5 Lessons from Senior Business Execs to make you a better leader

Lessons from senior business leaders

Tips from media interviews with Senior Business Leaders: a year of learning in the virtual room

Global Media and Entertainment; Health, Sports and Fitness; High Street Brands, City Law Firms and Entrepreneurs. Over the last 12 months we’ve trained senior leaders from some of the world’s biggest and most successful brands.

When we pivoted to virtual media training, we never imagined the roll call of people we would work with. And yet a year on, we have had a privileged and unique insight into a diverse roster of senior leaders from many industries.

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Who’s checking your boss’s content?

Who is checking your boss's content?

The Chairman of Beattie Communications, Gordon Beattie, resigned last week for comments he made in a LinkedIn post. You can see the post for yourself below.

"We don't hire blacks, gays or Catholics" Gordon Beattie

His only defence was that his post was made with “the best of intent”. Others have called his comments insensitive, racist, homophobic, utterly unacceptable, and abhorrent. I don’t disagree with any of these descriptions.

The nature of the comments is one thing.

The language he used is offensive, outdated, and demonstrates how far removed this ‘PR juggernaut’ (as described in the media) is from the society in which we live today. The recent resignation of FA Chairman Greg Clarke for using similarly inappropriate language shows that Beattie’s ‘error’ is not an isolated incident.

But what this highlights is how even the most senior people in a business require external support; a second pair of eyes from someone outside the organisation provides the objective sense-check that can stop these incidents from happening, especially when communicating on such a sensitive issue. After all, it’s often difficult for staff to say no to senior figures in the business.

Beattie’s post brings to the fore another major issue in the industry – using provocation to gain likes, higher reach, and attention. Social networks are often fuelled by dissent, disagreement, and polarisation. Unfortunately, being provocative ‘works’ if all you want to do is reach a wider audience.

But it’s lazy practice and a cheap trick. It’s for people who have run out of ideas. It can be damaging, dangerous, and as Gordon Beattie is realising, can destroy reputations in an instant. He was clearly trying to be ‘clever’, but the provocative approach was all wrong. Instead of shining a light on an important issue, his lack of understanding of the platform, the nuance of messaging and the society in which we live, has been his undoing.

Featured Image by Steve Johnson

 

Who’s talking now?

BBC 50:50 The Equality Project

As a BBC producer I heard many outstanding female voices – from presenter Anne Robinson cross-examining CEOs on BBC Watchdog, to numerous female Executive Producers standing up to big bullying businesses trying to kill a great story.

I was part of production teams crafting complex programmes in challenging circumstances. These experiences shaped my own voice, including in the media training room, where I support people preparing to go on the record or in day to day interactions providing crisis management and corporate communications support.

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Why good biscuits won’t cut it in a pandemic – putting our crisis comms tagline to the test

Why good biscuits won’t cut it in a pandemic

Good biscuits plated up on arrival and participants hovering at the door ahead of schedule. Throw in a tailored crisis simulation – part challenge, part playing to individual strengths – and all the positive omens are there for a good training day.

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From COVID-19 Crisis → Business-As-Usual

From COVID-19 Crisis → Busines-As-Usual

As COVID-19 silently crept onto our shores you may have been in regular crisis meetings as the virus’ huge impact took hold. Now, you may well be moving from that heightened crisis state to living with the new “normal”, whatever that looks like for your organisation.

As we all bed into week 5 of the lockdown we thought we’d share some insights on how to adapt from crisis to business-as-usual with some suggested next steps and evidence from our client work.

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How do you keep communicating when the crisis is never-ending?

Coronavirus - Crisis Communications

I have seen some brilliant emails and posts in the last few days – from my local Indian restaurant, Haweli, to Sainsbury’s, to other small business owners like me.  It doesn’t matter if you’re big or small; clear, regular and relevant communications are critical.

As we all adjust to the new “normal” personally and “business as usual” professionally, it occurred to me that there are some really simple tips for communicating in a crisis.

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“Be Kind” – Yorkshire Tea’s reputation management masterclass

Rishi Sunak "Quick Budget prep break making tea for the team. Nothing like a good Yorkshire brew."

Take one senior politician, one well-known and much-loved brand, and add social media. Stir together and what do you get?

That’s right, the perfect recipe for a Twitter storm.

That’s exactly what happened to Yorkshire Tea this weekend when Rishi Sunak MP, the Conservative MP for Richmond (in North Yorkshire as it happens) shared an image of himself making a cup of tea, standing next to a giant bag of the famous Yorkshire brew.

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Baftas, Bags and B Corp

Bafta is axing celebrity goody bags from this weekend’s ceremony. Opting instead for gifting wallets made from recycled plastics.

Bafta is axing celebrity goody bags from this weekend’s ceremony. Opting instead for gifting wallets made from recycled plastics. It’s a timely plot twist to the 2020 award season. The buzz of a new bag – the colour, the look on the arm, the cramming of essentials into one place, is the ultimate pleasure purchase. But against heightened ethical and environmental consumer standards, is it possible for a Tote to do greater good?

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Social Media & Mental Health

Social Media & Mental Health

Why social media companies should (but probably won’t) act responsibly and lead the conversation on mental health

Social media companies are some of the most powerful and influential business entities on the planet. Their decisions shape how the world communicates and how we as individuals consume information. Unlike most large-scale global commercial industries, social media is self-regulating. This puts social media companies in a unique position of global responsibility.

A new report published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists last week said social media companies should be forced by governments to hand over their data for independent research into the risks of social media use.

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That Newsnight Interview – Think; Stop; Look and Listen; Wait; Look and Listen again; Arrive Alive

Photo by Matthew Feeney

Prince Andrew would have done well to follow the Green Cross Code as he stepped into the path of the oncoming Newsnight interview. There has since been much scrutiny of the Royal’s press advisors and why they failed to follow the basics when it comes to media handling in a global reputational storm.

Taking time to stop, look and listen to external communications advisors during a crisis is critical to long term reputation. Like a friendly Green Man, people like us, reiterate life outside the crisis bubble and wider public perception both in the moment and the hours, days and weeks to follow.

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Doing the doorstep challenge – can you win when cameras arrive unannounced?

Doorstep Challenge

Most people over 30, remember the well-known washing powder ad, which challenged unsuspecting mums to a live clothes wash, to see whether the product delivered its ‘whiter than whites’ promise. This was a filmed doorstep where everyone was in on the gag. Viewers understood it was an advert, just as the at-home victim knew their kitchen would appear on national TV. Continue reading “Doing the doorstep challenge – can you win when cameras arrive unannounced?”

Are you prepared for a social media crisis? Here’s 7 tips you need

We all know the feeling.

Your phone pings, then again… and again… something has happened.

Twitter is “blowing up” says the voice on the other end of the line. Five minutes later; “it’s all over Facebook”. The on-call Press Officer rings next; local media want a response to the hundreds of comments on Twitter.

So, what’s your next move?

If you’re asking this question now, it’s too late.

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Managing Reputation – Warning strong stomach required to read on

zero food standards rating

In among political break-ups and breakaways, a commitment to clean up take-aways is hardly big news - at first glance.

And yet the pledge by Just Eat to remove any of the 29,000 UK restaurants registered with them, who score a zero food hygiene rating, gives food for thought. The food ordering app is investing £1m in hygiene and safety standards. Restaurants that fail to make the grade by 01 May will be kicked off the app and any new entries must score ‘generally satisfactory’ for hygiene.

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Facebook: can I trust you again? A personal perspective.

Over the last 10 years my trust in Facebook has been eroded

When I first joined Facebook I trusted the platform and genuinely thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was so interactive, I could store and share photos of my young kids with friends (yes, I was that parent) and catch up on what everyone was up to from the comfort of my then small London flat. A few years later it seemed to be THE place to get breaking news which was always relevant to what I was interested in, thank you algorithms.

Over the last 10 years though that trust has been eroded. Continue reading “Facebook: can I trust you again? A personal perspective.”

Pattiserie Valerie – Serves up a showstopper interview

Patisserie Valerie by A P Monblat

Luke JohnsonLess than a week after revelations about the financial future of Patisserie Valerie made headlines, executive chairman Luke Johnson gave an interview to the same newspaper where he regularly contributed a business column.

The move navigated some tricky reputational waters and a creeping narrative about British retail and high street horror stories. Continue reading “Pattiserie Valerie – Serves up a showstopper interview”

Just say no – is it ever right to refuse an interview?

Jeremy Corbyn & Tom WatsonYesterday morning on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme, Nick Robinson made a not insignificant point of letting listeners know that Jeremy Corbyn was “unavailable” for an interview. Robinson, reporting from the Labour Party Conference said Corbyn had been offered the pick of any time slot he wanted. But there was no Mr Corbyn and his deputy Tom Watson stepped up instead.

It’s unusual for a political leader not to give an interview to the Today programme during party conference season. But who says anyone has to give an interview? Continue reading “Just say no – is it ever right to refuse an interview?”