In 2017, more and more people are heading to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook for their daily news. This is making it increasingly difficult to earn the attention of an audience if you have something to say in more than 140 characters. Here lies the tension – among all the snappy headlines, is there still a place for information rich reporting?
Our corporate PR client ME released its 11th bi-annual Household Financial Comfort Report as a way of providing individuals with in-depth insights into the financial situation of fellow Australians. The 48-page report gauges the impact of the economy on household financial comfort, using the results collected from 1,500 Aussie households as evidence of their findings.
Keep Left’s corporate PR team set out to communicate the golden messages from the report to national media outlets; highlighting ME’s focal insights into the clear divide between rich and poor widening and income cuts and employment woes hurting financial comfort of Australian households.
Years of experience has taught our team the key to communicating complexity. Rather than dumbing down valuable research, we aim to create palatable insights for reporters allowing them to take the information and run with it.
The results? 600 pieces of coverage across Australia.
With coverage achieved across print, radio, television and online; our team secured many features including:
Fairfax: The Age, SMH and online syndications
Newscorp: Herald Sun and online syndications
A Current Affair
ABC: News 24, online news, The World Today radio show
Over 43 million eyeballs saw the insights produced in ME’s Household Financial Comfort Report, reaffirming our knowledge that honest insights and well communicated news is never out of fashion.
Even if you don’t have much experience in issues and crisis management, you’re probably still familiar with the basic steps involved in issues preparedness. It goes something like this: map out the possible scenarios, decide a sensible action plan for each, draft a Q&A, have a set of key messages, train your spokespeople and continuously monitor your key stakeholders and what’s happening in the media landscape in case you need to respond.
But even if you’ve followed all the rules, you have a Q&A document the size of a novel and know your key messages back to front, the reality is, when an issue arises, it still sends you into a short-term frenzy.
But why? It’s not through any fault of your own, planning helps, but each issue is different and will require a unique response.
Murphy’s law says the day an issue hits your subject matter expert is going to be on holiday, you need to find up-to-date proof points and source the answer to a really niche question that has never been posed before. And not only that, you are so busy fielding calls from media and monitoring the flood of comments on social media, that you have no time to craft a well thought through response. That’s the short term frenzy.
Then comes the ‘quick-fix’ stage – you’ve noticed a whole bunch of media coverage and tweets with factually incorrect information – you’ll need to fix this as well as proactively communicate the messages you want to get across.
It won’t be long before you regain control, in most cases this is all just a couple of hours of intense work for you and your team. But what if you could reduce this little frenzy altogether?
For those operating in issues-rich environments, the answer lies in long-term thinking.
One of our clients operates as a regulator in the forestry sector, an incredibly sensitive area ranging from the obvious environmental and ecological issues through to social and economic debates about the future of forest management and impact on our communities.
Before we began a corporate PR program for the client – involving a sustained proactive press office function – they would often get numerous passing mentions in negatively skewed stories and frequently found themselves correcting mistakes. As they’re also a complex organisation the media understandably struggled to correctly articulate the role they play.
With key messages in hand we set out on an education campaign putting the CEO in front of media, as well as third party government and not for profit influencers, to brief them on the organisation’s aim. We weren’t necessarily pitching stories, but when a stakeholder did get asked by a journalist to comment on the role of our client, or the media referenced them in articles, we had more confidence they’d get the message right. This is a long-term strategy and still an ongoing part of our program as forestry issues become more prevalent.
After just a few months the strategy started paying off – key messages were appearing left right and centre and influencers even started delivering messages for us. There were rarely factual errors and the stories became balanced.
Alongside the education campaign we also ran some proactive communications streams, focusing on the outcomes the organisation was seeking to achieve for the industry. None of this is rocket-science, but the point I’m trying to make is that many organisations treat issues as one-off occurrences rather than a long-term challenge.
While I agree scenario planning is important, what’s actually more essential is having clear key messages about the organisation and a proactive communications plan to deliver these. But most importantly – ensure you’re regularly educating key stakeholders and media on your organisation’s strategy.
At least when an issue fires up you can be sure you won’t need any quick-fixes, the media are less likely to flood your inbox because they‘re already informed and you’ll have an army of third party influencers delivering your messages for you.