You or your business may not have 18 million followers on Twitter, but the lessons from this impulsive online exchange can serve as a lesson for anyone who has an online profile. When you communicate instantly through social media, it's easy to find yourself caught up in an emotional exchange with another user who is criticizing you or your brand.
The reality is that in Toronto, as in most police services across the continent, the vast majority of serving police officers are exceptional public servants. The bad news is that reality is entirely irrelevant. People don't form judgments or base their decisions and actions on reality. They base them on their perceptions. And a fast-growing segment of society in Toronto, in Chicago, in New York City, in Ferguson, in cities and towns across North America, perceive their police services to be acting for their own benefit -- not society's.
Canada has historically been a leading voice for international accountability. Mass violence and mass atrocities being committed in Syria, Ukraine, the Central African Republic and North Korea suggest that states are falling short of their obligations. Expectations are not being met. Canada can and should resuscitate its leadership on this front.
The only constraint when a corporation decides to work on its credibility is the time, and in business, time is cash. People do not realize how long it could be to build a credibility sound enough to help them to get out of a crisis situation or to build a relationship with stakeholders. We often say that it takes years to build credibility and it takes hours to lose, and it is so true.
Despite the importance of crisis preparedness in a 24 hour news cycle, many companies still don't have a crisis communications plan in place. Instead, they either hope one will never happen or figure they can "wing it" when a crisis eventually does occur. Simply put, not having a crisis plan in place is like playing Russian Roulette with your company's brand.
There's no shortage of examples of how a company's commitment to an issue can inspire an entire country to act. The right for a woman to walk down the street in a developing nation without the fear or reality of being raped has not yet been one of those examples. I think it has incredible potential and power with Canada's own women and men, a unique opportunity to create a legacy of fostering systemic change globally.
The reaction of the populace to Calgary's flooding, particularly the city's ballsy mayor Naheed Nenshi, painted Canada as tough-as-nails action figures fighting World War H20. Despite this, the majority of non-Canadians still see us more as that somewhat dopey, big obliviously-smilin' guy portrayed on the cover of Bill Mann's book than they do us as the fearless, hip, smart folk we know we are. Which is why, if I could change anything about our country, it would be the symbols that define us to others.
In the space of a few years, the world's perception of Canada has changed dramatically. Under the Harper Conservatives, this country has become a climate change pariah and lost its reputation as a peace-keeper and honest broker. We need to return to an international role that emphasizes humanitarianism.
It has all come to where we are today: Loss of confidence, loss of trust, and staggering market losses. This is the time for transparency, authentic conversation, honesty and humility. Those who display this behaviour have a chance to slowly regain the shattered trust of their customers. Straight talk. Honest talk. Committed talk. No spin. No rationalization. The industry messed up, and the public wants to hear the truth.
Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada, probably has the best personal brand of anyone in Canada right now. Carney has created a spotlight for himself by taking some risks, all of which could have blown up in his face. I think he managed to avoid disaster by focussing on some key principles about personal branding.