Are you a fresh grad looking for a PR gig? An agency is the place to be

Can we take a moment to acknowledge just how pressuring it is for a prospective tertiary student to decide on a major that might define their professional career forever? As a tourism student-turned PR practitioner, the transition into the world of public relations comes with a steep learning curve. But it pays off massively if you have an eye for current affairs and an excellent command of one or more languages.

 After a couple of internships later, I realised a whole world lay beyond the familiarity of working for a brand. There was a mystery to these elusive agencies which hardly basked in the spotlight themselves, yet worked laboriously to ensure that their clients shone the brightest.

As a humorous nod to the hit comic series which our agency is affectionately named after, we think that the dynamic between agencies and in-house brands mirrors that of the one shared between mutants and humans in the X-Men universe. Being in an agency is like being a part of the X-Men, there are always more experienced practitioners that you can learn from and when the going gets tough, it truly helps to know that your team understands exactly what you’re going through.

With the exception of crisis prone industries, in-house PR and comms teams tend to be very lean. A small, tight-knit team comprising of a few experienced individuals are usually  responsible for overseeing and managing entire marketing campaigns. Does this sound appealing to you? While you will enjoy the autonomy of being able to call the shots, you might feel weighed down by the sheer size of the responsibilities which lie solely on your shoulders. 

So, how do you ascertain which working environment would be most conducive to your professional and personal growth? If you’re a fresh graduate exploring the possibility of a career in PR and communications, here are some reasons why we think agencies are the best place to work in – especially if you’re still on the fence.

Developing expertise across different verticals

As agencies evolve to stay ahead of the curve, many now offer a wider range of complementary services. From PR and content marketing to digital and social media management, agencies are usually filled with folks who bring diverse skill sets to the table. Depending on the client’s business objectives, people from different teams come together to get the job done. 

For example, Mutant’s portfolio of clients spans across the consumer, lifestyle, technology and corporate verticals. Having the chance to explore a myriad of sectors and industries is ideal for those who are undecided about the industry they eventually want to carve out a career in. Focus first on mastering the fundamentals of the trade, before jumping into a specific field. 

Learning from a team of experienced practitioners

With a shrinking media pool and mercurial audience habits, it takes more than just a seasoned practitioner to be a good mentor. From the undeniable force that is influencer marketing to the rising adoption of messaging apps, good mentorship comes from the ability to guide, while also adapting quickly to the changing times.

In an agency environment, the matrix-style organisational structure which requires you to sit across multiple practices will expose you to a plethora of unique perspectives and ideas. The great thing about working in an agency is that no two days will be the same, due to the nature of the client work involved. 

Character development

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that extensive relationship-building, be it with the media, clients or other stakeholders is a part and parcel of agency life. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be a social butterfly to flourish in a client-facing role – as long as you have the ability to empathise with people and forge sincere, genuine relationships, you will succeed. 

While having to juggle the expectations of multiple parties might seem a tad challenging at the start, you will find yourself easing into it as you spend more time in your role. Sometimes, you will feel like the cards are stacked against you. However, the pain is short-lived, and you will find yourself emerging relatively unscathed, having grown more confident and eloquent. 

We could always spend time wondering if an agency function or in-house PR and comms role would suit us better, but the truth is we’ll never know for sure without experiencing a job firsthand. So if you’re still looking for something to nudge you into taking that leap of faith – take a deep breath, get your résumé in order, and apply away!

Well, what are you waiting for? If you’re on the hunt for a PR gig, you ought to write in to us at : hello@mutant.com.sg

3 PR Lessons We Can Learn from Bey And Jay

Recently, Beyoncé and Jay-Z dropped their first fully collaborative album, The Carters. Critics and fans alike immediately embraced the tracks and hailed the LP as a celebration of Black art, excellence and legacy.

Over the years, the Carters have managed to exert an ironclad control over their public image despite their humongous stature. The four-pronged strategy of largely staying clear of public squabbles and scandals, carefully curating their social media feeds, rarely giving interviews and not hyping their new projects before they’re released has only deepened the mystery surrounding hip hop’s foremost family. This decision is no accident – the couple is notoriously private and this strategy has infused intrigue into their reputation. Because they are rarely in the public eye, when they do pop up, it seems that the whole world sits up and takes notice of them.

From a business perspective, this type of PR strategy seems impossible to implement. But there are some lessons that can be gleaned – here’s what we can learn from the Carters:

Controlling the Narrative

When rumours of trouble in the couple’s marital paradise broke out in 2013, neither party added fuel to the fire. Unlike other celebrity couples who rush to give a statement when their relationships hit rock bottom, the Carters remained mum on the state of their marriage. They addressed the hearsay when Beyoncé released Lemonade in 2016, an entire album peppered with lyrics and visuals that suggested the possibility of marital strain. The endless speculations that ensued proved to be massively profitable for both Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

While controlling the narrative should be a basic skill for any company’s PR team, in this age of hyperconnectivity and non-stop streaming, firms will find themselves with a very small window of time to prevent crisis situations from becoming communications disasters. Whether it’s appeasing a crowd bent on obtaining answers or addressing unsavoury gossip, it’s imperative to weave a story that sets the tone for all future conversations surrounding the topic at hand. That way, your narrative will drown out all other chatter.

A Well-Oiled Social Media Machine

Both Beyoncé and Jay-Z are known to shun traditional PR paths when announcing new content. For albums Beyoncé and Lemonade, Beyoncé decided to bypass mainstream media outlets and release the albums digitally via an announcement that came from her own account. By doing this, she broke the fourth wall and gave the content directly to her fans via social media. The result? Unprecedented success for both albums. For Lemonade specifically, the release of the album was timed at a juncture when social media was rife with conversations surrounding racial tensions and feminism, and the album’s messages on both topics seemed especially poignant. The couple also demonstrates a deep understanding of curated visuals in today’s social media landscape, as reflected in the multiple music videos of Lemonade and Jay-Z’s 4:44.

It’s no secret that combining social media and highly creative visuals is a winning combination. But to ensure the success of your client’s products upon launch, you must leverage social media to reach your target audience. Follow up with a steady stream of high-quality visual content that’s shareable, accessible and most importantly, relevant.

Authenticity

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a recent Beyoncé or Jay-Z interview. Instead of relying on the media, or even social media, to give fans an inside look at their lives, both Bey and Jay prefer to pour little details of their life into their music. Beyoncé’s mastery of social media is impressive – she occasionally posts rare snapshots from her day-to-day life, puts time and effort into creating a spectacle when announcing milestones and hardly ever adds captions or hashtags, letting the images speak for themselves. As a result, fans interpret and discuss the images, and are left wanting more.

Audiences are smart and can easily discern an inauthentic brand. So cut through the clutter by staying true to your brand’s core values and identity; be honest and daring, let your voice ring true in all your communications and never be afraid to weigh in on issues that are pertinent to your business.

Though you may encounter 99 problems, PR should never be one. A good PR strategy is irreplaceable – so why not invest time and energy in creating a fail-proof communications game plan? Reach out to us if you’re in the dark about how to get started.

Need help crafting the ideal PR strategy? Drop us a message at hello@mutant.com.sg

(Cover photo source: Pinterest)

How to Get the Most Out of Your LinkedIn Profile

In this social media-driven world, it’s easy to set up accounts on every single online platform and then only truly engage with one or two. Many brands are attracted to Facebook and Instagram because of their high user numbers and often end up neglecting LinkedIn, which can be incredibly powerful if used correctly.

When we ask why LinkedIn is often overlooked, the usual response is that they either don’t have time to devote to it or are unsure of what to post – LinkedIn is, after all, career-focused, so uploading that photo of your pet or snaps from your holiday don’t seem entirely appropriate.

So, what is?

Personal Career Updates

It may feel a bit uncomfortable to shout about your own workplace achievements, but if there’s any place for it, it’s LinkedIn. For example, when you’re promoted, in addition to updating your profile with the new role information, you should write and publish a post conveying your excitement for this next step in your career. Likewise, if a project or product you’ve worked long and hard on is announced, debuts or receives great media coverage, you should absolutely post about that. If you’re worried about the tone of your post, just keep it short and simple, and stick to the facts – your network of contacts will be pleased to hear about your achievements, so don’t hide them.

Industry News

If huge news about the industry you’re in breaks, you can be sure that everyone in your office will be talking about it. Additionally, everyone in your industry will be talking about it online, and LinkedIn is a great place for you to add your two cents about the announcement, whether it’s a simple sharing of a news article, a comment on someone else’s post about the news or a post containing your thoughts on the matter.

Engaging with Others’ Content

As with other social media platforms, one of the main features of LinkedIn is connecting with other people. Your LinkedIn timeline will likely be filled with posts, articles and news that your past and present colleagues and industry contacts have shared, so why not scroll through once a day to check in on the online chatter? LinkedIn allows users to like, comment on and share posts, so if something resonates with you or sparks your interest, giving it a like or leaving a comment is never a bad thing – plus, if it’s from a contact, the engagement will perhaps create a dialogue that leads to business opportunities. Win-win.

Publishing Your Own Articles

If you aspire to be a thought leader within your industry, then LinkedIn is the perfect platform for sharing your insights. Be it career advice, your take on trends or a deeply researched piece, writing and posting an article on LinkedIn is a great way for your voice to be heard and shared. If you’re unsure of the calibre of your writing skills, have a trusted friend or co-worker read over your piece, or – if you’d really like to beef up your LinkedIn profile and following – engage a content management team who can work with you to develop and execute content ideas.

Need a hand with your social media appearance? Drop us a note at hello@mutant.com.sg 

How to get the most out of your relationship with your marketing agency

A client-agency relationship is more than just a business transaction. It takes more than charismatic account management and savvy sales pitches to make the relationship really work. What many agencies and clients miss, is in the on boarding process– from the business objectives to the culture. Here are 5 key points to help you kick-start an awesome partnership with your marketing agency:

Invest some time

Given that you’re trusting this agency with the reputation of your brand, you need to feel confident about the ability and reputation of the team. Plus,  actually getting on well with the people you’re dealing with has a huge impact on your relationship – so don’t be afraid to explore the company culture, values and, of course, technical expertise. Developing authentic, trusted connections with your customers is at the heart of marketing; similarly, you need to feel confident in your relationship with your agency. The best way to do this? Invest some time when it comes to finding out a little bit more about the agency, whether it be heading over for a lengthy chemistry meeting, going out to lunch or arranging a happy hour.

Agree to a communication plan

At the start of any new client relationship, a communication plan should be mutually agreed upon from day one. 

Some tips to consider when agreeing to a clear communication plan:

  • How often and how you’ll catch up, whether it’s in person or over a call
  • Your point of contact – Knowing exactly who your liaison is saves a lot of time and effort when you’re in need of a prompt  response
  • The agreed goals and objectives for your business and what you expect from your agency.
Set measurable key performance indicators (KPIs)

In order to keep up with and evaluate the performance of your campaigns, your agency will need to provide you with specific metrics against which to benchmark success. These should be based on business goals and expectations that were set out at the very beginning of your relationship. Reviewing them thoroughly will allow for greater productivity moving forward, and will also signal when there needs to be a change in strategic direction as well.

Make your meetings count

No matter how often or seldom your meetings occur,  preparation will enable you to get the most value from your meetings with your agency and negate the need for continuous threads of emails or calls outside your regular meetings.

Tips:

  • Agree upon an agenda before each meeting. This will give you the opportunity to include topics that are a priority
  • Have objectives clearly defined before the meeting
  • Ensure all relevant people are present to allow decisions to be made
Make the most of your agency’s expertise

You know your brand and industry the best. Similarly, your agency will know the latest developments and technologies in their industry best. In order to optimise your campaigns, they should be able to anticipate twists and turns, and should have the ability to adapt quickly when things don’t go as first planned or when new opportunities arise.

Your agency should always work according to your agreed plan and scope, but flexibility is crucial to the success of your campaign performance. Not only does this benefit your outcome, but its encourages your trust in them to be able to deliver on outcomes that matter to you.

At the end of the day, your agency contains a wealth of knowledge and expertise, so use it! Explore all the ways you can learn from them;  whether it’s downloading guides, reading their blog or regular newsletter or simply asking questions your agency can help you grow your own skill set.

Want to talk more about how an agency of experts could help your business? Drop us a line at hello@mutant.com.sg

4 PR Takeaways from the Winter Olympics 2018

The frozen mountains of South Korea have seen much action over the last two weeks, as Olympians brave the freezing temperatures and unforgiving landscapes to bring glory to their countries. As the 2018 Winter Olympics draws to a close, here’s a few PR lessons to consider:

Relatability is key

Brands should take a page out of teen virtuoso Chloe Kim’s book- even in the middle of competition, the Olympic gold medalist shamelessly tweeted about her dog, being “hangry” and her eyeliner. Her sincere and heartfelt posts won over netizens, making her one of the most popular athletes in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

While we don’t suggest that your brand blog about everything under the sun, it is necessary to speak the language of consumers. Chloe Kim became everyone’s best friend almost overnight because she came across as a regular teenage girl to her peers despite being an accomplished athlete. Similarly, your brand should engage with your target audience in a way that feels authentic, relatable and honest. Speak the language of your consumers, and encourage two-way dialogue wherever possible.

Switch things up

Historically, figure skating costumes have been always been gendered. This year, Hungary’s Ivett Toth, France’s Maé-Bérénice Méité and Latvia’s Diana Nikitina were amongst the few women skaters who challenged status quo by ditching the usual skirts and dresses in favour of embellished bodysuits. Ivett Toth’s leather-and-AC/DC routine made her an instant internet sensation.

Similarly, the PR industry has undergone massive changes in the past century. Digital disruption and the emergence of a new generation that perpetually lives online presents a new set of challenges to brands. To keep things fresh and interesting, your business must come up with unexplored ways of reaching out to potential consumers. Amp up your communication game by daring to go where your competitors have not ventured before — and, your customers are bound to sit up and take notice of you.

When the spotlight is on you, shine

For two weeks, South Korea had the world’s undivided attention as top political leaders, elite athletes, tourists and journalists congregated in PyeongChang to experience the 2018 Winter Olympics. While South Korea has consistently engaged in a display of “soft power”, courting the international community with entertainment and technology,  the last few years have been focused on their diplomatic squabbles with neighbour North Korea. The success of the Winter Olympics will not only bring long-term economic prosperity to South Korea, but will also give the country a chance to shift its narrative from disgruntled neighbour and producer of K-Pop to an influential player in the international community.

If your business is thrust into the limelight, even unexpectedly- do not shy away from the opportunity to take control of your narrative and create goodwill. Embrace the attention and use it as a springboard to propel your brand to the forefront of your consumers minds’.

Don’t talk unless you have your facts in place

Recovering from a massive “foot-in-the-mouth” moment is much harder in the age of technology and social media and is likely to set you back by a few millions in damage control. American Broadcasting Network NBC is still reeling from their coverage of the Winter Olympics, where a supposed “expert” on Asia made insensitive remarks about the Japanese occupation of Korea. After angry netizens swooped in, NBC was forced to fire the commentator, apologised to the organising committee and read their apology on-air.

The internet has the memory of an elephant and little mistakes can be blown out of proportion. A single gaffe could cost you heavily, which is why it is wiser to subject public statements to several rounds of editing before they are sent out. An embarrassing typo or a glaring factual error could end up as internet fodder, propelling your brand to infamy if you aren’t careful enough.

Want to speak more about your PR campaign or media training? Drop a note at hello@mutant.com.sg

How to determine marketing priorities as a tech startup

As a tech startup owner, you’re faced with a multitude of challenges and anxieties as you think of ways to grow your business. Budgeting, resourcing, manpower, business development are all high up on the list, but so is marketing, which often doesn’t get the due it deserves. That’s because startups don’t know where to begin and have trouble identifying key priorities. And we get it — with so many options and so much jargon thrown around, it can be a confusing.

Take a step back, breathe and focus on one thing at a time. Here’s a few tips to help you determine your marketing priorities:

Audience group

Get the ball rolling by identifying your target audience. What are you trying to sell and who is it for? Do you have a brand voice in place? If not, focus on concurrently establishing your brand voice.

Whatever your end product or service is, defining your audience group allows you to identify the best marketing and media channels allowing for a more streamlined marketing strategy. For example, if you’re in the business of developing a payroll system, consider channeling your funds towards platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter for your digital marketing, instead of consumer-facing platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.

Budget

Here comes the word that no startup owner wants to hear – budget. As a startup running on a lean budget, every dollar counts, but that doesn’t mean compromising on marketing. Expensive marketing doesn’t necessarily equate to good marketing and vice-versa.  Relying solely on your product attributes sounds idyllic, but more often than not, it isn’t enough.

We’re living in a digital age and this means you should take advantage of online channels and social media – after all, it’s free to use and easy to set up. Also, explore other avenues such as user-generated content, blogs and white-papers instead of spending money on advertising.

Define outcomes

Every marketing campaign has to have clearly defined outcomes and objectives. To do that, you need to identify where your company sits in the growth cycle.  If it’s still early days, brand awareness and data generation should be part of your KPIs. The data you acquire from these efforts will help define future campaigns too.

However, if you’re startup has taken off beyond the brand awareness stage, you should focus on ramping up sales and building a lead gen pipeline, meaning it’s time to reassess your marketing priorities and make necessary shifts.   
For B2B brands this means focusing on content marketing, while consumer-facing startups may consider giveaways and social media flash deals to excite their consumers. User-generated content is a great way to create buzz around your brand — not only is it free, it also considerably improves brand engagement.

Suggested reads:

If you need help getting started with your marketing priorities, drop us a note at hello@mutant.com.sg 

How to Millennial-Proof your Content Marketing

Millennials are often described as confident, liberal, lazy and even indecisive. But, now more than ever, this generation of 18-34-year-olds is recognised for their spending power, which is predicted to reach about $1.4 trillion annually in 2020. No surprise then that every brand wants to catch this generation. But getting and holding their attention is no small feat – especially when it comes to online behaviour. Millennials react differently to trigger points because of the overwhelming presence of technology in their lives (think Snapchat and Instagram). It also makes them the most informed generation!

Effective content marketing starts with a great storyline, so in order to connect with this generation, you need to find a story to tell. So how does one intrigue this bunch and hold their attention?

Here are five tactics that can help with your Millennial content marketing:

Don’t curate, create original content

Creating original content gives your brand unique value online. Initiate the conversation! Original content, in the form of an e-book, infographics or blogs, also works exceedingly well as a lead gen tool, especially to drive traffic to your landing page. Better still – Google loves original content especially if it’s useful and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) friendly!

Optimise content for social

Social is the new SEO, driving the most significant traffic back to brands. Invest a chunk of your marketing budget in optimising content for social platforms. Short captioned videos need to grab their attention in the first ten seconds. Make sure you keep it crisp, as Millennials don’t wait around to watch long and boring videos!

Lean on data

Using data to analyse the performance of your content can give you an insight into what kind of content potentially turns readers into customers. Use tools like Google Adwords keyword planner to help find relevant keyword phrases that people search for. It will help you to come up with exciting and relevant blog ideas. Similarly, use Google Analytics to track and measure whether your content resonated with your audience and how it performed.

Stick to authenticity

Millennials can spot an ad from a million miles away. So keep your communications, advertisements, and content as authentic as possible. Share real, actionable tips, be transparent in sharing and keep adjectives to a minimum. Most importantly, know your authentic voice and use it effectively to connect. Don’t just market to them.

Make it Insta-worthy

Each piece of content should be designed with Millennials in mind. Feature items that are instantly shareable – both in real life and online. Do also partner with key social media influencers (who breed authenticity) to help spread your story. Brands should prioritise influencer campaigns when marketing to Millennials. They relate to the authenticity of influencer content and prefer the no frills, real, up close and personal nature of the medium the influencers use. When creating content for Millennials, keep in mind what they value as well as where and how they consume content.

Like what you’ve read? Drop a note at hello@mutant.com.sg for a customised content marketing plan for your brand!

 

Let’s talk branded video content

From online TV or subscription services like Netflix, to free video on platforms such as YouTube and social media, folks in Asia are consuming more video content than ever before. You’ve heard this all before – and while brands now have a robust video strategy in place, creatives are still far from perfect.

Here’s our 5 key takeaways on creating effective online ads for branded video campaigns:

Optimise video for mobile

Mobile is already the primary device for accessing the internet in APAC, yet, brands still choose to produce glossy 30-second TV-type ads that do little to hook mobile users. Because content is consumed differently on mobile devices, brands need to ensure their videos capture attention and emotion from the get-go.

Make a sentimental pitch

Video tech company Unruly’s data shows that sentimental storytelling ads are the best performers for 18-34 year olds, a key audience segment for many brands. The study showed that millennials have a stronger reaction to emotional content like this 2014 campaign for Thai Life Insurance.

 

 

Make it work for sound-off

According to Unruly, 80% of millennials mute a brand’s video ads. To engage this audience, advertisers need to create content for a sound-off experience. Avoid dialogue and use text and graphics to draw consumers in

Tailor video for specific social media

YouTube users hold phones sideways to consume content, while Facebook videos are best viewed upright. Majority of Facebook video is watched without sound, while YouTube is always played with full sound. Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter come with their own peculiarities. Brands that stand out are the ones that are tailoring social media content for each channel and country’s internet speeds.

Think beyond views

When it comes to measuring a video’s success, views aren’t everything. Whether it is to increase awareness, consideration, or influence sales, it is important for advertisers to establish marketing goals for their campaigns, and then come up with a set of KPIs to track and measure campaign success.

 

Let us help you create effective content – drop us a message at hello@mutant.com.sg

 

 

Small fish, big pond. When to outsource your marketing

Whilst almost everyone can grasp the basics of marketing, what does it take to really shine?

The overarching goal for most businesses is to expand and grow, though when it comes to marketing, too often there is a shortage of time and resources to figure out the most effective digital, transactional, and diverse strategies. Sure, you can try do it all yourself but that could lead to poor quality, potentially harming your business. And what a waste of your productive time and money that would be!

Hiring an agency to give you a hand is no longer exclusive to bigger shops, in fact, it is a lot more common than you think for small to medium size businesses to call in some experts to give them the boost they are looking for.

First and foremost, you get a VIP pass to expert industry knowledge. The benefits are immediate. A great marketing agency is not only up to scratch with marketing technologies and how to make them work for you, they also have the experience of doing it for others. This could give you the edge you need and saves you scrambling to play catch-up with competitors.

Secondly, putting your marketing in the hands of specialists, means your marketing won’t suffer due to staffing issues. Consistency is key when it comes to successful marketing, especially online – if not, Google will notice flows in your content production. Nowadays, all it takes is for your in-house marketer to go on holiday or have a sick day to affect the smooth running of your output. Outsourcing simply keeps the consistency despite what may be happening in the office. All the while, you get to focus on what your business does best. Working with the right agency not only means being up to date with latest technologies, it also helps to know where your target audience is and what systems are best suited to tap into them. All you need to do is sit back and watch your market grow with the trust that this is being done for you.

Outside knowledge from working with an agency can bring you and your business numerous benefits that you may not have considered; fresh eyes, new ideas, industry expertise and technology know-how. Skype, for example, used a team of developers in Estonia to build out their business when they first got started in 2003, leading to a buy out with Microsoft in 2011 for $8.3 billion USD. Slack is another company that has seen great success outsourcing design in its early days.

Last, but certainly not least, brand monitoring. Outsourcing your marketing function shouldn’t be a one-trick pony. A dedicated and proactive agency should be continually optimising your marketing efforts. The world is a competitive place for brands big and small, and it is crucial to lower your risk of market stagnation. Brands need to be up to speed, consistent, as well as creative with their ideas. Having a great marketing campaign but not the strategy and monitoring in place is a slippery slope for brands. However, an agency will constantly try new things to keep your business on trend to deliver agreed-upon goals.

Sound good? But where do you start. Choosing the right agency for your business can be mind boggling and full of people trying to sell you something without your objectives in mind. Find an agency that understands your brand and is willing to take the time to work out the best strategy for your business.

If you want to discuss your business potential, big or small, drop us a message at hello@mutant.com.sg

 

How to combat fake news

There’s no news like fake news! While fake news has been around for a long time, the 2016 US presidential election showed the lightning speed at which it goes viral on social media. And brands aren’t spared either – the rise of malicious content and alternative news sites means that brands have to protect themselves, now more than ever. That’s exactly what a Washington DC pizzeria discovered when it fell victim to fake news reports that led a man to open fire in the restaurant following claims of it being a child-abuse ring.

For brands, combatting the menace of fake news means getting back to the basics of PR and developing a crisis communications plan. Here are some tips for brands to counter fake news effectively:

Stop feeding the trolls

If you’ve fallen prey to fake news, assuring people by making official press statements would only grant a short-term relief. Take this opportunity to turn a crisis around. Instead of replying to negative messages with negative response, focus on spreading positive news. Be diligent in your response, leaving no room for interpretation. Explain why the news is incorrect, state your brand’s position in that context, and distribute your content accordingly.

Don’t over react

Recognise the difference between fake news and sarcasm as some media outlets may take a contrarian view. Identifying this can be crucial and should be tacked with good humour as opposed to being defensive!

Make employees your brand advocates

In times of a communication breakdown, it is key to ensure every employee is equipped with the right message. To do this, everyone in the company should know what happened and where the truth lies. An employee may take to social media to express their own opinion about the firm, and if this opinion is ever based on fake news – a small spark is enough to start a fire.

Active monitoring and response

Implement robust monitoring for all social channels, sub-brands and key spokespeople. Get rid of auto-responses, instead respond proactively and in real-time. Moreover, investments in paid search and promotion on social media sites can go a long way to countering fake news. Have adequate skills and budget in place for paid planning and targeting.

Publish more often

Written content has the ability to combat a fake news story, alter a negative situation, and reinvent your brand in a positive light. Do not republish attacks. Instead, share positive content that counters fake news via owned, shared media channels and influencers including traditional media in the form of blogs and thought leadership.

Facing troubles tackling fake news? We can help! Reach us at hello@mutant.com.sg

Crisis 101: Picking up the pieces after a social media meltdown

Social media is a very powerful tool many brands use today to tell stories and engage with their audience. With this power also comes great responsibility, and brands need to be accountable for the messages they broadcast – be it positive or negative.

We’ve seen brands like Coca-Cola and Oreo absolutely ace at their social media strategy, and then you have a restaurant like Amy’s Baking Company that seem to have fallen miles from grace. While nobody plans for a social media disaster, what’s more important is how to successfully bounce back if and when it happens.

Keep calm and don’t freak out

It’s anyone’s fair game to say whatever they like about you – particularly on social media. Our first instinct will be to get really defensive and we get it, it’s your brand and you have to protect it. But going on a rant on social media is like listening and watching a person scream through a loud-hailer – it’s annoying and embarrassing and can tarnish the brand you’ve worked so hard to build. Be smart, keep calm and breathe!

Check out this classic social media rant from Tinder.

Never claim you were hacked

It’s 2016 and everyone can see through that lie. It’s obvious you’ve just flopped on social media and running away from your mistakes will only anger the public further and escalate the disaster.

Case in point: Amy’s Baking Company

Example of a social media crisis

Example of a bad response to a social media crisis

 

Think before you react

It’s great that your first reaction is to explain what happened. However, it’s important to stop and think carefully about your response as a social media crisis can easily put you in a state of panic.

Structure your official response, be clear and act quickly as a lot can happen on social media in a very short span of time.

Own up to your mistakes

Nobody’s perfect and everyone makes mistakes. Instead of staying silent or claiming that you were hacked, turn it around with a sincere apology. Your fans will appreciate the humility.

Here’s how Expedia apologised and engaged with its customers.

Inject some humour

Trying to turn it around with some humour can work wonders and is a creative way to pick up the pieces. However, it is largely dependant on the severity of the situation and if you’ve hit a nerve on a sensitive issue it’s probably best to handle it with utmost austerity.

Here’s how Burger King handled the negative backlash regarding their fries:

Albeit self-deprecating, the humour was appreciated.

Open up the conversation

In moving forward after the apology, brands can react positively by opening up conversations. In response to a huge social media backlash, Dominos set up a Twitter account to discuss what went wrong. The two-sided communication proved to be a success for them as they were honest and transparent.

 

A social media disaster is not the end of the world for your brand – what really matters is how you handle it. Some brands bounce back from the backlash because of their ability to repair the damage, while others never do. Always be prepared and have a backup plan.

Need help with your social media strategy? Get in touch with us at hello@mutant.com.sg.

 

You can’t do everything

This feature is part of a regular series”Getting frank with Joe” giving you a brutally frank, yet realistic look at the business world.

When you run your own business, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing no one has the same passion and drive that you have. You’ll think other people’s way of doing everything isn’t how you would do it, the quality and attention to detail isn’t at the level you have, and the drive and passion behind it simply isn’t there.

The ironic thing is that you are correct. Your business is your baby and you cannot expect people to have the same investment in it without the emotional and financial input you have had.

But it also doesn’t matter. Seriously, stop complaining and be a solutions person.

Having worked with dozens of startups, this is one factor I regularly see that impacts the long term viability of a company – no matter its market potential.

Focus on growing your business

In a small business it’s easy to oversee all activity and influence everything. That’s cool if you want to stay a small business, but I’m guessing you don’t. If you are spending all your time overseeing everything, you need to ask yourself how effective you can be actually growing your business.

You know what you are good at, so why not focus on that? Get other people to do the other work to free you up.

Different doesn’t mean worse

When you hire someone else to do a job, I guarantee that 95% of the time they won’t do it exactly how you would. You need to get over that. I don’t mean throw quality to the wind, I mean get used to people doing things differently.

It’s better to get something happening, than to kill time and slow your growth doing everything yourself.

If quality drops when you step away, or your staff aren’t performing, then invest your time into training rather than instantly taking over every function. If things don’t improve, fire them, and hire someone better.

Interns are not a growth solution

I’ve seen this a lot and I think it’s worth slotting in here as a standalone point. If you are trying to resource your company by stacking it full of interns, you are going down a dangerous path. Yes they are cheap and enthusiastic, but they are also inexperienced and short-term.

By all means, have your interns to help lighten the load, but don’t treat them as a replacement to hiring experienced, capable professionals.  

Experience is sometimes worth the spend

When you hire for any specialist role, make sure you’re getting someone who knows what they are doing and are experienced in the field. It’s worth the extra money.

If you are tight on finances the argument is the same. It’s better to have someone who is experienced and great working for three days a week, rather than paying the same for a full-time junior who needs constant support and checking.   

Specialists are specialists for a reason

If you are using an agency or have a senior hire, listen to what they say. This doesn’t mean you can’t have input – it means that you don’t ignore their warnings without an extremely good reason.

I’ve seen so many CEOs of all-sized businesses decide they know better and interfere in a process they, quite frankly, have no business getting involved in.

You might have read the newspaper every day for your entire adult life or even been interviewed a couple of times, but it doesn’t mean you know more about the media than the trained specialists you are paying, who have dedicated their working lives to getting results for clients.

I know all of this is easier said than done, but if you invest your time and resources towards making sure the people around you are capable and awesome, the payoff is massive.

Have a question? Why not drop us a note at hello@mutant.com.sg.