PRWeek’s Crisis Communications conference explored an incredibly turbulent year, with the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant social restrictions drastically altering the way that consumers can interact with brands.
Crisis Communications brought PR and comms professionals together to examine the stories behind the most talked-about crises of the past year and gave delegates the unique ability to live through front-line experiences.
Here are five key learnings from our team:
The last year has taught brands and corporates that the business landscape can change dramatically on the back of a hairpin with new restrictions and regulations being imposed on entire industries by governments around the world. COVID-19 has shown brands that the need to be as prepared as possible for crises is imperative and the speed at which we need to react with open and honest communications is a real factor in preserving trust with consumers and key stakeholders. It is no longer about assessing a crisis and reacting but being prepared ahead of time with a team in place who have the expertise and experience to guide CEOs and boards through choppy waters.
Technology to assess the impact
An integrated crisis and issues communications strategy has never been more important for those looking to preserve and build corporate reputation and technology have improved immeasurably in being able to assess the impact of consumer sentiment and the reaction to news stories. Measuring the impact online, alongside competitor analysis through real-time social listening technology can help inform decisions at the board level and keep comms teams one step ahead of the competition.
Building corporate reputation
One of the key learnings that were discussed amongst all those communications professionals who attended the PR week crisis communications conference was the need for brands to build their own corporate identity and reputation before any crisis strikes. If you already have a business story that is underpinned by ethics, corporate responsibility, and being an employer that cares in the community, then when a crisis or change does occur, the business can communicate from a solid position of trust both internally and externally. Good relationships with newspapers and broadcasters are key to navigating those times of turbulence that can and do occur.
Engage in the conversation
COP26 is on the horizon with world leaders once again coming to the U.K to discuss climate change and policy shifts. Pledges will be put in place by governments around the world in reaction to what is agreed. Climate change and engaging in a space that shows a brand’s green credentials (or establishes them in the first place) will become increasingly important. If you are a business that simply disregards the changes happening around us globally then you will simply be left behind in industries that are increasingly considering these policies and pushing forward with these changes. There is a chance to engage in the conversation for brands which shouldn’t be ignored.
Corporate cancel culture
The use of social media to communicate with your audience isn’t new but as the platforms develop and user engagement changes, so too does the way in which corporations and their employees use them and how to determine your tone of voice and content becomes more important. Cancel culture and criticism across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is now a challenge that needs to be navigated, and having a team on board who can communicate clearly and understands each social media platform has never been more important to a brand’s reputation and health.
If you’d like to speak to one of our specialist PR experts on how to build your brand’s reputation and engagement, get in touch today.