passion or just a way to make money?

I looked for the “about us” section on their website and like so many other websites these days I got nothing other than some generic “blurb” about what they do, which was just a variation of their homepage.

Who you are. your “story”, is an essential part of your brand. If I don’t see it here I may never bother trying to find out more.

I hate that – go on tell me about you and what makes you special.

I always get a little suspicious when people don’t. Is there something to hide? Do you not want people to know who is behind this enterprise?

The “about us” section of your website is one of the most important parts of the site. For me it is the “trust” section and the part of the site that convinces me why I should be comfortable dealing with you and explains why you are different to every other provider who offers similar products and services.

Go on, take the time today and fill out the “about us” section properly.

Share your genuine story with us, let that passion and authenticity for what you do shine through and please tell us about you and your fabulous team and the journey that brought you to today.

About us….

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

Honesty and Truth in business

February 14, 2016

Jack O'Rourke - Smarter Egg

I attended a really interesting event recently hosted by Aodán Enright as part of his Smarter Egg series at the White Horse in Ballincollig, Cork.

This well attended event was all about the “Music Business” and Aodán had assembled an interesting collection of speakers to chat about various aspects of the business. All of this was after a delicious bowl of curry and a craft beer of course!

The speakers dealt with the impact of emerging technology on music, music PR, the life of an emerging artist and the lucrative business of concert promoting.

The young and enthusiastic Cork singer/songwriter Jack O’Rourke totally engaged with the audience with his presentation. He took the stage and admitted he felt very nervous, awkward and unqualified talking about the music ‘business‘.

He felt he lacked the skills and experience in this area but he did present his simple philosophy about business:

You should be honest and truthful in everything that you do

This pure and simple advice was delivered with personal stories including a very powerful story about the importance of being ‘true to your self‘, which was captured beautifully in his song ‘Silence‘ which he performed for the privileged crowd.

Make sure you check out Jack performing this powerful song on the Late Late Show at the end of this post.

Aodan Enright and Peter Aiken

This was followed by an interview with successful music promoter Peter Aiken who engaged us with many interesting stories about his early career, his dad, Rory Gallagher, the Marquee gigs and the Garth Brooks fiasco.

He spoke about the nuggets of wisdom that his father had engrained in him – you should honour all of your agreements as your good name was a precious commodity when you are in business. This would ensure that you did good business in the long run and not just short term wins.

He shared a story about how one of the bands he had booked actually returned significant money to him as they knew the gig was not a success and Peter would have lost heavily on it.

Honesty, truth and the importance of acting honourable at all times – these are simple and yet powerful pieces of advice for everyone in business to follow.

Gladly from my experience I feel these things are mostly present in business but I am still quite amazed as I unfortunately see the total opposite and in a few cases disappointingly from people I would have totally trusted. Sadly, nothing surprises me.

Honesty and truth in business …what do you think?

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork