Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reputation Management: Singapore's Twelve Cupcakes Controversy

When TRS published the story about Twelve Cupcakes alleged exploitation of its foreign workers, its CEO Daniel Ong responded with a ranting email attacking TRS.

This is a rather unusual response as, instead of being interested in setting the record straight, Ong appears to have decided that attacking the messenger's credibility was a good crisis response strategy.

As a reputation management consultant, I must admit that such a strategy does exist in our playbook. However, this strategy is only applicable if the allegations were made by an individual and it is possible to prove the messenger's malicious intent. In this instance, TRS is seen by netizens as a "news" platform and attacking it only makes Ong look foolish.

Alternatively, Ong's response could be an attempt to shift the conversation away from the allegations by baiting TRS into an argument about its status as a news platform. This too is in our playbook, but would only work if TRS was a less established platform and thus likely to take the bait.

Whatever Ong's thinking behind his responses, I must say that the strategy (if there is one) is ill-conceived. Or, if there is no strategy, then he needs to think of one. If Ong is reading this, go to our crisis management framework which we have shared in this blog . . . the "correct" answer is there.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Another Social Media Success Story: Driving Traffic to Our Client's Website

CWFA does it again!  :)
 
We were engaged by a client on 20 Oct 2013 to develop a high traffic website for his Singapore-based company.  Using a combination of paid, earned and owned channels we are happy to report that as of yesterday 23 Nov 2013, we have successful achieved traffic of over 8,000 hits per day.  As we continue to work on our client's site, we are confident of achieving an average daily hit rate of no less than 100,000 per day within the next 3 months.
 
If you are not getting the traffic you need for your business or eCommerce site, we can help.  Contact our social media consultants at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com for a free social media audit.
 
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Note: Results will vary from client to client depending on a variety of factors.



Part-Time Jobs: Sales Consultants Wanted

CWFA has secured a term contract to provide a regional training company with part-time sales consultants.  These consultants will assist in handling customer queries during sales previews.

Working at least once a week for 3 hours per session, the successful consultant will be paid a show-up fee as well as a commission for every successful sale.

If you have done exhibition sales for wedding boutiques, fitness clubs and/ or renovation companies, you have the skills we want.  On the other hand, if you do not have the experience, but are prepared to learn and earn, we have a training programme for you.

To find out more, email the following to justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com

Name:
Age:
Sex:
Sales Experience:
Availability:
Contact No.:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Social Media Training for Employees (Singapore): Why it is a must ….

I came across this story on STOMP earlier this morning and I must say that the positive impact of a simple act by an employee has done more than any PR campaign can hope to accomplish.




Coming from a "neutral" third party, this image of a parking enforcement officer helping a frail old lady alight from a taxi in a no-parking zone shows that they are only humans doing an unpleasant job.

I am not sure if the CISCO officer received social media awareness training, but the exact opposite could have become a PR nightmare.  Imagine if instead of helping, the CISCO officer insisted that the taxi could not stop there and then stood by watching as the old lady struggled to alight.  The image taken and the accompanying headline would have been extremely damaging.

With the proliferation of smart-phones and social media, every employee is now a PR tool for an organization.  Train and equip them with the knowledge and they will pull off amazing acts like the one above, or ignore the need to train them and wait for disaster to happen.

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For social media awareness training, contact justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com

Monday, November 18, 2013

Resources for Small Business Owners in Singapore: Psychological Selling (Sales Training)

Research has shown that approximately 83% of all sales are made simply because the customer liked the salesperson. The ability to quickly build and establish rapport is therefore the key to becoming an effective salesperson. Abraham Lincoln summed it up perfectly when he said "if you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend."

Rapport

Webster's dictionary defines rapport as a state of harmony between two people. People in this state think and feel the same way, and have often described the state as a feeling of being completely in sync with one another. Essentially, creating a state of rapport with someone means making him, or her, feel that they are understood and that you share a strong common bond.

Building Rapport

So how do you build rapport? Building rapport can be done either verbally or non-verbally, with the later being the more powerful. Premised upon the belief that people like people who are similar to them, the key objective in building rapport is to make the other person like you. To do this, you simply have to make yourself as "similar" to the other person as possible.
The following three techniques of mirroring, physical touch and 'speaking the other person's language' are effective basic tools in building rapport.

Mirroring

The first technique is mirroring. In mirroring, the idea is to match the other person's posture and body language. To do this, you simply mimic the person's behavior much like a mirror. The trick to doing this effectively is to subtly follow the other person's lead. Whenever he changes posture, pause for 3 to 4 seconds before following him. Initially, you may feel uncomfortable doing this, however rest assured that the other person will not be aware of your actions. They will not know why, but on the sub-conscious level, they will feel a strong bond with you.

Physical Touch

The second technique is physical touch. It is important in the process of building rapport that you initiate physical contact with the other person in the early stages of your encounter. Studies have revealed that physical contact with a person, even as slight as a touch, makes you seem a warmer and nicer person. In fact, 90% of those touched do not even remember being touched.

To do this well and, more importantly, not to offend the other person, the touch must be as natural as a pat on the back. Ideally, the touch should be made to a neutral part of the body i.e. the area between the shoulder blades, or the part of the arm between the shoulder and the elbow.

Speaking his Language

The third technique to building rapport is to 'speak the other person's language.' Once again, psychological studies have shown that different people process information differently i.e. visually, auditory and kinesthetically. This is known as their preferred representational system. By paying careful attention to the type of words the other person uses, you will gain a fairly accurate assessment of the way they process information. Once you have identified their preferred system, you simply choose to use similar words in your conversation with them.

Summary

The use of the above three techniques will enable you to build almost instant rapport with anyone. Initially you may feel overwhelmed by having to think about building rapport in your daily encounters with people. However, like any skill, with constant practice it will only be a matter of time before you start doing it unconsciously.

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If you are interested in conducting in-house training for your business, contact our training consultants at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com.  Or visit SG Sales Guru for more selling skills and techniques.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Singapore Blogger Threatens Hair Salon Over Free Haircut. Who is the bigger bully?

Earlier this week (12 November 2013), a Singapore blogger named Janice Leong was alleged to have threatened a Hair Salon with negative publicity if the Salon did not respond to her emails seeking sponsorship.

http://singaporeseen.stomp.com.sg/singaporeseen/this-urban-jungle/blogger-who-demanded-free-haircut-claims-her-email-and-social-media-accounts-were

In response to the blogger's threats, the Salon owner made public the threat on several social media platforms which has since gone viral and has netizens flaming the blogger for her apparent sense of self-entitlement and gall to demand free services.  The latest twist is that the blogger is now claiming that her accounts had been hacked and that she did not send the emails.

While many have been quick to condemn Janice Leong and her alleged actions, like Cadence Cherry I think that the Salon's response was over the top and designed more as a publicity stunt than as a reputation protection measure.  I akin the Salon's actions to a school yard bully who deliberately shames the new kid in school who dared to sit on the bully's favorite seat.

While I am a strong believer that all publicity is good publicity, and I will actively seek it to advance my client's interest, there are however some lines I would not cross.  "Destroying" someone to advance your own business is simply bad karma.  In my opinion, the Salon's vindictiveness reflects the poor value system of its management and while I am currently not a customer of Salon, after this incident, I will never be one.

From a crisis communications perspective, the key lesson to take away from this incident is that the response to a reputation attack must be proportionate. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Social Media in Singapore: Buzz Campaign by Fabulous Aesthetics - Bikini Girls vs Carpark Aunty

Fabulous Aesthetics (FA) just launched a social media buzz campaign titled Bikini Girls vs Carpark Aunty.

Playing on a recent news event, the PR team at FA has done a great job and have demonstrated how a little creativity, a small investment and the use of social media can bring tremendous publicity to a company.

At CW Fong & Associates, we help clients to plan and execute such campaigns.  Our campaigns are based on an understanding of what encourages sharing on social media.  From our experience, topics that do go viral are those related to:

a. Social Capital
b. Topical
c. Emotional
d. Practical

In the case of FA, they have used both topical and social capital.  Topical as the subject was something in the news recently, and social capital as people look good sharing things that are funny and trendy.

So if you are a Singapore small business owner and you need a publicity boost, social media is your answer.  If you are going it alone, try doing something that builds social capital, is topical, generates extreme emotions and offers practical tips.  If on the other hand, you need help, contact our consultants at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com

Employee Training Workshop on Cyber Security (Singapore)

In view of The Messiah's recent threats to launch cyber attacks on Singapore, cyber security has gained increasing prominence.  Government agencies have updated and strengthen their security protocols, increased surveillance to preempt possible attacks and have put their response teams on stand-by.

All this is good, and necessary, but the best defense is to identify the weakness of the security protocols and then to strengthen that.  In cyber security that weak link is the human in the loop.  Research has shown that 70% of all successful cyber attacks are gained through social engineering.

Social engineering, in the context of cyber security, is the art of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. While it is similar to a confidence trick or simple fraud, it is typically trickery or deception for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or computer system access.

As social media is a major enabler of social engineering, CWFA has developed a workshop to train employees how to identify and avoid social engineering attacks.  This workshop has been successfully conducted for several MNCs in the pharmaceutical industry.

To find out how you can protect your company from a cyber attack, contact our consultants at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Crisis Communications: Hacking Threat by The Messiah Against the Singapore Government

The government of Singapore has received a threat by "The Messiah" to back-track on their decision to implement the internet licensing framework.  Failure to do so, will result in the Collective launching attacks designed to cause massive financial loss.

This is an interesting case to discuss the subject of "choosing the battleground."  During the early stages of this crisis, the government of Singapore's initial response is crucial in framing the outcome.

Let me explain with an example.  In June 2004, three gunmen evading capture from Malaysia landed on the Singapore Armed Forces training island of Pulau Tekong.  In response, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) collectively responded by deploying forces to capture the gunmen.  In early news releases and statements, the SAF was seen as seeking parity with the SPF by emphasizing the point of joint operations.  In the end, all three gunmen were captured by the SPF and naturally there was talk comparing the capabilities of both forces.

My point is this.  By stating that it was a "joint operations", the SAF was putting themselves in a difficult to win position.  In the event all gunmen were captured by the SPF, people will speculate about the SAF capability vis-a-vis the SPF.  In the event that the SAF captured one or two of the gunmen, people will say that it is expected.

However consider this.  If the SAF had instead stated that they recognize that this is a "police matter" and that they would allow the SPF to take the lead, these are the possible outcomes:

a. SPF captures all.  No loss of face for the SAF as they after were after all playing a supportive role.
b. SAF captures one of two of the gunmen.  The SAF looks great as even in a supportive role, they were able to do the job of the SPF.

As an organization, which position would you rather be in?

Now back to the cyber threat by The Messiah.  Since the YouTube video has gone viral, netizens are now waiting for the government's response.  As a crisis communicator, I would advise the government to choose a battleground they can win (or at least not lose).  In this instance, such a battleground would be to not say that they can defend against all cyber-attacks (or even to say that they will apprehend the responsible hacker) as this is impossible.  The government should instead declare that like any terrorist attack, the government cannot be 100% all of the time.  The issue is thus not so much if there will be a cyber-attack, but how the government responds to restore services after an attack.  In this instance, the outcomes are as follows:

a. Incident of Cyber-Attack.  No issues as the government has already acknowledge some vulnerabilities.
b. No incident of Cyber-Attack. The government looks good as they have been able to defend against cyber-attacks.

Thus in summary, in a crisis scenario, especially in one in which the organization is at a disadvantage, the wise communicator will change the game by choosing his battleground.

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CW Fong & Associates is a crisis communications specialists.  For information about our in-house workshops, contact our consultants at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com

Social Media Marketing Tip for Singapore Businesses: Seed and Stoke Approach

As recent as only a year ago, CW Fong & Associates noticed a trend in which social media stories have begun leading traditional media.  This is great news for companies skilled in the use of social media marketing as it now affords them the opportunity to get noticed and featured on traditional media.

In the past, news agencies are inundated with literally thousands of news releases a day. The probability of catching the attention of the editor and getting featured is akin to winning a lottery.  And, depending on the editor's agenda and what he/ she thinks is important, he/ she decides what people get to read about.  Even if a product or service is revolutionary and will benefit thousands, an editor's personal bias may see your news release binned.

This is where Social Media comes in.  If a company is creative in its use of social media, the company independently can create sufficient online buzz such that editors of traditional media cannot ignore it.  This will then result in press coverage which will in turn give the company much needed credibility and mass awareness.

One technique CWFA uses effectively is the "seed and stoke" approach.  In this approach, the company (or its social media consultancy) will seed a story and then stoke it by generating conversations on online forums, blogs and citizen journalist sites.  The key in successfully pulling this off is pre-determining the desired conversations and then putting in the necessary manpower to guide the trajectory of the conversations.

Executed correctly, the 'seed and stoke' approach will enable the company to generate online buzz and secure traditional news coverage.  A win on all fronts.

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For more information about CWFA's social media services, contact our consultants at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Social Media Branding for Singapore Training Professionals: 91st APTS Networking & Training Workshop

CW Fong & Associates was pleased to be a guest speaker at the Association for Professional Trainers Singapore (APTSG) 91st APTS Networking & Training Workshop.  Our consultant's sharing on the principles of branding and the effective use of social media platforms to build that brand was well received.

One key take-away for participants at the workshop is that any effective social media campaign is based on consistent coherent messaging of a specific theme.  The professional trainer can be branded as a trainer of quality, a trainer of service or a trainer offering the best value.  Whichever he or she choses as his brand, these messages must be continually communicated via all his social media channels.

To learn more about business or personal branding via the use of social media, contact our consultant at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com.  Our recently launched coaching programme for Singapore small business owners is extremely affordable and will be the best investment you make in your business and yourself.

Social Media Coaching Programme for Singapore Small Businesses

Based on client feedback, CW Fong & Associates (CWFA) is pleased to introduce our social media coaching programme for Singapore small businesses.

Modeled after our popular social media workshops, CWFA now conducts one-on-one coaching sessions for small business owners.  These individual sessions costs only slightly more than our usual workshop, but now has the added advantage of being highly focused on helping the individual business owner.

The coaching programme is designed to help the business owner increase profitability through the use of social media and will comprise the following:

a. 1/2-Day Sharing Session where our consultant will teach the business owner about the principles of social media marketing
b. 3 one-and-a-half hours tutorial/ coaching sessions where our consultants will work with the business owner on their strategizing and developing the company's social media campaign
c. unlimited free telephone consultation for 3 months

Thus, if you are a Singapore business owner and you wish to be coached in the use of social media to grow your business, contact our consultants at justin[a]cwfongandassociates.com

  

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