I had the pleasure of meeting Staffan Thorsell of SJT Communication online through our mutual interest in corporate communication.
He calls a corporations’ resistance or fear to communicate “The Great Fear”. We spoke about how it’s often easier for corporations to say nothing rather than to be wrong, but that not communicating is actually a very strong form of communication in itself. Read the full write-up of our conversation over at Staffan’s blog.
Originally posted on financialtimes.com
On Sunday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings apologised for the way the company had handled a decision to raise prices and split its streaming and DVD services. He said: “I should have personally given a full justification to our members.” Is he right? Do explanations about big strategic changes need to come straight from the CEO or do they just need to be good explanations?
The academic: Paul Argenti
“I messed up. I owe everyone an explanation,” wrote Reed Hastings in a missive that appeared in my inbox at 3:13am. My first thought on reading this at 6am was that he noticed that my rented copy of Shawshank Redemption had languished in Martha’s Vineyard for too long, and he was apologising for charging me a year of fees. But no, he was apologising for weak communications! Are you kidding me?
In my view, this went too far. Yes, the CEO needs to be involved in strategy execution, but I didn’t even know this was a problem until Reed raised it to a level where everyone I know wanted to discuss his letter.
Explain the new model, charge me for whichever of the two businesses I opt for, but no mea culpa is necessary here, Reed. Next time, stay above the fray.
Read the rest of the post including advice from an executive and a PR professional in the Financial Times.
Most Americans have the same hollow pit in their stomach when they think about 9/11 as they did for JFK’s assassination a generation earlier. I was in London that fateful day watching in disbelief, then could not return to my family for over a week.
What stuck with me the most during those early days, however, were the heroic acts of leadership by a number of executives trying desperately to boost spirits and focus on returning to normality. I interviewed a number of people and collected my thoughts in a Harvard Business Review article that was published a bit over a year later. The article was republished this spring in the Japanese version of Harvard Business Review as well. It’s nice to know that some positive lessons can still be taken away from something so tragic. I hope you enjoy reading the article again or for the first time. Drop me a line to let me know what you think.
Originally posted on the Page Society Page Turner Blog
Last March, I blogged on “Page Turner” about the challenges and opportunities for Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) as it tried to deal with the early days of its crisis in Japan. We wanted to see how well they did in seizing the opportunities I offered up back then as we launch our new Page Society website. Here is my update:
Overall, TEPCO has not faired well: it announced a loss of $7.4 billion, the company’s bond rating has been cut to junk, and TEPCO has struggled to communicate with some very angry shareholders. Add to this the fatal radiation levels still being found in its plants, and you have what everyone would most certainly consider a major crisis.
But let’s take a closer look at how they did in terms of the opportunities we discussed back in March:
Originally posted on the Page Society Page Turner Blog
As Japan sorts through three separate disasters: the earthquake, the tsunami, and the potential nuclear meltdown, the media has focused on the disaster appropriately from the perspective of lives lost, and the potential for things to get even worse. Lost to the back pages, however, is a potential disaster looming in the background for Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).
For those of you old enough to remember, we have seen this kind of disaster in the making before at Three Mile Island (TMI) in 1979. I was just starting my career when this accident unfolded on my birthday that year. All of us held our breath as one of the worst handled crises turned into a media frenzy of oversized proportions as a result of poorly handled corporate communications and a popular movie (The China Syndrome, which had come out only two weeks before about a nuclear meltdown and cover up). What can TEPCO learn from that crisis, and how can TEPCO and Japan seize the opportunity that lurks right around the corner in every crisis?
Here are five opportunities waiting for TEPCO to carpe diem on.
Excerpt of an Article written by Tuck Communications in Tuck Today published Fall 2009
It may be premature to call the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression “over.” As summer turned to fall, however, there was a collective exhalation as many realized the worst of the recession was now behind us. But as we emerge now from our financial bunkers, it is to a landscape changed. We asked five Tuck faculty members for their insight into what lessons can be drawn from this bruising chapter in our financial history—who were the winners and losers, who was successful in responding to the downturn, and what we can all learn as breaks in the clouds begin to appear.
Paul Argenti: Authenticity Above All
Paul Argenti starts every one of the talks he’s given over the last decade by reminding the audience how little most people trust big business. Nevertheless, the numbers in a recent poll were still shocking—across the world, 62 percent of people trusted business less than they did a year before; in the United States, the number was 77 percent. “There really is an overwhelming negativity in the air,” says Argenti, a professor of corporate communication at Tuck and editor of Corporate Reputation Review. While the banks and financial companies that directly precipitated the financial crisis have been hardest hit, that negativity has rippled out to health care, insurance, and even consumer products and technology.