- Player: Vincent Magwenya
- Company: Magna Carta
- Position: CEO
- Established: 1994
- Contact: www.magna-carta.co.za
The press release is no longer the automatic go-to tool in the PR arsenal. Digital mediums have fundamentally shifted the public relations landscape, and, thanks to platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, companies can engage with large audiences relatively easily.
The social media battleground
This new digital landscape brings with it great opportunity, but also great risk. With so many communication channels available to absolutely anyone, it can be all but impossible to position enough guards along the PR watchtower.
Recently, for example, an employee of online rating site Yelp posted an open letter to the company CEO. In the letter, she complained about the minimum wage she was receiving as an employee at the company’s customer service centre, and lamented the fact that she was finding it impossible to make ends meet.
In a rather dubious move, Yelp summarily fired the employee, and, to make matters even worse, the company tried to claim that her dismissal had had nothing to do with the open letter she had posted. It was yet another example of how easy the Internet has made it for companies to become embroiled in brutal and unanticipated PR disasters.
“There is a famous quote, often attributed to Mark Twain, which states: Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. Nowadays, however, it’s more appropriate to say: Don’t pick a fight with someone who has a Twitter account,” says Magna Carta CEO Vincent Magwenya. Magna Carta is a consultancy that aims to deliver full reputation management solutions.
According to Magwenya, it is important to be proactive in one’s approach to risk management as it relates to social media and the online environment.
“Scenario planning and risk management is incredibly important,” says Magwenya. “You need to have some sort of strategy in place for the day when you find yourself at the centre of a social media debacle. An online catastrophe arrives quickly and unexpectedly, and managing it effectively can be tough. The last thing you want to do is to lash out like a snake trapped in a corner, behaving counter-productively and fanning the flames, so you want a strategy in place that will take emotional responses out of the equation.”
Magwenya also emphasises the importance of having a social media policy in place that prohibits employees from behaving irresponsibly in the digital sphere.
“Employees are representatives of your organisation, so their online behaviour will cast a reflection on your business — there is no way around it,” says Magwenya. “Because of this, you need some sort of policy in place that stipulates exactly what is expected of employees with regards to social media. You don’t want to restrict behaviour too much — people should be allowed to be themselves online — but they should be made aware of the effect their behaviour can have on the business.”
Know your audience
All of the above being said, there is no doubt that the online environment provides great opportunities for companies looking to engage directly with customers. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter remove many of the traditional media gatekeepers, allowing companies to engage with individuals easily and cheaply.
However, Magwenya warns against becoming infatuated with metrics such as number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes, which might stroke the ego, but are ultimately quite meaningless. You can share some silly bit of content that goes viral (sneezing animals are always a good bet), but if you aren’t communicating with your audience in an authentic and meaningful way, ‘going viral’ won’t have a lasting impact on your business.
“When it comes to metrics, you need to pay close attention to what you’re measuring and why you’re measuring it. You want engagement that has real impact,” says Magwenya.
He also warns against joining a social media platform without a clear customer-centric strategy. “You need to understand your customers, and when it comes to social media, you need to know where your customers reside. There is no point in speaking to an audience that has no interest in what you’re offering.”
Content is (still) king
Whether you’re talking about new media or the trusty old press release, however, content remains king. Regardless of the medium you use, the focus always needs to be on telling your story in an authentic way.
“We always look for authenticity when crafting a client’s narrative,” says Magwenya. “You can’t be boring. You need to tell your story in an interesting way. The business needs a credible face, so your personal journey as an entrepreneur needs to be intimately tied to the story of your business. You need to tell your story — don’t be afraid to recount the mistakes you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learnt. The people behind an enterprise — the courage and commitment that exists — needs to be shown.”
According to Magwenya, South Africa’s socio-economic environment also means that there is great value in emphasising the social relevance of your operation. Are you employing the previously unemployed, empowering artisans or up-skilling your employees? This is news always worth sharing.
Innovation is yet another ‘hot topic’. “Innovation sells,” says Magwenya. “Something fresh and new provides an angle of interest. The companies that achieve the most traction are the ones that are continually innovating.”
One need only look at all the ink that’s been spilt over companies such as Tesla and SpaceX to realise the value of innovation. If you’re genuinely trying to change the world, it’s very hard for the world not to notice.
Customers respond to authenticity. You need to find a way of telling your story in an interesting yet honest way. Have the courage to admit the mistakes you’ve made and the lessons you’ve learnt.
7 Pieces Of Wise Advice For Start-Up Entrepreneurs From Successful Business Owners
Launching a business is tough, but with perseverance, a willingness to learn from mistakes and a focus on the future, you can turn your dream into a reality. Seven top South Africa entrepreneurs share their hard-won start-up lessons.
“What seems like an expensive lesson is actually the best thing that could have happened to you.”
So you want to start a business? Seven successful entrepreneurs share their words of wisdom for start-up entrepreneurs
1. Offer advice and share your expertise freely
The more your clients are educated, the more empowered they will feel, and the more they will view you as a trusted advisor. I gave my clients material to help them develop the best labour policies and procedures. It didn’t make my service redundant — it built trust between us. — Arnoux Mare, Innovative Solutions Group, turnover R780 million
2. Stop planning and start doing
We all tend to complicate business with planning and processes. These shouldn’t be ignored, but you need to also just start — start your business, start that project, start walking the path you want to be on. — Gareth Leck, co-founder, Joe Public, turnover R700 million
3. Play your heart out and the money will follow
I learnt this valuable lesson when I was a student and busked at Greenmarket Square. You don’t stand with your hat, waiting for cash and then play — you play your heart out and the bills pile up in your hat. It’s the same in business. You can’t look at the bottom line first; it’s the other way around. — Pepe Marais, co-founder, Joe Public, turnover R700 million
4. Love learning lessons
What seems like an expensive lesson is actually the best thing that could have happened to you. I wasn’t paying attention to my partner or my books in our early days, and I didn’t realise the debt he was putting us into. We ended up owing R1 million. In hindsight, it was a cheap lesson to learn. Imagine if that happened today? The fallout would be much greater. We have 19 stores and nearly 100 staff members. It would hurt everyone, not just me. — Rodney Norman, founder, Chrome Supplements, turnover R100 million
5. Landing an investor starts with your story
A great story and data are the two golden rules of attracting an investor. You need both if you really want to access growth funding that will take your business to the next level. — Grant Rushmere, founder, Bos Ice Tea
6. Offer solutions
If you’re not solving a problem and creating value, don’t ship it — throw it away. That’s cheaper than selling a bad product. — Nadir Khamissa, co-founder, Hello Group
7. Small, clever decisions lead to big profits
One of the most important lessons any business owner can learn is that success on profit is nothing more than the accumulative sum of rand decisions. Lots of small, clever money decisions lead to big profits, and without the disciplines of frugality, money gets lost. It’s that simple. Question every single line item on a quote. Do we need it? Can we get it cheaper? This is what it’s about. — Vusi Thembekwayo, founder, Watermark
Here’s How Bosses From Hell Helped 6 Entrepreneurs Grow
From control freaks to being unco-operative, founders share what they learned from their worst boss.
In business, sometimes the most valuable lessons come from the worst teachers. We asked six entrepreneurs: What’s the greatest thing you learned from a bad boss?
1. Bring everyone in
“A former boss was very hierarchical and discouraged collaboration. Everyone reported directly to her, and interdepartmental meetings were practically prohibited. It meant that only our boss had the full picture – we missed a lot of opportunity for alignment and cooperation. Today at our company, it’s a priority to hold regular team meetings and foster a strong culture of collaboration. It’s crucial that our team members weave collective sharing into the fabric of their day-to-day interactions.” – Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder and CEO, Indagare
2. Be vulnerable
“Don’t be afraid to show your emotions! I worked for a partner at McKinsey who was an incredible person but an awful manager because he kept his feelings bottled up. After a client presentation went awry, our team didn’t know where we stood with our manager. It was tense, awkward and demotivating. Showing vulnerability and letting others know when you’re genuinely upset can help everyone externalise their emotions, build trust and reassure employees that they aren’t alone. It sends a clearer message than stone-faced silence.” – Leo Wang, founder and CEO, Buffy
Related: 5 Factors That Make A Great Boss
3. Lend a hand
“I worked for someone who would never help out the junior staff with their work, even if he was finished with his own – he’d simply pack up and leave early. I now make an extra effort to ask my staff if they can use a hand when my own workload is light. It’s created a culture that feels more like a tight-knit team and less like a hierarchy.” – Adam Tichauer, founder and CEO, Camp No Counselors
4. Move as a group
“When I was a nurse manager, I had a boss with no experience in healthcare. She wanted to change our process for keeping patients from getting blood clots. I knew it was a mistake, but she insisted. Ultimately, the change failed. It taught me the importance of empowering staff to speak up. At Extend Fertility, we collect feedback from customers via surveys. Results are shared with our staff, and together we develop action plans to address negative experiences. It’s the employees who interact with patients on a daily basis who have the best solutions.” – Ilaina Edison, CEO, Extend Fertility
5. Trust your team
“I once worked for a woman who joined our team after I had been working there for a while. Every time I stood up, she’d ask me where I was going, whether it was to the bathroom or to the printer. She had a fear of not having control over my time and work. As a young adult, this behaviour really demoralised me, especially since I had excelled at the job for years prior. My leadership style is less neurotic. Once my team members have my trust, I’m pretty hands-off.” – Denise Lee, founder and CEO, Alala
6. Respect others’ time
“Early in my career, I had a project manager who’d wait until the very last minute to review work, then convey lots of new information and requests. This happened at the end of the day or, worse, after hours, when I was home. It was demoralising, inefficient and disrespectful. In my career, I’m conscious about reviewing work in a timely and complete way so my team can successfully incorporate my feedback without generating a last-minute crisis – or lingering resentment.” – Kirsten R. Murray, principal architect and owner, Olson Kundig
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
11 Things Very Successful People Do That 99% Of People Don’t
Consistency is a big part of succeeding. The top 1% of performers in the world know this is the secret to their success.
Becoming wealthy and leaving an impact on the world is not an easy feat. If it were, everyone would go around doing it. At that point, it would not be much of an accomplishment at all.
Rather, being extremely successful requires an extreme amount of work. Especially when there is nobody looking. The best people have developed habits that help them reach their goals. These routines are not necessarily challenging to form, but they take consistent effort over extended periods of time. Creating these tendencies in your own life will propel your success.
Here are 11 things, that 99% of people (myself included) do not do, but really should.
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