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How not to Become a Crum or 5 Tips for $50 Mln

Anton Glivinskiy 25.12.2015

Do you often talk to taxi drivers? I do, with an envious regularity. It just seems to me that taxi drivers can provide you with the best material for the information field analysis. Yes, exactly, no sociological agency can give you such a high-quality level of public opinion than several office-home taxi rides. All the trends, news, gossips, and rumours, everything what neither newspapers nor TV can provide you with you can get in the 15-minute office-home taxi ride. Though, I would remember for my entire life one conversation with a taxi driver that I had on 12 April 2012. The reason of it was an expensive vehicle with “AH” area code (Donetsk Oblast) on its identification plate which first drove along the oncoming lane and then squeezed in front of the taxi car I was in and hugely wound my driver up. “Heh, Donetsk guys. Why have they come to Kiev?”, the taxi driver started his monologue, “Let them stay in their own city and leave us alone.” I had no intention to have a conversation with the guy, and kept on reading my news feed in silence. “Let’s take the Andreyevskiy, for instance! Why did they meddle with? It was a great street! And now, disassembled all over, — he continued. — I never seen a normal Donetsk guy at all. Yesterday, for example, on TV, some Glivinskiy person spoke – a real scum I should say! I’d choke him to death if I met him.” Having assessed the size and physical potential of the driver I chose to get off at the closest traffic light or, what is better jump out on the run. The reason for such an enmity to my personality were the events of the recent days — demolition of the Yunost building, the former sewing factory, by ESTA Holding with the following protests and refusal to allow the construction of the Andreyevskiy business centre.

50 million US dollars. That is the price for, seemingly, so apparent tips that I am about to share. It is the amount that the company lost in this project due to underestimation of reputational risks.

Tip 1: learn to explain. The argument-based explanation of the real cost for reputational risks to the company management will help you to avoid their underestimation in future. Very often it is common practice in business to economize on the reputation. That is why it is the PR managers that got laid off first in the event of downsizing. To large extent, it is a mistake of the PR manager. We created the feeling that PR exists only for the sake of PR. In the reality our main task is to make the business work as more as possible and lose as little as possible. This is why the reputation risks always cost something. Sometimes the cost can be evaluated by the profit amount, but more often – by the amount of losses.

Tip 2: remember that they do not hear you.

You should not think that once you said a couple of phrases about the project during conferences, created a website or gave a couple of interviews — that’ll do. You project will be of interest only when there is a scandal about it. Unless it happens, be sure that out of hundred words said to your target audience it will be only one that it will get, and only if you get extremely lucky. But one small accusative post on Facebook by a person with a small friend list can be heard by millions of users, get on TV and lead protests of several thousand people to the door of your office.

Tip 3: remember the systematicity. Your systemic publicity and fairness is the guarantee that even in the most complicated situation you will have supporters. If you have any documents to show, then show them, if somebody expresses distrust in your words, install a web-camera, or, even better, invite this person to your place and let him/her “touch” anything he/she can touch. The fairness and openness increase the likeness of being given the right to speak in your defence, and your position, most probably, will be bought in or even believed. Not much but even a small amount of supporters is enough in order not to find yourself dumped. It is important to understand that the more the resources and means that you systematically invest into the project and company reputation, the bigger your safety airbag and chance of getting supported. How to do that? Where to get money? See the tip 1.

Tip 4: always fulfil your promises. If you are unsure of anything – better don’t promise. And once you promise something and do not fulfil, there should be one person to have registered it. He/she will remember it and refresh it in your memory, and what is more – in the memory of all who had nothing to do with this matter at all. And here comes the rule

“of notorious fame”. While you were doing some good, it was taken for granted, when you failed in some deed – wait for the resonance.

Совет 5: a spoon is dear when the lunch time is near. Do everything in advance — do not wait till the red point. There is a high probability that you’d wish to postpone the activity, believing that you can avoid the aftermath. You cannot be more wrong. As they say it is better to be overcautious than undercautious.

If you or, what is worth, the company management be tempted to act as “everyone does”, tell your manager about the Andreyevskiy example.

We bought the project in 2008 and fall in love with it that much, that in 2012 it seemed as if everyone understands that it was we that perform the construction works and approves of it (remember the tip 2). When we demolished the abandoned building of 1986, we couldn’t even imagine that someone can confuse the address and write a post in Facebook about our demolishing the monument of architecture (all the more could not we think that all our attempts to explain that it was quite different building broke at the wall of distrust (Hey.. here comes the tip 3)).

After that we refused from the project and tried to build a cultural centre. Besides, we undertook to repair the stairs, create the tourist navigation and restrict the traffic (which appeared to be not that simple with the current currency exchange rate, but very important and necessary — see the tip 4).

So finally we lost much money but got a chance to show our best in it. And what is more important, we tried to make our next project — rehabilitation of TSUM (Central Department Store) open and understandable for everyone. In advance (tip 5).

On 12 April 2012 the taxi driver drove the scum of a person Glivinskiy to the office. I got off safe and sound but with understanding that everything could have turned in another direction, should someone had given to me these tips, so simple and obvious.

Source: Marketing Media Review №6-7

Date: September−October 2015

Anton Glivinskiy
Anton Glivinskiy

PR and Communications Director