Tuesday, October 18, 2016

[Digital Strategy Consultants] Real vs Chauffer Knowledge

We recently pitched for the digital strategy retainer for an Internet Start-Up. During the meeting with the Director of Strategy, the Director was explaining that his company was now in the land grab phase of the business and that he needed us to drive awareness and sign-ups. For those that have not heard the term, land grabbing is when a tech start-up tries to sign-up as many users as possible so as to become the dominant player in the market.

Like many start-ups, this start-up was also using cash incentives to drive this growth in users. Noticing a lack of loyalty amongst users and the low barriers to switching applications, we asked the Director what mechanism were they using to “lock-in” the sign-ups. Stunned, he babbled on about how they were using the sign-ups to build a data-base which they would then exploit for cross-selling and up-selling in future.

We share this story as it clearly highlights the issue of real versus chauffer knowledge. Many times our clients (and even us) overestimate their abilities and just because they read about a strategy, they think they know how it works. The reality is that they
don’t. Truth be told, the concept behind land grabbing is not just about the number of sign-ups, it is about building a profitable and loyal user base.

While we applaud the Director of Strategy and his partners for their entrepreneurial spirit, we think that they have chauffer knowledge when it comes to building a successful tech start-up. The start-up needs to quickly identify their ‘circle of competence’ and work within it. For those that fall beyond the circle, they should be humble enough to say they don’t know and hire professionals with the real knowledge.

The same rule applies when selecting a consulting firm to assist you in your digital strategy. Not all that talk a good game know what they are doing. Knowing OF a strategy and knowing THE strategy are fundamentally different.

Friday, October 14, 2016

[Crisis Communications] What You Should Consider When Hiring a Crisis Communications Consultant?

What Should Companies Look for When Hiring a Crisis Communication Consultant?

In an exclusive interview with Talking Singapore, CW Fong & Associates’ Principal Consultant explained that in a crisis, knowing what to do is only half the solution. The other half, and an equally important half, is the ability to effectively intervene at the start of a crisis. This is because the ubiquity and speed of social media has altered the information environment such that early sentiments will shape the trajectory of online comments.

Unfortunately, the majority of crisis communication firms in Singapore focus only on the know-how and do not possess any ability to intervene. In most instances, the consultant will rely exclusively on access to the main stream media to communicate with stakeholders. This, as we all know, is ineffective in the era of social media as the media cycle is slow. Additionally, there is also no guarantee that the reporter will see the issue your way and his or her reporting may add oil to the fire.

It is precisely because of the need to have the ability to intervene in a crisis that CW Fong & Associates directly owns and manages several key Singapore-based social media platforms. Having full control over what is said, and with a combined reach to over 250,000 Singaporeans, CW Fong & Associates in the only crisis communications firm in Singapore that can help our clients with online intervention during a crisis. In the same time that other firms spend liaising with the media to get a story out, our clients can have their stories out and circulating online. Thus, CW Fong & Associates not only has the know-how, but also has the how to effectively push out a narrative when it matters the most.

Organizations looking to hire a Crisis Communications Consultant should know that know-how is no longer enough. It is imperative that they hire a consultant or firm that has the ability to intervene.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

[Crisis Communications Strategies] Always tell the truth

Trump's hot mic saga took a turn for the worse when two other women came forward to claim that Trump has touched them inappropriately. In a classic strategy of doubling down when ones reputation is attacked, Trump categorically denied that he had sexually assaulted anyone. While this is the typical action of an innocent man, it is not the wise thing to do if you are not.
In today's era of social media, a perfect information environment exists and lies will not remain hidden for very long. And, when the truth is revealed, the crisis of telling a lie is usually much worse than the original crisis. In this case, Trump has once again doubled down by threatening to sue The New York Times that carried the story.
Unfortunately, Trump has miscalculated with his threat to sue The  New York Times. This is because they have deep pockets, a legal team (who probably vetted the story) and they will not be cowed by the threat. If anything, the threat will push The New York Times to investigate the case with more vigor and this will not bode well for Trump. 
For Singaporeans, this will bring to mind the NKF and TT Durai incident in 2004, where the then Chief Executive Officer sued The Straits Times for an article about how he was misusing public donations. Like Trump, TT Durai had successfully used the threat of legal actions to silent his critics before. This however worked only when the threat was made against an individual who did not have deep pockets. So when TT Durai went head to head with The Straits Times, the subsequent attention and media focus brought to light his misdeeds and Durai was eventually found guilty of misleading the charitable organization and sentenced to 3 months jail.
The key point for communications consultants is that all crisis communications strategies need to be based on the truth. Doubling down on a weak (or in this case illegal) situation will not turn out well. In instances like this, the best strategy is to come clean - admit responsibility, apologies with sincerity and offer contrition.
crisis communications strategies lessons from Trump