What do Sony Pictures, A&W Restaurants, Saab, American Apparel, Sears, Kellogg’s Corn Pops, MySpace, Soap Opera Digest, and Nokia have in common? They’re ten brands that 24/7 Wall St, a Delaware-based financial news group, says won’t survive through 2012. And it looks like some of those predictions might already be coming true — on Tuesday, Sears announced it will close more than 100 stores after lackluster holiday sales.
Dan Gross and Karen Post discuss the likelihood of the predictions actually happening.
I can’t believe it’s here. My new book will be on bookshelves and ship from online bookstores like Amazon and Barnes and Noble this Friday, December 16th. Thank you all for the hundreds of congrats notes and words of support.
I know many of you downloaded the sample chapter per my LinkedIn and Facebook author page notice. If you had trouble getting your chapter, it is because you were already in my opt-in list. So I’ve set up a direct download here without any further sign up needed, just click the book below. Sorry for that inconvenience.
Following this note from me is the official news release the McGraw-Hill PR team sent out for the launch. Their efforts along with my marketing team‘s and Staples Copy and Print Centers have already generated some exciting promotion around the book. Big thank you to the team! Here are just some media highlights.
The Small Business Advocate Show
The world’s only weekday radio program dedicated to small business, The Small Business Advocate® Show, on the air since 1997 and the Internet since 1998. The interview with Karen will run Friday at 8:25 ET. To listen go to Small Business Advocate Show. If you miss it, they archive all shows.
The Godfather of sales, Jeffrey Gitomer’s Sales Caffeine and in Salesblog
My good friend Jeffrey will feature my book to his over 400,000 friends and fans on December 20th, I’ll update the links next week.
News Release from McGraw-Hill
It can strike without warning. It can slay your stock and drive away your customers. It’s bad news when your brand undergoes a complete meltdown. The good news is there are proven strategies to get your business back up and running after a cataclysm.
Today’s competitive and transparent environment offers any number of threats from within and without, from customer complaints, negative press, product recalls, natural disasters, to financial failures. A single individual with a strong social media following, or the poor performance of a highly visible employee, can turn the company tide. These events can blindside even the strongest of brands.
Karen Post knows that a loss can be a gain, and she has the turnaround examples to prove it. BRAND TURNAROUND (McGraw-Hill Professional; December, 2011; Hardcover, $28.00) examines the seven principles and strategies that will protect your brand against any corporate storms that may arise without warning – and get you back in the game.
Ford. Barbie. Exxon. Martha Stewart. Tylenol. Eliot Spitzer. BP. JetBlue. Michael Vick. Harley-Davidson. Pee-Wee Herman. Here is a diverse mix of more than 75 brands and celebrities, and Post’s fascinating post-mortems of how their public profiles tanked and how the losses in each case were specific and unique. All the examples Post features in the book were once at the top of their game, fell from grace, and rallied back in the face of loss using a series of Post’s key survival principles.
Researching the keys to brand recovery, Post has put together a strategic game plan that needs to go operational within the first moments of crisis:
- Take Responsibility – Shift the brand tide from crisis to composure. This chapter examples a wide variety of instant handicaps and how they should be handled immediately.
- Never Give Up. After suffering losses, here are profiles of companies and brands that bounced back stronger – and why.
- Lead Strong – The special qualities of the people behind the turnarounds, responsible for making key decisions in the turnaround process.
- Stay Relevant – How to indentify, prioritize, and craft a strategic communications and relationship-building program.
- Keep Improving – In addition to returning to that original state of glory, brands must also show that they are committed to doing even better than before.
- Build Equity – In the face of scandal, successful brands create bonds with an increasingly cynical consumer market that will stick by them through good times and bad.
- Own Your Distinction – Call it your unique attribute, your “Brain Tattoo.” What’s your compelling differentiator? What are the unique qualities of your brand that will fuel your comeback?
Writes Post, “If and when your brand gets hit by outside forces and uncontrollable situations, or if the bad or weak in you and/or your brand explodes, remember, there is life after a disaster and brand meltdown. Take a deep breath and apply the seven game-changing strategies.” BRAND TURNAROUND offers the keys to rallying in the face of disaster.
PRAISE FOR BRAND TURNAROUND:
“Karen Post is more than merely a game changer, she creates the rules for winning every time with a 1.000 batting average, no mean feat. Brand Turnaround will completely reverse your field and create the home team advantage every time.”
—Alan Weiss, Ph.D., author of Million Dollar Consulting and The Consulting Bible
“I hate to tell you—it can happen for any company: a brand disaster. Karen Post explores what a brand catastrophe means and, most important, how to survive when it strikes. Brand Turnaround is a great life jacket for every company preparing for the unavoidable disaster before it strikes.”
—Martin Lindstrom, bestselling author of Brandwashed
“Karen Post provides great lessons, not only for entrepreneurs, but for all of us as we build our own personal brands. Brand Turnaround is a must-read for all ‘students’ of entrepreneurship.”
—Rebecca J. White, Ph.D., James Walter Distinguished Chair of Entrepreneurship; professor and director, University of Tampa Entrepreneurship Center
“What separates GREAT brands from the sea of others is that they embrace failure and learn from their mistakes. Brand Turnaround embraces this philosophy and offers insightful, practical, and relevant advice on how to leverage the lessons of failure and turn them into moments of learning and ultimate competitive advantage.”
—Julie Cottineau, VP, Brand, Virgin USA, and founder, Brandtwist.com
“An amazing book, chock full of quickly read, easily understood, and immediately actionable ideas to turn around brands.”
—James Belasco, Ph.D., author, professor, and entrepreneur
I have read two contentious and highly critical book reviews in the Wall Street Journal from the past 30 days.
The first review is about a book by an author who is a great friend of mine.
As an author who knows the kind of blood sweat and tears that goes into writing a book, my first thought was extreme sympathy and a big felt ouch!!! As I’m sure both book authors were feeling the sting of a public scolding as millions of readers and potential book buyers were exposed to this one reviewer’s negative opinion.
Granted these reviewers have earned an elite spot as book critics for an international media venue like the WSJ, congrats to them, but does their opinion really matter? Does it hurt or help the book and author? and what should the receiver of such a public work product beating do next?
I suppose it’s no different than a movie review. I’ve read many scathing movie reviews and then I went anyway and totally loved the movie.
I’ve got a new book coming out in a couple of weeks, Brand Turnaround and I hope my book is not added to this list of WSJ bad reviews, but if that’s in the cards, it’s not going to kill me if every single person doesn’t love my book as much as I do.
My views on not so nice reviews
Criticism comes with success, accept this.
- This goes for brands too. The more famous your brand is the more you will get shot at from both legitimate, credible critics and plain old grumpy, angry people.
- I believe at least 50% of all critics have not earned expert stature to be a credible reviewer. With the Internet, anyone can post opinions about a book or product with not an ounce of relevant expertise.
- Even bad reviews draw new attention to a product and can generate sales. After I read the bad review on The Secret thoughts of Successful Women by Valerie Young, E.d. D.
- I bought the book and really liked it. I’ve also recommended it to several friends.
- You can never please everyone.
- Take politicos who taste victory with a land slide win and 49% of the voters didn’t like them.
- If you give your work your all, do your homework and use your best creative thinking, that’s really all you can do.
- Sometimes as the creator of the work under fire, you can actually pick up a few gems of good insight that will make you even better, and that’s always a good thing.
And should that big bird drop a lump of poop on your parade, whether you are an author, singer, film producer or you gave a presentation and got some bad reviews, shake it off, shower it off, feel proud that you finished something and know that it’s very likely the cranky reviewer has never even started a piece of work and never will.
How to successfully build business relationships and branding that can be maintained.
In the past few years, personal branding has become a hot business topic. News anchors and journalists refer to individual brands when they cover business leadership superstars and business losers too. Executive recruiters consider a candidate’s brand when they are on a search for the best professional for a position and most entrepreneurs’ success depends on their strong, personal brand to attract employees, get funding and be an ambassador of their company.
Last month Daytime, a nationally broadcasted TV show that airs in over 35 markets, invited me to help out with a special segment called “Getting back to work”. The goal was to take two professionals who had lost their jobs and with an improved personal branding program, help them find the ideal career or opportunity.
Even though the segment focused on getting people back to work as employees, these lessons can apply to entrepreneurs as well.
Here’s the first segment that aired before Thanksgiving and a special shout out to Kendra York who owns Kendra & Company in Tampa for providing the hair, make up and style updates for our two makeover participants.
From here the plan was for me to give one-on-one coaching along with some branding tools provided by Staples that includes printing of business cards from their print and copy centers, Schtickers that provided a branded laptop skin and my design team that updated their brand identity.
These are some highlights from the coaching sessions.
Personal branding is no different than product or business branding which we all experience everyday. When a company has a strong brand, we as buyers have positive opinions about them, which in turn prompts us to select that brand over another choice. Product brands are competing to be the brand of choice.
The same concept applies for people and their personal brand.
A personal brand is what people think, feel and expect from you as an individual.
A personal brand is derived from the sum of what a person does, how they act, how they look and how they keep their promises.
In branding we call these brand opportunities, touch points.
Consistent brand touch points help a person manage their brand and peoples opinions of them.
A personal brand is one’s image, reputation and the impression they leave when they show up for a job interview, a business networking event or even after a phone call.
We all have brands even without thinking about them or consciously working on them, because people, our friends, colleagues, clients and employers are judging us and these opinions are stored in their heads, which become our brands.
The key to successful personal branding is making sure everything you do is lined up with your goals and that you consistently send out the accurate message that reflects the true you.
So when people find themselves in a down state, like being without a job or career they love, it’s time for action.
They need to follow these three brand-building steps to make sure they are projecting the right image that gets them closer to their goals.
1) Assessment and goal setting
2) Create an action plan
3) Work on it, with consistency and passion
I call the process, personal brain tattooing. Like a regular tattoo, a brand sticks to the minds of the market and it’s put there by choice.
Getting hired is often about risk and if your brand ensures the employer or client you are not a risk, but a good investment that can add value to their organization, that’s the ticket.
Step 1 – Assessment of what is.
What skills, persuasive assets and traits does the person have to build on and leverage?
When I’m working with an individual on their personal brand, I ask these questions.
- Can you tell me about yourself in a 60 second window? Please do.
- Why are you jobless?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- Describe your ideal job or next career?
- What are your 2-3 most important life goals?
- Have you experienced rejection and “No’s” in your job hunting?
- Did they give you reasons? What were they?
- Why do you think you were passed up?
- What tangible branding tools do you have? And what do you need to work on?
I also ask people to do a Google search on their name and see what comes up.
If it’s bad stuff that can tarnish your reputation, see what you can do to change it. Many times you can.
If it’s bad stuff that’s out of your control, like a criminal record, it’s good to know about it and sometimes you need to share this with a potential employer or client.
Next, I ask “What tangible branding tools do you have that reflect your desired personal brand?”
They can include:
- Your resume
- A strong cover letter of introduction
- A personal business card, laptop skin, brochures
- The appropriate wardrobe for interviews and meetings
- An appropriate web presence and social media footprint
I always recommend people buy their name URL, if it’s just a landing page with your contact information of social media links. If your name is not available, get something close, like with your middle initial in it.
As an example: I own www.Karenpost.com
Step 2- Next, one must develop a personal brand action plan to help get them from where they are “unemployed” to where they want to be, “in a great job or opportunity they love”.
A personal brand plan addresses:
- Brand essence
- Target audience
- Strategies (behavioral changes)
- Tactics (specific things to do)
I always start with the end in mind. What are your goals?
Strong personal brands are visible, memorable, distinct and relevant.
To “brand up” you, one needs to have:
Your personal essence defined.
A personal brand essence is the foundation around whom you are authentically.
Purpose - Why are you here? What do you do? How can you contribute to a company’s success?
Points of distinction- What is unique about you?
How you look
Your skill set
Who you have worked with
Personality – What are 3-4 adjectives that best describe you?
When building a personal brand, one’s personality attributes should be aligned with your desired job, career. Like in my case, being creative, having a sense of humor and being confident. Work well with my career choice being a consultant and speaker.
Promise – one’s promise is what they commit to delivering on.
For example – if you are in sales, you’ve got to be able to successfully sell. If you are in Healthcare administration, your attention to detail and problem solving must be mastered etc. One must be able to deliver on commitments and promises. Walk the talk.
After your brand essence is complete, then you must weave this platform into all of your touch points.
Who are your target audiences?
Who are the key company decision makers? Who are the other influential people in your network, who can make recommendations and introductions? Friends, former employers, people you do business with etc.
Touch points fall into three categories and need to be aligned with one’s goals.
1) One’s visual package
Research shows that visual elements are the #1 influencer in impressions people draw from others. This means your wardrobe, hairstyle and grooming all matter. Depending on the job and position you are seeking will determine the best look for a person.
Additionally, your tools like resume, business cards and thank you cards also impact the judgment you may earn.
2) One’s communication skills and style.
Next to the visual items, people are judged by their communication skills and style.
Communication style has three equally important areas.
How do you sound? Is your choice of words the best they can be and aligned to your goals? And the confidence and attitude you exude, is it consistent with your goals and does it lower the risk of the potential employer?
How do you write? From your resume, to a thank you note and your social media footprint, do these items communicate an impression that aligns with your goals?
What is your body language communicating? This includes your posture, handshake and eye contact. Are you poised and confident or unsure and down and out?
3) One’s substance and behavior.
The objective in personal branding is to be authentic, but based on your job goals; one must consciously increase the volume and clarity of their brand, offering potential contributions to a company’s success.
And finally, one must have substance and behave in a way that validates their position and image and supports all other touch points.
You must demonstrate evidence that you walk the talk, and are what your packaging communicates?
This means be really good at your craft and your job. The most skilled and competent people get the jobs first. And that’s where you want to be.
This may mean taking classes, accepting an unpaid internship or doing volunteer work with another job just to pay the bills.
And you must work the plan with passion and consistency everyday.
Think before you move. Stay in tune to the ideal brand you want people to have in their heads about you.
As a wrap up, here are five small things that have big instant impact on your personal brand.
1) Have a strategic online footprint that depicts you as you want your buyers to view you
This means have a LinkedIn account, a Twitter account and if you have business appropriate videos then a YouTube account too.
A landing page about you is a good idea, one that is hosted with your name.com. And if you’ve got something to say, a blog is extra icing on your brand cake.
2) Keep your promises
This means do what you say, say what you mean and walk your brand talk everyday.
3) Associate with people that are consistent with your brand
This means birds of a feather flock together. Don’t be hanging with bunch of crows if you are an elegant, sophisticated swan.
4) Look your brand
This means put the costume on when you are in public. Whatever your image is, support it with the right wardrobe, car and office.
5) Be consistent
This means frequency of a message, makes the message stick. Look at all your touch points, web, business communications, email, phone message, thank you notes, resume etc.
Need a little help with your personal brand? Check out some of my ebooks that can help you brand up your image and reputation.
Below is the second half of the Daytime segment that aired on 12/15/11
Jennifer Prosek, author of Army of Entrepreneurs, is the founder and CEO of CJP Communications where she leads many of the firm’s key accounts. Her offices are located in New York, Connecticut and London and with over 70 working professionals, the firm ranks among the top 35 independent public relations firms in the US.
You could definitely say that she knows how to run a business or, should I say, how to gather an army of entrepreneurs. Want to know the secret? It’s the ability to develop, motivate and deploy employees to be more entrepreneurial within their own positions. This strategy is the basis of her first book, Army of Entrepreneurs: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth.
Prosek shares what she knows, how she runs her firm and focuses on teaching readers how to insure that every employee becomes a powerful force for growth within an organization. Prosek believes that if every employee is empowered to use all of his or her resources to help the company succeed, they will develop what she calls an “owner’s mindset”. Her game plan for building a workforce committed to creating new business, forming breakthrough products and services, and supporting growth has earned the organization “Small Agency of the Year” and was recognized as one of the “Top Places to Work in PR”!
Jennifer Prosek uses both theory and practical advice into an overall organizational approach and taps into the hidden entrepreneurial drive among employees and because of this, I highly recommend the innovative and organizational changing book Army of Entrepreneurs: Create an Engaged and Empowered Workforce for Exceptional Business Growth by Jennifer Prosek, to anyone serious about jolting awake their company through empowering their employees.
- To have a successful company, one must develop and motivate employees to be in charge of their own actions.
- Breakthrough products and services come from those who are empowered by their resources.
- When employees are passionate about their careers, goals, dreams and ideas, everyone in the company wins.
About the author: Lauren Angrick is Chief Problem Solver for Karen Post’s companies, Brain Tattoo Branding, Brain Tattoo Publishing and The Branding Diva® speaking programs. When not online, marketing and social media brand building she enjoys being in social gatherings and anything to do with the outdoors. Angrick is a University of Tampa graduate and serves is a member of the Board of Counselors.
60 Minutes is at the door are you ready to defend your brand?
The business world is uncertain, risky and forever changing, it’s no surprise that your brand will probably face some rocky roads throughout its lifetime, along with a little uninvited media attention. Whether due to a natural disaster, a product recall, a competitor’s maneuver, bad judgment, a customer complaint or some other factor, your brand strength could be put to the test when you least expect it.
Brand shakeups happen every day and then the spotlight is on the brand and the surrounding events and players. The media, your stakeholders, your employees and customers will be demanding answers and assurance that you are handling things in the right way.
No brand is immune. An entrepreneurial start-up, an individual brand or big organization can get beat up without warning.
So when brands go bad, what separates the survivors from the big losers, the sustainable ones, from the forever broken ones?
It’s not what hits a brand upside the head but rather how they get back in the game that matters. I’ve watched and researched brands from around the world, big and small when they are tested. And I’ve seen common actions that I call brand turnaround game changers. These actions can bring brands—even in the worst place—back to glory.
Should your number be called and you find your brand on the hot seat, take responsibility and follow these actions. Your road to recovery will be smoother and you can prevent long-term damage.
To illustrate a brand-shaking situation, let’s pretend your employees or a vendor did something crazy, broke the law, dismissed ethical practices or made a big mistake, and the word is out. It’s on the news and being talked about in social media. What should a smart brand do?
During this trying time, you must own up and take control of the situation. This doesn’t mean to admit guilt or make excuses, but it means that you should take timely responsibility and demonstrate sound actions toward finding solutions to the situation.
As much as you might want to go into hiding and reply with, “No comment,” you must stay present, with confident communications and poise, so the public and your stakeholders do not lose their trust in you or your brand and further negative consequences are contained.
Bad things happen to good brands. You can let an unfortunate event kill your brand or you can recover quickly from the event by taking these steps.
o Take an inventory of the situation, before you speak.
o Acknowledge the facts, and that you and your team is actively seeking solutions.
o Build a clear narrative that reflects your brand essence and is relevant to the situation.
o Decide what venues are best to tell your story.
o Apologize, when appropriate.
o Select the most effective voice for your brand.
o Leverage the best impression.
o Keep the message positive and honest.
o Manage the media; don’t let the media manage you.
Avoiding the situation will further the suspicion and possibly result in more negative publicity for your brand. Also, remember the more high profile the brand is, the higher expectations will be on all fronts.
To start, stay present. This means taking ownership. Do this in a diplomatic way, demonstrating empathy and concern for all stakeholders, including employees, the community, your customers and those involved in the situation.
Remember the media can be your friend and is a powerful tool that can heavily influence public opinion. Leverage journalists, news sources and technology from the get-go. First impressions depicted by the media are key here, so think carefully before you answer any questions or attempt to explain anything. And because of the Internet, remember that anything you say or do can be kept on record and visible to the public for many years to come.
Choose an outlet that best represents your brand and how to address the problem. Is it a press conference, written and/or verbal statements, social media or other Web resources, radio, TV or some other outlet? Your venue of choice should be based on the event and the magnitude of the initial brand shakeup. But you should also be sensitive to current market conditions and other news, and how your story fits in with those.
Be sure that your website and social media channels have current information regarding the shakeup and the steps you’re taking to fix what has gone wrong. You can even create a microsite dedicated solely to this purpose.
The communications voice should match your brand and reflect the tone for your plan of attack and recovery. Know your audience, build your starting narrative, craft a compelling story and speak the truth. Be sure not to make false promises or have an unrealistic positive outlook if you do not have supporting facts.
Most importantly, show that you’re committed to doing whatever it takes to tackle the situation. As I said before, any kind of avoidance, delayed response or blame game could potentially raise doubts and questions in regards to the values and credibility of your brand.
At the same time, know when to fold. There may come a point when you have done everything you can and now need to remove your brand’s presence from the public radar screen and get back to your business.
This article is based on content from Karen Post’s latest book Brand Turnaround (McGraw-Hill 2011).
To view more content from Brand Turnaround, click here.
“Daytime” knows many are hurting in this down economy and many people out there are unemployed and having trouble finding a job. Well we want to help so all this month “Daytime” will be doing segments to help you get back to work.
Soon my new book BRAND TURNAROUND How Brands Gone Bad Returned to Glory…and the 7 Game Changers That Made a Difference will hit book stores everywhere. As promised I will post the list of Brand Turnarounds featured in the book in my blog.
Brand Turnaround captures the churn, burn, and return to glory of over seventy-five brands listed below. Some are small; others are global leaders. Some experienced monumental shake-ups and downturns; others were hit with an event or situation that caused intense public scrutiny, negative media coverage, and dinged the brand’s stature. Want to learn more about these brands?
Purchase my new book, Brand Turnaround.
Abercrombie & Fitch
American Red Cross
Bush, President George W.
CHOC’s Children’s Hospital of Orange County
Clinton, President Bill
Downing Jr., Robert
Herman, Pee Wee
Johnson and Johnson
Linens ‘n Things
Marks and Spencer
Pirate’s and Veggie Booty
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Spitzer, Governor Eliot
Spiderman (the musical)