Social Media

Part of the internet’s appeal and ultimate success is that it offers an online environment where the rules are different from normal daily life.

If we spent our daily life screaming obscenities and bullying people who we didn’t like the look of or whose views we disagreed with we would soon find ourselves in ‘hot water' as this would be going against all the well established laws of our civilised society. These laws govern our behaviour within our communities and encourage us to be polite and respectful to the people around us.

But the internet is a very different place with very different rules. The big social media companies have created platforms so popular and successful that they are now struggling to control extreme and criminal behaviour – a new breeding ground for abusive and exploitative users.

There are many examples, from terrorist groups sharing extreme content to mobilise hate crimes to organisations creating fake news stories to change opinion and influence legislative power. These platforms have also attracted many criminal groups who are able to share highly sensitive material without being policed.

There are many positive aspects to social media from keeping us connected, enabling us to share and receive compelling and engaging content and helping us stay informed as key events unfold around the world in real time. But we now need much more intervention, with governments and the big social media companies working together to change behaviours and help prevent this criminal activity.

Clearly, monitoring behaviours on these vast social media platforms is a big challenge, and it’s critical we maintain freedom of speech so we need to use current technologies to help do the ‘heavy lifting’. We know machine learning is a powerful tool and one which can be deployed with the combination of filters to identify bullying and extreme material.

There also needs to be severe fines and more criminal sentencing introduced for extreme content posted online – this is not identified and removed quickly enough by social media companies. Most importantly surveillance laws need to be reviewed and amended so that policing extreme behaviour is made alot easier.

These thoughts and ideas are really only 'scratching the surface’. Most of us share a desire to improve the way we live and work in this new digital world but we need the collective help of every company, organisation and government to ensure that social media is used for what it was intended and not to our society’s and our individual detriment.

In the meantime, it is vital that every organisation has a clear strategy in place for not only how they communicate across their social media channels, but also how they respond to negative or potentially damaging communication or messages directed at them. This needs to include messaging and tone of voice, key roles and responsibilities across an organisation for owning communication, protocols for responding to any messages in a timely and coordinated way and pre-prepared lines to take.

If you would like to discuss any issues relating to your online and content strategies for your business or organisation please get in touch with our expert team info@westgatecomms.com – we would be delighted to talk to you.

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Quality content

As we all know, most businesses and organisations now focus on delivering quality content that will make the right impact with their target audiences. Long gone are the days of general panic when the focus was on getting any sort of content up online as quickly as possible. 

Now in today’s digital business world most of us realise that only quality content will deliver the commercial traction most businesses are after in 2018.

From literally cutting and pasting widely available material into a business’ social media feed, companies and organisations are now clear that they have to focus on creating and generating top quality content, whether this is a well argued blog or opinion piece article, or an academic white paper or industry report. We have all realised that less really is more and that it is definitely worth the investment from the marketing budget to generate content that is in both impressive and as relevant as it can possibly be to both current and potential customers and clients.

In our view at Westgate, content produced commercially must always resonate with a business’ audiences, from customers to potential investors and industry influences. However there is one audience that sometimes many businesses and organisations can overlook, when planning on the themes and topics that their content will address.

As well as engaging with new business prospects there is also a huge opportunity to proactively launch this content to target media. Not only does this increase the corporate profile but it also will of course boost online traffic and presence, a huge commercial bonus.

The key to achieving media exposure lies in the preparation. When planning the themes and topics of the new content, it is important to include the PR and communications team or agency in this process, to develop the media angles for the content so that once launched it will also attract the interest of target media for even more impact. 

At Westgate we are always involved with this process with our clients, and when generating content for a client, we will also always ensure that the topics resonate with the client’s media landscape so that we can ensure that we deliver the right media impact for them.

National coverage of new content not only puts a business or organisation in the news but it will also be a powerful, and very cost effective tool in really leveraging SEO levels and keeping businesses or organisations ahead of their competition.

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Cliveden

The dangers of letting in the media spotlight

It was been fascinating to watch the current series of Channel 4’s A Very British Country House about the luxury hotel Cliveden however, after watching the first episode, I really started to wonder how much benefit the iconic brand of Cliveden would derive from the forensic gaze of the documentary’s cameras.

The highlight of the first episode was the arrival of Meghan Markle and her Mother to spend her last night as a single woman at Cliveden before she became the Duchess of Sussex at Windsor Abbey.

But we also have seen the reality of looking after the super rich – from their arrival in Bentleys and Ferraris to listening in to their outrageous demands and complaints – “why would you only just serve olives with champagne?” “The inside of the kettle isn’t spotless” etc. 

We have seen the struggle of the beleaguered house keeping staff to get the rooms ready in time for the next batch of demanding guests (particularly fraught when some go AWOL!) and we have also heard some very honest views from the staff. The sommelier confessed to being envious of the wealth of the guests, the butler said that nowadays it was all about the money and making sure that guests paid their bills.

You really wonder whether the Cliveden Management team understood what they were getting into? Did they have a defined brand vision? Were they happy to dispel the glamour and myths about Cliveden? Did they think that guests would want to see this “warts and all” reality? Did they understand the potential impact this media exercise could have on their reputation? Did anyone brief the staff before they confessed all to the cameras?

We are told that The Queen, head of one of the world’s most established luxury brands, is suspicious of letting the public (and its media) access too much reality for fear that royalty could be deemed too accessible, pedestrian and therefore ultimately dispensable. I think that this is a lesson that Cliveden would do well to listen to.

Why would seeing the outrageous demands of overly indulged guests make you choose to stay at Cliveden? And wouldn’t the scramble to get the rooms ready make you feel that standards might be slipping? Not helped by the cameras filming the manager rallying the staff to improve service standards after some recent negative Trip Advisor reviews.

But one of the most mystifying aspects was why the young man in charge of the hotel’s social media accounts was profiled? Again, images on Instagram should appear to effortlessly convey the glamour and mystique of the Cliveden experience. Viewers don’t need to see the effort involved – from him checking his typos to hosting Instagram Influencers, hoping that they will post nice reviews.

When you are building an experiential and luxury brand such as Cliveden, a strategic lens must be applied so that none of the glamour and magic staying in one of the England’s most renowned historic houses is dispelled and in-fact you are only adding even more layers of mystique and exclusivity.

In a digital marketing age, all about selling “the experience”, it is important for businesses to remember that there can be dangers in allowing in too much media daylight.

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Reports, white papers

No one can escape the importance of content within marketing communications as businesses and organisations strive to generate the right content to attract the right commercial traffic in today’s digital world.

But, the reality is that only the right content will make the right impact. There is now also an increasing realisation within the business community that investing in quality content is crucial – generating irrelevant, low quality content, full of mistakes and inaccuracies, which doesn’t say anything new, will only harm any business objectives that have been set out.

Adding gravitas
So quality is important. But also you should not be afraid to veer away from the standard short form content and opt for longer content styles. The role that industry reports, white papers and well researched thought pieces have to play in generating credibility and creating a thought leadership voice for your business or organisation is more important than ever, especially if you want to reach the C Suite – and overlook them at your commercial peril.

Recent research from Forbes on the reading habits of CEOs found that this long form content in the guise of white papers and articles is still the most widely read. In this age of 'fake news' being able to provide credible, evidence based and well thought out advice and insight is massively valuable as well as being hugely beneficial to your corporate reputation.

Producing content of this type is the best way to position your business or organisation as a thought leader in its field. This type of content is also very cost effective and long lasting and can be used to drive traffic to your website or sent directly to your contacts as well as of course shared via social and traditional media.

At Westgate we regularly produce industry reports, articles and white papers for our clients. Our expert content team have written on a vast array of topics ranging from the future of the European energy market and optimising customer experience, to leading with purpose and harnessing AI technology. The key is to ensure that the subject matter is relevant to the commercial positioning and that the arguments and information that are set out will encourage online and direct engagement and dialogue from all target audiences, from customers and investors to stakeholders and industry influencers.

If you would be interested in an initial consultation with the content team here at Westgate, to identify areas where we might be able to add more gravitas to your content programme, then please do get in contact – info@westgatecomms.com

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Issues management

Never before has issues management been more important to businesses and organisations through the UK and globally.

With social media now a dominant reality in our daily lives, and within this online world the emergence of thousands of “reporters” commenting, with no filter, on all aspects of their daily lives to their audiences, from the products they buy to the customer service they receive, all companies at some point will have to deal with an issue online.

The truth is that in this digital world it is impossible to ever quash negative comments about your products or services completely but what you can do is counterbalance any negative commentary that may appear with accurate and truthful content and responses, which are full of integrity and professionalism, to position your business or organisation as a responsible industry leader, committed to delivering outstanding products and services.

Issues management today is now very democratic. The challenge of managing perceptions about your business or organisation is now as valid to the small corner shop as it is to a multinational corporation – online issues management is now a modern business reality and should be at the top of any business’ agenda, no matter what they do or their sector.

The key for all businesses to managing their reputations online successfully actually lies in two old-fashioned concepts – planning and preparation. It is important to both identify any possible issues that may arise, and then plan in great detail, ideally with a team of communications specialists, exactly how you as an organisation would respond to each issue and why.

Once this issues management plan is in place, the next step is to undertake all the necessary preparation work. To get this right will be a highly involved process, and a lot of work, but regularly monitoring the relevant forums and online platforms for latest views and opinions and then drafting a series of tailored and specific pre-prepared positioning statements for each issue will be two crucial areas of activity, as well as ensuring all employees are aware of your issues management protocols and how to respond appropriately!

Once the plan is in the place your team will feel much more confident that they can respond to issues when they arise more effectively, to protect the interests of your business or organisation as well as manage the corporate reputation and protect commercial objectives.

So, no matter what the size, all businesses and organisations now need to be prepared to protect their reputations and proactively manage their issues online. Those that don’t grasp this harsh business reality will find themselves trailing behind the herd commercially as we go into 2019 and beyond.

If you would be interested in a confidential chat with one of our issues management experts about how to manage your reputation online more effectively please contact us and we would be delighted to schedule an initial call or a meeting with you and your team.

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