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Telling Your Story In Tough Times


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Telling Your Story In Tough Times

  1. 1. Telling Your Story In Tough Times Chris Tang Managing Director The Hoffman Agency Asia Pacific
  2. 2. It’s true that the current situation is tough.
  3. 3. So, how does one handle bad news?
  4. 4. In a downturn, companies either… see an opportunity OR see a threat
  5. 6. Communication is one of the major contributors to building and sustaining brand leadership. Why Communicate During Tough Times?
  6. 7. Now is the best time to promote your brand Why Communicate During Tough Times?
  7. 8. <ul><li>Noise level is lower… better chance of getting your message out </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunity to be ‘counted and heard’ </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrates leadership and strategic thinking </li></ul><ul><li>Accountability </li></ul><ul><li>Shows a commitment to various audiences </li></ul><ul><li> Customers, partners, employees, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Protects the brand </li></ul>Why Communicate During Tough Times?
  8. 9. Keeping Quiet Is NOT The Answer
  9. 10. <ul><li>If you don’t talk, others will </li></ul><ul><li>Lead or be led </li></ul><ul><li>No education breeds ignorance </li></ul><ul><li>Audiences second-guessing corporate direction </li></ul><ul><li>“ Free shots” at your brand </li></ul>The Alternative
  10. 11. Source: The Financial Times Why Communicate During Tough Times? BRAND INVESTMENTS BRAND EQUITY High Low Reduction in brand investments No reduction in brand investments High loss potential Recession is opportunity Survival game Double or nothing
  11. 12. Telling Your Story During A Downturn The Starting Point
  12. 13. Get The Basics Right <ul><li>Creating an effective messaging strategy in today’s economic climate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are you getting beyond the dollar sign? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What does “value” mean for your customers? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s your brand’s unique response to the downturn? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are you tailoring your message? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How holistic is your messaging strategy? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What comes next? </li></ul></ul>
  13. 14. <ul><li>Be clear and honest about the challenge </li></ul><ul><li> Blame = Weakness </li></ul><ul><li>Articulate the “plan” for putting the company back on a positive course </li></ul><ul><li> Customer-driven </li></ul><ul><li>Report on the execution of the “plan” </li></ul><ul><li> Repetition </li></ul>Get The Basics Right
  14. 15. EXAMPLES “ América Móvil’s strong results defy downturn” “ Aircom cites Asia deals as evidence of mobile resiliency to downturn” “ Economic downturn spurs virtualization, unified communications growth” “ Business is ‘unusually’ good for Altera in this downturn” Get The Basics Right
  15. 16. <ul><li>The most powerful element in your PR arsenal </li></ul><ul><li>Bigger issue than PR </li></ul><ul><li>Engage the customer </li></ul><ul><li> Solicit feedback </li></ul><ul><li> Involve in the product development cycle </li></ul><ul><li> Test new products </li></ul><ul><li> Contact from the CEO </li></ul>Engage The Customer
  16. 17. “ Beating the Credit Crunch”: A document prepared by Nokia Siemens Networks to help its customers cope with the downturn Get The Basics Right
  17. 18. <ul><li>News releases </li></ul><ul><li>Source for reporters </li></ul><ul><li>Case studies </li></ul><ul><li>Securing the “reference” </li></ul>Engage The Customer
  18. 19. <ul><li>The most forgotten communication asset during a downturn </li></ul><ul><li>Starts with internal communications </li></ul><ul><li> Acknowledge the challenge; share the plan </li></ul><ul><li> Ongoing communications </li></ul><ul><li> Distribute external communications to employees </li></ul>Empower Employees
  19. 20. <ul><li>So they tell an optimistic story to the outside world </li></ul><ul><li> 50 employees </li></ul><ul><li> Each employee averages 10 external interactions/day </li></ul><ul><li> 10 x 50 = 500 </li></ul><ul><li> 5 x 500 = 2,500 </li></ul><ul><li> 4 x 2,500 = 10,000 interactions/month </li></ul>Empower Employees
  20. 21. CEO Contribution to Corporate Reputation Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit and Burson-Marsteller Elevate The CEO Total North America Europe Asia Pacific Latin America 47% 44% 43% 52% 55%
  21. 22. Transforming CEO Actions Into Corporate Reputation Effectively addresses problems Focus on the customer Vision (Company and Industry) Embraces change Cares for employees Elevate The CEO
  22. 23. Market downturn puts even more atte n tion on leadership. Content versus intangibles Elevate The CEO
  23. 24. Intel CEO Paul Otellini’s interview with Time on the differences between the dotcom bust and the current global financial crisis Motorola co-CEO Greg Brown’s interview with FT on the decline of the company’s mobile phone business Elevate The CEO
  24. 25. <ul><li>Use the Web to communicate your message directly to your target audience </li></ul><ul><li>Deep penetration of broadband Internet access across Asia </li></ul><ul><li>New breed of influencers </li></ul><ul><li> Classic influentials: those who others seek out for advice </li></ul><ul><li> New influentials: those who actively share advice online </li></ul><ul><li>“ Mutual purpose” </li></ul>Employ Social Media
  25. 26. NTT Docomo CEO Ryuji Yamada’s message on the company web site where he outlined his strategy for coping with the economic downturn Elevate The CEO
  26. 27. Employ Social Media Prepare Listen Monitor Participate Engage Influence
  27. 28. Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz addressed concerns about Oracle’s acquisition of Sun in his blog Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers talked about the company’s Q209 results, the state of the global economy and managing in a downturn Employ Social Media
  28. 29. AT&T Facebook profile and dedicated web site where customers can share their stories on how they cope with the downturn IBM’s “Selling in a Downturn” blog where key employees share their thoughts and ideas on how companies can thrive during the financial crisis Employ Social Media
  29. 30. Don’t DRIP The Bad News
  30. 31. <ul><li>Develop an internal communications plan </li></ul><ul><li> The shorter the timeframe, the better </li></ul><ul><li> Ensure the executive team is on the same page </li></ul><ul><li> Clearly explain the actions taken and the reasons behind them </li></ul><ul><li> Prepare the managers to deliver the message </li></ul>HANDLING LAYOFFS Don’t Drip The Bad News
  31. 32. HOW NOT TO HANDLE LAYOFFS October 2008: Company X spokesperson said that China will not be affected by the global layoff (Source: Tech.163) November 2008: The same spokesperson said that the company will cut the number of its employees in China (Source: People’s Daily Online) November 200 8 : SOHU, SINA and other online news sites posted the news about the layoffs in China February 2009: In an interview, Company X spokesperson denied news of the layoff (Source: Tech.163) February 2009: Almost 1,000 employees in China were laid off (Source: Beiing Evening News) Don’t Drip The Bad News
  32. 33. THE ‘REINVENTION’ OF GM <ul><li>Organized press conferences in all major markets to talk about bankruptcy proceedings </li></ul><ul><li>Further information shared through series of conference calls hosted by GM’s regional managers </li></ul><ul><li>New advertising presenting “leaner, greener, faster, smarter” GM </li></ul><ul><li>Increased social media efforts </li></ul><ul><li> and are two portals helping to explain the company’s present course </li></ul><ul><li> Provide “virtually” daily updates as the company moves forward through the bankruptcy proceedings </li></ul><ul><li> Ongoing webcasts and digital conversations with top executives, including new CEO </li></ul><ul><li>Continue to mobilize the “army of GM advocates”, such as employees, retirees, dealers and suppliers, to speak on the company’s behalf </li></ul><ul><li>Press conference attended by President Obama </li></ul>Don’t Drip The Bad News
  33. 34. Case Study Redeeming One’s Credibility and Regaining Stakeholders’ Trust Issue <ul><li>Company A closed down its Japan office as part of its plans to pursue an indirect business model in the country </li></ul><ul><li>-> The company did not inform its employees, customers, partners and the media about its decision, particularly the office shutdown </li></ul><ul><li>Not communicating a highly sensitive issue such as an office shutdown affected Company A’s reputation in the local market </li></ul><ul><li>-> The resulting credibility issues could make it difficult for Company A to re-enter the Japanese market in the future </li></ul><ul><li>-> Possible backlash may also have a negative impact on company’s indirect business approach </li></ul>
  34. 35. Case Study Redeeming One’s Credibility and Regaining Stakeholders’ Trust Approach <ul><li>Developed and issued a company statement to address stakeholders’ concerns </li></ul><ul><li>-> HA advised the company to disclose all the necessary information, including the reason for closing down its Japan office and how it plans to support existing customers, to avoid any speculations of a cover-up </li></ul><ul><li>-> HA liaised with company lawyer in reviewing the statement and in preparing a set of Q&As </li></ul><ul><li>-> The company statement was circulated to selected key Japanese media and was posted on the company’s and partners’ web sites </li></ul><ul><li>Successfully communicated key messages pertaining to Company A’s shift to an indirect business model in Japan, which was covered by key print and online publications </li></ul><ul><li>More importantly, it helped appease stakeholders’ concerns and prevented Company A’s reputation in the local market to be completely tarnished </li></ul>Results
  35. 36. Build A Positive Corporate Reputation during the downturn “ When the going gets tough, The tough get going!” - The Jewel of the Nile by Billy Ocean http:// =fg3vzl_VwLc&feature=related