Clubhouse is all the rage – and the likely site of the next business crisis

Don’t get me wrong. I think Clubhouse, the audio chat app that is taking the world and Indonesia by storm is fantastic.

Here you have an app that makes interaction easy among people with same interests. And because its audio only it also creates a feeling of intimacy and ability to network during sessions.

Another added benefit is that since it is organized usually as an informal and chilled-out chat, there is little preparation needed.

The result: Every Indonesian what fancies themselves as connected has signed onto the service and many have already organized Tchaikovsky rooms from a few people to a few hundred. Either that or they are desperately waiting for an invite to get onto Clubhouse.

The ease and informality of these chat rooms are Chatroom’s great strengths. But they also harbor its great danger – the likelihood of uncontrolled blabbering, under the mistaken notion that its an informal chat and there are little consequences to speaking your mind.

Users of Clubhouse or any social media application should always remember that whatever you do or say there can be recorded or copied and shared to a wider audience. There is little control once words are written, images are shared or words are uttered and you can never be sure who will be listening in, first hand or second hand.

Today I saw a chat room discussion on PR matters in which a spokesperson for a company that was recently in a crisis-like situation agreeing to talk about their recent experience.

Sharing is great but when your company has just undergone a reputation all crisis and nerves are still tender, one wrong word or phrase can plunge it back into the couldron.

I am sure that there will be a crisis or two arising from Clubhouse chats.

This is not to say that people should avoid something new like Clubhouse . They should try it and use it by all means but they should never underestimate how whatever happens on social media can often be taken out of context.

No matter how new or sexy the technology, skill, deliberation and awareness are still needed.

Eiger IV: Wow, what a turnaround – in a good way

CEOs are like the rest of us. They make mistakes.

But because of their elevated position and their egos many times its easier for them to bluster and get defensive over these mistakes. And it takes a really big man to admit theirs and ask for an apology.

After the Eiger letter berating Youtubers reviewing its products went viral, the brand came under a groundswell of criticism.

The CEO , Ronny Lukito, then issued a non-apology, failing to take responsibility for the incident, to be genuinely contrite and to explain why something like that would not happen again.

His critics weren’t assuaged and many were further inflamed. Unspun wrote about that and said that he failed to adhere to the 3Rs of crisis communications, which are Regret, Reason and Remedy and that he should seek professional help in his communications.

He must have, as today he issued a YouTube video and a statement apologizing to the affected YouTubers and taking full responsibility for the incident.

He explained that it was his idea to issue the offending letter. His PR, Marketing and legal teams tried to talk him out of it but because of arrogance he overruled them.

He has since realized his mistake and this incident has been a humbling and educational lesson for him. He has since appointed professionals to help him come up with better policies and improve their communications.

The result: if the comments on his YouTube posting are any indication, Netizens have forgiven him and appreciated his honesty and humility.

This is a good lesson for other CEOs on what to do during a crisis for their brand. I’m sure that Eiger will go from strength to strength from here if Mr Lukito maintains such an growth mindset.

I always loved their products. Now I love them more.

First Media: Snark can’t buy them love

First Media’s blundering tweet last night is a lesson why corporations and brands should be concerned about their social capital.

At about 10pm First Media social media admin thought they’d be clever and ride on the Eiger letter fiasco that earned the ire of Indonesian netizens.

Through its twitter account @FirstMediaCares they posted a letter similar in format to one sent out by Eiger competitor Arei, which was used to shade Eiger’s obtuse letter because its invitation for consumers to review its products was very laid back and inclusive.

Obviously, the First Media admin thought they were being smart and witty. Afterall, many companies had done the same and they raised a chuckle and approving plaudits from Netizens.

The posting attracted the attention of Uber influencer Ernest Prakarsa who simply commented: “Aduh. First Media. Aduh.”

He followed this with another tweet saying “Heads gonna roll” and attached the image of the First Media letter.

What followed was a long chain of replies and comments from other Netizens and disgruntled First media customers spewing invective with the common refrain: get the bloody service right before trying something snarky

PANIC!

The First Media admin began their first aid by deleting the posting with the image of the letter, thinking that they could mitigate the barrage of criticism.

As always, on the internet once something is posted there is bound to be a Smart Alec out there who has downloaded or screen captured the image. You just can’t put the Jinn back into the bottle.

True enough, netizens began posting the taken down image and First Media became the laughing stock on Twitter.

This incident provides a good example why corporations without strong social capital are often attacked and criticized.

Social Capital is about a network of relationships built on shared values, trust, cooperation and reciprocity. In other words you have to take care of your stakeholders and win their trust instead of just taking their money and shafting them when it comes to after sales service.

Social Capital, if you observe from the many complaints and invective of dissatisfied and angry customers directed to First Media on social media, is something that the company obviously has a deficit of.

As such trust in the company is low and at any given opportunity the tendency of its users is to trash it. Even an innocuous attempt at humor like the letter last night backfires because the brand has such low social capital.

What can the brand do? It can start by listening to its customers and acting on their complaints for a start. The number of people who feel like they were banging their heads against a wall when trying to get First Media to restore their service is legendary.

I know that there are many disgruntled First Media customers out there. If any of you are disgruntled and think First Media is unresponsive or ineffective in servicing you, just leave a comment below for them to know how low their Social Capital is among their most important stakeholder – you the consumer.

Eiger III: the Legal Eagle’s wings are clipped, but has the root cause been addressed?

Note: I got the information about the sacking from an online news portal in Indonesia. Have been told that the twitter account of Hendra Lim is actually a fake.

So apologies all. Disregard this post but rather than me deleting it I think it best to clarify it here and leave the rest as is so that others might be able to know that it’s fake as well. Hendra Lim apparently still works at Eiger.

Eiger has sacked the legal manager whose insulting letters to YouTube reviews of its products has put them under an uncomfortable spotlight, (see here)

The sacking is confirmed by the Leggal manager himself in his own twitter account

Hendra, however, seems unable to stop shooting himself on the foot, lamenting in a twit that politics between businesses, artistes and YouTubers and virtually the whole world is conspiring to keep The People poor and heap blame on them.

He’s young and perhaps will recover from this but any prospective employer looking at his social media feeds (and we employers do check, or have people point it out) would do a triple take before taking a chance on him in the future.

Be that as it may, he is now out of Eiger’s hair. Does his departure, however, mean that Eiger’s problems are over?

It depends. If the management there has owned the problem then they’d be ok moving forward.

As I said in the last posting, if they had learned from this incident they’d recognize it is as much management’s as the legal manager’s failure that triggered this incident.

If they realize this then they’d take communications and reputation protection seriously and hire professional communicators to to a communications job.

If they haven’t then they will remain a crisis waiting to happen. Time will tell, WFH audiences await the next installment.

Eiger II: A lame apology and more trouble coming

Latest update on Eiger saga here

Yesterday the outdoor adventure gear brand Eiger got into a hot mess when its Leagal Eagle went a step too far and dissed off YouTubers reviewing their products. (See post here)

By late afternoon the Eiger CEO Ronny Lukito had had enough and decided to take matters into his own hands. He apologized for his Legal Eagle’s letter with his own letter.

All good apologizing but you have to wonder who is advising him on the PR front because the apology was not really an apology. When this happens it usually invites ongoing resentment and possible future attacks.

He started the latter with an apology to the community. He then admitted that the offending letter that had gone viral had indeed been sent by Eiger and they realize that this was a wrong and inappropriate action. So far so good.

Then he had to say that the original intent of the letter was to provide input to the reviewer so they can improve. Bang! Another shot in the foot. Although he tried to paper over the hole with “we realise that how we conveyed that was wrong”, he had stumbled.

This is what communicators classify as mixed messages. It’s when observations, inferences, feelings and wants are jumbled up.

Here it would have been fine if he said that whet they did was wrong, he as CEO takes responsibility for the act, he’s sorry for all the frustrations and angst caused. Instead he went on to explain their intent which still sounds patronizing, because its an outdoor gear maker telling a YouTuber how to improve shooting review videos.

Lukito also left out a vital element of apologies in crisis-like moments. He failed to say what action he’s taking to make sure that this does not happen again. Without stating this he is giving the impression that the company is not taking responsibility for the incident and not interested to learn from their mistakes. At worst, many would think that they will get back to business as usual once this kerfuffle is over.

All this leaves the company open to more criticism if the opportunity arises.

Lo and behold, the opportunity came this morning when some Netizens uncovered an incident where the legal department of Eiger asked the giant online e-commerce site to take down a reseller’s product posting of a Sritex face mask. And Tokopedia complied!

Now it looks like Eiger has not only shot itself on the foot but is also extending its foot fetish toTokopedia.

Like I said yesterday, I think Eiger makes great products. It has also been quite smart and savvy in its design and branding. It is now the victims of its own success but it is something that it can easily fix by seeking professional help.

It takes skill and experience to communicate well. To entrust it to a legal flunky is being careless with your hard worn reputation as it takes skill and experience to communicate well, with authenticity and ethically.

They should seek professional help in the short term while they look to hire an experienced communicator in-house expressly for reputation all management.

I

Plumbing the depths with Eiger

I love the Eiger outdoor brand. Their products are affordable and often of good quality. A sandal I bought has lasted me years and looks like it will continue for at least another year or two. Damn comfortable too.

But good as they are in making outdoor gear they apparently suck at customer relations. Here’s what happened:

On 28th January, competitor outdoor gear brand Arei’s issued a letter inviting Netizens to review its products.

Arei’s invite sounded very inclusive and cool. Reviewers could use any method, any camera, any theme or in any location they liked to do these reviews.

Eiger must have thought it could do the same but when netizens began reviewing their products and uploading them on YouTube – and the reviews weren’t flattering – Eiger’s Legal General Manager began to get antsy.

He started sending nasty letters to the reviewers. They began with a faux politesse of “Firstly, we thank you for uploading a review of our product on your YouTube channel…” then quickly drew out the stiletto.

Instead of explaining in a rationale manner whether the review was fair to Eiger, it instead criticized the video’s quality, specifically the angle it shoes to show their products in an unflattering manner.

The Eiger Legal Manager also was an audiophile. Complaining that the sound quality was bad to make it quite inaudible and lastly, he criticized the suitability of the location of the shoot.

With that, the manager hoped that the YouTuber would take down that posting and, a bitchy parting shot: “We hope you will become a better Youtuber in [shooting] review videos.”

That’s a shot in their own foot by any measure but that’s not all. When news of that came out on social media it, of course, went viral and Eiger became a trending topic.

Eiger’s troubles did not end there. It turns out that the manager had sent out at least identical letters to two other YouTubers.

That makes it at least three shots to two legs. How many shots the manager had fired nobody really knows.

Netizens have a habit of digging up interesting information about foot shooters and one of them dug up a poster of the manager giving a talk.

The topic: How to Implement Agile Human Capital in Transition and Shifting Era. Oh irony of ironies.

Makes you wonder the caliber of people invited to give talks these days. And what possessed Eiger to entrust its communications function to a legal person instead of a communications professional

Al manager

Hotman/Maybank’s challenge to Winda

There is the court of law and there is the court of public opinion.

The victor in the court of law is, theoretically at least, the party that has evidence and is on the right side of the law. The scales of justice are tipped by well-reasoned legal arguments and proof.

Victory in the court of public opinion has two paths.

The more difficult path is for the party to persuade the audience with well-constructed legal and moral arguments that appeal to the mind as well as the heart.

Hotman’s challenge, as reported in Detik Finance.

The second is an easier path, that of demagoguery. As we have witnessed with Trump, in such instances facts do not matter, morality and character do not matter; what matters will be the ability of the party to bully, threaten, interrupt, shout down and make all sorts of accusations against their adversary. Force of personality plays a large part.

It is interesting that the famous Hotman Paris — who is now representing Maybank in a case in which e-sports star Winda Lunardi and her mother allege that the branch manager had embezzled them of Rp22 billion, and in which Maybank has refused to take any responsibility to compensate them — now wants to shift the case to a court of very public opinion.

Why is he doing so?

Apart from all the free publicity he would get if a TV station was to take up his offer of having all parties – with their lawyers present, of course – duke it out on prime time, there is the prospect that he could put his powers persuasion to work no win the case.

But which path do you think he will take? That of moral suasion or that of demagoguery?