Back in 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill killed 11 people and caused unparalleled damage to the environment. Yesterday, BP reached an £12bn settlement with the US Department of Justice.
Thankfully, most of us won’t face a crisis on the same scale as BP, however, every comms team should be prepared for something to go wrong.
Have a crisis plan Rather than panicking when a crisis hits, having a plan ready to go when it does will make life much easier. Start by jotting down the potential scenarios and then assume that they have happened.
Crises fall into two categories uncontrolled (employee death, fires and the like) and controlled (job losses, takeovers etc) so you will need to have a plan in place for these different scenarios.
Decide what you will need to do – issue press releases, schedule media interviews, update your website – and create action points. Align these with the level of the crisis, assign specific people/roles responsibility for each task and create a crisis plan document so you’re prepared when disaster hits. And don’t forget to include an internal communications chain!
Use one voice When a crisis hits, it is very tempting for different people to answer questions and queries – often giving different answers. But it is essential to ensure a consistent message is delivered by one central spokesperson – at the highest possible level within the business. Make sure the elected person has the knowledge, sensitivity, authority and interpersonal skills to deliver your message and is accessible to the media.
Be prepared Before speaking to the media make sure that you are prepared to answer any difficult questions. Be informed about the situation and understand what you can and can’t say. Don’t volunteer potentially damaging information and make sure to stick to the facts.
Don’t overlook social media In this digital age, social media is one of the biggest headaches facing companies in crisis. Within minutes, the whole world can know – and be making comments – about your crisis. Use this to your advantage and be proactive in communicating with your customers – answer their concerns and provide information. It’s also a great tool to gauge public reaction to a situation.
Be honest No matter how many bad examples of crisis management you read, many businesses still insist on learning the hard way. A network of smoke, mirrors and untruths will be discovered and you will end up with egg on your face and your reputation in tatters. Combat this by being as honest as you can with your customers and taking responsibility – they will respect you for it.
Don’t hide Another mistake many companies make is falling into a black hole the second a crisis hits. Make sure to keep communicating – even if nothing has changed – and be proactive.
Monitor public opinion Make sure to keep on top of public opinion – social media is a great tool here – and respond accordingly. This will help you to evolve your crisis communications plan as the situation develops.
Learn & improve Once the dust has settled, get your crisis team together and evaluate your response. What worked well? What didn’t? What could you do better? Make sure to update your plan.
Do you have any other tips to share about managing a crisis or issue? Let us know by posting a comment.
Studying advertising and marketing at university got me interested in the communication between businesses and consumers, and I was interested in interning with Lava because I didn’t have any prior experience in marketing. I particularly enjoy writing, researching and anything creative, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Back in 2013, we wrote a series of articles for The Lincolnite looking at measuring marketing activity and return on investment. We also had a look at evaluating digital campaigns. How have things changed?
After recently writing a post about PR evaluation and the death of Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE), it got me thinking about measuring success for wider marketing campaigns.
In such a creative industry, planning and measurement is often pushed to the bottom of the pile, while actually doing is seen as a much more attractive role.
I like to think that planning and measurement are part of a journey. If you don’t know where you are, how do you know where you’re going? If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?
It sounds simple, but without planning campaigns and evaluating their outcomes, it’s virtually impossible to measure if your work was successful or not.
Most people think of planning and analysis as a boring, costly and long-winded, often giving the task to juniors or outsourcing it to specialists. However, measurement doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. In fact, there are a wide range of cheap or free methods that can be easily implemented and used in campaign measurement.
I’ve put together the following five ways to evaluate your marketing campaigns, to help make sure that you meet your objectives and exceed expectations.
Tracking your digital campaigns
With over 80% of the population connected to the internet, no marketing campaign can be complete without the use of social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and blogging. Tools like Google Analytics let you measure sales and conversions, giving you insights into how visitors use your site, where they enter and where they leave. The tool is completely free, easy to use and allows you to track the success of your online activity.
Tracking your advertising campaigns Although adverts reach a large audience and therefore can often be difficult to measure, by planning it is possible to evaluate their success.
Why not add a unique URL, unique reference number or QR code to your advert. This way, you can directly track responses and customer feedback.
Tracking your public relations campaigns Most people still use advertising value equivalent (AVE) to measure the success of PR campaigns, but thinking outside the box can help to provide more accurate feedback.
Look at the reach and circulation of your key messages, as well as the positivity of reporting. This can highlight how many people received your message and simple sales analysis can highlight how many acted upon it.
Measuring the success of your events Although measuring footfall is the standard evaluation technique used in events management, it doesn’t highlight if your event was successful or not.
Try introducing a questionnaire and asking attendees to fill it out. By doing this, you can collect genuine feedback and gather other useful market research information.
Tracking your sales promotion campaigns Sales promotion is a great way of increasing sales. Why not add a unique code or voucher system to your promotion? This way, you can track exactly how many customers purchased from you as a result of the promotion, helping you to plan future campaigns.
By taking time to measure the effects of your marketing, you can easily test the effectiveness of your work. It can also help inform your next move and future campaigns.
It was work experience week at Branston Community Academy in Lincoln, and we had the honour of welcoming a funny and talented young lad to the office throughout the week.
His name was Oliver Jackson, and here’s what he had to say about his week working with Lava:
I really enjoyed my week at Lava. From the second I walked in the door, I felt welcomed by all the staff.
I was thoroughly taken through all the safety precautions and felt safe throughout the whole week. I have always been a PC person, however, I learned the basics of an iMac in the first day due to the support the company offers.
Also, I am into photography, so Lava dedicated a day in which I could take pictures of products Lava had made. I had never done this before, so I was taken through how to compose the images to a professional level. I really enjoyed taking the photographs because I enjoy photography.
I also learned how to use the hole punching and binding machine to make company credentials, which are used to send to businesses that might be interested in working with Lava.
Finally, I also did research into the Balcan Bell and found some ways to advertise it, then I put my presentation skills into place by collating my ideas into a Powerpoint that I presented to the office. I have had a really good time at Lava, and it has inspired me to work hard and communicate in a working environment to achieve the best I possibly can.
As marketing communications specialists, we’re tasked with raising awareness of our clients’ products and services. Public relations activity, therefore, features heavily in the majority of our campaigns.
Reaching the right people at the right time with a targeted message is key, and we believe a media campaign can be the perfect way to increase brand awareness, engage audiences and build great relationships.
Whether it’s announcing the latest company news, launching a brand new product or revealing an innovative programme, keeping front of mind and reaching out to customers is all down to great media coverage.
People often ask me the secret to publicity and PR – how to take a press release and encourage top news outlets to feature the content.
The answer is simple – the perfect PR phone pitch.
Long gone are the days of emailing a press release to hundreds of reporters in a vague effort to achieve a few small news stories. Instead, you need a surefire way to get your news noticed and your company remembered.
To give you a helping hand, here’s some top tips to making the perfect PR pitch:
Cut the small talk It’s no surprise that the typical reporter receives hundreds of PR phone calls every day. Unfortunately there’s a limit on how many times they can discuss the weather without collapsing into boredom – so keep your call concise and clear.
If you can, be sure to get the key facts across in the first 15 seconds – most importantly the who, what, where, when, why and how.
If a journalist is interested in your story, they’ll have made a decision almost straightaway. Follow this up with a well-written press release and you’re on the right track to great media coverage.
Keep it simple, stupid! Although you may be an expert on your company, product or service, don’t expect a journalist to share the same specialist knowledge.
Just as you would write a press release, keep your pitch simple. A long speech about the latest technology or technical specifications is more likely to confuse and deter, rather than engage and entice.
Stick to the basics and focus on the benefits so that you engage with reporters, increasing the chance of seeing your news printed.
Believe in your story There’s nothing worse than talking to a salesperson who doesn’t have any passion for their product, and it’s the same with PR – if you don’t believe in your story, neither will an editor.
However, if you show interest, enthusiasm and can demonstrate how relevant your story or idea is for readers, you’re more likely to find yourself featured in the press.
Timing With more and more publications moving to a weekly, quarterly or annual print basis, it’s becoming ever more important to pick the perfect time to pitch.
Research the publications you want to target and know their deadlines. If the outlet goes to print on a Thursday, pitching a front-page splash on Wednesday afternoon is unlikely to be worth your while.
Planning is key, so don’t leave it to the last minute.
Don’t fall at the last hurdle Even if you have the perfect pitch, a sloppy email or press release can be the difference between a lead story and missing out on being featured.
Grammar, spelling and syntax are essential. Proof your release, take time to send a follow-up email and make sure the publication has everything needed for a story to go to print.
This post was originally written for The Lincolnite news website in 2013 but it’s still all relevant to today.
Despite sustained economic growth during the first and second quarters of 2013, businesses nationwide are still faced with challenging market conditions.
In fact, with few companies reporting notable share price rises, minimal consumer spending figures and high lending charges across the UK, it seems that we have significant distance to go before reaching dry ground.
With this in mind, more and more businesses are looking towards marketing initiatives to maintain income and stay afloat. In particular, focus is being driven towards a customer-relations approach.
Although a simple principle, keeping your customers front of mind is essential to long-term business success. Long gone are the days of asymmetric communication, identifying quick leads and hard selling. Instead, focus must shift towards listening to your customers, reacting to their changing requirements, building trust and developing relationships.
Listening, however, is something often overshadowed by sales targets, promotional strategies and finance plans. But with daily reports of business bankruptcy, liquidation and administration, can you really afford not to?
Retaining Customers There is no straightforward equation to ensure a high customer retention rate. This said, we do know that trust, confidence and self-association are all key to building emotional bonds.
Although this sounds complex, building and retaining trust is relatively simple. In fact, it should come naturally from good business practice.
Monitoring market trends and requirements, creating new and improved products and rectifying poor customer experiences is key, and, what’s more, there are a number of marketing tools that allow you to do this easily.
Here’s some of the most popular examples to get you started:
Social Media From Facebook and Twitter to YouTube, Pinterest and blogging, social media gives a direct communications channel to engage with stakeholders, interact directly, respond to queries and monitor feedback.
Free to set up, simple to run and easy to manage, social media is one of the most effective relationship management tools.
Digital Marketing With over 85% of the population online, 74% using email and nearly 35% owning a tablet device*, digital marketing techniques, such as infographics and e-newsletters, can provide a great way to stay in contact and build relationships.
Personalised, targeted and cost-effective, e-newsletters are a great way to keep front of mind, tell customers about the latest news and views, as well as ask for feedback. Cloud-based software, such as Mailchimp and Bronto, can distribute information free of charge, as well as provide open and click-through reports – giving useful data capture information.
Direct Mail Developing relationships, building confidence and engaging customers relies on consistent impact and repetition.
Although historically used to advertise, direct mail is a great engagement tool. You can let customers know about the latest products, provide discount offers, give them something for nothing and easily keep front of mind.
Low cost and powerful, direct mail is still the most widely used marketing tool and a great tactic to build relationships.
Rewards Something as simple as saying thank you can help to retain custom. From loyalty cards and vouchers to repeat purchase rewards, events and priority services, delivering a personal approach and ensuring each customer is considered a valued individual can develop strong bonds.
This can even be integrated with social media, digital marketing, direct mail and other marketing tools to ensure increase influence and ensure communications efficiency.
Although just a few ideas of customer relations tactics, the tactics above give insight into the importance of listening, rewarding, responding and actioning.