Wondering Out Loud

Blogging in a regulated industry

Every time I participate in, or attend an event where social media is the topic there is always one – sometimes more – person in the audience representing a company from a highly regulated industry. Most often they are from the financial sector – banking, investments, etc. – and they all have the same question: How can we blog when everything we say needs to be run through an extensive approval process?

It’s a great question. To understand the significance of the question, one need only listen to the disclaimers at the end of any commercial inviting you to invest your money with a particular money manager: Actual results may vary, you could lose some or all of your money, and my personal favorite…you could lose more than you invested. Regardless of the industry there are ways to leverage the power of the web and here is one of my favorites.

In its simplest form there are two sides to the social media coin – join a conversation and start a conversation. For my purpose we’ll look at the second one.

There are two primary ways to start a conversation. The first is to react to an event that is happening in the industry now – President Obama’s jobs summit last week provided a golden opportunity for investment advisors to weigh in with their analysis of the event. When one works in a highly regulated industry there is a certain amount of risk that comes with reacting in real-time, but professionals in these industries can still start conversations with little or no risk to themselves or their companies by creating a calendar of conversations. All it takes is some planning and buy-in from your internal subject matter experts (SMEs).

The first step is to meet with your team and crate a list of issues that are relevant to your audience and that your SMEs can discuss credibly. The next step is to put those issues into an editorial calendar then create content to that calendar. Using this strategy for content creation gives enough time for all the appropriate parties to review and approve the content. Once approved, distribute as normal. Whether to a blog or a LinkedIn discussion page – I prefer both – you have joined the world of social media contributors and have done it with the blessing of your internal regulatory professionals. 

If you’d like to inject some digital steroids into the process take a look at the ed. cals. of the industry publications you are courting and design yours to mirror theirs –  minus a few months. If you can write credibly today about a subject one of the pubs will be covering a few months down the road, you can begin building a case for why your SMEs should be tapped for interviews when the article is being written. It’s a great way to build media relations and, if your offer of supplying expert analysis is rejected, you still have your own content to point your audience to.

I’ll tackle other issue in a later post – reacting as events happen. It can be problematic for any organization, but it can also be done by any.

December 10, 2009 Posted by | Communications, Public Relations, Social Media | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hold that Tiger

When, I must ask, will the celebrity class ever learn? When will they realize they are public figures and, no matter how hard they try, their dirty laundry will one day be aired for the entire world to see. The latest to forget the lessons learned by the many who came before is Tiger Woods.

We’ve all heard the story about his late night/early morning car crash. We’ve also been treated to an ongoing flow of speculation about what it is that drove him from his home at such as ungodly hour. But almost a week after the events unfolded only two people – Tiger and his wife, Elin – know exactly what happened on that moonlit night. And they aint talking.

Tiger has fallen into the same trap as other celebrities: Trying to keep private that which has become all too public. That he is doing so is understandable. Since turning pro, Tiger has always tried to maintain a life separate and distinct from the one played out on the golf course. Looking back one has to say he’s been very successful. Until recently he has not been the fodder for tabloids – broadcast, web or print – nor has he been known to venture to local clubs for a boys night out – before or since his marriage. By all accounts his private life was just that. In fact, he’s been known to jettison from his circle those who did not respect his privacy.

All that changed in the early morning hours of Friday, November 27.

With the single act of crashing his Cadillac Escalade Tiger Woods set in motion the raising of the curtain on his once-private life. If that isn’t bad enough, every decision he’s made since – with the input of advisors I’m sure – has only compounded the problem and added fuel to the fire of speculation. Speculation that, if not answered, will become fact in the public’s mind.

The single biggest mistake he can make is waiting until Spring – when he will be on the golf course again – to address the questions. While it’s true the public has a short attention span and moves quickly to the next story, when the most famous athlete on the face of the planet is at the core of the story it is certain to come to life when he re-emerges from his bunker.

C’mon Tiger. Take the questions, take the heat. The sooner you face the issue the sooner you and your wife can put it in the past and get on with your private lives.

December 1, 2009 Posted by | Public Relations | | Leave a comment

   

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