Posts Tagged ‘brand’

What should the pope do?

What would you do right now if you were the pope’s PR person?  What advice would you give to this pontiff whose brand is disintegrating before his eyes?

The pope has been accused

The pope has been accused of ignoring sexual abuse allegations, opting instead to protect the image of the church.  He has already apologized to various groups who were victims of church-oriented sexual abuse and he has asked for forgiveness on behalf of the church.  But he’s never admitted that he ignored those sought justice and protection for other innocent children.  For example, the Wisconsin priest who allegedly molested up to 200 boys at St. John’s School for the Deaf was moved by then-Cardinal Ratzinger to another diocese, where he continued to work with children.  The spiritual and moral lives of Catholics the world over have been challenged by these allegations.

Think in business terms

But let’s set aside the spiritual and moral issues for a minute and think about this in purely business terms.  Essentially, the pope is the president of one of the world’s largest corporations, with a customer base that’s estimated at over 1 billion.  And the only thing that keeps clients coming back week after week is branding.  The church makes a promise, its clients buy into the promise and for that they commit themselves and their dollars.

Protecting the brand

But now, overwhelming evidence is emerging that the church’s primary goal is to protecting the brand and those who promote it, rather than deliver on the promise.  (Does this sound like echoes of Toyota?)  And not only are the flames of that evidence moving up the chain of command, they are encircling the pope and singeing the fringes of his robes.  So, if you were the Vatican PR flack, what would you advise the him to do?

Imagine the impact

He’s in deep doo-doo.  According to Ted Schmidt of the New Catholic Times, 30 million Americans have walked out of the Catholic Church.  And that’s just America.  There are also reports that as many as a million Austrians are ready to pack up their rosaries and vote with their feet.   These are huge numbers – and they represent enormous revenue – from just two countries. Not to mention Ireland, Germany Italy and a string of other countries.  Imagine the global impact.

They’re circling the wagons

So far, officials in the Vatican are taking a defensive stance.  They’re circling the wagons of the faithful, trying to convince them that the church and its leader are the victims of a smear campaign at the hands of the media and other critics.  They are appealing to the blindly faithful and, to some degree that strategy will work, at least for a while.  But it won’t bring anybody back into the fold who’s already left, not even those who’d like to return.

Clean it up

My papal advice would be to come clean, admit the pope’s personal failings, use them as evidence that everyone, even God’s direct messenger, has failings and is a sinner.  And I’d recommend that the pope back up his mea culpa with strict commitments and commandments to force the church to clean up its act.  I’d suggest that an encyclical be distributed stating that the next – and all future – church officials found to be exploiting their flocks in any way would be immediately relieved of their duties, turned over to the authorities to face charges and, if found guilty, defrocked and excommunicated.
That would be my advice, but I’d love to hear yours.

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About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

Toyota’s making it right . . . finally

Have you seen the new “Making it right” commercial Toyota’s running?  The one where they capitalize on nostalgia and Toyota’s good name to try to woo customers back to the showrooms?  The strategy is good for the situation Toyota finds itself in but I shake my head that they have to run them at all.  It’s another great example of how one of the strongest brands in the world can flush itself down the toilet, lose millions of customers, tens of millions of dollars in sales, then spend millions more trying to paddle their way out of a mess they didn’t have to get into in the first place.

Put customers first

All they had to do was put their customers first, as they’ve done for more than 30 years and continue to build cars that were beyond reproach.  But instead they took the short view and ended up paying and paying and paying in the long run.  It will be years before Toyota’s brand fully recovers – if ever.

Do the right thing

It’s simple: do the right thing.  Solve manageable problems while they’re still manageable.  Admit, apologize, take whatever beating you have coming to you and make a big deal of what you’re doing to fix it.  But do it before the media and government commissions pounding your brand on a daily basis and your formerly loyal customers are screaming for your head.

Take action immediately

There must be something I’m missing here because I don’t see that this is so difficult.  In fact it’s simple logic: look after your customers.  Take action and resolve the issue immediately.  The obvious answer is that someone didn’t want to admit that this happened on his or her watch and that Toyota is big enough and fat enough that this someone thought that he or she could get away with it.

Make it right

It looks to me like some corporate heads should be rolling if they’re not rolling already.  Akio Toyoda, the company’s president, says he takes “personal responsibility” for the company’s problems.  So is he going to do the honourable thing and resign?  Well, no.  Instead he’s going to lead a campaign to “Make it right!”.  That’s very noble but let’s face it, if he’d provided the leadership to make it right in the first place he wouldn’t be in this mess.

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? If so, please contact me to discuss my public speaking training programs. I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today!

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.

Tiger Teaches Branding

We can draw some valuable lessons from Tiger Woods’ apology for his sexual transgressions.  He’s been roundly criticized for how he’s handled this whole issue and rightly so.  After all, he’s not just an individual; he’s a huge corporation with a high profile brand that’s now been badly tarnished.  But if he’d followed a few basic rules, the damage could have been eliminated or at least contained much more than it was.  Here’s what I think Tiger and all corporations should do to protect their brand:

Do the right thing

I know, that’s easy for me to say.  But really, all of this could have been avoided if he’d done the right thing in the first place.  The easiest way for corporations to get out of trouble is to stay out of it in the first place by weighting self interest against public good and public image.  Sure, it’s hard to do the right thing sometimes but all of this could have been prevented with one word: “No!”

If you make a mistake, admit it

This is where communicators and lawyers part company.  The lawyer will say, “Keep quiet.  Don’t admit anything,” whereas the communicator will say, “’Fess up, get it out, get it over and get it behind you.  Control the message, but tell the truth”.

Be sincere

Did you think Tiger’s apology was sincere?  His delivery was flat to say the least.  He appeared to follow his script to the letter and every gesture had obviously been coached endlessly.  Watch the video on YouTube and ask yourself: “Where does he sound most sincere?” and if the answer is “nowhere’ , draw your own conclusions.  If corporations want their publics to believe what they say, they must be direct, honest and sincere, particularly when they’re dealing with sensitive issues.

Don’t hide

It sure would have been a lot easier to believe this apology in early December.  Tiger complained about the tabloids hounding him and his family but if he’d just ‘fessed up and apologized three months ago this would already be old news.  Instead, it continued to fuel our imaginations and curiousity because we didn’t have closure.  When David Letterman admitted to succumbing to temptation, just a few weeks before the Woods story broke, Letterman controlled the message by admitting everything on his network broadcast.  He admitted his shortcomings, apologized, picked up the pieces and moved on.  If he’d tried to hide, the story would still be shadowing him but, just a few months later, nobody’s really very interested.  He bears the scar, but it doesn’t define him.

What do you think?

Did you think Tiger was sincere?  Do you think he’s added to his problems by waiting so long?  I’d like to hear from you

Need a guest speaker?

If your group needs a skilled guest speaker or workshop leader, I’d like to help you. I provide a range of communications key note presentations and workshops. Please visit the presentations and workshops pages of this website and contact me to discuss how I can help you.

Need a presentation trainer?

Would you like help dealing with public speaking training and other communications issues? If so, please contact me to discuss my public speaking training programs. I provide one-on-one presentation training and group public speaking training sessions that provide tools to develop your public speaking skills. Contact me today!

About Thomas Moss

Thomas Moss is a speaker, writer and coach who provides business communications services, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, including Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Markham, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Vaughan, Brampton and Mississauga. Service is also available outside of the GTA.