Engage more effectively with your trusted local communities, is a trend that has caught up with us. Such circles of influence have developed around us and they have the ability to bring in change.
Circles of influence
Yatish Rajawat, was part of the founding team and Chief Strategy Officer at Localcircles.com, where the belief was – engage more effectively with your trusted local communities. He spoke on “Local Circles and how Community Media is Changing Dynamics” giving the lowdown on how the use of Social Media can impact communities, governance and urban daily life.
The payoff of social media on traditional values, the sweeping changes that social media was witnessing and the effect on government, society etc – were his talking points. Pointing out that it was ethos that made 1000 year-old companies in Japan and India survive he emphasized how the internet had brought in sweeping changes with Facebook, Twitter etc. “Facebook is a projection of ego and self and Twitter creates trends, generates trolls, army of false identities. Traditional media never reflected Twitter feed but now they do. In a way, the tail is wagging the dog!” he said.
Social media is affecting the choice of news like Brigade which is trying to increase participation in governance and Nextdoor.com, a private social network for your neighborhood community, which is the best way to stay connected with your neighborhood—whether it’s finding a last-minute babysitter or learning about a fire in the bylanes. There are so many ways our neighbors can help us, we just need an easier way to connect with them.
How do circles or communities work?
Touching on the fact that the feeling of communication is lost as we move to cities, he reasoned that the Internet can make this happen. “Social media 2.0 is not all about rants but how to solve, so the question comes up – how to use social media in a constructive way,” he noted. The next generation of social media will be used to create communication, and there are many such communities already formed and who have touched the lives of many. There is Law and Order Circle of Gurgaon, run by Gurgaon Police. The Emergency Response Circle of Chennai worked its magic during the Chennai floods. The Blood Circle of Delhi/NCR, The Swachh Bharat Citizen Communities have all ushered in new paradigms of change.
How can corporates use this to bail out brands? He recalled that the first phenomenon was Ashton Kutcher who became a sensation on Twitter; in fact, his brand got built on Twitter. And, as if looking into the annals of the future, he warned, “The metrics have changed. You will have more engaging platforms coming up.”
Shero-ing a new act
It’s a strong woman’s world, according to Sairee Chahal, a serial entrepreneur, mentor, workflex evangelist, and founder and CEO of SHEROES. She gave her take on “Creating a Community Using Power of Communications”. If you type ‘woman’ on Google you get shopping, clothes, fashion and mainly ‘pink’ content, she started off, for this is the flavor of communication. You can check out. It is!
Her “biggest driver was to build a community of support with women reaching out to discuss aspirations”. Calling it a career ecosystem for women, we learnt how SHEROES take learning from the work at flexi-moms and builds it into a larger mandate – serving women professionals all over India. Actually, being at SHEROES is an invisible connect to work-life fit and career success for women in India. On the other hand, companies can find great talent and engage with women as partners and collaborators.
SHEROES assists women across life stages to find careers that work for them and find greater success irrespective of what they decide to do – be it on a corporate fast track, or to turn entrepreneurial or workflex. SHEROES is built as an ecosystem supporting women in their careers with mentorship, community and opportunities. What it means to build a category around women’s careers, was in short, the story of her life!
Building and managing reputation in crisis
“Dealing with Crisis and Emerging Stronger” was the focus of what was put together by Vijay Nair, CEO of Only Much Louder (OML), the driving force behind one of India’s premier music festivals, the Bacardi NH7 Weekender. He surely follows the untrodden path and moves to his own tune. Recalling the time early last year when he pulled off getting Jerry Seinfeld to India, he said, “Tickets were sold out, 2 days before the show. And then, India happened to us….being in the wrong place at the wrong time!” That was his way of putting it – crisis struck and he had to cancel the Seinfield show. “After some time there’s nothing you can do. The biggest learning was – the only way to deal with crisis was to be brutally honest and give a clear picture”. Yes, the learning was varied, as he addressed the situation from all angles. They managed to change the dialogue.
Crisis had literally followed him in his footsteps. Prior to this, there was the Enrique Show which also bombed. After getting lathi-charged and beaten blue, he said, “The learning was – set the dialogue early, if you respond late, no one will believe you! Crisis-management, no offence-management was the rule of the game”. Then, the Roast episode that he was involved in, became the “biggest problem this country ever had!”
And, no matter what, “everything takes a political twist!” But all the trials and tribulations taught him one thing – where the bottom line was. “We can shape public opinion! Ignoring is No 1 strategy in dealing with PR and Reputation.”
And, his parting shot? Be brutally honest!
Battle for internet freedom
Building a winning opinion for Net Neutrality was the feather in his cap. We are talking about Nikhil Pahwa, @ blog.savetheinternet.in. The “Case Study on the Fight for Net Neutrality” came alive as he shared details of how one could start and build a movement. Referring to the efforts of TRAI and Facebook, he sketched his story.
We all know how a monumental victory for net neutrality and digital rights was won. Case in point is – this wasn’t in the US or anywhere abroad, but it was won in India, a nation where just 19% of the population is online. The activists behind this victory, a coalition of journalists, lawyers, hackers and everyday citizens, successfully steered the movement to a landslide win.
He narrated the story of how for several months, this coalition of Indian Internet activists — organized under the banner of Save The Internet — toiled over public consultation papers and distilled policy jargon into understandable language. It was all part of a viral Internet campaign to explain why the term net neutrality matters to a country with so many other pressing concerns. At the center of the controversy was Free Basics.
Spelling out the rules of the game, he listed out some useful tips to start a movement. “Be resourceful, ask for help, Do your homework, Experiment (try a 1000 things!), Nobody owns the moment (it is bigger than all of us!), Win the information war, Pick your battles and conserve energy, Avoid politicization (unite, don’t divide), Votes beats money, Spotlight restricts and it’s all about efforts , not money!” – were his steps to victory.
The launch hour
After all the internet talk, it was print media that reared its head. The event saw the launch of Reputation Today, a magazine for Public Relations and Corporate Communication professionals, put together by the team at Reputation Today. The cover story – “Hornet’s Nest Stirred?” focuses on political communication.
Then followed a book launch to wind up the event.
“Horses Can Fly: Fire up your PR Strategy for Disruptive Markets” (Paperback) was launched. Ajay Sharma, Founder & CEO at Storynomicx™, the author said “it’s surprising this book which is about the power of habit, resounds in this world”. The book focuses on firstly, what are the kinds of stories followed by us and secondly, most importantly – that the narrative is changing. It provides deep insights on how companies need to move beyond influencing media narratives to stay relevant in an age of highly volatile public opinion.
It offers powerful new ways to engage with customers, investors and communities.
The session was indeed interesting as some delegates felt. Sangamitra Bharghav, Communication Leader, BD India noted: “It was very informative. What worked brilliantly was the real life experiences which left one speechless as the speakers spoke about them.”
Abhinav Kumar, Lead Corporate Communications, MTS observed it was a “very closed focused group and the conversations were very relevant, with real life narratives. One can connect!”
Nitin Thakur, Director, Brand Communications, Max India said he believes that the power of communication lies in a need to provocatively question. This is the value, communication is adding in today’s fast-changing environment. “Question yourself!” was his tip for communicators.
Watch out for the next Reputation Conclave on May 19th, at JW Marriot, Bangalore. Catch you there!