Tag: brand

Unfriendly skies

April 12th, 2017   •   no comments   

This is a cautionary tale — about reputation, story and social media.

The world loves a story. United Airlines’ misadventure in passenger ‘re-accommodation’ on a flight from Chicago to Louisville on Sunday is a reminder of what can go wrong when companies fail to remember that.

If the world loves a story, the internet loves outrage. And nothing helps outrage go viral better than Facebook, where a fellow passenger first posted the video of the man – a doctor – being bodily dragged from the plane by security agents. Later images of his bleeding head only served to fan the flames.

It seemed that once the story was out, it was like a train speeding out of control – impossible to derail before the train wreck.

But it was only once the damage hit the company where it hurt – in its share price – that the CEO finally issued an apology. A real one, not the the wooden excuse first issued by United on its website. Timing is everything, and had this statement been issued immediately, it may have helped avert the worst disaster. read more

The Moral of the Story

December 4th, 2014   •   no comments   
The Moral of the Story

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you can’t have missed the fact that storytelling is making headlines:

 

Harness the power of storytelling!

How to use story to improve customer buy-in!

Top storytelling techniques to build your business!

 

If you’re like me, you’ve wondered: why is it suddenly okay to tell stories?

As a child, storytelling was frowned upon – unless it happened in the library, where you sat in strict silence, listening to an adult read a book. Or when you wrote a story as an assignment for English class. Telling stories was quite another matter.

“Somebody’s been telling tales out of school!” I remember being told when I ratted out one of my siblings. Being a tell-tale was not cool. Also heard: “That’s a tall tale if I ever heard one.” “Somebody has an active imagination!” (Not necessarily a good thing, judging by the looks exchanged between adults). The message? It was a short step from telling stories to perjury, prison and life as a hardened criminal.

So when did storytelling become acceptable? As an advertising copywriter back in the 1980s, any attempt to bring story to copy was tough. Long copy had gone out with David Ogilvy. Splashy art direction with short headlines ruled the day. As far as the marketers were concerned, the product was the hero of any ad; in retail it was often the price point itself. The consumer was the target market, the audience, and if he got involved at all he was often portrayed as the chump.

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Can communication restore lost faith?

October 9th, 2014   •   no comments   
Can communication restore lost faith?

 After a two-week strike by pilots that left both passengers and crew on the tarmac, Air France KLM is fighting hard to regain lost ground. But in the long haul, it will take more than a letter of apology to win back customers

I’ve been flying between France and Canada for over twenty years. We usually travel back to Toronto at least once a year to visit family and friends. Several years ago we decided not to fly Air France anymore – it’s just too risky.

I’m not talking about safety – although the article in the October 2014 edition of Vanity Fair on the ill-fated flight from Rio to Paris isn’t exactly reassuring. The fact is Air France is just as safe as any of the world’s major airlines. And statistically, air travel is still the safest form of transportation.

It’s the risk of a strike that holds us back. Especially as we often travel around Christmas or during the summer holidays: prime strike season in France. And we are not alone in avoiding the national airline, especially since the latest round of cancellations.

It’s one thing to lose your luggage, even keep you waiting. Passengers are fairly understanding of delays caused by technical problems. It’s all in how it’s handled. And that almost always comes down to communication. read more

How to win the name game

February 27th, 2014   •   1 comment   
How to win the name game

In my former job working in communications for Merck’s biopharma division, I struggled daily with the company name.

Here’s the thing: I did not work for Merck & Co. — aka the American Merck, the bigger of the two and the one that 99% of people assume you mean when they hear the name.

My employer was Merck KGaA. Ah, the German Merck, people would say. Yes, the original Merck, its family owners would have you know. The world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. They didn’t really care that they were dwarfed in size by their bigger American cousin. They had the legal rights to the name everywhere in the world but in North America, and they used it with pride. And if people didn’t understand, well…that was their problem.

While I understood their position from a historic point of view, as a communicator it was counter-intuitive. We PR folk want a solid base upon which to build our brand’s reputation, a clearly differentiated identity and strengths compared to competitors. The confusion around ‘Which Merck?’ only served to water down anything we had to say about the company. read more

How to tell a compelling story

November 26th, 2013   •   no comments   
How to tell a compelling story

A story is the shortest distance between you and your audience. How can you make storytelling work for your business or brand?

With the rise of social media, everyone with a smartphone has a picture to post, a point of view to blog about or a new link to share across the digital world. The explosion of so much content makes it all the more challenging for brands to cut through the clutter.

You can create compelling content that will engage your customers and keep them coming back. Content marketing has transformed the way brands interact with their customers – and storytelling is an essential tool for building relationships.  What’s more, your business is brimming with stories just waiting to be told. Stories that are relevant, timely and worthy of sharing.

To do this successfully requires a basic understanding of the art of storytelling. And that begs the question: how do you tell a compelling story? read more