Sunday, January 29, 2012

Avoiding A Mobile Crisis: Protecting Your Company’s Data on Smartphones

While smartphone devices provide ample opportunity for companies to manage day-to day operations away from their desktop, there is also a risk that important company data can fall into the wrong hands if not careful. More than 70 percent of people surveyed by Sunnyvale, Calf based Dimensional Research say the use of personal mobile devices for work purposes have contributed to increased security-related problems. When one of those tools goes missing, not only would the employee's personal information be at risk, but company email, messages, client contact information, company log-ins and access codes all could be potentially exposed.

According to the report, the No 1 factor affecting the security of sensitive data over mobile is lack of employee awareness of their company’s security policies. Companies need to invest in software and gadgets to not only track company-affiliated mobile devices, but protect and manage the work information stored on those devices. In addition, companies should also consider these following tactics to further avoid a corporate mobile meltdown:

1. Employee training on mobile device security. Employees should be made aware of basic safeguards such as updating passwords and having the ability to wipe a stolen device.

2. Give employees the tools they need to make sure they can find their devices in case they go missing. ZOMM and Phone Halo are both devices that alert the user when they're about to leave their smartphone behind. With ZOMM, the user carries a small sensor, say on a keychain. Phone Halo's tag can be attached to keys, a wallet, purse or other items. Both sound an alarm when the user is parted from their phone. Your company can even host monthly or quarterly lunch and learn meetings to give demonstrations to your employees on these mobile tools. Be sure to include your IT staff in these meetings so they can help employees install anti-malware and encrypt confidential data.

3. Create company policies on what kind of company data employees can store on their personal mobile devices. You should also have contingency plans when an employee leaves the company and you can securely remove company data from that device.

4. If your company has an app that primarily stores your corporate crisis communication plan, it’s important to only give key stakeholders access to that plan (company personnel that will be involved in crisis situations). Be sure to keep your plan password-protected and have a policy in regards to the app’s distribution and content management.

As mobile devices continue to become more prevalent in business operations, companies should invest time and resources to stay updated on current technologies and news surrounding data protection. We’ll continue to explore these stories more in upcoming posts surrounding web 2.0 in corporate crisis.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Relationship Building Still Matters in PR

Our industry is in an exciting time with technological innovations. However, an article in the Harvard Business Review titled “Your PR Efforts May Be Hurting You” reminds us how we still need to approach traditional media and teach upcoming pr students to appreciate the relationship-based aspect of public relations. I found most of the article’s statements to be true. Most students of PR do not build relationships with the media. They also don’t take the time to learn about the company they are pitching for. The first time you meet with a company, you need to ask A LOT of questions. You also need to know about your company’s overall industry. Most PR firms are successful when they have a niche like lifestyle or represent healthcare companies. This allows a firm to become industry experts. Our firm uses wire service but very strategically. In addition to this method it’s key to follow up with reporters. Some PR people don't follow up when a reporter calls or after sending a press release. Especially during a crisis situation, the reporter's deadline is priority.

While we are in age with advanced communication tools like social networking, video chat and smartphones, relationships still matter in public relations. Here’s how you successfully build relationships with both traditional and digital media writers:

1. Reporters are people too. They have families, busy schedules just like we do. Get to know them.
2. Reporters are not out to get you.
3. Answer reporter's calls.
4. Help them when you don't have skin in the game (a story).
5. Follow Up.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crisis on the Seas: Cruise Disaster Spreads on the Internet

Since Tuesday morning, Italian rescuers and divers continued their
perilous work locating a second "black box" and the remains of five
people in the wreckage of the Costa Concordia cruise ship. While we
have watched the tragic events of the cruise ship unfold, what’s even
more disturbing is how quickly more internal information is coming to
light that shows a lack of personnel responsibility.

Transcripts from CNN show an Italian coast guard official demanding
Captian Francesco Schettino return to his ship, the transcripts show.
"You get on board! This is an order!" the coast guard official
instructed Schettino.

"You have declared 'Abandon ship.' Now I'm in charge. You get on
board -- is that clear?" the port official said.
Port Authority to cruise ship captain: 'Get on board, damn it!'

If this same incident happened over ten years ago or even six years
ago, this same transcript wouldn’t have been made public until weeks
after the incident. When a crisis happens to any company, internal
and external personnel information can be made public just as soon
as the crisis occurs. Since this past weekend, Carnival stocks have
already plummeted. What’s more disturbing as this tragic experience
unfolds is the personal accounts and experiences we’ll hear from
survivors through social media channels and the internet. Although
the company can release official statements, they can’t deny the
stories from survivors that will proliferate throughout the internet in
days to come.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is it the employers’ responsibility to train their employees on good social media ethics?

The answer is yes…and here’s why.
More employees are spending countless hours on social networks during office hours. But, what could be more troubling to companies is how their employees are conducting themselves online.

A study published this week by the nonprofit Ethics Resource Center (ERC) found workers spent more than 30 percent of the workday participating on social networking sites. In addition, 42 percent of active social networkers said they felt it was acceptable to blog or tweet negatively about their company or their coworkers, while just six percent of non-active social networkers saw such behavior as OK. Although, a majority of active social networkers (56 percent) said they would also be likely to post about good things their coworkers did.

A corporate crisis isn’t just an external communication breakdown but also an internal issue that can cause considerable risk to the company’s reputation and employee morale. With social networking showing no signs of going away, big companies will have to find a way to deal with the ethical changes that come along with it.

The Risks

One risk businesses face when it comes to social media is the sharing of information. Either employees can share opinions in ways that reflect badly on the company or they can release confidential information such as intellectual property. Confidential information being leaked, data breaches, privacy violations, offensive tweets – all of these possibilities make organizations hesitant to adopt social media.

However, not engaging in social media can become a risk in itself. Most every company and brand is being discussed through online social channels. It is important that the company provides its voice in these discussions and conversations.

Best Practices

Since social media is becoming a standard practice for many businesses or at the very least a good way to interact with customers and partners, it is important for employees to understand the best practices for engagement with particular emphasis on ethics and legal responsibilities. Having a good company policy on social media with an active governance plan is no longer optional. It is essential to mitigating corporate crisis communication risks.

You also need to work with your company’s legal and human resources team to understand current social networking workplace laws and procedures. According to a recent ruling of National Labor Relations Board, employees can write anything they want about your company on their own Facebook profiles in off hours, so anything limiting that usage in your acceptable use policy should be changed. Your IT and legal departments should revisit acceptable use policies once every few months or after major decisions to ensure that they are still current, and employees should be made to sign the updated copies.

A decent workplace social media/Internet acceptable use policy should do a few things well. It should bind the employee to using the Internet specifically for work purposes during work hours in the office, and ensure that any electronic forms of communication aren't used to disseminate confidential information about the company. Overall, to avoid risks related to online employee crisis communications, companies must train, educate and create protocol to address our society’s ever-evolving communication channels.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Why Using Social Media For Market Research is Smart: 4 Winning Strategies For Your Company

It remains to be seen if 2012 will indeed be the year if the social media bubble finally bursts. Analysts predicted this notion of “digital/social exhaustion” more than two years ago and yet the numbers are climbing in regards to social media usage. According to a recent Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project study, 66% of online U.S. adults use social media. More than two-thirds of adults are conversing online, posting reviews, and recommending products or services to their networks.

Traditional market research typically consists of mailing out customer surveys, conducting phone interviews and holding focus groups. While I’m not suggesting you alienate these methods, there is a huge opportunity to learn more about your customers or competitors through their online conversations. Social media monitoring can provide you rich, social analytics that you can track over time to determine your customer or potential customer’s habits, interests and even what is being said about your brand altogether.

Four Ways to Use Social Media as a Tool For Market Research


This can comprise of brand reputation monitoring, keyword search and online mentions about your company or industry in all mediums.


This is one of the easiest ways to crowdsource your customers for product feedback. What better way to utilize your brand’s online community than to let them be apart of your market research. Be careful to not come across too commercial or promotional when talking to the public.


Social media gives you insight into consumer behavior that you can use to detect growing trends or movements within your target customers. Use the data you collect to identify new opportunities to position your company in a new market or a different customer base.

Competitive Research

Not matter what your business is you have to know WHO your competitors are. With the current economy, many start-ups are popping up in various industries and it’s up to you to know who could be potentially taking away market share. Social media tools can help you understand your competitor’s business, their partners, employees and maybe even their business model! Many of these companies are surprisingly very open about sharing “insider” info online via tools like LinkedIn.