Last week, BCU welcomed Facebook’s Director of Communications (UK, Ireland, Africa), Anouska Ruane, to talk to Birmingham School of Media students about the experiences she’s faced working in the media for one of the biggest social networking companies in the world.
Anouska has been working in Public Relations and Communications for 20 years and also studied Public Relations.
BA (Hons) Public Relations and Media
Just over 2/3 of the world who have access to internet uses the platform and Facebook has around 2.2 billion active users! Anouska and the communications team at Facebook have to make sure that Facebook is accessible worldwide. Regulations that are used on the site have to cater for all cultures, including regulations on nudity and freedom of speech.
Not only does Anouska manage the accessibility of Facebook as part of her work, she also has to manage the company’s reputation. In Anouska’s case, this is particularly difficult and unusual because of Facebook’s widely famous co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg. Zuckerburg launched the site as a student at Harvard University and became one of the most influential people in the world. He has even had the movie ‘The Social Network’ based around his time at university creating Facebook. With such a huge brand identity to uphold and influential boss, the communications team must monitor the reputation of the brand very carefully.
One of the biggest and recent scandals that has damaged the reputation of Facebook has been the Cambridge Analytica data breach. After the data breach, many people have changed the way they view data and have become very suspicious about online sites using their data. Anouska stated clearly that Facebook does not harvest data and that you should always look at privacy settings on every platform. The platform does however use data such as likes, interests and information on each users Facebook profile to formulate advertisements shown on the user’s timeline. They also use behavioural targeting, but Facebook has an option in the privacy settings it turn off.
So, what’s happening next for Facebook?
Through this difficult time for Facebook, Anouska shared the communications strategy Facebook is undertaking to bring back the trust of the public. The four main areas the communications team want to work on are:
Handling issues quickly and openlyWhen issues do pop up to Facebook, the team want to handle the issue as soon as they can and be open about how the issue occurred and how they are going to change.
Getting ahead of future issuesThey have created the Well Being tour and Time Well spent campaign to show how to use the platform more responsibly and provide tools to help users with is.
Turning up differentlyFacebook doesn’t want to be a faceless American company. They want to be humbler by talking to users on radio, TV and social events. This way the users of Facebook will be able to see the actual people behind the name, rather than just the brand.
Reminding people that they are goodFacebook want to express how much they are community based and bring innovation to the site by using new technology such as Portal and Oculus. They also provide pages on the site that can be used by businesses for no money and gives businesses the chance to grow.
Anouska was very open and clear in the talk she presented to the students and stayed professional, but casual throughout the talk. This made it very easy for us to understand and listen to her. She offered up time at the end for students to ask her any questions they had about Facebook and answered them with care and honesty. As a public relations student, it was a great opportunity to think about how companies like Facebook manage reputation issues and create their strategies. I enjoyed the talk and meeting Anouska very much and would definitely recommend students to attend more talks like this one offered by BCU.