Archive for December, 2012
It is that time of the year. Last day of 2012 and the start of a new 2013. I posted an article to Huffington Post on what I see ahead by looking backward at reputation trends bubbling up and trends on the vast horizon. Here is the post if you want to settle into the new year with a clear lenses on reputation possibilities.
Wishing you a happy new year!
What spooks markets the most? If you closely follow crises, you probably think about how many different types of crises there are. For example, how do the markets react to a crisis that is due to the questionable behavior of the company or employees? What about product recalls? Or litigation? What about loss of customer data? All good questions to ask about reputational damage. International law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer decided to investigate how the markets react to different crises and how long the crisis lingers. This chart below is from their study:
Behavioral crises (company or employees acting questionably or illegally) have the greatest short-term impact on shares and the only type where the companies have the possibility of regaining their market share after six months. However, they spook the markets the most and can cause shares to crash by 50% or more on the day they become public, according to the researchers. Investors, however, forgive these types of crises more quickly than others.
Operational crises (when the company’s functioning is halted due to a major product recall or environmental disaster) have a modest impact in the first two days of the crisis breaking but the greatest long-term effect on share price…down almost 15% after six months. One quarter are still down one year later. These type of crises strike fear in companies and reputations are hit for the longest period of time.
Corporate crises (companies where the financial wellbeing is affected such as liquidity issues or material litigation) made up more than one quarter of companies experiencing a share drop on day one. Most often, these companies recovered quickly.
Informational crises (when companies IT such as system failures or hacking) were of moderate concern to the markets. They did not fall more than 3% on day one. According to the research, none saw shares fall more than 30% within a year of when the crisis struck. Possibly, investors figure these can be resolved and its everywhere today, not necessarily at the core of the company’s business.
As the research states, “Our research shows that directors typically benefit from a window of 24 to 48 hours, during which financial market reaction to news of a major reputational crisis will be relatively constrained.” In the public relations world, we often refer to the first hour after a crisis breaks as the “golden hour.” According to Freshfields, it sounds like there is an even longer” golden window.”
The natural question to raise is why does operational crises do the worst? Freshfields answers appropriately, “Crises that strike at a business’ core have a greater long-term impact on share price as markets are more likely to lose faith in a management team that cannot resolve a crisis that is intrinsic to its operations.” As Oxford Metrica’s research in 2012 for AON showed, management response is showcased for all to see when crisis strikes. The kind of CEO or executive response can make or break reputations and create reputation loss of great magnitude if done poorly. To prevent such reputation loss, prepare!
If you are interested in leadership, you probably read Adam Bryant’s column Corner Office every Sunday in the New York Times. He has just written a book on his more than 200 interviews and in a Wharton interview, he outlines five qualities that stood out in his interviews as making a leader successful:
1. Passion and quality
2. Battle-hardened confidence, the kind that comes from having faced adversity
3. Team smarts (making teams work together)
4. Simplifying mindset (he calls this a simple mindset but that does not explain to me what he really means which is the ability to take the complex and uncertain and distill down to the simplest and easy to understand). He is right about this. I remember a CEO who had 19 message points….it’s got to be pared down to 3 things to focus on. The End.
5. Fearlessness, “….a bias toward action–not recklessness-but a willingness to take risks and to see things that need to be turned upside down or inside out to be improved.” I may have used the word “courage” but fearlessness is similar.
In the interview, there was a mention of a concept that I really like. One of the CEOs told a story about a woman who used the term “middle brain” to explain the balance that executives need between their two halves of the brain (left and right), the creative and analytical. We can use more middle brain executives for sure.
McKinsey is coming out soon with their new research on defining and developing reputation. I was one of the 3,601 executives who responded when they sent questionnaires out in September and I was eagerly awaiting its release. They kindly sent the final report to those who had completed the survey before distributing it more widely. However, in their note to panelists, they mentioned that the report can’t be republished without permission. For that reason, I am not linking to the report results although I bet that public release will come soon in the new year. I do think that I can mention a few of the results that I found most interesting and will add the link when they are made available. Stay tuned.
McKinsey obviously leads the opening paragraph with what they consider the most important findings and that is that many executives do not think their companies’ reputation management strategies are effective. Only one-fifth of executives think their companies manage reputation very effectively. Then they look at reputation management through the lenses of these “effective managers” and report that these companies are more likely to say that reputation management is among the top 3 objectives for their CEOs and that their companies formally track reputation among key stakeholders. It is always interesting how when CEOs focus on something, it becomes company mantra for all. Overall, that is the job of the CEO to focus the organization on what will advance their company’s success.
As I would suspect, two-thirds (64%) expect the scrutiny on their external reputations to be more intense in the years to come. No doubt the belief that there will be increased scutiny on corporate reputation is directly tied to the fairly high percentage (47%) of companies who say they have experienced a reputation threat in the past two to three years. The industries that are above average in having experienced reputation threats are telecom (67%), pharma (60%) and financial (56%). Interestingly, executives in the healthcare sector reported that they were just about average (46%) in having experienced a reputation threat in the past few years but are way above average in what they expectto see in their sector over the next two to three years — 81%.
There are some other findings I will report on when the final report is released. This is just for now. Back again soon. Have a merry Xmas.
Always good to learn something new. I learned that the reputation of emerging market multinationals needs tweaking and I too needed to have a better understanding of them. Emerging market companies are serious business engines to be reckoned with and will soon outnumber multinationals. These companies are not unsophisticated and poorly prepared to deal with this new technological era. They are the new global giants as the title of this new book implies — Emerging Markets Rule: Growth Strategies of the New Global Giants written by Wharton professors’ Mauro Guillen and Esteban Garcia-Canal.
The authors spell out seven basic leadership principles that emerging market multinationals can teach us: “executing before strategizing, catering to the niches, scaling to win, embracing chaos, acquiring smart, expanding with abandon and taking on the sacred cows.” Here are a few facts that I picked up in an interview with the authors:
1. The global playing field is now more level. Emerging markets have many things going for them such as cost advantages in their country of origin and know-how dealing with government regulations.
2. Approximately 41% of new flows of foreign direct investment in the world comes from emerging economies.
3. About 30% of the 100,000 multinational firms worldwide come from emerging economies.
4. Many emerging market companies come from sectors outside low-tech and natural resources (which we tend to think of them as dominating, foolishly). Think Haier (China), Embraer (Brazil), Tenaris (Argentina), Infosys (India), to name a few.
5. They can have interesting new business models such as Cemex (Mexico) with good acquisition strategies.
6. The authors sum it up this way: “They have expanded globally without hesitating much about the sequence of countries to enter or whether they had all of the needed resources at their disposal. What they have done is make a virtue out of necessity.”
The reputation of emerging markets has shifted in my mind, all for the better.
When new CEOs start in their jobs, their early actions or what they say at their first retreats with the senior team are memorable. Everyone is on high alert and wondering if things will be different, how their new CEOs will establish legitimacy and set a new tone. So my CEO First 100 day antennae were up and ready for incoming signals at our first senior team meeting with our new CEO. It was a great meeting, lots of discussion, priority-making and theme setting. But what pleased me most was what I would call establishing a CEO signature. Sometimes it could be as simple as handing out books to the team that they should read, inviting certain types of guests or inviting new people to the table. Everything matters because everyone is reading the tea leaves — what does this mean? what signal is he/she sending?
So I was pleased when our new CEO, an insider, began the meeting reading parts of an email that someone had sent him earlier that morning about a meeting with a potential new client. The email was about the 6 reasons to love my company, Weber Shandwick — Smart people who respond even when they are insanely busy, a core group you can always depend upon and never let you down, knowing what great looks like, pride in the people in the room with you and share the company name on their business card, our new business people who always have your back 24/7, and colleagues who always set the bar higher. Then later in the morning, our new CEO read another email he had received from a major business publication praising the firm on their responses to interview clients for a story. He wrote that he just had to let our new CEO know that he has never seen a pr firm respond with such rapidity, thoughtfulness, thoroughness and smarts.
At that moment I decided that this had to be our new CEO’s signature….sharing these kinds of notes with the team. First, it felt great hearing what people had said about the company and second, it was all about the work and colleagues. It just felt so right. I immediately thought of how President Obama reads 10 letters a day to see what people are thinking. I had just read a note he had sent to a young girl who has two dads and asked the President about being teased at school and asking him what he would do. The President wrote the little girl with his advice.
CEOs must get amazing notes — good and bad. It makes sense to let everyone hear how the firm makes an impact in unexpected ways that do not get shared every day. There was some drama in the emails being read which I loved. It deepened the sense of a shared experience and community which is what a CEO should try to instill, especially at the outset.
Imagine my surprise when I saw this infographic from CEO.com titled “The CEO’s Guide to Reputation Management.” I also saw it on another site with the daunting title, “The Staggering Significance of CEO Reputation.” Here is why I was taken aback. Several of the facts in the infographic come from my research over the years. The first, that the CEO’s reputation contributes to nearly half of a company reputation comes from our study this year although they could be referring to my work from years ago at another agency. The results were similar showing the steady importance of CEOs on reputation. Kindly they cite us in the next chart about customers caring about CEO reputation. However, the study in the chart about investors comes from a study I spearheaded many years ago so I do not think it is a fair comparison putting them side to side. But perhaps I am reading the chart too literally. And the five pointers at the bottom about polishing a CEO’s reputation comes from my book written in 2003, CEO Capital. Although I still agree that these factors are important in building a good name for CEOs, I do not like the word “polish” or ”image.” Image implies something fleeting and temporary. CEO reputation management is built on a serious exploration of what drives CEO perceptions that benefit a company’s reputation. I address this issue in my book because people used to confuse reputation management with “image” management. Today especially, online critics can detect within nano-seconds if CEOs are being in-authentic within second and are all too happy to tell you so. I just think it is the wrong choice of words for 2012/2013. Either way, thanks to CEO.com for featuring our research at Weber Shandwick and my prior work at Burson-Marsteller.
Just caught up with my November HBR. There is an excellent article by the CEO of Siemens, Peter Loscher, on how to use a scandal to activate change in an organization. There is a section in the article on Loscher’s first 100 days, a favorite topic of mine. He says that he was the first chief executive at Siemens who came from the outside and mentions how it actually worked to his benefit because he brought an outside perspective to his early start.
In the article, he mentions that one of the things he wanted to do in year one (post 100 days) was to get the organization more focused on customers. And then he proceeded to explain how he did it. I thought it was such a cool idea that I wanted to share it. Here is what he said:
“In my first year, I tried to find other ways to emphasize to the entire organization that customers should be our primary focus. Once a year, our top 600 or 700 managers gather for a leadership conference in Berlin. Before my first one, in 2008, I collected the Outlook calendars for the previous year from all my division CEOs and board members. Then I mapped how much time they had spent with customers and I ranked them. There was a big debate in my inner circle over whether I should use names. Some felt we would embarrass people, but I decided to put the names on the screen anyway.
The rankings were a classic bell curve, with most people in the middle. I was number one, having spent 50% of my time with customers. I said to the people at the leadership conference, “Is this a good sign or a bad sign? In my opinion it’s very bad. The people who are running the businesses should rank higher on this measure than the CEO.”
I put the rankings up again in 2009, in 2010, and in 2011. And now things have changed. The curve has shifted. Some people have passed me, and most are near me at the top of the distribution—because everybody knows this matters and that names will be up there at the next leadership meeting. With this simple approach we have achieved a much, much stronger emphasis on customers in the top management echelons.”
What a smart way to get management focused on being customer-driven. As he concludes, “But if you want to change a big, complex organization like Siemens, you have to make your agenda known, and you have to communicate in simple terms.” I’d say taking stock of everyone’s calendars and tallying up the time spent on customer activities, sent the right message, clear as a bell.
I wanted to share some new research we just launched at Weber Shandwick. Although this blog is usually about reputation, the reputation of women is always a topic I like to muse about. So here we are.
We wanted to identify some new and interesting segments of women that marketers might be overlooking. We all know how important moms are (I am one) but that does not tell the whole story about women today. In fact, I work with many non-moms and I have always admired how involved they are in the lives of their nieces and nephews or their friend’s kids. With that objective in mind, we teamed with KRC Research to survey 2,000 women in North America. The first segment we looked at are PANKs®. What’s that? PANKs are Professional Aunts No Kids. We learned that they are quite an attractive demographic for marketers looking to grow their business and better define their portfolio of female target audiences. Let me explain — PANKs are women who do not have children of their own but have a special bond with a child in their lives. PANKs may include: aunts, godmothers, cousins, neighbors, and moms’ and dads’ friends. Our research, The Power of the Pank: Engaging New Digital Influencers can be found here. We provide you with an executive summary, infographic (cool-looking), slideshare and more.
How did we get this idea? Easy. We were introduced to Melanie Notkin, CEO and creator of SavvyAuntie and the person who coined the term PANKs. Melanie is a digital influencer herself. We thought about how great it would be if we could add more dimension to the concept of PANKs, size the market and determine its scope. And that is what we did. And, momentously, the research is covered in this Sunday’s New York Times. Thank you to Melanie for all her advice and guidance on this amazing segment of influential women, many of whom are socially savvy.
Who are these PANKs? Good question and we have the answers. Here are the salient facts:
- PANKs are a sizable segment of the population. One in five women (19 percent) is a PANK, representing approximately 23 million Americans.
- PANKs spend money on kids and assist kids’ parents financially. PANKs estimate that they spent an average of $387 on each child in their lives during the past year, with 76% having spent more than $500 per child. This translates to an annual PANK buying power estimate averaging roughly $9 billion. PANKs also offer economic assistance by providing kids with things kids’ parents sometimes cannot or will not offer them and many have given gifts to parents to help them provide for their kids.
- PANKs are avid info-sharers. PANKs are sharing information on a wide range of products and services. They are exceptionally good sharers of information about clothing, vacation/travel, websites/social networks sites, and products for digital devices but also index higher on traditional “mom” categories such as groceries/food and beverages, home appliances and decorating goods.
- PANKs are well-connected and ahead of the online media consumption curve. PANKs consistently consume more online media than the average woman does. While PANKs are no more likely to be on social media than the average woman, they do have more accounts and nearly 200 more connections – driven by Facebook friends and YouTube channel subscribers – and spend slightly more time per week using social networks (13.4 hours vs.12.1 hours, respectively).
So when you think of women today, don’t forget that you might be having dinner with a PANK, working with a PANK, shopping next to a PANK, traveling with a PANK or buying from a PANK. While we were doing this research and telling people about the topic, we were constantly confronted with women who told us with great pride that they were a PANK. The New York Times reporter is a PANK, the videographer for the Times article is a PANK, a few of our clients we spoke to about the research are PANKs. There is a whole community of PANKs who just want to be engaged with, communicated with and shared information with. It’s all very heartening.