Ops, A Crisis Hit. Now What?

Ops, A Crisis Hit. Now What?

By Maira Manesco

Well, if you haven’t said this yet, at some point you will. The difference will be in what you do after you say this. Basically, there are two options: panic and have no clue of what to do or, as we hope that you will – be prepared and put your crisis plan into action.

A crisis, according to the dictionary, is a moment of disorder, followed by a search for a solution. In a corporate context, Luecke[1] says that a crisis represents anything which has the potential to cause subtle or serious damage to the employees, the reputation or the financial results of a company. In the latter case, a communications strategy manages to interfere very little. However, when it comes to internal crises and image crises, a well planned and well structured communication is of extreme importance.

In this blog, we have already discussed a couple of different types of crises, including one that is quite common these days, the social media crisis, which impacts directly on the image of an organization. Apart from this, we have commented on how to avoid external crises generating internal problems, by communicating, before anyone else, the employees.

Now, returning to the main point of our discussion, before confronting a crisis, we need to be prepared for it. In other words, we need to know how to do crisis management before the crisis hits. That is acting strategically!

The first step is to analyze, through a macro perspective, the direct and indirect processes and procedures, both conscious and subconscious, within the company. This will help identify where potential crises hide. After having done this, it is time to study what types of aids are necessary to improve the management of a crisis, from a perspective of both efficiency and effectiveness. Now, we have the basis for crisis management, but much more is required.

It is necessary to analyse the main executives of the company and assess their posture in situations involving a lot of pressure. For example, a very shy person will most likely have difficulties positioning him- or herself in relation to employees or the press in a crisis situation.

Having defined these pillars, you can initiate the production of a crises manual, where all the important information brought forward during the analysis are explained with its solutions and different stages. Moreover, the selected executives need to participate in a media training focused on crises situations, learning this way how to respond in these types of situations. This process might seem simple, but is it essential that companies have access to  communications professionals who are specialized in crisis management and are able to translate the training into truly strategic and practical knowledge, without letting anything slide.

 

[1]LUECKE, Richard. Gerenciando a Crise: Dominando a Arte de Prevenir Desastres. São Paulo: Editora Record, 2009.

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Transparancy And Agility Are Fundamental In Crisis Management

By Daniela Dálio

One of the most dreaded situations for media relations professionals, being them on the agency side or the client side, is having to deal with crisis management in the media. It is an extremely delicate process which requires total transparency and agility to successfully manage the image and the reputation of the company.

Despite there being no ready-to-go, 100% reliable formula for this, there are a few basic principles that should be followed in order to minimize the negative effects from the exposure of a crisis.rce.ag

One of these principles is always trying to anticipate the crisis through, agency and client together, identifying topics, issues, data and information which represent a possible risk. For this to work, it is necessary that the partnership between the client and the agency is well established and solid enough to be able to critically analyse and evaluate this sensitive information.  

Having a process manual for crisis management as well as a ready-formed committee of strategic executives, with their roles previously defined, is also something of extreme importance. With this, it is possible to optimize the time and have a good chance at making the right decisions.

Once a crisis has established itself, a strategic plan to manage the crisis is fundamental. Collect as much information as possible and define the actions that will be taken together with the client/agency (depending on the perspective). In this moment, transparency when it comes to information is fundamental for the communication to be assertive. Once again, the confidence and trust in the relationship between client and agency is of utter importance.

Lastly, the monitoring of everything that is being published in relation to the crises, both in print press, online and social medias, as well as a continuous assessment of the actions that are taken, cannot be forgotten.

 

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COMMUNICATION IN TIMES OF CRISIS

By Lívia Caixeta

The moment of political and economic crises which Brazil is going through has shown, with various examples, the importance of communications in this context, be it in internal communications, institutional communications or, especially, in media relations. The examples are many:

  1. Social Media: good communications management can, for example, null or ease an image crises caused by a trivial situation which has gained importance and gone viral on social media.
  2. Media Relations:the generation of spontaneous media, through media relations activities, especially, is the cheapest and most effective manner to keep the client (the company, product, public figure) on the media agenda. Apart from this, if carefully elaborated, the suggestions of topics, get featured when they break away from the the factual news. With lighter approaches, however still informative, to some extent, they improve the routine of the end consumers, who are the viewers, the readers, the listeners, essentially, the citizens!
  3. Internal Communications: more than in any other moment, gossip among colleagues gains strength when a crises situation  – be it a management crises or a financial crisis – haunts a company. This adds up to the challenge of maintaining a team motivated when everything – work and private life – is not going well. Internal communication is a powerful tool to make the coworker an ally of the company and, with that, maintain the productivity on a high level.
  4. Content Management: keeping the communications channels up to date is fundamental and becomes even more important when there is a crisis. A good strategy aligned with a communications plan which, in its turn, is well aligned with the other departments of the company, helps in the diversification of blog posts, for example, or in the news that will be published on the corporate site. The greater the comprehensiveness of the publications, the smaller the risk of negative interpretations or polarization of the information.

 

For these reasons, before making cuts in the sum of money destined to communications in order to fit a smaller budget, it is important to evaluate what the impact of this action will be on the image, the engagement and relations of the company. Often, the underestimated communication turn out to be a lifesaver by serving as a tool for differentiation and credibility.

It is the communications strategies which will guarantee the visibility of the brand and the reinforcement of the positioning among the different audiences with whom you need to communicate.

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What is a press conference?

By Núbia Neves

It is common in fiction to watch films that have a scene where journalists gather in a room and ask questions after questions for interviewees who are going through a crisis. Besides fiction, another occasion at which we commonly come across in press conferences, is in football: players and coaches sit in front of a pretty high number of journalists, and are “attacked” with questions about a game or about any specific information. Theoretically, both examples represent well what a press conference is.

The purpose of this meeting is to bring together the main target journalists and inform assertively and strategically what the company wants to announce. During the fusion of companies, announcement of a new president, a crisis, a new direction of the company, etc., to promote a press conference can be a great way to optimize the time of which many interviews would take, in addition to disseminate information for more than one publication.

Normally, this action is elaborated for major announcements, because of the limited time that journalists have, moving them from newsrooms is a hard work, and which often is not successful when the meeting is not a relevant reason enough to happen. This is why it is essential that the media relations office, along with the communication area of the company, and its directors, meet with each other and discuss the best strategy to inform about each subject.

Sometimes the overvaluation of news can make the action a failure. For this reason, it is essential that the areas act with alignment and strategy, for an assertive decision that may be, or not, the press conference.

Do you need to get ready for a press conference? Click here to see more information about this and other services offered by Race Communication.

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What type of information can make news?

Not everything that happens inside a company is news. Not everything we think is relevant, is interesting for the public, or even interesting for the media. The analysis to understand why certain subject is newsworthy and others are not, requires previous knowledge about the routines of newsrooms.

In his book “Assessoria de Imprensa e Relacionamento com a Mídia”, Jorge Duarte says:

“The problem is that not always what comes out in the press is the most important from the point of view of the public’s interest. Often, what is interesting, even if unimportant, deserves more space than what is important, considered uninteresting “(DUARTE, Jorge, Assessoria de Imprensa e Relacionamento com a Mídia, 2nd edition, p. 107)

The prospect of the information of a company is closely linked to its strategic communication planning. And this, on the other hand, needs to be aware of the social and economic context in which the company operates. We must also be conscious and prepared for the consequences that certain information may have. Therefore, caution is needed when releasing growth data (sales, production, expansion, etc.), and attention to the socioeconomic context in which this news will be published.

This way, in another Duarte’s reference, we must always reflect on the “importance” and “interest” in the dissemination of news in the press.

“To comprehend the difference between interest and importance is the first step in order to understand the functioning of a newsroom” (DUARTE, Jorge, Assessoria de Imprensa e Relacionamento com a Mídia, 2nd edition, p. 107)

We also need to be prepared for the negative. One way to avoid that a particular subject gets lost, is to insert it into a “cold” context, in other words, to create a content with a prolonged “shelf life”. Therefore, it is possible to have a longer period of time for contacting the newsroom that may be interested in the material in question.

“We often hear from a journalist the following phrase: ‘it is an important subject, but there is no space in the newspaper for that’. In other words, it does not matter if the fact is only important, because it is essential that the subject is newsworthy, from the point of view of the interest of the newspaper” (DUARTE, Jorge, Assessoria de Imprensa e Relacionamento com a Mídia, 2nd edition, p. 114)

Another very important aspect when you send a piece of information is the assessment about the editorial line of the focused publications:

“Each newsroom from each publication keeps its own characteristics, which make it almost impossible a reality approach work” (DUARTE, Jorge, Assessoria de Imprensa e Relacionamento com a Mídia, 2nd edition, p. 119).

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Learn the mistakes that should be avoided in internal communication

By Núbia Neves

The internal image of a company still may not be treated with the priority it deserves, however, communication between company and employees is as important as communication with any other stakeholder. If you asked “stakeholder?” Yes, you got it right. Employees are certainly one of the main targets that a company should have.

When employees are well informed, they understand that they are a key to the proper functioning of the company, and to be recognized as an important professional helps to improve the production of the employee.

What not to do in internal communication work:

Not to inform: the first to know what is happening within a company is, of course, the employee. If things go wrong, you must inform, explain, make them feel secure in their jobs. To clarify the information is much better than to let people imagining what is going on. If the news is good, the same rule applies, make the employee understand that they should know everything they can about the company that they are part of, this will create engaged employees willing to boost the business.

In theory but not in practice: every employee is a spokesperson of the company. Some research claim that a person can achieve, on average, five people. An employee who does not trust your company, will transmit that insecurity and will not be concerned with the information. It is crucial that the contact with the employee is sincere and transparent;

Not to listen to opinions: regularly encourage staff to speak and suggest. Obviously the company can not put into practice all requests, however, it is crucial to hear the opinion of those who understand the area in which they work. This is a way to improve all areas of the company;

Not to inform strategies: always tell the employee the strategy of the company. The synergy between expectations and practice is essential for the company to achieve faster and more assertively the success they crave;

Communication does not require strategy: the communication of the company should always think about the strategy to inform the employee. Often, the best way to communicate the factory, for example, is not the same way to communicate the management. Understanding how the areas work is the best way to produce a strategic communication.

These are only five tips of what must not happen in an internal communication work. Other mistakes are common within companies and, therefore, it is important always to pay attention to the employees, after all, they are the key to create a successful company. If you want to know more about internal communication, please visit: When do I need internal communication?

Do your company need internal communication? Click here and ask more about it. Race Communications can help you.

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Social networks can be great allies for companies that are coming to Brazil

By Alan Mariasch

We are one of the most passionate people about the online world. According to a recent study by Conecta about our virtual habits, the young Brazilians connected to the Internet have an average of seven accounts in social networks, and 96% of them are on Facebook, whose app is present in 88% of their mobile phones, and 61 % of their tablets. And all that in a universe of over 86 million people with internet access in the country, of which 52.5 million do so through the cell phone.

On the other hand, a survey by Centro de Estudos sobre Tecnologias da Informação e da Comunicação (Cetic.br), after analyzing the use of social networks by 6,400 Brazilian companies, found that only 36% of them had a presence in these media. This leads us to conclude that social networks still are an area partially explored by organizations, and with a great potential to reach different audiences, because it is there where Brazilians spend several hours of their day searching for entertainment and information. This tendency partly explains why television and other traditional media are slowly losing audience.

Therefore, if you are an executive of a company who wants to invest in the Brazilian market, my suggestion is to devote part of your budget for communication and marketing on social networks. Depending on the goals of your organization, it may be worth creating only a fan page with an unique content on Facebook, a channel of customer service through Twitter, or even a corporate page on LinkedIn. Or, who knows, to be present in all of them at once.

Anyway, there is no escape from social networks if you want to relate to the Brazilian public. But to enter that world, it is vital that your company is advised by professionals with expertise in new technology trends and production of content, and are able to measure the return on your investment. It is also fundamental that part of the budget is directed to the sponsorship of posts, which will assist in the dissemination and viralization of the content.

Are you planning to invest on the brazilian markek? Race Communications can help you! Click here to contact us.

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Media Training glossary

Assignment: guidance that reporters receive describing what kind of story will be made, with whom they should speak, where and how. It may also be the focus on any fact.

Audience: method for measurement of affected people.

Briefing: set of information on a given subject, project or service.

Closing: when the journalists are producing or reviewing their articles that will be in their respective media. It may also be the moment that professionals are diagramming a magazine and “closing” the material to send to the printer.

Crisis management: strategy used to minimize negative impacts on the media, through the dissemination of the enlightenment of the company in an agile and objective way, in order to eliminate any controversy.

Editorial space: statement of opinion of a publisher about you and your business. In addition, a term for the media coverage generated by the news team. Editorial is also a text, made by the publisher, which summarizes and comments on the issues of a publication (usually in magazines).

Exclusive: news, interview or feature article that only a newspaper, magazine, radio, television or website can publish/present. Typically, this kind of highlight is previously negotiated by the interviewee’s media relations agency.

Fact Sheet: quarterly, semiannual or annual material from a company with the objective of disseminating relevant information, such as: profile, history, business area and results of a company, etc.

Interview: conversation between the interviewer and the interviewee in which questions are asked by the journalist in order to obtain information needed by the interviewee.

Key messages: keyword or phrase that the press, the company itself or the communication department are intended to be held by the public.

Media relations: its main task is to deal with the relationship management between an individual, organization, company, or government and the press.

Media training: simulations with the spokesperson, so that they have effectiveness as a communication manager, even if they are leaders in another area. It concerns about how the media works and which information the journalists look for and who are these professionals.

Meet and Greet: also known by some professionals as goodwill, is a kind of meeting, usually quickly, between source, press officer and journalist to propose stories, discuss the source and present ideas or views on possible articles.

News: informative text relating to an event on a situation relevant to the public of each publication.

Off: information provided by a source to a reporter and that when previously agreed with the journalists, can not be published or used in any way.

Press conference: meeting with the main target journalists in order to inform assertively and strategically what the company wants to disclose.

Press kit (Press information): kit with specific information given to the media by a company. Typically, it contains base material, photographs, illustrations, press releases and, in some cases, gifts from the company.

Press release: or News Release, or only release, is the most common written form, used in public relations, to announce news and information about products, services, companies, etc.

Press statement: objective text that reports the official position of the company, person or entity on a given subject.

Q&A: document that has possible questions and likely answers related to a subject, project or service of the organization.

Reputation: public image in relation to a person, entity or company.

Source: spokesperson who is trained and prepared to talk about a subject related to the company.

Source suggestion: is a PR tool in which you offer your spokesperson for a certain mailing list of journalists.

Spokesperson: representative of an organization who is an expert source, willing to comment about a specific issue to the press.

Stakeholder: also known as public of interest, it is the part that affects, or may be affected by the actions of an organization.

Story suggestion: written message to introduce a source or an idea of a story to one or more reporters.

Talking points: succinct statements that address key points on a given topic.

If you want to know more abour PR, check out the media relations glossary that Race prepared for you.

 

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Media Relations versus Communications Agency

By Maira Manesco

Media Relations and Communications Agency define different activities and often cause confusion to the inexperienced and to professionals beginners. In general, all staff operate managing information between company/customer/product and its stakeholders. Generically, they both play more than the simple role of caring for the image of their client.

The media relations is composed of journalists and public relations, whose main function is the link between organizations and the media. Press secretaries should know the client’s activities, projects, proposals and ideas for then develop communication strategies and suggest stories newsworthy to the media. They should also advise and disseminate events, assemble news clippings with articles on relevant topics to the client, and advise on how executives and employees must relate to the press, the famous media training. The main role of this activity is to disseminate information.

On the other hand, the communications agency is formed by at least one professional in each area of social communication: journalists, advertisers and public relations. The work done by this communications agency is more complete and thorough, therefore, the professional group tends to form the Department of Communication of a company. Among other items, they must know what are the negative aspects of the organization and try to present alternatives to solve them, besides creating a harmonious environment among employees from the shop floor to senior management.

The advisers from the communications agency also have to know about the actions of the Department of Human Resources, know to direct the information to the various publics that covers the internal and external communication, and to develop campaigns and promotional materials.

To strengthen the relationship with the media, especially with the key publications for the company, it is important to always count on the assistance of a communications agency specialized in media relations.

Finally, all organizations and professionals should be aware of the differences between the media relations and the communications agency; they should also know the importance of both for the development of the company towards success.

 Are you interested about it? Click here and ask for a corporate communications consultancy that Race Communications offers.

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What are key messages?

By Maira Manesco

The key messages guide organizations to communicate and consolidate the main ideas of the brands/products/services to its stakeholders. These messages verbalize the personality of what will be exposed.

Before a presentation to your audience; whether it is press, employees, government or community; it is important to define what are the messages that the company wants to convey. In addition, the spokespeople must be aligned so that they can base and guide themselves on the defined key messages always when communicating something.

In media relations, the key messages are extremely important during the follow-up work with journalists, because it is in the key messages that the press secretaries will look for arguments to win a good story. The key messages also help in creating strategic mailings.

 

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