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Ethics Girl March 2009

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Ethics Girl March 2009

  1. 1. Issue 2 March 2009 Ethics Girl Jane Herbert, MD, Pilotmax Crisis? What Crisis? Don’t be a rabbit in the headlights … Voicemail messages. It’s also essential that It seems every time we pick up a newspaper or approved spokespeople are available 24/7, turn on the radio there’s another crisis – but because the media is 24/7. Office, home and they don’t just happen to the big boys, they can mobile numbers should be accessible and hit any business. The current economic climate nominated spokespeople should cover for has brought financial difficulties and sickness and holiday, or a rota drawn up. In redundancies, which have only added to the list addition it is vital that all employees know the of potential ‘triggers’ that can trip up a business. communications protocol, including who is Crises can happen to the most professional authorised to speak on behalf of the business organisations, they might be your fault, or you and who isn’t. might be entirely innocent, but no one is immune and anyone can find themselves Respond fast suddenly in the full glare of the media spotlight. Once a crisis happens, speed is everything – but So what do you do? Here are my top tips: that doesn’t mean rushing out inappropriate statements or interviews before you have all the Be prepared - plan for crises facts. Neither does it mean hiding from the Once the worst has happened and your phone is media – refusing to respond to requests or ringing off the hook with media demanding worse still, saying ‘no comment’ only makes you answers, it is too late to start thinking about look guilty. What should happen, simultaneously, crisis management plans. So whilst you may be is that a holding statement is issued (this will one of those lucky firms that will never need it, simply state that you are aware of the putting a plan in place for managing crises is incident/problem and are investigating further) well worth the time. You should anticipate and while you gather all the information you’ll need. make a list of all the things that could go wrong (from the most trivial to the truly serious). Be sympathetic but state your case Your response should lay out the facts clearly; Establish a communications strategy there is no need to speculate so don’t. Always Work out how, in the event of a crisis, you will express concern and sympathy for any ‘victims’ communicate with the media and your other key but don’t admit responsibility unless you are audiences – customers, employees, investors, responsible, in which case, admit it and for example. Who will be your spokespeople? apologise. State what you are doing to address Are they media trained? Are you able to manage the incident/problem and what you will do in the content of your website so that you can get future to prevent it happening again. Always be statements and news on there quickly? E-mail is amenable with the media, remember, they are another excellent way of getting messages out not there to damage you, they just want to get to all key audiences fast. Consider how in bound to the bottom of the story. ● enquiries will be handled – can you set up dedicated hotlines? Do you have sufficient staff ‘A recession can give brands a once in a to answer the phones at all times? Nothing will lifetime opportunity to put real distance aggravate the media more than not being able between them and their rivals’ - Stuart to contact you, getting engaged tones or Smith consultant editor Marketing Week
  2. 2. Issue 2 March 2009 Foot in mouth What’s it worth? As we all know, on an a surprise visit by George Evaluation as always been a hot topic in the PR Bush to Iraq in December, the now ex President industry. How can you guarantee a return on had two shoes thrown at him during a press investment in your media relations activities conference by an Iraqi journalist. Utterly non- when you can’t guarantee results? Well you can plussed by the incident, Mr. Bush said he didn’t guarantee results – to a point, you just can’t know what the guy’s problem was and made a guarantee with absolute certainty where and joke of it “If you want the facts, it's a size 10 when those results will appear. And there are shoe that he threw,quot; he quipped. It was clear ways to evaluate those results too. We know that Mr. Bush was completely oblivious of the that editorial coverage is worth more than significance of the shoe – showing the soles of advertising, it has more impact and credibility. the shoes is a sign of contempt in Arab culture. Many multipliers have been bandied about over Even crossing one's legs ankle-on-knee style the years, but the most modest and we believe should never be done in a public place for fear realistic is a factor of three. So editorial has, in of offending the person next to you. general, three times the value of the equivalent The sensitivity is related to the fact shoes are space in advertising cost terms. Of course this considered ritually unclean in the Muslim faith. method of evaluation only gives a general But what is so astonishing about this is the fact picture; it is not sophisticated, it doesn’t for that when Mr. Bush came to power he was example allow for inclusion of vital key heavily criticized for having little understanding messages, photographs or even web addresses, or experience of foreign policy, so you would but if you have an FD breathing down your neck, think that someone in his team would have it is a useful guide to ROI. Recent evaluations taken the trouble to brief him on key aspects of we have done for current clients have shown those cultures with whom he is engaging. that, on average, we are achieving an ROI of The clear lesson here is to know and understand £3.58 for every £1 spent. By any standards (and your audiences before you start doing business particularly in the current climate) PR is a very with them. ● good place to be investing your money. ● ‘At times of crisis, confidence is the most What are the banks thinking? important force to restore’ - Jean-Pierre On the subject of knowing one’s audiences, it’s still astonishing to hear on almost a daily basis Lehmann professor of international about yet another fat cat banker’s pay political economy at IMD packet/pay-off/bonus, despite having been bailed out by taxpayers. Pilotmax offers a range of crisis management It’s always amazing to see major organisations services including: that should know better, getting their public • Boardroom briefings – learn how to relations so wrong. Someone should be advising manage a crisis from the specialists them that continuing with this business as usual • Meet the experts – dine with crisis approach is seriously antagonizing the very management ‘gurus’ people they need to have on their side if we are • Preparation of crisis management ever going to get ourselves out of this woeful strategies economic situation. ● • Implementation of crisis management plans Finance heads believe in marketing investment New research by customer insight firm KDB If you’d like to discuss anything in this reveals 84% of finance directors believe that by newsletter, call me on 0208 334 0200 or e-mail reinforcing their marketing spend their jane@pilotmax.co.uk. companies are more likely to enjoy competitive advantage when the economy recovers. ●

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