Pool safety should remain a priority, especially during winter months

Pool safety should always be a top priority for any parent. Children are naturally drawn to water, and the fact that we are in the middle of winter should not be any reason to let your guard down when it comes to keeping your children safe around the swimming pool. With the start of school holidays, most families will have their children at home in an elevated state of excitement, and the swimming pool may be an activity that the kids will want to indulge in. Accidents can also happen when children play on top of the pool cover where these protective shields can often break causing an unexpecting child to go into a panic when entering the water.

Crisis support and response company, CrisisOnCall provides us with some crucial advice to keep your children safe around the water while they enjoy their school holidays.

“The school holidays for many parents can be a bit stressful with trying to balance work from home while keeping an eye on the children. Accidents happen when we have too much on our plate. Take the necessary time off while school holidays are here or find some extra support to keep an extra eye on the children,” says Hendrik Neethling, chief executive officer at CrisisOnCall. “If you have a pool at home, now is the time to implement the necessary safety measures like perimeter fencing and a secure pool cover.”

Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, with an estimated 236 000 annual drowning deaths worldwide, according to the World Heath Organisation. In South Africa, drowning ranks 35th on the list on most common causes of death, where 29% of fatal drownings are children under 14 years of age, with the highest drowning rate occurring with children below the age of five years.

“Limiting access to the pool area during winter months remains one of the best forms of prevention against drowning. This can be in the form of secure fencing around the water body, secure covers over pools and close supervision while children are playing near the pool area. It is also important to establish rules that prevent children from playing on top of the pool cover which can often be quite an enjoyable activity for them, unfortunately this is dangerous,” says Neethling. “It is also the time to check and ensure that all these protective barriers are sufficient and free of tears.”

“One of the best things you could do to ensure that your children are safe while playing around the pool is to increase your preparation in case on an emergency,” says Neethling. “Accidents happen so quickly. It therefore helps to have an emergency or medical response service on speed dial. A rapid response service can mean the difference between a fatality and a life saved.”

To increase your preparation in the event of an emergency, contact CrisisOnCall on 0861 57 47 47. CrisisOnCall will be your voice in times of need, especially when a home emergency occurs.

To find out more about CrisisOnCall and their services, visit their website: https://www.crisisoncall.co.za/ and follow them on social media for more important health, safety and medical advice:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CrisisOnCall

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_crisisoncall/


Mustadafin is opening doors to a brighter future

Proud moments at Mustadafin Foundation as eight learners from Mustadafin’s Learning Centre’s Program have been accepted at a mainstream school and placed in the 8th Grade.

“These children have never been in a school before and had to overcome learning disabilities and other challenging circumstances in order to be able to cope and perform in a normal school and curriculum,” says Ghairunisa Johnstone-Cassiem, director of Mustadafin.  “Our Learning Centre has a holistic approach that deals with all aspects of development in order for our children to develop the required reading, writing and communication skills needed for the mainstream schooling system.”

These placements add to the success of Mustadafin’s Learning Centre which has seen a total of 500 learners placed in mainstream schools where a number of these learners make it to the top ten in their class.

“Thank you to our staff members who have contributed to ensuring a positive future for this youth. We would also like to extend our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the Western Cape Education Department for assisting with the placements and providing transport for the students to and from school,” says Johnstone-Cassiem.

Learners enrolled at the centre are currently being taught from a container with a very limited amount of space. With many children in the Tafelsig requiring educational and developmental support, Mustadafin is aiming to increase their capacity. In order to do this, the Foundation appeals to the public to consider any kind of funding or financial contribution. This will be used directly to upgrade the facilities at the Learning Centre to accommodate more learners.

To find out more about Mustadafin and how to can donate, visit: https://mustadafin.org.za/donations/


Regine le Roux will be presenting at the SAPICS 44th Annual Conference.

Looking forward and proud to be presenting ‘If you treasure it, you will measure it’; the importance, and how to manage your reputation at the SAPICS 44th Annual Conference.

12 to 15 June 2022, Century City Conference Centre, Cape Town

SAPICS

#SAPICS2022 #SAPICSinAfrica

SAPICS 2022 Conference & Exhibition | Delegate Information


Survey launch: Measuring the state of ethics and reputation management in Africa

How ethical are you? How ethical is the company that you work for? How ethical is your country? What is ethics and how does it impact your reputation?

The research study to understand the ethics and reputation of Africa, was first introduced by the African Public Relations Association (APRA) in 2018 and is conducted by South African based reputation research firm, Reputation Matters. This year’s study is currently out in the field.

The results will be compared and shared at APRA’s 33rd Conference taking place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 23 May to 27 May 2022.

Ethics and reputation are inextricably linked. Many organisations have experienced how a lack of integrity resulted in a ruined reputation with a disastrous impact on its bottom line,” says Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, president of APRA.

“Research should be the cornerstone when it comes to building the narrative, be it on an individual, business or government level,” shares Regine le Roux, Founder and Managing Director of Reputation Matters. “APRA are setting the example on how to effectively leverage research to implement and manage successful reputation building strategies.”

“APRA is championing the effort to engage in more research as part of our contribution to the advancement of PR in Africa”, shares Badejo-Okusanya.

APRA assists in setting standards, creating and enabling a professional environment for accurate perception, goodwill and understanding of necessary and effective PR practices.

The target audience for the survey are Executives (e.g. CEOs’, MD’s, Directors), Managers (Senior and Junior) as well as Public Relations Managers and/or Officers.

Please follow the link to start the survey; it should not take longer than ten minutes to complete.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/APRA_Ethics2022_English

For more information on APRA Tanzania 2022, please follow the link: https://www.afpra.org/ or send a mail to info@afpra.org.

If you have any specific questions regarding the research, please do not hesitate to contact Reputation Matters: research@reputationmatters.co.za


What is the State of the African PR landscape? Have your say.

The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) Africa has launched its inaugural study examining the state of the PR and communications industry in Africa.

The flagship study, conducted by Reputation Matters, will gather demographic data on the industry and investigate issues including perceptions of PR in business, ethics, talent, and the pandemic’s impact.

The survey comes on the eve of PRCA Africa celebrating its one year anniversary. Since launching, the world’s largest professional PR association has expanded its presence across the continent with members joining from agencies, in-house teams, and as freelancers.

The survey takes a few minutes to complete and all responses will remain anonymous.

PRCA Africa Chair Jordan Rittenberry said:

“The State of the African PR Landscape report will greatly benefit PR and communications professionals in Africa. What we do know is that we’re in one of the most exciting and vibrant parts of the world for PR and communications. But where are the opportunities for growth? And what ethical challenges do we still need to confront? This is an opportunity for us to gather in-depth analysis on how the industry is really tracking and to inform PRCA Africa’s policy priorities for this year and beyond.”

Reputation Matters Managing Director Regine le Roux said:

“Prioritising public relations and finding ways to secure a seat around the boardroom table has always been of keen interest to us. With this research the PR industry will be able to learn from each other and find ways to grow together. There is so much knowledge and lessons to be shared with each other across the continent.”

Take the survey here.


Lessons from hanging off a cliff face

We are often bombarded with advice from top businesspeople, multimillionaire entrepreneurs and motivational speakers, but how often do we really listen to our own inner voice?

Life often throws lessons our way, which are not necessarily solved between the pages of a book.  Sometimes our own life experiences teach us our lessons.

Whether you are an employee or a business owner, on a regular basis you are required to manage people, teams, tight deadlines, uncertainty, and challenges. Everyone has a capacity to deal with adversity, but how often do you learn from the challenges that are thrown your way?

Chris Bischoff, reputation manager at Reputation Matters, has taken the opportunity to look at the basic lessons that he has learned from rock climbing since he started this new hobby eight months ago.

Focus on what is directly in front of you. “Standing in front of a sheer cliff face, it is very easy to get overwhelmed, nervous and tempted to quit even before you have started. Most of the times, just the act of starting is what you need to do. Once you are on your way, the most important approach to keep on making progress, is to only focus on what is in front of you,” says Bischoff. “Use what you have at your disposal, physically and mentally to focus on the task at hand.”

“In our professional lives, the same lesson applies. While it is good to have a greater plan or strategy, it is the day-to-day operational tasks that keep a business going and your clients happy. Focus on achieving the best quality outcome for those small daily tasks; ultimately the accumulation of small daily wins will help you progress towards achieving your greater goal.”

Small step, big step. “When climbing a challenging route with a limited amount of hand holds, places to grip on to, taking small steps upwards can open up more opportunities. This is one of the best pieces of advice I have received since I have started my climbing journey. On a number of occasions as I was learning new techniques to ascend a particularly difficult rockface, I would feel stuck as there was no obvious place to grip to make my next move. But by moving my feet up slightly, even as little as 10cm, potential new hand holds and cracks in the rock would enter my line of sight. This would then just be enough to get through a difficult section.”

The lesson: projects very rarely go exactly according to plan, there is always a probability that you may reach a bottleneck with any project that you are working on. Think about what you can do, that is immediate and easy to implement, that will help you progress forward. “At Reputation Matters, we rely on small team huddles and brainstorms to get us through tight deadlines, big projects and bottlenecks. It’s a very brief and simple level of team communication, but very effective to coming up with solutions and new ideas to tackle challenging work,” shares Bischoff.

You do not have a fear of heights, you have a fear of falling. This is a lesson of trust. “I remember facing my first outdoor climb and looking at the wall and thinking that it was just too high for my level of experience.” Professional climber, Alex Honnold put this into a great perspective by pointing out that people standing within the top floor of a skyscraper generally do not have a fear within themselves, meanwhile, put them on a ledge and they will be overcome with fear. Even though they are higher up in the skyscraper, the reality of falling does not exist to them, they trust the concrete that they are standing on. For people standing on the edge of a cliff, that fear is very real, it is a fear of a catastrophic fall.

“When I was just about to reach the top of the wall that I had said to myself was out of my level, I fell! Only to be caught by the rope and anchor at the top. After many falls at a similar height, and being safe, the fear became more manageable. It was the trust in my equipment that was making me progress up more challenging and higher walls.”

While my harness and the top anchor may be my most important safety parts of climbing, at work, the biggest assets are our team members and our tried and tested methodologies. We know that we individually have a big role to play with our projects and we trust each other to show up the next day with our parts done. “I know a climbing anchor and a fellow colleague may be a far-stretched comparison, but we all get a sense at some stage that we are just completely overwhelmed and having a knowledgeable and supportive colleague is an important ‘anchor’ that we need in our professional lives.”

It’s all about trust and consistently doing things in the right way, and continuous improvement.

A company’s reputation is also built on trust, consistently doing things in the right way, and continuous improvement. As with learning a new skill like climbing, it takes time to build.

Next time you are outdoors, embarking on your favourite weekend activity, think about the subtle lessons that are in front of you. Books, webinars and podcasts can be rich sources of information, but life experiences can be just as valuable.

For more information contact on reputation management contact us on research@reputationmatters.co.za or visit www.reputationmatters.co.za


Don’t get conned by collaborations

Photo credit: Unsplash

 “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” ~ Helen Keller

The word “collaboration” has been used almost as much as your favourite pair of tracksuit pants that saw you through the lockdown. The right collaborations, like your trusty track pants, can give you that warm and fuzzy feeling and be quite comforting to know that someone is supporting you and is interested in your business endeavours. With time, these relationships will be faced with challenges, testing hurdles and clashes of values; all of which can wear these partnerships very thin. How do you know when these relationships are so threadbare it is time to part ways and move ahead in other directions?

Why are collaborations so important and how do you select the right strategic alliances, partners, collaborators, sub-contractors for your business?

These alliances can make or break your business, helping you gain access to different markets but, they also play a significant role when it comes to your business’ reputation. If these businesses, and more often than not, their leadership, do something dodgy, then purely by association, you are implicated in their dubious actions too and your reputation will be tarnished.

“Strategic Alliances is one of the ten elements that is measured as a part of our proprietary reputation model, the Repudometer® that we’ve developed to quantify your reputation,” shares Regine le Roux, managing director of Reputation Matters.

Robert Mulder, director and founder of StratNovation, strategic management consultants, has an extensive network of specialist consultants that he has worked with since the inception of his business 25 years ago. “I have two non-negotiable values that I follow when it comes to strategic partnerships. Trust and respect. You must stay true to your values, your brand and yourself when deciding who to do business with,’ shares Mulder.

“It can’t just be a one-way street, all parties need to trust and respect each other throughout all interaction especially those with clients, it must be reciprocal,’ adds Mulder.

“As a leader, you need to take tight control over the project that you are collaborating on. You need to do your due diligence before engaging with someone and be very wary of sweet talkers; do not let their silver tongues con you. I learnt a very dear lesson some years ago when I lost R600 000, a considerable amount of revenue, because of a sweet-talking scammer.

How can this be avoided and what are the lessons?

  • Stay true to your values and align with people that share and demonstrate the same values.
  • Open and honest channels of communication are key.
  • Respect and safeguard each other’s intellectual property.
  • Have a process in place when selecting who you want to do business with and stick to it! As part of this process, check all the parties’ competencies. Conducting “values and ethics” due diligence is important.
  • As the leader you need to steer any joint client project, have checks and balances in place throughout to make sure that it is on track and on par with your level of service as well as that which is expected by the client.
  • Have clear deliverables and milestones in place against a payment plan so that you don’t get to the end of a project and questions about invoicing and billing only raised then.

George Washington said, “Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation. It is better be alone than in bad company.”

For more information on Reputation Matters visit www.reputationmatters.co.za or research@reputationmatters.co.za.

For more information on StratNovation visit www.stratnovation.co.za or info@stratnovation.co.za

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Pitch meetings go both ways

Recently I was called to help a company with some damage control as a result of negative online reviews they received. During the initial call, I did say that online reviews are generally a symptom of a larger issue. We may be able to help with the immediate containment of the situation, but, this would just be like putting a plaster over an unknown wound; we would need to dig a bit deeper and treat the root cause to avoid similar future situations.

On prepping for the meeting, I found it rather interesting that there was very little information about the company on their website, apart from a generic photo, logo and a telephone number, there was absolutely no information about who they are or what they do. I prepped as best as I could.

At the meeting, I was greeted by a rather monochromatic male-dominated boardroom. Which I found very interesting as their core target market is people living in communities, so I did find it a bit odd that the board wasn’t more demographically representative. For about the first 20 minutes, before I had even started my pitch, Mr Dominant Monochromat (DM) explained to me what he wanted done from a Google Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) point of view.  His ideal scenario is that when people Google his company’s name and include the word liar or crook, he wants articles and keywords to pop up saying,  ‘I thought the company was a crook, but they are not…’ When I managed to get a word in edgewise, I suggested that they should perhaps consider steering away from negative words such as crooks and liars and rather use more positive associations to build a positive reputation. This encouraged Mr DM to mansplain his desired approach, and that he was glad that he could teach me something new. When I at last had the opportunity to pitch my ideas and proposed plan of action; I just wanted to confirm what their vision was as I was not able to find it before the meeting. Mr DM, asked rather defensively, ‘why?! It’s to make money!’. When I went on to ask what their values were, he replied a bit annoyed with, ‘money, money, money, why what is yours?’. I then did something that I have never done in a meeting before. I wasn’t even half-way through my presentation, but I closed my laptop, packed it away and said, ‘one of our core values is respect. It is very clear that you have no respect for your customers, your employees, or for me. Your approach and values do not resonate with ours. We are not the right company to help you.’ I packed my things and left.

The experience made me realise that when we pitch for work it’s very much a two-way pitch. As much as you need to impress the potential client with your methodology and credentials. There must be mutual respect gained. They also need to pitch themselves to you. You need to ask yourself whether this is a company that you want to be associated with; is this someone you can work with.

It is our vision to be Africa’s go to reputation specialists to build resilient businesses. We believe in changing the reputation of our country and continent one person and one company at a time. But, the other party also needs to put in the work, do their bit and respect that the advice and guidance that they are given is based on a track record of years of experience.

We would have made meaningful recommendations until the cows came home, but Mr DM would only have been happy if his company’s name and words such a liar and crook popped up on Google. Not the reputation building route recommended for anyone.

Sometimes saying thank you, but no thank you, and stepping away is necessary and good.

I think in this current economic climate we need to remember the fundamentals. Compromising your own values will be detrimental in the long run. When you pitch for new work, don’t be shy to ask questions, they have to impress you as much as you have to impress them, it’s a two-way street.


Can you fluently describe what your business’ unique selling proposition (USP) is? What makes you stand out from your competitors? If you say it’s the quality of your service or product, or your quick turnaround time, isn’t that exactly what they are also saying?

If you were to describe what it is that your business does in eight words, what would you say? Would your answer sound the same as the receptionist or intern’s answer? How does it compare to the person that has been with the company for ten years or more?

If you took time to ask everyone in your organisation, you might be quite surprised to find out what the rest of your team are saying. What your team is saying, becomes the the message that is communicated internally and externally, to friends, customers and other stakeholders. It has a direct impact on how your business is perceived and influences your company’s reputation. The perception of what your company does is not necessarily the truth, but it is that person’s reality which becomes their opinion that is communicated to people around them.

A few years back I realised with a shock that we didn’t have a succinct USP, our ‘eight words’ were all rather muddled. I recall asking the team to share a voice note with me describing what we do in eight words. Everyone’s voice note was quite different and varied a lot in length. Clearly, we definitely needed clarity on our eight words.

I really didn’t want to dictate what the eight words should be and I believe in being collaborative and involving the team in key decisions. If everyone is on board and gives their inputs, the chances of them buying into it, and adopting it as their own, are much greater. So at the next strategy session, we set time aside to work out what our eight words are, combing the USP and our vision. The reason for this is so that when we share our USP, we automatically share the bigger vision of expanding operations into the rest of Africa as well. Our agreed eight words: Africa’s go to reputation specialists building resilient businesses.

At your next team meeting, why not ask everyone to take a few minutes to write down what they consider it is that the business does.

There are a number of reasons it is so important to be clear in your offering:

  1. If you are fluent at what you do, it is so much easier to explain it to someone else and for them to understand and welcome it;
  2. Target your sales effort: knowing exactly what it is that you do makes it a lot easier to identify opportunities that you want to focus on which are aligned to your core services. You will also feel a lot less guilty saying ‘no’ to work that does not fit into your core offering;
  3. It helps you to identify growth opportunities;
  4. Your reputation is built upon what is communicated internally and externally. When everyone sings from the same hymn sheet and consistently sends out the same message, you are all building your company’s reputation. Keep in mind that reputations are all about consistency; you are either consistently good (building a positive reputation) or consistently inconsistent (building a negative reputation). If your core message is inconsistent, and all over the place, your service offering will most likely also be all over the place as everyone has their own version of what they should be doing. The more consistent you and your team are, the more solid your reputation will be;

While you are crafting your eight words, it is also a good idea to review your communication material and check that everything aligns to the eight word principal of describing your business. Also remember to check your internal messages and don’t neglect your induction pack for new employees. Consider finding out what your other key stakeholders think your business does, because it will help you to know if you need to re-align key messages and identify gaps in your communication initiatives.

To continue the reputation management discussion, visit www.reputationmatters.co.za or call +27 21 790 0208 or mail research@reputationmatters.co.za. We are also on Facebook www.facebook.com/yourreputationmatters and Twitter @ReputationIsKey

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COVID-19 doesn’t change top CEOs’ social media habits

[CAPTION] Top CEOs across the globe tend to stick to their existing communication habits during the COVID-19 crisis. Only those who were already active on social media before the pandemic used these platforms to interact with their stakeholders during the COVID-19 crisis. This is according to research by the international communication network ECCO.

ECCO analysed the personal Twitter and LinkedIn accounts of the top 20 companies (by market capitalisation)’s CEOs in 17 countries worldwide. This year was the third time that ECCO conducted the research. ECCO found that CEOs all over the world have been reluctant to send their messages through Twitter and LinkedIn.

Contrary to the general assumption that social media becomes more important during a crisis, ECCO observed a nearly unchanged share of CEOs using Twitter and LinkedIn compared to previous surveys in 2017 and 2019. The research even shows a slight decline in activity on LinkedIn, where only 46% of CEOs have and use a personal account.

Even fewer CEOs have Twitter accounts. Since 2017 the share of Twitter users has grown marginally from 15% to 20%.

South African results

Reputation Matters, the South African regional representatives in the ECCO network, conducted the research of the top 20 CEOs as listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE)*. Findings indicate that Twitter is far from the preferred choice as a personal communication channel. Whereas an average of 20% of top CEOs globally have taken to Twitter, only one top CEO in South Africa had a Twitter presence. LinkedIn shows a greater uptake amongst top CEOs, although many of these personal profiles have not been active for several months, if at all.

“Social media is often a great way for companies to reach the public, but on a personal level it depends on each individual’s communication strategy,” says Nalene de Klerk, reputation manager at Reputation Matters. “It would appear that, for now, social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn are not high on South Africa’s top CEOs’ radars as personal communication channels.”