In my 30 years of counseling publicly traded companies on how to tell their investment stories, I have never seen a more challenging and difficult environment in which to do so. The U.S. credit crisis, collapse and consolidation of long-standing banking firms, and turmoil in the global monetary markets are events that have taken center stage, requiring communications professionals to develop strategies and messages that will cut through the noise and fear in the financial markets to reach the eyes and ears of their constituents. I’m not only talking about members of the investment community, but also employees, customers and vendors, who all need to be reassured that your company will weather this storm.
Crisis Communications's archives
Tags: credit crisis, finance public relations, financial communication
Most public relations professionals have at least a rudimentary knowledge of crisis plans and communications but because most don’t often have to use them (knock on wood) few of us possess the experience to evaluate them. Jean Gonsoulin, senior vice-president for GolinHarris addressed that void with, “How Bullet-Proof Is Your Crisis Plan?” Evaluating and re-tooling your plan for successful management in a crisis.”
Key takeaways included:
- The worst part of a crisis is being unprepared.
- Our role is to convince management to plan for the unthinkable.
- Corporate crises can take many forms – catastrophic, employee violence, product recalls, tainted products, executive misconduct, stock crashes, etc.
- We should look at crises possibilities from many different angles and areas.
- Consequences of poor crisis planning include escalation of the crisis, financial devastation, harmed reputation, chaos in the workplace and ultimate failure of your business or company.
Tags: crisis planning, reputation
“Thinking in the future tense.”
One slip of the tongue can be disastrous to an organization. A seemingly innocent comment is someone else’s sensitivity. During a crisis having diverse implications, the dos and don’ts are key to communicating to a diverse audience.
What stage of diversity is your company?
- Affirmative Action (Compliance)
- Valuing Diversity (Celebration/Training)
- Managing Diversity (Changing Culture)
- Inclusive (Team Building/Measurement)
Recently, many colleges and universities have come around to the idea that they need to do a better job of marketing themselves to compete for brighter students, star faculty and more resources. “Let’s get our name out there,” they cry. “Let’s get our story told!” Problem is, many institutions — or, more accurately, the academics who populate them — do not really want to use the tools of marketing, which requires a certain amount of art and a big dose of discipline. How can you require brand consistency when universities are founded on the notion of academic freedom? What do you say to people who think a business card is an extension of their personality, not of their institution? When your business school thinks they are an island unto themselves? When Athletics gets all the attention and always gets its way? Anyway, how can public relations people — glib, commercial, shallow — begin to comprehend the complexities of the academic mission? As for communications professionals? Even the most tweedy professors and nerdy lab rats think they can design a logo. And why waste money on advertising when we’re not selling widgets?
Tags: public relations education
So, I get this invitation to write a blog related to an upcoming panel I’m participating on, Leaving No One Behind. I jump at the chance, not because I have nothing else to get done today, but because writing the blog is a great way to procrastinate from all that work, as I worry about my family members in Houston, hunkered down at home, bracing for Hurricane Ike. The forecast is so dire that city officials declared Friday, September 12, a hurricane-preparation day. No one goes to work; no one goes to school.
Thousands of miles away, in a city where some people don’t even know what rain is, I’m at work, but even the gray skies today in usually sunny San Diego reflect my concern.
The scenario in my Texas hometown this morning contrasts sharply with what we saw in 2005, when Hurricane Rita was aiming for the Houston area. In that event, residents were asked to evacuate, but panic and disorganization resulted in more than 100 deaths in traffic, compared to fewer than 10 deaths caused by the actual hurricane itself. Three years ago in Houston, the crisis was not caused by nature, but by man.
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