Category Archives: PressReleases

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The Future of PR

The Future of PR

It has never been better, or worse.

The public relations industry is not being left out of the digital innovation wave, but the need for the human touch – especially when reputations are at stake – will remain as important today as it always has.

Algorithms can tell you how your message is received by your audiences in a more accurate way than anything that has been tried in market research before. Algorithms can predict the reaction of your audiences, and help you smartly push messages to very specific audiences.

Media monitoring is a good example of ‘bots’ in action, where a piece of software seamlessly sends articles on your clients as they are published and gives you real-time analysis of how many people have read your tweet. All this at the touch of one button without the need for any human involvement.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is certainly giving PR professionals the market intelligence they need to do their job well. The implication is counterintuitive – you need people with human skills to make use of the vast intelligence that technology now avails cheaply and translate it into value for your client. AI does not replace people.

It takes people to fix things and express the necessary empathy and depth of understanding – especially when those people may be in the middle of a media storm. It is the why that AI will never be able to help us with. Why people love your brand often has no rhyme nor reason. Sometimes it is ‘just because’. It can, of course, be analysed using AI, which will still give you more of the who, what, when, how, where, but will never competently answer the why or the “so what” questions upon which the ultimate solutions hinge.

No matter what the future may hold from a technology perspective – it will always take a flesh and blood human being to understand the nuances behind a brand, its culture and ethos and to map out the strategic tactics to make it thrive. Similarly, when that brand is under pressure in the market or even worse, in the eye of a media storm – who are you going to call? I doubt it will ever be Mr Bot, however much intelligence is wired into his hard drive. The real answers will be teased out of data, from listening to people, observing people’s responses to words, understanding the underlying meaning of symbols, among others.

You begin to understand why despite ‘doing everything right’, your client’s reputation has sunk. As important is that fixing the problem requires a language that AI does not understand. For all the razzmatazz the PR industry is stereotyped with, reputation management is very much a game of strategic silence. Much like your eyes can see only if there is light, AI can only see data and silence is like darkness.

In the real world, people live in living rooms, they sing in the shower, they cry over nothing, they are jealous of the neighbours’ brand-new set of wheels, they fake happiness, they lie through their teeth and will be driven to fight like Muhammad Ali if you threaten their children. To accurately interpret the real life ‘data’ from these very human truths, one needs to experience it. People mimic similar things on social media. Looking at Instagram will make you think the world is a happy, stylish and prosperous place where life is lived in full colour. It takes a 60-year-old woman who has been married to the same man since her teens to tell you how the institution of marriage has changed.

AI is removed from actual human behaviour. Communication is about using words and symbols to change the behaviour and feelings of people. People are different. Sometimes the people you are dealing with are not a socio-demographic cluster. They are a real human being that has spent 28 years of his/her 30-year career running tough logistics operations, where profit is made if a customer receives a pair of shoes bought online in ‘3-5 working days’. For him/her, things either work or they do not. Her Board Chairman is a person who comes from an industry where things work on probability and risk, while a major investor is a 35-year-old billionaire from a country where CEOs are cool. It is easy to see where AI belongs. Geek won’t help you figure out the person that 38 high performances years moulded.

Where all this goes is counter-intuitive. AI makes it unnecessary for human beings to do work that AI can now do. For years, careers have been built on people getting machine-like levels of competence. AI has flipped the game. Machines today try to be like people too. People should leave machines to do what machines do well and focus on doing human things. What this means is that even as they invest in tech, the investment only makes sense if it is matched by human talent to translate it into something valuable that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of living and breathing human beings. In fact, the rise of AI demands that agencies show more empathy to people and their struggles, internally and externally.

About Moliehi Molekoa:

Moliehi Molekoa is the Managing Director of Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultant. She has over 18 years’ experience in the communications industry, having worked across the spectrum of PR for both public and private sector clients.   She has a mix of skills including strategy development, reputation management, client service management, media relations and crisis management.

Magna Carta Africa Reputation Index addresses key drivers that help build and maintain a good corporate reputation

Increased access to company information and the immediacy of social media means the integrity and trust of an organisation in the eyes of consumers, the general public and other stakeholders is under the microscope on a daily basis. As it is, nearly two thirds of consumers who are active on the internet will search for news about companies they are interested in and seek information relating to other people’s brand experiences

With this level of scrutiny, reputation management is crucial to any corporate bottom line.

To help companies better understand how to manage corporate reputation, Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants introduced its Africa Reputation Index (ARI) in April 2017.

The richness and true value of this data shines through after South Africans from all walks of life were interviewed and surveyed across 16 focus groups. Based on this qualitative research, 44 reputational drivers were identified and grouped into nine overarching reputational attributes that shed light on how consumers experience corporate reputation.

The depth of the data is unique, providing users with insights that are invaluable to being able to make strategic decisions in the future based on the perceptions of their reputation among stakeholders today. Once the reputational drivers were identified, Magna Carta was able to create a survey that would rank the drivers, as well as evaluate the performance of companies from 5 different sectors. The final consumer sample included 1304 South Africans located in cities across South Africa. An additional 200 business decision makers were surveyed.

Kalay Maistry, Business Unit Head at Magna Carta said: “Interestingly no company performed well on the majority of the top 10 drivers across any of the industries that were measured. If corporates were to focus their efforts on the key drivers of reputation, the perception of reputation would improve for each brand, as well as the likelihood of consumers recommending the company’s products and services”.

The survey tells us that South African consumers want more from companies across sectors. The important reputation drivers are generally areas that competitors are also not known for, which suggests that with a good strategic plan there is an opportunity for companies to differentiate from their competitors.

Katherine du Plessis, Data Analyst at Magna Carta noted that corporate reputation in South Africa is so important that over 90% of consumers will select a company with a good reputation over a competitor and 80% will avoid a company with a bad reputation. Evaluating and managing reputation will not only provide a competitive advantage, but it vital to a company’s longevity.

Nine Reputational Attributes

Through its ARI, Magna Carta aims to help companies build a better corporate reputation in the areas that truly matter to consumers. These areas are:

  1. Quality. Quality relates to products or services that are reliable and durable. It extends to the quality of suppliers that a company uses and the value equation – that is that products are worth the cost. The ultimate expression of quality is recommendation. Quality was rated most important in general by the consumer group and is the top reputational attribute for car manufacturers.
  2. Customer Service. Customer service includes staff that are well trained, and available and responsive to clients and customers. Clients want to deal with staff members that are welcoming and approachable. The efficient delivery of products and services, and keeping a high standard are also elements of this attribute. Customer service was the top reputational attribute in food retail and financial services, and second in the other three industries – telecommunications, car manufacturers and public services.
  3. Good Governance. This is the most important reputational attribute in the telecommunication sector. Good governance focuses on leadership. This includes aspects of strategic planning and maintaining a core focus. Transformation also comes into this attribute.
  4. Good Working Environment. Employees are ambassadors of their companies. A company that is an ‘employer of choice’ will invest in developing staff skills and, as such, will attract the best staff. This is the top reputational attribute in the public services sector where consumers expect staff competence and efficiency.
  5. Integrity. Integrity relates to keeping promises and being accountable and respectable. Compliance and following regulations are important as well as ensuring that words and actions are the same.
  6. Innovation. Innovation encompasses the use of technology and keeping up with the times. It speaks to a company’s ability to be adaptable and agile as well as being current and relevant. Innovation is synonymous with embracing technology to provide new and more consumer centric products and keeping up with changing needs relating to service delivery.
  7. History. History is defined as having a good track record, being around for a long time and having a legacy. A reputation to consumers comes with knowing what they can expect from you. This consistency further amplifies word of mouth recommendations.
  8. Visibility. Companies that are visible have many stores that are accessible. Visibility also includes advertising and being relatable. For lower income consumers, a company that you can’t see is less trustworthy. Good marketing is seen as an indication of a business doing well. For high income consumers, open communication is the driver of trust – they do not want to be taken for a ride.
  9. CSI. Corporate social responsibility is community focused and includes giving back to and developing communities. Being environmentally responsible and being known for CSI initiatives are also important. Interestingly, CSI was rated as least important by the consumers, possibly because the public is often unaware of the CSI initiatives that a company is involved in. Despite its lower overall ranking, CSI was highlighted by more than half of the focus groups, and is most important with middle income consumers.

More details and findings from the Africa Reputation Index can be found at www.magna-carta.co.za/ari

As a seasoned African reputation management consultancy, with a presence in 18 countries, Magna Carta offers a range of services and products to safeguard and build reputation, allow us to provide you with a customised report, based on the findings of the Africa Reputation Index.

In our ongoing effort to provide clients with innovation solution, Magna Carta will over time extend the Africa Reputation Index to cover other countries in Africa.

About Magna Carta’s Africa Reputation Index

Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants, in collaboration with Yellowwood, a leading marketing strategy consultancy, developed a Reputation Index with the aim of measuring corporate reputation in the African context. Data was collated using a robust research study from a sample of 1 304 South Africans. Respondents were asked to select an industry, identify different companies in the industry, and then rate the companies on a series of 44 reputational drivers that had been identified from the focus groups and in-depth Interviews.

About Magna Carta
Magna Carta is a seasoned African consultancy that thinks globally and delivers full reputation management solutions to organisations and individuals that take their reputations seriously. We have affiliates in 18 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, and are part of the Omnicom group which has 265 offices in 100 countries. We have also been named African Consultancy of the Year 2016 by The Holmes Report.

Founded in 1994, the year of South Africa’s democracy, Magna Carta understands the value of freedom and liberty for all people as well as the responsibility that comes with that freedom, and has since grown into one of Africa’s largest and most respected reputational management consultancies.

Magna Carta launches the Africa Reputation Index: Unpacking key drivers of reputation in Africa

Managing the metrics that drive reputation is vital to business sustainability in Africa, finds inaugural Magna Carta Africa Reputation Index

  • Good governance is the top reputational attribute for telecommunications companies in South Africa
  • Consumers want to see improved working conditions for government employees to reduce the frustration factor
  • Banks should distinguish themselves more in terms of their customer service offering

Johannesburg; 15 March 2017:  Reputational drivers and attributes vary markedly across key industries in South Africa, highlighting the crucial need for executives to harness effective reputation management strategies to improve their understanding of consumer behaviour and chances of success when a crisis strikes.

Among the key findings of Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultant’s inaugural Africa Reputation Index (ARI) are that good governance is the top reputational attribute for telecommunications companies in South Africa, while consumers want to see improved working conditions for government employees. Banks, meanwhile, should distinguish themselves more in terms of their customer service offering. In food retail services people really want exceptional customer service, while with cars quality stands out as the most important reputational attribute.

“Detailed sectoral and comparative analysis is needed to enable companies to plan ahead of a crisis to improve outcomes and protect and enhance profits. If the impact of reputation is not well enough understood growth prospects will suffer,” says Katherine du Plessis, data analyst at Magna Carta.

Magna Carta’s Index, which was undertaken in collaboration with leading marketing strategy consultancy, Yellowwood, enables high-level planning to limit reputational damage and provide companies in Africa with the tools needed to create an effective reputational management strategy that is a vital component of business sustainability.

The index ranks companies in five separate industries – car manufacturers, food retailers, financial services, public services and telecommunications companies – in terms of their key reputational drivers. Each company received a reputation score out of 100. 1,306 South African consumers were surveyed.

The index shows that in the telecommunications and motor vehicle sectors, word of mouth is the most important driver of reputation.

“In telecommunications, recommendation is essential because people have such an affinity to their mobile devices; whereas with cars it is because of the pride that flows from choosing and paying for a desired and expensive asset. For both cell phones and cars, people aspire to make a choice that reflects their personal identity,” explains Du Plessis.

What stands out in the public sector is that a good working environment is seen as a key differentiator – this indicator shows that consumers want a clean, more efficient and pleasant experience.

“Frustration increases when dealing with government is a negative experience, or when strikes halt delivery of much-needed services. The counter to this is to improve internal working conditions by creating an environment which improves staff morale and happiness, as this will then filter through to service delivery and improved experiences,” says Du Plessis.

The survey finds that with vehicles, quality is most important reputational attribute followed by customer service. This is because consumers are likely to spend a lot of time selecting the right car to invest in and interaction with salespeople will be minimal and infrequent.

“It is unlikely a consumer will select a new car based solely on service, especially when a new, high quality vehicle resonates with his or her personal image or they have spent a lot of time researching the best car they can afford”, says Du Plessis.

In food retail services, which is known for visibility, people really want exceptional customer service.

“People in SA are used to shopping where it is convenient, but food stores are complacent in not driving customer service. If they were to differentiate themselves in their service offering, customers will travel further resulting in more business,” she says.

The top financial service providers are recognised for customer service, but they do not necessarily stand out from each other on their service offering.

“Customer service is the top reputational attribute, particularly being available and responsive to client needs, but not one bank stands out. The second most important attribute is integrity, an area where banks have experienced some reputational damage in the past year,” says Du Plessis.

Another important finding is that corporate social investment (CSI) had the lowest ranking out of the reputational attributes across all industries. This is not to say that CSI is unimportant, but other attributes have more weight with regard to corporate reputation.

“The ranking of reputational drivers seems to follow reputation crises in various industries. For example, governance in telecommunications follows recent high-profile scandals in the sector. All measured attributes are important and so it follows that if a sector messes up on something like CSI in the future, you would probably find CSI jumping to the top of the queue as an industry reputational driver,” says Du Plessis.

The bottom line is that reputational risk is on the rise.

“It is clear that in the digital age of rapid information flow and consumption, effective crisis management is quickly emerging as a vital component of business sustainability. The best of breed in measurement and analytics is needed to ensure reputation plays an ever increasing role in corporate strategy and ultimately benefits, rather than damages, the bottom line,” says Sechaba Motsieloa, newly appointed CEO of Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants.

Magna Carta aims to expand the index to other sectors within South Africa and into other African countries.

ENDS//

 

Notes to Editor

About the African Reputation Index

Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants and Yellowwood, a leading marketing strategy consultancy, hosted focus groups with South Africans from a variety of backgrounds, and conducted in-depth interviews with industry influencers – including journalists, economists and senior managers Data was collated using a robust research study from a sample of 1 304 South Africans. Respondents were asked to select an industry, identify different companies in the industry, and then rate the companies on a series of 44 reputational drivers that had been identified from the focus groups and in-depth Interviews.

Changes in leadership at Magna Carta

Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants announced today the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer.

Sechaba Motsieloa joins Magna Carta as CEO at the beginning of September from McDonald’s South Africa where he is currently Corporate Affairs Director. An industry veteran who started his career at SAB in 1997, Mr Motsieloa is a seasoned executive who serves as Council Chairman of the Da Vinci Institute and is past Chairman of the Marketing Association of South Africa.  He has been at McDonald’s since 2004 when he was appointed Marketing Manager, promoted to Marketing and Communications Director in 2005, becoming their Corporate Affairs Director in 2012.

The appointment of Mr Motsieloa happens as current CEO Vincent Magwenya steps down from his position after having been with the TBWA\ Group for four and a half years.

In his three and a half years at the helm of Magna Carta, Mr Magwenya has established an extremely strong team and, collectively they have built the agency into the leading reputation management company in Africa while creating a fantastic platform from which to lead and grow the company in support of clients. The company has flourished under Mr Magwenya’s leadership, evolving from a PR agency into a world-class reputation management company with the ability to deliver to a diverse group of clients across the continent.

Derek Bouwer, TBWA Group CEO said “I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of everyone at TBWA\ to thank Vincent for the massive contribution that he has made to the network, the group and the company. We wish him all the success that he deserves in his future endeavours.

Sechaba is a seasoned professional who will bring a valuable perspective to our business, and I am really looking forward to working alongside him in shaping and driving Magna Carta into the future,” ends Mr Bouwer.

About Magna Carta:

With an ever-growing pan-African network of 19 countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Angola, Mozambique and, most recently, Zimbabwe, Magna Carta’s philosophy of continuous evolution remains a key driver in integrating global best practice, while keeping a finger on the pulse of local services and offerings.

 For more information please contact:

 Hilary Macaulay, hilary@magna-carta.co.za, 0117842598

Magna-Carta, a finalist in Africa PR Consultancies of the Year 2016

Magna Carta Reputation Management Consultants is honoured to be a finalist in the Africa PR Consultancy of the year category at tonight’s SABRE Awards EMEA ceremony in Berlin, Germany.

It’s been an extensive judging process involving hundreds of submissions from the best public relations and strategic communications firms from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Five African PR agencies are in the running for the prestigious Africa PR Agency of the Year award: Epic MSGLROUP, Atmosphere, Burson-Marsteller, Djembe Communications and Magna Carta.

The awards are hosted by the Holmes Report, with their editors having reviewed the performance of 400 agencies based on their Report Card research process.

“We are delighted to be amongst the finalists for Africa PR Agency of the Year. It is always rewarding to be recognised by the industry and our peers,” says CEO Vincent Magwenya.

With an ever-growing pan-African network of 19 countries, including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Angola, Mozambique and, most recently, Zimbabwe, Magna Carta’s philosophy of continuous evolution remains a key driver in integrating global best practice, while keeping a finger on the pulse of local services and offerings.

Magwenya oversees an approach that focuses on the broader African region, while ‘thinking out the box’ and focusing on developing new products. Magna Carta recently introduced a separate offering that looks to solidify higher-margin reputation management services, such as policy and regulatory advocacy, while improving content production and reputation management.

Magna Carta’s vision is to be an enabler of Africa’s social and economic growth, showcasing these opportunities to institutions and leaders who take their reputation seriously, because reputation is the foundation of success. Our values are: integrity, passion, commitment, pride, courage and curiosity.

For further updates on the awards, please follow us on Twitter: @MagnaCarta_RM

Crisis Communication Workshop: Learning to communicate effectively during a crisis

Magna Carta, South Africa’s leading reputation management consultancy, in collaboration with its Ghana affiliate – Touchpoint Magna Carta, is set to share tools for effective crisis communications with Public Relations (PR) and Corporate Communications Professionals in Ghana.

Slated for 23rd May, 2016 at the Holiday Inn in Accra, the Crisis Communications Workshop will provide customized crisis communications framework for participants and help them build issues-management and crisis-response infrastructure to support their business operations and corporate objectives.

With the use of simulation, communicators from diverse industries will be taken through a highly specialized training designed to effectively equip them during crises.

According to Clarence Amoatey, General Manager of Touchpoint Magna Carta, the facilitators of this Workshop will combine their experience in crisis management with latest case studies to deliver an interactive experience that will build participants’ resilience to crises.

“Any brand can be hit by crisis and the reputation of that brand is highly dependent on the effectiveness of its crisis management approach,” he said. “This workshop will be a great opportunity to grasp crisis management techniques from battle-tested experts who have decades of experience.”

“In the digital age of rapid information flow and consumption, brands have to appreciate the centrality of effective crisis management as a vital component of business sustainability” Vincent Magwenya, Chief Executive Officer of Magna Carta.

Key speakers at the Crisis Communications Workshop will be Vincent Magwenya, CEO of Magna Carta- South Africa; Evan Pickworth, Media Director of Magna Carta- South Africa; Mawuko Afadzinu (APR), Head of Marketing and Corporate Affairs of Stanbic Bank- Ghana; and Aba Lokko, Head of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at the Tema Oil Refinery- Ghana.

For more information:

Moliehi Molekoa

Moliehi.Molekoa@magna-carta.co.za / +27 11 784 2598

South Africa’s leading reputation management consultancy opens Zimbabwe office.

Magna Carta, South Africa’s leading reputation management consultancy is to bolster its already existing Africa network with the opening of an office in Harare- bringing to the country a consultancy that will offer local and multi-national companies in Zimbabwe access to a broad range of reputation management services.

The opening of the Harare offices will make Magna Carta one of the best represented firms of its kind on the African continent-  a reputation management consultancy that has over the last nine years created a 18-country partner network across the continent. Included in this network are consultancies in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Zambia, Angola and Mozambique.

“The opening of Magna Carta Zimbabwe with a full service office marks the fulfilment of a process that began months ago,” says Vincent Magwenya, CEO of Magna Carta.

In line with our philosophy of ensuring that we have strong local representation in each of the countries we serve we have obtained the services of Sapi Bachi as Managing Director, Magna Carta Zimbabwe.

“Initially, she will have the assistance of two staff, also Zimbabweans. The company will also enjoy the full support and strategic guidance offered by Magna Carta in SA. It is our intention that as the business grows, the necessary skills to operate across the entire spectrum of Magna Carta’s offering will be transferred to Harare.

“Our belief in the future of Africa extends to our confidence to the future of Zimbabwe and we see our expansion into the country as a natural step in further enhancing our representation in Southern Africa. The opening of a Zimbabwean operation will ensure that our existing multi-national client base with operations in Zimbabwe will now be able to utilise our services locally. Ms Sapi Bachi, Managing Director of Magna Carta Zimbabwe who has 15 years of experience in the Zimbabwean PR industry, said that local and international companies operating in all sectors across Zimbabwe would now have access to a full range of reputation management services, which will include advice on, digital communication, Investor Relations, Crisis Management, through to advising on the development of corporate positioning strategies and media relations.

“We are excited about the new Magna Carta presence in Harare. Magna Carta was born in South Africa in 1994, the same year that marked the birth of democracy. Since then it has evolved with the industry and has developed a range of expertise that transcend traditional and social media, evolving and growing with the rapidly changing information and media landscape.

“Most significantly for future clients, it is a company that reflects its African heritage through the understanding and experience gained from operating effectively across the multiple markets on the continent.  As a seasoned African consultancy that thinks globally, as attested to by the company being acknowledged as the Paul Holmes African Consultancy of the year 2013.

“As the exclusive African affiliate of Ketchum, a leading global communications firm with operations in more than 70 countries across six continents, and its long-standing relationship with TBWA\ South Africa and the greater TBWA\ global network, part of the Omnicom Group Inc., Magna Carta provides access to global best practice to its clients.

“Magna Carta therefore has a broad base of intellectual capital and skills that can be shared with us. We have no doubt that the opening of Magna Carta Zimbabwe will result in an agency that will leapfrog across existing practices in our country and bring a new dimension of professionalism and effectiveness to the communications industry,” concluded Bachi.

Magna Carta Retains Standard Bank Public Relations Account

Magna Carta Retains Standard Bank Public Relations Account

Magna Carta has retained the Standard Bank public relations account, giving it the opportunity to work with the marketing and communications teams of Africa’s biggest lender in formulating their  media relations and PR strategy until the end of 2016.

The decision cements Magna Carta’s position as one of Africa’s leading reputation management consultancies and follows an intensive pitch process that began six months ago. Magna Carta, which was named African PR Consultancy of the Year in 2012 by the international Holmes Report, has managed Standard Bank’s public relations account for the past 12 years.

“We are very excited to continue our 12-year relationship with Standard Bank and are fully aware that our biggest challenge will be to continue being innovative and creative on an account that we have managed for such a long time,” said Vincent Magwenya, Chief Executive Officer of Magna Carta. “We look forward to delivering a world class public relations service to Standard Bank.”

Standard Bank’s required scope of services will see Magna Carta supporting the bank across three key pillars: Standard Bank Group, including its operations in the rest of Africa; Personal and Business Banking; and Corporate and Investment Banking.

Magna Carta is part of the TBWA\South Africa Group of marketing and communications agencies, which is in turn owned by New York-based advertising, marketing and corporate communications giant, Omnicom Group. The Johannesburg-based agency boasts a 17-country African partner network and is the exclusive Africa affiliate of Ketchum Inc., one of the world’s largest public relations groups.
ENDS

Issued by: Magna Carta
Contact Person: Hilary Macaulay
Email: hilary@magna-carta.co.za

Strategic Social Solutions drives corporates to befriend the social media trend

Strategic Social Solutions drives corporates to befriend the social media trend
Befriending the trend is taking off with a growing number of corporates that have embraced a South African public relations innovation that has the potential to break through the social media conversations and turn them into brand-building discourse.

Strategic Social Solutions (SSS) from Magna Carta, the award-winning PR agency, has become a significant contributor to the firm’s business growth and relevance on the back of proven capacity to ignite social media conversations on issues relevant to major brands.

“Early adopters of the SSS product include leading automotive, financial service, beverage, hospitality, publishing, state-owned enterprises and cellular telephony brands – primarily in South Africa, though the first implementation in sub-Saharan Africa is already under way,” says Katie Taylor, Magna Carta’s new media director.

SSS tracks and maps influencers of social media conversations relevant to corporate clients, including bloggers, websites, Facebook, Twitter, their own media and other channels. Topics generating most comment are identified, including praise or complaints around industry, company or competitor performance and fed back for intelligence.

The nature and provenance of the social commentary is established and management made aware of relevant issues and conversational opportunities. The key is the building of a relationship strategy which ensures issues and opportunities are addressed and targeted content developed. This material is primarily intended to enrich current conversations, but additionally spins off into traditional media adding further leverage to the conversations. Exposure across new and traditional media is then measured, tracked and fed back into the strategy.

Taylor notes: “Social media conversations are uncontrollable. Many corporates see chaos out there, but you can bring coherence to chaos by tracking trends and identifying the influencers of the conversation and feeding them back into an overall strategy.

“A major corporate cannot upend a trend if the issue excites social media users. But you can befriend the trend and own aspects of the conversation. On occasion you can bend the trend by including input that highlights different aspects of the subject.

“Manipulation is impossible as self-interest is rapidly spotted. But the key lies in the more strategic and proactive approach to social media that is possible. Experience to date suggests tangible brand benefits are achievable.”

The Magna Carta approach and social media innovation contains various components, mapping and strategy formulation, strategic implementation and influencer science.

“We drive the philosophy that social technology has to be measurable,” says Taylor. “With the appropriate mix of tools it is possible to carry out a searching evaluation of a company’s social and communication landscape.

“Once communities have been identified, a company can develop areas of mutual interest, ignite, join and spread conversations, host events and thank friends with significant impact on brands.

“Live newsrooms can be created on a corporate website to aggregate social channels and ensure a credible destination for content. Networking through Twitter and Facebook attracts newsroom traffic while multimedia releases can be produced for placement in any media format.”

A key positive is increased marketability of strategic services. “Billings are traditionally driven by PR implementation. SSS clients immediately recognise the value of the strategic element. Relationship strategy formulation therefore has the potential to add considerably to revenue streams while emphasising PR’s role as a strategic partner, she points out.

“To date, the majority of those buying our strategy product have moved to the implementation phase and they are reaping significant rewards.”

SSS and social media technology has also created the ‘citizen journalist’ opportunity. “SSS is best utilised by good corporate citizens offering good products and exceptional service who are open to comment and happy to engage in a permanent consumer conversation but who are following an overarching strategy in order to build their brand,” she says.

“Strong brands were the earliest adopters. For them, building a long-term relationship with the customer is first prize and they have discovered a new corporate tool in SSS to help them do just that.”
ENDS

Issued by: Magna Carta
Contact Person: Hilary Macaulay
Email: hilary@magna-carta.co.za