Truthfulness Over Perfection Valued In Marketing

A few thing some franchises need to pay attention to. In this digital age news travels fast. Good news gets spread far and wide, bad news does too, just faster. Not being honest with customers, covering up incidents and trying to deflect blame onto someone else doesn’t go over well with consumers. Owners and customers want the truth. They will put up with a lot provided issues are actually acknowledged and attempts are made to address them.

Clearly when that doesn’t work out and franchises don’t work with owners so that both benefit by the relationship you get articles likes the ones I listed recently. And as I’ve seen many times now, once one person speaks up, the flood gates open and the very future of the company may be in jeopardy. Companies need to make sure they listen to their customers and address their issues. Franchises need to listen to their owners and address issues.

Which part of the process do you think we’re in? As mentioned, I think we’re right on the cusp of that gate opening and the frustration of those owners spilling out…

Alan Scott, Dow Jones & Co. SVP and chief marketing officer, said it’s a cool time to be a marketing guy, as consumer expectations of businesses have changed with the rise in blogs and social media.

In the movie version of “Clear and Present Danger,” Harrison Ford’s Jack Ryan character advises the President to acknowledge a friendship with someone who has become embroiled in scandal. Being forthright about the friendship would defuse potential controversy arising from someone finding out the President had been less than truthful.

The President takes Ryan’s advice, truthfulness trumping what would have been a failed grab at perfection. Thirteen years later, Alan Scott had similar advice as he discussed Factiva with WebProNews, and the need for companies to be aware of how they are being discussed all over the Internet.

Plenty of places for discussion exist. Scott said Factiva Insight tracks thousands of news and topical websites, and millions of blogs and message boards. They can do this thanks to the scale they have built in to the service.

Lots of forward-thinking companies have embraced the need to keep aware of conversations, before they turn into full-fledged public relations nightmares. Scott invoked Sony and its DRM missteps as the now-classic example of how not to manage one’s corporate image in this highly interconnected world.
Truthfulness Over Perfection Valued In Marketing

Sony displayed an old school way of thinking, dismissing unprofessional blogs and social media as lacking the ability to have an impact. They found out, by painful example, this was not the case.

“What’s rewarded is authenticity,” Scott said. He noted the marketplace as a whole tends to be tolerant of problems a company may have. Truthfulness and candor have become the hotly-valued commodity over perfection.

Factiva’s approach to building sophisticated profiles of brands, products, executives, and corporate initiatives feeds its ability to understand when a ‘bursting phrase’ may represent an issue for a company.

Using Sony again as an example, Scott illustrated that even though the company may not have been looking specifically for digital rights management conversations, the text mining Factiva can do as an automated service would have keyed the company’s PR team into understanding the strength of feeling building up around DRM.

Sony could have avoided some of the unhelpful responses they initially gave as the controversy grew. The scandal over their DRM rootkits on CDs remains a prime example of why any business, whether a Factiva client or not, needs to understand people want transparency from the businesses they deal with regularly.

Imperfection can be fixed. Trustworthiness is harder to patch.

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