Name: Steve Kuncewicz
Role: Head of IP and Media
Tell us about a usual working day?
I wake up and, if statistics are to be believed, the first thing I do is switch on both my work and personal iPhones (Yes, I’m in the Cult of Apple. Don’t judge me.) Next I have a look at what’s been ‘trending’ on social media during the previous 24 hours and listen to a podcast while shaking off the night before. Next i’m stumbling downstairs, where Mrs. K has very sensibly already poured the hottest and strongest cup of Coffee available, without which I can’t form complete sentences. After Breakfast with my Son, I take a look at my emails and daily planner so that I know what’s coming up in that day and where I need to be. I have an unhealthy obsession with Inbox Zero (or as near as I can get to it) and like a planned diary but, life hardly ever works out so neatly. Owing to the nature of my work, situations and disputes tend to develop and evolve very quickly and intensely, and I have to react by advising in short, sharp bursts in order to give my client information quickly and effectively so that they can make decisions based on the best practical and legal advice I can give them.
When I arrive at the office, I start the day by looking at my to-do list of Chargeable Work, ideally scheduling in time for each job, and then spend half an hour or so planning out the day’s business development work so that I know or at least have an idea where the next batch of work will be coming from. It’s no surprise that I post on social media constantly, which helps me connect with both current and prospective clients and influencers, and importantly vice versa. Social Media’s an amazing tool for research and positive engagement. The legal business is changing so much that we simply can’t afford to wait behind our desks for the work to come to us. We have to go out and make business happen. These are changing times for all of us, in every sense of the word. I try my best to be agile and proactive, but sometimes it’s just not possible: sometimes you have to react quickly, and react well. Most clients I know (all of whom are smarter than me) think that value is added by being ahead of the curve, and it is to some extent. Yet I’ve found that value is also added through reacting effectively, efficiently and above all calmly when called upon. It’s a neglected skill now that we all want to be one step ahead.
What’s your proudest work-based achievement?
It’s probably returning to private practice and building a part of a business that’s sustainable and growing. I built it using Bermans’ great existing reputation, but also my whatever my own reputation was to the mix. I’m very proud of my personal contribution to the success we’ve had, but that contribution never ends and I never want to sit back and rest on laurels which have still yet to grow. Bermans is a niche commercial firm in comparison to some of the bigger players, yet we know who and what we are and have worked hard to grow our presence in the creative and digital media sector through points of positive difference. We didn’t try and do everything. Rather we knew what we did well and delivered to a high standard. Once you know your strengths, you’d be surprised how quickly you become used to punching above your weight.
Your role sounds really interesting and innovative – tell me more about how you work with clients?
No two days are ever the same – offering both challenges and opportunities. The work I do is very fast paced.
I spend a lot of time researching my clients so that I know a lot about them before we even begin to work together, This helps me give them bespoke advice that they can use quickly and to good effect. I love the creative, digital and media industry; it’s a sector I’ve got bags of passion for and wanted to join had I had the talent. In particular, I’ve made a lot of good connections and built lasting friendships both in person and through social media.
Social media is now blurring the boundaries between public and private – how do businesses go about protecting themselves from someone posting up inappropriate comments?
The use of social media is widespread in the professional sector, but it’s still used at a fairly elementary level. Lots of businesses now have social media accounts and blog regularly as part of their communications, but it’s rarely all smooth sailing and in particular in professional services can create tension between employer and employee, particularly when employees become synonymous with their employer’s brand or even eclipse it. Everyone has to be on their guard with regards what they tweet about or comment on in Facebook or any other platform; employers need to protect themselves when it comes to social media and so do professionals to take charge of their own online identity. Too often the emphasis is on social media as an enabler of agility, but what about fragility?
Reputation should now be at the top of the risk list for all businesses, because the wrong comment or tweet from either an employer or employee could easily, and very quickly, land the business in hot water.
Social media should be taken very seriously by businesses, rather than left on the fringes. It is not just graffiti on a wall. It can bring the house down. This is why it is crucial that businesses prepare robust social media policies that set out exactly what is expected when it comes to online activity. That said, having one is never enough; you need to train on it and review it
What about employees associated with the business – is there ever such a thing as personal/private posts or is everything a reflection on the business?
With association, there is always a risk to reputation; a bespoke social media policy and educating staff on best practice when it comes to social media posts and profiling is only going to become a wiser investment over time.
A lot of companies add disclaimers at the end of the emails and posts sent out by employees, which is an initial solution and gives the business some level of protection, but is far from a Get Out Of Jail Free Card. Some businesses have also established best practice when it comes to responding to a social media crisis, including a step-by-step guide planned carried out by a chosen few. Planning that response in peacetime will pay huge dividends when you need to implement it.
The conundrum for many businesses is that, to be effective on social media requires a certain level of controversy. This is important for grabbing attention. The key, however, is knowing where the draw the professional line, which comes with knowing who your audience is and what they will tolerate. This is why social media planning is effective: don’t just do it as an afterthought or without a comms plan. Know who you are, what you want to say, who you are saying it to and what response you are seeking. This will help you control and coordinate activity.
Should businesses make a deliberate effort to navigate away from any social media platforms in particular?
I don’t think so. Platforms are emerging and evolving all the time. There is no point trying to stem the tide.
What’s important is that the business evaluates the effectiveness of each platform based on their aims and audience. B2B businesses do well on LinkedIn and Google+, whereas your B2C business might do better communicating with the consumer through Facebook or even SnapChat.
As well as knowing your audience, businesses should also consider the theory behind and substance of their content – it should encourage engagement, not just be another broadcast in an increasingly noisy social world. With the rise of content marketing, businesses now want to accomplish both, and so their social media activity might be varied across multiple platforms, each one serving a different purpose, rather than a blanket approach.
It’s about good planning and knowing how you will make a difference. I’ve seen a huge explosion in the number of businesses using social media, yet those that actually make a good ROI on that use are in the minority. It’s a very smart minority.