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Plans Are Useless - Preparing for & Responding to a Crisis in the Digital Age

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Talk on crisis preparation and response, with a focus on online/social media, to PR/communications professionals in Ho Chi Minh City

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Plans Are Useless - Preparing for & Responding to a Crisis in the Digital Age

  1. 1. PLANS ARE USELESS PREPARING FOR & RESPONDING TO CRISES IN THE DIGITAL AGE Vietnam Marketing & Management Institute, HCMC | December 16, 2016 CPC&
  2. 2. ABOUT CHARLIE POWNALL • Managing Director of CPC & Associates. Previously Regional Managing Director of Burson- Marsteller (Asia-Pacific), WPP, SYZYGY AG, Reuters, European Commission • Over twenty years’ experience in communications planning & strategy, public relations, issues & crisis communications, digital marketing, social media, government communications, political advocacy, speechwriting, journalism • Set up and ran the European Commission's first rapid rebuttal unit. Led communications for 15x over-subscribed SYZYGY AG IPO. Grew Burson-Marsteller's digital/social offer and capability across Asia by average 80% per year • Author, Managing Online Reputation: How to Protect Your Company on Social Media (Palgrave Macmillan, Alpha Books). WPP Atticus Award (2011) for Managing Corporate Reputation in the Digital Age white paper • Global experience; over nine years in Asia. Chairman, Communications & Marketing Committee, American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong (2012-15) charliepownall.com CPC&
  3. 3. INCIDENT CRISIS PROBLEM ISSUE -SEVERITY+ - LONGEVITY + CPC& charliepownall.com TYPES OF NEGATIVE SITUATIONS 3
  4. 4. ‘A significant negative event that contains actual or potential risk to life, health, environment, business continuity, reputation or those relationships a company requires to operate its business.’ • Is this situation a precursor that risks escalating in intensity? • Does it risk coming under close scrutiny? • Will it interfere with normal business operations? • Will it jeopardise our public image or bottom line? Source: Steven Fink DEFINITION OF A CRISIS charliepownall.com CPC& 4
  5. 5. ‘You only find out who’s swimming naked when the tide goes out’ Warren Buffett charliepownall.com CPC& 5
  6. 6. 6 charliepownall.com THE OPERATIONAL FAILURE CPC&
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  11. 11. THE POLITICAL ATTACK charliepownall.com CPC& 11
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  16. 16. • Can strike from anywhere – Fast evolving citizen/consumer rights, expectations, behaviours – Rise of nationalism, privacy and other difficult, emotive issues – Online short, sharp shocks that can quickly escalate into full blown crises • Harder to manage – Reputation is global – News, information & commentary move faster and further – Immediate expectation of openness and honesty – Skeptical, fickle customers/stakeholders – Many more rumours, misinformation, disinformation – Everyone has a voice, but who is credible and trusted? – Lower employee loyalty, ease of sharing confidential information CPC& charliepownall.com THE REALITY OF CRISES TODAY 16
  17. 17. • You don’t know what’s happening • Information is partial and inaccurate • Rumour and speculation are spreading fast • The media is calling • Legal is telling you to say nothing • Management has gone missing • Panic is taking over 17 CPC& BREAKING CRISES ARE FRIGHTENING charliepownall.com
  18. 18. charliepownall.com • Not responding • Responding too slowly • Being dishonest • Being partially honest • Deflecting blame • Over-reacting COMMON CRISIS RESPONSE PITFALLS CPC& 18
  19. 19. • Listen continuously • Respond quickly • Act decisively • Be sensitive and proportionate • Communicate persuasively • Prepare thoroughly • Collaborate closely CPC& charliepownall.com 19 CRISIS RESPONSE PRINCIPLES
  20. 20. • What can we say? Anything substantive? • What can’t we say? What’s our legal liability? • Which stakeholders do we need to be talking to? • What’s their likely reaction? • Who should speak on our behalf? • Proactive or reactive? FIRST RESPONSE CONSIDERATIONS CPC& charliepownall.com 20
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  23. 23. WHAT TO SAY WHEN A CRISIS BREAKS • Acknowledge the issue • Show empathy with those impacted • Recognise the urgency of the situation • Demonstrate it is being taken seriously • Promise to keep those impacted updated CPC& charliepownall.com 23
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  28. 28. 28 charliepownall.com CPC& "The nature of the dispute and in particular the manner in which it was conducted, irrespective of any comments alleged to have been made, is adjudged to be not only of concern to the public but viewed by us as detrimental to the standing of our company, unbecoming of a manager of our brand and prejudicial to our good name." "Therefore, we have immediately relieved the manager of his position." "Such an incident reflects in no way the values of Daimler AG and we sincerely apologize for the concerns raised by this matter and the views that people have felt obliged to express following the reports of this regrettable matter". Source: Daimler Greater China
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  30. 30. 30 CPC& COMMUNICATE PERSUASIVELY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r_PIg7EAUw&t=5s charliepownall.com
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  32. 32. CRISIS PLAN charliepownall.com CPC& • Definitions – Crises – Incidents – Issues • For each risk – Defines roles, responsibilities & contact info – Provides policies, protocols, checklists – Sets out objectives & strategy – Provides pre-approved messages/statements – Lists priority stakeholders/opinion-formers 32
  33. 33. DEFINING RISKS charliepownall.com CPC& • Political pressure • Regulatory changes • Religious/cultural/political controversies • Societal outrage • Cyber attacks • Health scares • Hostile takeover bids • Natural disasters • Political unrest • Sabotage & extortion • Corporate/strategic failure • Corporate governance failure • Fraud/malpractice • Poor employee behaviour • CEO dismissal • Employee injuries/death • Industrial disputes • IT system failures • Product quality EXTERNALINTERNAL ISSUE-LED INCIDENT-LED 33
  34. 34. Source: EIU, Clifford Chance - 2014 TOP RISKS FOR BOARDS charliepownall.com CPC& 34 Source: Clifford Chance, EIU - 2014
  35. 35. IMPACT OF RISKS charliepownall.com CPC& Source: EIU, Clifford Chance - 2014 35 Source: Clifford Chance, EIU - 2014
  36. 36. Source: EIU, Clifford Chance - 2014 MAJOR RISK CONCERNS charliepownall.com CPC& 36 Source: Clifford Chance, EIU - 2014
  37. 37. IGNITES AMPLIFIES SUSTAINS HOW SOCIAL MEDIA IMPACTS REPUTATION CPC& charliepownall.com 37
  38. 38. Critical • Extensive breach of customer data • Kidnapping of an employee • Major damage to a firm’s physical assets during an earthquake or terrorist operation Severe • Allegations of corruption amongst a firm’s senior leadership • External leak about serious and unexplained injuries to employees at work • Threat of legal action by a major investor over the accuracy of a firm’s financial statements Significant • Escalating allegations of use of child labor amongst a company’s suppliers • Community protests about local environmental damage • Campaign by a global NGO to boycott a company’s products Moderate • An escalating online rumor about a controversial product ingredient • A public complaint about a faulty product by a celebrity customer • A backlash to an unexpected price increase or brand marketing campaign Low • Known though uncontroversial concerns about a product circulating online • Negative online feedback to a media article on employee compensation • A one-off complaint on Facebook by a customer about poor quality product packaging RANKING RISKS charliepownall.com CPC& © Charlie Pownall/CPC & Associates 38
  39. 39. • Messaging • Notification • First response • Employee communications • Online influencers • Online conversation management • Local considerations 39 CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS PROTOCOLS CPC& charliepownall.com
  40. 40. CPC& NOTIFICATION PROTOCOLS charliepownall.com MODERATE SEVERE CRITICAL Issue • An escalating online rumour about a controversial product ingredient • A public complaint about a faulty product by a celebrity customer • A backlash to an unexpected price increase or brand marketing campaign • Allegations of malfeasance amongst senior leadership • External leak about serious and unexplained injuries to employees at work • Threat of legal action by a major investor over the accuracy of a firm’s financial statements • Extensive customer data breach • Kidnapping of an employee • Major damage to physical assets Threshold(s) • Volume xx/deviance % • Sentiment xx/deviance % • Volume xx/deviance % • Sentiment xx/deviance % • Volume xx/deviance % • Sentiment xx/deviance % Assessment • Platform manager, Listening team, Communications, Topic expert • Communications, Public Affairs, Legal, Topic expert • Crisis Team, Communications Approval • Communications • Public Affairs • Crisis Team Response time • 12 hours • 6 hours • 3 hours 40
  41. 41. BUSINESS TECHNOLOGICAL LEGAL COMMS charliepownall.com CPC& 41 FORMULATING THE RIGHT RESPONSE
  42. 42. © Charlie Pownall/CPC & Associates CPC& THREAT RESPONSE TOOLBOX charliepownall.com REMOVE MINIMISE RECTIFY HIDEBLOCK SUPPRESS RETRACT REFRAME ATTACK DENY OFFLOAD LEAVE THREATEN EVADEDIMINISH SHARE ARBITRATE ADMIT STRENGTHENREBUILDRESTORE CONVERT REPLACE MITIGATE JUSTIFY LITIGATE PROMOTE PREVENT 42
  43. 43. 43 • Holding statements, follow-up statements, backgrounders, FAQs, etc – First tweet – Second tweet – Holding statement – Second statement – Third statement PRE-APPROVED MESSAGES/CONTENT charliepownall.com CPC&
  44. 44. CPC& charliepownall.com TRAIN YOUR TEAMS 44
  45. 45. charliepownall.com TO CONCLUDE • Many reputation threats, each of which differ according to the organisation, industry and operating context • Listen carefully to understand the broad range of risks to your business and reputation, and how the internet/social media impact these risks • Develop a comprehensive, practical crisis, incident and issue response plan based on the risks to your organisation • Respond to a crisis quickly, firmly, sensitively and proportionately • Ensure your business, communications, legal and technological responses are aligned • Always bear your long-term reputation in mind when responding to a crisis • Practice hard. CPC& 45
  46. 46. ‘Plans are useless, but planning is useful’ Dwight D. Eisenhower charliepownall.com CPC& 46
  47. 47. QUESTIONS? charliepownall.com CPC& 47
  48. 48. 48charliepownall.com THANK YOU. @cpownall +44 20 3856 3599 cp@charliepownall charliepownall.com CPC&

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