CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS DURING ONE OF THE MOST TURBULENT TIMES IN AUSTRALIA.
When it comes to issues management, nothing is black and white. There is a lot of grey area – topic, tone, timing, landscape, channel, target audience – that can alter the best approach.
There is no doubt, the past six months have been fraught with issues, many from external factors that most businesses had little to no control over.
While natural disasters and global pandemics are out of our control, how we respond to these - and a broad range of other - crises is something we can control.
At times of crises, true leaders come to the fore. We have seen this exemplified in political leaders such as New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern; media personalities like Waleed Aly, and increasingly from companies during times when the public need it most.
However, we understand that – for many business leaders – communication can sometimes be a minefield, especially during an issue. At DEC PR, we help clients across a range of sectors including healthcare, FMCG, automotive, property, financial services, technology and food and beverage, navigate issues and protect hard earned reputations.
The issues we have successfully helped clients manage include, airline incidents, stock market crashes, product recalls, coronial inquiries and bomb threats, to name but a few.
An important note is that nothing is black and white with issues management. There is a lot of grey area – the topic, tone, timing, landscape, channel, target audience – that can alter the best approach. Therefore, every issues management strategy should be tailored to the company and the issue.
However, each issues management strategy should also be framed and guided by key fundamentals to ensure best practice.
The five steps to best practice issues management
In our experience, there are five mandatories that should be followed for best practice issues management and brand reputation stewardship. This is our tried and tested process of decades working with some of the biggest global and local brands through a number of challenging and complex circumstances.
Below is a summary, and over the next five weeks, I’ll be sharing more detail on each point so that your business can prepare against, make it through, and successfully thrive after any unprecedented event.
1. Prepare: It is important to get on the front foot as much as possible – before there’s even a glimpse of an issue – and understand potential roadblocks, to ensure your brand can respond quickly.
2. Review: Sense-check any planned communications against the current landscape and scenario plan for potential responses from your community.
3. Communicate: Outreach to stakeholders with messaging that resonates to ensure brand sentiment remains as positive as possible.
4. Measure: Consistently monitor for sentiment, response to and virality of your communications so you can respond accordingly – this is a marathon, not a sprint.
5. Rebuild: Once an issue has been dealt with, a business needs to move on to restoring stakeholder trust. Identify gaps and priorities, and make a plan. And stick to it. Don't expect to rebuild trust overnight.