On February 18, the eTarget conference was held at MGIMO. The round table was moderated by Mikhail Umarov, CEO of Comunica. The round table was rich in valuable talking points and lively discussions. The discussion opened with the topic that has been in the top of digital news for a whole month: the new but much-talked-about social network ClubHouse.
Composition of the round table:
What is ClubHouse and how can brands use it to promote themselves?
Have you ever listened to a great podcast or radio show and at a moment you really wanted to discuss it, but, unfortunately, had no one to talk to? Or maybe you wanted to get into a discussion with a famous speaker, but didn’t have the right platform for your ambitions? These tasks are solved in the new Clubhouse social network, which successfully combines the functions of a radio and a podcast. Here are the key differences and benefits of the new audio social network highlighted by experts at the eTarget conference:
Differences and advantages of ClubHouse from other platforms:
The ability to create discussion rooms for different topics, attract famous speakers, and find like-minded people;
- the opportunity to communicate directly with star speakers;
- no prejudice: your main tool is not your appearance, but your voice and speech;
- closed access, preserving a warm, lamplight atmosphere;
- no recordings: no second chances!
- temporarily available only for users with iOS devices.
Vladimir Zaluzhsky, Head of Communications and Investor Relations at Severstal:
“There is only the voice, no picture, so all the beautiful people with bright backgrounds are left out. The stars will be people with an established voice, there will be a war for interesting speakers, and in the future, perhaps, cool speakers will be paid for their performances.”
How to Use ClubHouse in Reputation Management?
Experts discussed how a new social network could become a new effective tool for brand reputation management and building communication with the audience. First of all the speakers came to the conclusion that KlabHouse network is actual for the development of the reputation of the personal brand and for the solving of the individual tasks of the speakers. Therefore, those who have had experience with podcasts can become very successful at ClubHouse.
Who should try their hand at a new plosad? Companies that hold conferences, webinars, and also want to establish customer service and build a successful HR brand in the eyes of the audience. ClubHouse is great for introducing your brand and communicating with potential clients, as well as for educational purposes.
Opinion of the expert
Vyacheslav Prokhorov, digital evangelist at VKontakte:
“What can you do on behalf of the company for those who still have time to ‘jump on the first wagon,’ that is, to use the platform while it is still inaccessible to the masses? Communicate with opinion leaders and speak for opinion leaders. While it’s still a narrow crowd, you can influence them and they will influence their listeners.
For FMCG, mass-market products, for retail goods, the Klabhaus is an interesting project. But in terms of expensive goods or durable goods, piece products, it is much more difficult to imagine how to apply this tool.
We talked more about ClubHouse on our channel in Yandex.Zen.
The main trends in reputation management: the opinion of experts
Many of the speakers shared valuable experiences and their vision of what is now important and relevant for brands to consider when building communication with the audience.
Anna Utkina, Director of Communications, AUTODOM JSC:
Video content still rules. Video content has been gaining popularity for a long, long time and purposefully. This includes both demonstrations, online broadcasts, YouTube channels, and format-stories (more on Instagram). If we talk about the format-stories, it is more effective. As a rule, users go in and view stories, realizing that over time, the publication will disappear. Unlike the content in the newsfeed, which goes down and draws to stay there.
Chatbots as a guarantee of stability. The next trend is chatbots. Mainly on simple options they demonstrate their effectiveness quite well: they work 24 hours a day, they answer users quickly. Thanks to the work of artificial intelligence the history of requests, orders, service history is saved, on the basis of which the user gets answers and feedback. In non-standard situations chatbots still fail and can harm reputation work. If they send the customer down the wrong path, he encounters unreasonable expectations, and then has to deal with it in person. That said, the time spent by the customer on the bot causes additional negativity.
Marketplaces affect reputation, too. The pandemic has pushed up sales through marketplaces, and in terms of reputation work, it’s a danger for brands in mass and retail. On the marketplace, companies can lose control over reputation. There is a substitution of notions by the client – what exactly he was not satisfied with: the work of the marketplace as a service (there were problems with delivery, packaging or giving out the wrong goods) or there was a problem with the branded goods (there was something wrong with them). In this case, all of the negative feedback goes indiscriminately onto the company’s general card. When a brand enters the marketplace, it must be ready to take responsibility for it and work with the negative.
Vladimir Zaluzhsky, Communications Director, Severstal:
Online events. An important ORM and PR trend is online events and their importance to the profession. The online format implies that the specialist has certain skills in digital marketing and communications. When it comes to internal communications, it is important to have a unified system of communication and access to information that would work equally well for everyone, that would be convenient for everyone.
Engage your audience. The increasing trend for online events has provoked a new problem – a drop in the overall level of audience engagement. Just because a user is connected to a broadcast doesn’t mean they’re listening to you. Many niches (such as alcohol or tobacco products) find it difficult to adapt the presentation of their products to the online format. To consolidate the effect of online events, introduce post-quizzes, quizzes or tests as part of the event. From the responses you get, you can infer how many of the people who joined in absorbed the information and understood what was being talked about.
Understanding the specifics of the online format requires full immersion in the process – you should be familiar with creating, directing and managing such events, you should be able to go into engaging live events yourself and conduct successful broadcasts.
It helps a lot to increase engagement to hold events in special studios. A great example is the Skolkovo Glass Room virtual classroom of the future, which allows real-time communication with a teacher, group work, sharing ideas, and participation in educational simulations.
Skolkovo Glass Room
Always stay on-trend.
If you’re in communications, you have to stay on top of trends! Even despite fears of information overload and a large flow of content. When you go into communications, you have to understand that you love digital, you love everything new, you love communication and you yourself are trying to be an influencer, and you actively conduct yourself in social networks. The time of “grey cardinals” PR people, who are used to staying in the shadows and managing the overall strategy from somewhere around the corner, is over.
Andrei Barkovsky, Head of External Communications at Bank OTKRYTIE:
Avalanche-like flows of change. One of the main trends in reputation management right now is the high rate of change, which has been particularly strong in the last 2 years. The increase in speed and change is avalanche-like – although previously everything was much calmer. Transformation is happening very fast, which makes us wonder – where are we in this stream of change and how quickly do we adapt to it?
The changes are related to two factors. The first one is the narrowing of the field of influence of traditional media. Traditional channels no longer work. Managing teams requires a restructuring of processes, if you haven’t already done so.
Being “on the same page” as the audience. The second factor is changes in audience needs. Attention to the humanity of brands and the communications they conduct has increased and become a trend. A purely pandemic trend is humanity, care and attention. This allows to emphasize the identity of the company and the people, to show that the brand is “on the same wave” with the audience. Such communication is much more targeted and warm. In this respect PR looks very organic, because it perfectly helps to reach targeted and niche audiences.
Development of HR-brand is important. Against the background of general digitalization of companies demand for a strong HR-brand became stronger. Now there is an open struggle for a strong cadre of technical specialists. Companies that previously did not pay attention to digital began to frantically look for an opportunity to fill the need for technical staff to solve internal development tasks.
From this point of view, the question of the importance of HR-brand is particularly acute. On the one hand, internal communications are important: people in the pandemic were difficult psychologically, the need to obtain social approval of the company in the eyes of the audience has increased dramatically. On the other hand, when your HR-brand looks good on the outside, it is also projected onto your employees, who realize that they look like people who work for a successful company. This works well for maintaining a psychological balance within employees in times of crisis.
Options on how to work with the HR-brand: brand questionnaires, create personal pages and company pages on job portals, monitor what people write about you and respond from an official company representative.
PR should speak to the business in one language. A large field of social territories is opening for the PR-specialist, allowing to consider the econometrics of PR-activities more accurately than ever. This allows the business and the specialist to speak the same business language and make calculations at the level of brand impact much better and more understandable for the business than before. It is important to be aware of this and measure your actions to show the business in numbers the impact of reputation management.
Kermen Manjieva, Strategic Communications Advisor, Moscow City Government:
PR goes to the government. If previously state organizations were practically not engaged in PR, but now there is a reverse trend: there is a growing need to attract PR-specialists in national, state projects, and professionals willingly go there. The trend is particularly interesting because it has become a kind of “challenge” for PR specialists: professionals often have to build a reputation from scratch, or even “out of deficit” and work in such niches, where previously were not built external communications, metrics, and to the brand was not very well treated.
Regional PR is not having the best time. Unfortunately, in the regions there is no favorable to the PR-activities infrastructure, sites, and quality newsworthy events, both offline and online. It is more profitable for bloggers to go to the federal level and expand the audience. And brands are “frozen” in anticipation: the platforms that could once offline to gather a community and convey some sense of the brands to the audience, now do not work.
PR in its pure form no longer exists. PR in its “pure” form is no longer interesting. For example, the term Media Relations is already an echo of the distant past. Today, integrated communications, adapted to different opportunities and platforms: digital, audio and video channels, and so on, are relevant. And you need to be fully “in the subject”: to know and understand the influencers, successful trends, popular hashtags and so on. The shelf life of any strategy not adapted to the needs of today’s audience is greatly reduced. Hence the second problem: it is not enough to understand and see trends; it is important to be able to justify them in numbers to management, to measure their effectiveness.
Vyacheslav Prokhorov, digital evangelist at VKontakte
Be sincere with your audience. Years ago, communications professionals were limited to a few specific points and a presence on the main TV, radio, and media channels. Now the work is carried out on a huge number of platforms, so the very essence of the platform goes into the background. A platform is only a way to distribute content. First of all, the brand reaction speed on the info-message defines success, and the success of PR and ORM policy depends on it. Hence the problem: understanding the needs and principles of the audience. One of the important trends in communication now is sincerity and honesty. Any representative of the generation of buzzers today can become a public personality, a blogger. From the point of view of building an HR-brand it is not very convenient, because it is much harder to hide a “hole in the bag”.
An employee who sincerely believes in the mission of the company, its images, will sincerely defend it on all platforms. But if the ideals of the company represent a “soap ball”, conditionally speaking, then with each passing day it will become more and more difficult to hide it. Therefore, PR is in crisis: on the one hand, the trend to sincerity is a good thing, but on the other hand, it complicates everything. And the mechanics that have been developed for decades, do not work as well as before.
Conclusions: what should companies focus on when working with reputation?
The results of the discussion were summarized by the moderator of the round table, Mikhail Umarov.
Reputation management is a very broad topic. Speaking of it, it is impossible not to touch the topic of trends, elements of reputation management, focuses for the company in terms of PR.
PR in its purest form is not relevant, but in the profession there are eternal values: the need for communication and self-expression. And in this sense, the PR profession will not die and will live forever.
Change tools, mechanisms and formats of communication, the information environment, the main thing – have time to be in trend and learn faster than others.
Customers and employees are the main focus in building communications and the formation of brand information space. No other tools will help if you are not sincere with your audience and do not work with them. Profit cannot be the only goal of a company that seeks publicity, especially – against the backdrop of developing events into a pandemic. Demonstrate care for your audience. Do what you need to do and take care of your audience.