MF Communication is a Belfast PR & Marketing Communications agency that provides corporate and brand PR and Marketing solutions to clients in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Services range from proactive marketing, PR and stakeholder relations to crisis communications and corporate reputation management.

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A Page Society Insight Forum organized and sponsored in Chicago by Gary Sheffer of GE, provides some very useful tips on developing online content*:

  • Creating compelling content requires a focused strategy.  GE has created a process to make sure the right messages reach targeted audiences using the right channels. Sheffer.
  • Thoughtful, shareable content can create a community of interest around an enterprise and its priorities. – Diane Gage Lofgren, Kaiser Permanente.
  • Research helps ensure that content meets stakeholder needs.  “Our job is to keep the horse in touch with its thirst (rather than lead it to water).” – Oscar Suris, Bank of America.
  • Content based on deep human insights leads to purpose-driven branding. – Kelly Vanasse, P&G.
  • Content flows from the culture. “We all just need to lighten up.” – Brad Shaw, The Home Depot.
  • You must create not just content, but the experience with content. – Raju Narisetti, News Corp.
  • Compelling content is found at the intersection of the emotional and the rational. – Bob Feldman, PulsePoint.
  • All of these insights the author states "reinforces that the goal of enterprise communications is to create a community of advocates for the enterprise and its products, policies and priorities.  While content is key – if not king – its purpose is not just to deliver motivating messages, but also to engage stakeholders in participatory dialogue that builds a lasting relationship" ...isn't that what PR has always been about?

*Source Arthur C Page Society

MF Communication is delighted to have been selected to participate in the University of Ulster's new Santander-backed Internship programme which aims to support recent graduates as they transition to full time employment. MF Communication's intern is the Communications, Advertising & Marketing graduate, Melissa Walls from Co. Londonderry. Despite the lengthy commute into Belfast from her home town of Magherafelt, Melissa has hit the ground running at MF Communication with a busy programme of PR, communications and marketing work for clients in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Social media has the power to distribute information to a vast number of people as well as being able to reach those in otherwise unreachable areas for example, via handheld devices. So it would seem obvious enough to incorporate social media channels into an organisation's issue or crisis communications. Delving a bit deeper into the subject reveals that the jury is still out however. To help you decide if social media is right for you, we've weighed up the pro's and con's of the argument.

There are plenty of examples to support the fact that communities engage on social media sites to find out more about a crisis instead of going directly to the company's website to seek out information.  Engaging with these online communities can help maintain a good reputation during tough times and avoid further consequences such as boycotting of products and stores etc. Due to the speed that information can be disseminated online, social media can help minimize rumours as it allows an organisation to monitor what is being said and respond accordingly.

There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that organisations can benefit from social media during a crisis, provided that it is adequately resourced with the appropriately trained individuals. Those that speak online on behalf of an organisation need to have authority to do so and be able to command respect. This means that more often than not for a major crisis it is the CEO who should be seen to be 'doing the talking'.

On the other hand false and negative information can be communicated just as rapidly and it is important to recognise that online audiences do have the right to express a negative opinion. Often social media sites can be a means for an individual to 'let off steam'. It is the organisation's responsibility to turn the negative around and make it a positive. But it isn't always necessary to respond to every post or tweet online. Contacting customers privately via email behind the scenes can add the personal touch.

It may be expected that technology companies know how to use social media well. Looking at shining examples in this sector, it would seem O2 turned it to their advantage when they had a network problem. Thousands of irritated customers immediately started to express their annoyance on Twitter letting O2 know how badly they had been let down and...

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