Adam Fisher
26th June 2018 - 5 mins read
S

ome will be genuine complaints from customers, others may be from rivals and then, of course, there are the dreaded trolls.

I’m no stranger to online criticism, having previously managed social media accounts for public sector organisations.

People have also, on occasion, taken exception to blogs I have written in my current role, including an ITN newsreader who really didn’t take too well to something I wrote for our sister company Media First.

The key is to accept that you will face negativity at some point and focus on how best to respond.

Here’s what I have learned from my own experiences and the different ways some brands deal with negative comments. 


Keep calm

This is advice I constantly have to remind myself about.

Whenever someone criticises something I have put out, and I don’t think it is justified, my first reaction is to quickly put together a stinging instant response.

But then I think back to a training course I went on years ago where we were told not to send work emails when we were angry.

And I think the same applies here, whether you are responding to a blog comment, a Twitter post or any other form of audience interaction.

The reality is that responding emotionally when your blood is still boiling will typically make the situation much worse. And you really don’t want to get involved in some form of ongoing argument in a public domain.

It sounds obvious, but it is important to compose your thoughts, consider the criticism, and let any heat die away from the situation before responding – even on social media where speed is of the essence.


Avoid the copy and paste approach

One of my hates on social media is when a brand receives some criticism and it responds by continually copying and pasting the same couple of generic lines over and over again.

It is something I see regularly. 

When Nectar was widely criticised on social media for announcing a partnership with the Daily Mail, it stuck rigidly to pre-agreed corporate lines, which it copied and pasted relentlessly.

Here it is: “Hi (insert name), we’re sorry to hear you’re not keen on the partnership. The primary factor in any new partnership is our current customer base. From our data and research, we know that there is a large crossover between our customers and Mail readers. Hopefully, you can take part in other offers which you find more appealing. Thank you for the feedback anyway.”

It looks cold and robotic and only really serves to make the customer more frustrated. It also suggests the brand actually isn’t all that bothered about complaints from customers.

While it may feel a little risky, social media teams should be given the freedom to move away from pre-approved corporate lines when an organisation is being criticised and add a human touch to responses.

If you are facing a real social media storm and don’t feel you have the time or resources to personalise responses, it would be better to stick to regular updates rather than trying to reply to everyone with the same corporate line.


Humour

You need to tread carefully here, but humour can be a great way of turning a negative comment into something positive.

Not only can it diffuse potential issues, but it can also show a fun, lighter side to your brand.

But it is not going to be appropriate in all situations and each one needs to be judged independently.

Virgin Trains found itself in the middle of a social media storm earlier this year when it responded to a passenger complaining about being called ‘honey’ by a train manager with a poorly judged joke.  While Thameslink found itself threatened with legal action after comparing its poor service to ‘Poundland cooking chocolate’.  

My advice would be to run any humorous responses past a colleague just to check that they are actually funny, right for the audience and also tasteful before they are published.


Sometimes a private reply can be better

You are not going to keep everyone happy, even if you follow all of the above advice.

Some people will continue to post negatively, but it is important that you don’t get drawn into an ongoing conversation with them.

The best approach is to ask them to send their contact details to you through a direct message or your email address so you can arrange for someone to give them a call and discuss the issues they are experiencing.

This is something which worked well for me in previous roles and at times resulted in a dissenting voice later going on to post something positive about the organisation.

Even if they persist with their criticism, other customers will be able to see the effort you have made to try to help them.


Don’t delete

It can be tempting to delete negative comments and criticism, particularly if you feel they are unfair.

But this needs to be avoided.

Not only does it show a lack of transparency and suggest the organisation may have something to hide, but it is also likely to encourage the critic to post more negative comments.


You don’t always have to say sorry

Another one of my regular frustrations with the way brands respond to negative comments is they always apologise, even when they have nothing to be sorry for.

Take train companies for example. Any commuter will tell you that these guys have a lot to apologise for. But look at their Twitter accounts and it is one apology after another.

The website Sorry for the Inconvenience shows that rail operators have already issued more than 200,000 apologies this year alone. While many of those are completely justified, some are for really minor issues like plug sockets not working.

The huge rate of apologies only adds to the reputational damage. The key for other companies is to be selective about when to say sorry.

Sometimes a better approach is to take control of the narrative and laugh about the issue, like Joe Dough’s Sandwich shop did in this brilliant example.




Finally

The final point is that a negative reaction doesn’t have to be seen as a bad thing.

I want the content I produce to cause a reaction and even a negative reaction can get other people talking.

It’s far better than talking to a completely passive audience.

 

 

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or a whitepaper.

 

Marketing

How live event reporting can boost your content strategy

Adam Fisher 20th July 2018 — 5 mins read
S

o let’s take it back to the beginning. Live event reporting is essentially what journalists do every day, but now are doing for a specific organisation and event rather than for a media outlet.

It involves them being paid by the client (typically a brand) to cover an event such as a conference, trade show, charity fundraising initiative or new product launch and providing live updates, interviews, social media content and videos.

Let’s say you are an insurance company and you sponsor a sporting event such as a triathlon. That event will demand promotion, regular updates and will attract competitors and spectators all with stories to tell, providing a potentially rich vein of human interest content.

You may have already seen live event reporting in action through Apple and Tesla product launches, but more brands are starting to embrace it.

Here is why we not only think it should be added to your content marketing strategy but also how it will bring added value to your next event.

 

Build anticipation

Carefully crafted internal messages and social media posts can have a big impact on creating interest and excitement in your event before it kicks off.

A designated live event reporting team which is entirely focused on the event can help to enthuse not only those who are attending but also those who cannot make the event in person.

The posts can promote speakers, the topics which will be discussed, and offer a behind-the-scenes look as final preparations are made.

It may sound odd, but there are a lot of football clubs who do this well, building anticipation among their fans who cannot attend the match by sharing photos of players and coaches arriving at the ground, the warm-up routine and the starting team announcement for example.

A key point here is to have a single specific hashtag for your event if you are going to use social media channels.

This will make it easier for people to find what you are sharing and join in the conversation.

 

Wider audience

For some organisations, no matter how hard they try or want it to happen, it can simply be logistically impossible to get everyone together in the same place at the same time.

And it can be hard to capture the attention of those unable to attend.

But live reporting, with blogging and video coverage can give those unable to make it a sense of what is unfolding as it happens, creating a level of engagement that a traditional post-event report could not achieve.

 

Extending the buzz

For many events it can be important for the reach to extend beyond the four walls of the conference room or the event location.

It may be of interest to stakeholders, customers and potential customers.

Using social media channels to tell other users you are reporting live from an event can create a real online buzz and help amplify reach.

The word ‘live’ is important in these types of social media posts. It adds urgency and importance to messages and can help cut through the noise.

 

More than just a one-day event

There is a misconception that live reporting stops being useful once the event comes to an end.

But in our experience, this couldn’t be more wrong.

The interviews and footage gathered at the event can provide a rich pool of content which can be used throughout the coming weeks and months for both internal and external audiences.

For example, interviews can be used for the basis of blogs, or they can be turned into short video clips which can be used on social media channels.

 

Stand-out

Live reporting an event is something which can really make an organisation stand-out and highlight it as a brand with industry expertise.

It is still a relatively new concept, which means that using it can help organisations differentiate themselves from their competitors and show their ingenuity.

It could also lead to further speaker opportunities for your spokespeople, potentially helping the business to grow.

 

Better feedback

Not only does live reporting of your event increase its longevity, but it also increases the opportunity for constructive feedback.

The repurposed content you gain from the event can be used to elicit ideas on what went well and what people would like to see changed for the event.

Not only could this generate some good suggestions, but it also helps position the organisation as one which is willing to listen and embrace opinions which may help it improve.

 

Why use journalists for live reporting?

Live reporting can be challenging and exhausting.

We believe journalists are best placed to meet the demands of this format.

They will be able to carry out independent and newsworthy interviews with senior leaders, speakers and audience members.

They are skilled at gathering and filtering huge quantities of information and quickly getting to the heart of a story and are used to producing content quickly.

And they can self-edit and have the ability to adapt and reuse content for different channels – a crucial skill in maximising the impact and life of live event reporting content.

If we think back to the insurance company sponsoring a sporting event, which we mentioned at the start, could their comms team, which is likely to be stretched with managing the media around the event, capture all that potentially great content? Or would a team of experienced journalists, parachuted in to focus purely on that event, be better placed?

 

Get in touch to find out how our live event reporting team can add value to your next event.

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or a whitepaper.

Adam Fisher
20th July 2018 - 5 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.