Sunday, August 7, 2011

What does CEO really expect of PR?

Of the past CEOs I served in my career, how many bosses truly understand PR? Very few leaders do.

The gross underestimation is a reflection of how CEO use PR as strategic levers to achieve business objectives. Strategic PR deployment hardly crosses their minds; media management is all they can think of; and many PR heads are still not influencing the right way, as they continue to be excluded from management meet!

While mindset change needs to occur with the leaders, PR professionals must show their value. The art of effective engagement is the key to successful PR. Setting communications protocol to have meaning, training leaders in the principles, consistently providing analysis, sound judgment, wisdom, and don't forget practical follow-up.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

One year on... corporate wisdom

Stepping back to corporate after 14 months, I reviewed my life now and before the last career break. Did the world change? No, but something else in me evolved.
Giving my best in every position I served is a given
Leading my team to meet corporate objectives is about delivering commitment
Counseling our leaders to be more successful is engaging the top to walk the talk
Nurturing my people to grow is inspiring; a great joy
However, dwelling on the honours you deserve can only be harmful. Pinning for what you should have received may make you miss the satisfaction of knowing you did your best
"It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honourable to seek one's own honour" (Proverbs 25:27)
You will naturally be noticed when work is accomplished quietly and faithfully.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When life becomes just a fleeting breath

As I remembered my loved ones tonight I felt compelled to record my endless love and deepest gratitude for him. Every memory is still so fresh as I recounted his love and sacrifice for me. Life really becomes a fleeting moment in a hospital. Every milli second counts during the death hour. October 11 was so painful that my world collapsed. No amount of consolation helps - only God's everlasting love and grace embraced my failing heart from stopping.  At half past 12 on a bright sunday, after the usual service, he left me in full witness alone. Like a flowing river, his breath was gone without a trace. He exited from this world without saying goodbye. Just as he didnt make a grand entrance, he left so very quietly. Recently a very close friend described me as one living life without breath. I pondered for days.  We are nothing but a fleeting breath that's here now and there forever.... whatever you are worried about today or fighting so very hard for, stop and think about your last breath. Does any of these matter afterall?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Social Media: Different Folks, Different Strokes

In a recent social media roundtable "Business Use of Social Media" organized by Eastwest PR in June 2010 which I've attended, revealed some interesting facts. Here are the extracts:

The Business Use of Social Media

While some users enter social media for entertainment and purely personal gratification, many people use social media for business growth. Facebook alone, which now has over 400-million active users, is considered a ‘gold mine’ of customer information and for marketing programs. Some B2C and B2B companies have started to embark on social media marketing campaigns while some are still in the stage of assessing their strategy.

During EASTWEST’s Roundtable Discussion 3 entitled ‘The Business Use of Social Media’, participants from different business verticals shared their insights, strategies and tactics on their business use of social media. There were interesting viewpoints from business owners, executives in corporate and marketing communications, sales people, artists, consultants and recruitment specialists, among others. The participants were in different stages of using social media. Some are already using social media and leveraging it for sales and marketing. Others have just started to get into social media and still navigating the platform for business. The more cautious ones have started to use social media on a personal basis and have yet to be convinced how they can use it to positively impact their business.

Despite having different opinions, the conclusion at the end of the discussion is that there is no single approach to social media. The social media approach, as well as the tools to be used will have to vary depending on the goals that they had set out for their respective business organisations. The common approach for all businesses, whether big or small, will be to start with assessing their organisation’s needs and match the right social media tools. There were two important prerequisites in the business use of social media that were highlighted:

1.Having the ability to create value-adding content in order to effectively engage stakeholders

2.The readiness or the commitment to engage with the relevant public on a regular basis.

Ian McKee CEO of Vocanic, a Social Media and WoM Marketing agency, started with a clear position that ‘social media’ is actually a misnomer and in fact a misleading term: “From a brand point of view, it (social media) isn’t social. It’s social between people. And the platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In) are not the media. The real media is the voice of thousands of people, your customers, discussing your product and the experiences they have with your product. The platforms are simply a vector that carries or broadcasts the conversations. It is what people say that is crucial – which is why Vocanic’s point of view is that there is nothing more valuable for your brand than a recommendation between friends – and the social media platforms available now simply carry and magnify the effect of these recommendations (positive or negative).

Susanna Hasen√∂ehrl differed and asked to keep the ‘social media’ reference for purposes of discussing it in a B2B environment. Coming from a technology vendor, Susanna said there is a whole range of very specific topics that tech companies need to discuss with their customers and potential customers. She views micro blogs and tweets as a source of information and a tremendous opportunity in the B2B area to establish a conversation with potential counterparts and among customers and potential customers.

Ray Bigger, a sales, marketing and people development architect, shared how he likens people’s behaviour towards social media to how the British will queue up on something they don’t have a clue what for. Ray’s opinion-slash-question is that some people could have leapt into it (social media) because of what everybody else is doing. People are too curious: “Oh my god. How the hell am I going to get into that? What is it going to cost me? Is it something that my market segment that I’m targeting –is there people who are actually using it?”

Marcus Lim, a historian painter, on the other hand has a very clear view of his use of social media for business. Using Facebook as an example, he shared that he uses it to interact with his clients (fans). He makes use of the existing games to interact and initiate conversations.

“It’s like throwing a paper ball around a room and passing it around. Some people start having fun throwing the ball and in the process, could initiate a conversation: ‘Why did you throw the ball, Marcus?’ And the conversation begins. Social media to me is starting the ball rolling, breaking the ice, actually getting in and talking with the person at the other side.”

Frederic Moraillon, Managing Director for Southeast Asia, EASTWEST PR, shared a personal experience of coming across the opportunity to work for the company via a LinkedIn conversation with EASTWEST’s principal. “I get a lot of opportunities both personally as well as from a business perspective coming my way because of my involvement in social networks. I like connecting with people though there is a limit to where you can go. LinkedIn is purely for business. Facebook is people I know fairly well and can talk about personal things. Both of them have brought many different opportunities – but my brand has always been there.”

Andrew Pickup, chief operating officer, Microsoft Asia Pacific neutralised different views on social media: “There is no right or wrong way. Every company I think needs to approach it in different ways. The way I would approach it would is to think about what I am doing proactively with social media. What am I being proactive for, what is driving me towards (a goal), and what am I doing reactively? The reactive part is about listening and understand what your constituents and stakeholders are saying about you, you personally, about your company and about your brand and there are tools to help you to do this.”

Andrew shared that the challenge is when one gets to a size like Microsoft or any international company with 100s and millions of people commenting every single day about the company and individuals. With a big company, (listening) tools are needed to taxonomise commentaries. Only then, can companies create content that addresses commentaries. In general, comments from powerful individuals such as a minister, journalist-slash-blogger not necessarily with volume followers, with volume impact will need to be addressed. Otherwise, resources will not permit to engage everyone who comments.

Simon Dale, senior vice president of SAP Asia Pacific and Japan, shares Andrew’s view: “In a B2B space with an organisation of 5000 people, you want the 50 or 60 people who are going to influence the top 3 people to be engaged with you, so they will support the decision that happens through the process. And depending on the culture, if you’re in Japan, that’s an awful lot more people who are going to make the decision than in a western country.”

Simon raised an important point about recognising the influence of commenter in a social media environment. He shared how they (at SAP) treats bloggers the same way as they would the journalists and analysts.

At the heated discussion of “how” participants from major companies use social media in their organisations, EASTWEST moderator, turned to the spa business owners/ operators to ask how they use the platform in the spa industry. Interestingly enough, while the two participants, Christina Tan and Lim Ker Han use social media on a personal basis, they have not used it for business. Among the reasons highlighted is confusion as to how to manage social media and fears of leaving out a significant demographic group — older generations of women who are perceived to be ‘not using social media’.

Greg Lipper, co-founder and CEO of Value Advantage an running five (5) other businesses, like Christina and Han believed there is a vast opportunity in social media for his businesses. However, his major concern was the time he needs to invest in managing the social media.

Lin Hsin Hsin a renowned Singapore artist, poet and composer and an active user of information technology, admits that she is new to social media. Although Hsin Hsin remains hesitant to go into a social media network like Facebook, she admits finding vast information that are extremely focused and relevant in a channel like LinkedIn.

Sebastian Barnard, marketing and corporate communications manager at the British Chamber of Commerce Singapore shares: “We look at social media from two angles. One purely as a tool to connect businesses. Part of what we do as a chain business, is essentially to mediate or be a middleman for businesses to talk to each other. We’re looking at how social media can help us facilitate that. The other way we’re looking at social media is purely as a marketing tool. I’m interested or have come to the opinion that email as a marketing tool is actually dead. I think the days of the email EDM are over. The issue I’ve faced, and this is the issue I’ve sat in many rooms and talked to many people and had many talks is a chicken and egg question that nobody seems to have ever brought up, and that is: Social media is about people opting in. I’ve never heard a discussion about how you get people to opt in. So my question is then is there a role for a traditional marketing tool to achieve that segment?”

Ian, at this point, offers an answer emphasising the importance of value-adding – in the form of valuable content, or, valuable functionality. The value that they find in the organisation, he said, is what will make them want to opt in to a relationship.

To summarise the many different viewpoints, Frederic proposed that the business use of social media, should start with the businesses’ assessment of their own organisation’s needs and goals vis-√†-vis where all the tools fit – options are vast as seen in Brian Solis’s conversation prism and flywheel. Two key prerequisites are having the ability to create value-adding content, and readiness or commitment to interact on a regular basis, whether you use aggregation or manage one-on-one relationships.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Communicate your thought leadership through vBlog

Thought leadership blogs are smart ways to communicate expertise in your industry niche. I have a number of favourite CEO blogs who focus on this topic - their blogs are done with style, substance, and light-touch humour. Check out Go Daddy founder - Bob Parsons' blog in video format.

Get out of your comfort zone! Spending time outside your comfort zone makes you feel alive like never before.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hi darling, I am of no pretense to what i am not. I am more than social media.

In a skype conversation a former colleague asked me what services does 7Skies Communication offer.  I rattled off "pr, communications, marketing and social media". He said he doesn't get it.  His impression is it is all "very broad". And he went on to say: "people I met are very specialized in social media. One guy does marketing through mobile apps. Another focuses on product campaigns and leads generation. It helps to remember what they do". Of course, and many called themselves SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Specialists too.  I was about to add my entry but he went offline.

First, I will not pretend what I am not. I am no technies, I cannot write or market apps.
So what do I offer ?
I help businesses and individuals establish relationships, build relationships, connect, enrich and deepen relationships. Social media is just one of many pr tools to do that. The fundamental purpose of PR is to manage reputation. And social media is a process in attaining the communication goal.

So my friend, I won't bothered to be "less broad" just to get noticed. I am more than social media.

P.S. In case you are reading this blog, please don't take offence I promise I won't spam you if you skype me :)