Cri­sis?

Finweek English Edition - - ADVERTISING & MARKETING -

guru Richard Tor­ren­zano, was re­layed by Talk2Us di­rec­tor Daniel Mun­slow, spell­ing out some of the lessons he learnt at the an­nual con­fer­ence of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Busi­ness Com­mu­ni­ca­tors in the US.

The cor­po­rate reaction should be dic­tated by ex­ist­ing struc­tures and doc­u­mented pro­ce­dures set up in ad­vance for just such an emer­gency.

Your com­mu­ni­ca­tion must be clear, sim­ple and con­cise. Your staff should be­lieve in your CEO, and you should mea­sure their loy­alty at least ev­ery six months. You should be able to ob­tain all the facts in a cri­sis in 60 min­utes. Be­cause while you’re rum­mag­ing around for the facts, jour­nal­ists are busy call­ing all other an­gles for the story – which they will pub­lish with­out wait­ing for you to fin­ish your trip down mem­ory lane.

Good PR has never been more dearly needed in the cor­po­rate world. Mar­ket­ing-savvy con­sumers are cyn­i­cal and skep­ti­cal of mar­ket­ing claims, sus­pi­cious of big busi­ness and dis­trust­ful of the in­sti­tu­tions they have be­lieved in im­plic­itly for decades.

The main repos­i­to­ries of trust are ex­perts or aca­demics. But the low­est lev­els of trust are in­vested in CEOs (be­cause of cor­rup­tion or fraud) and govern­ment of­fi­cials (cor­rup­tion and in­com­pe­tence). In a “Do – don’t say” world, en­gage­ment is ev­ery­thing. And it pays off, mov­ing earn­ings per share up or down. So make it easy. Ev­ery piece of com­mu­ni­ca­tions should be emo­tional, ap­peal­ing, sim­ple and Youfo­cused.

You’ve got to lis­ten to cus­tomers, put them first, com­mu­ni­cate fre­quently and hon­estly, and t r eat em­ploy­ees well. Run an eth­i­cal busi­ness, de­liver high­qual­ity, in­no­va­tive prod­ucts and do well by do­ing good.

Sim­ple, re­ally. En­tries for the Pen­dor­ing Awards have fallen sharply this year, from 480 last year to 360. But Frenette Klerk, mar­ket­ing man­ager of the awards, says she’s not wor­ried. Last year was the f irst time that the Afrikaans-ori­ented Pen­dor­ings were held un­der the Lo­eries um­brella, and it had a par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive mar­ket­ing cam­paign, she says.

“Al­though en­tries are down, they are still the sec­ond-best we’ve ever had,” she ex­plains. But is it pos­si­ble that the en­try has fallen be­cause of the as­so­ci­a­tion with the Lo­eries mono­lith, which tends to swamp other ac­tiv­i­ties? Again, Klerk thinks not, ar­gu­ing that it po­si­tions the Pen­dor­ings as a sig­nif­i­cant part of the ad­ver­tis­ing main­stream.

But it is clear that, like ev­ery­thing else in mar­ket­ing, the Pen­dor­ings are strug­gling to come to terms with the dig­i­tal era.

They were started nearly 20 years ago as part of a broad-based move­ment to de­fend the Afrikaans lan­guage and cul­ture in a changed po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment. But that de­fen­sive­ness has given way to a more prag­matic mind­set. For one thing, Klerk doesn’t want them de­scribed as “for Afrikaans ad­ver­tis­ing” any more. What they are now “for” is “truly South African” ad­ver­tis­ing.

It’s a small but telling step. In­stead of be­ing iden­tif ied with one pres­sure group, and be­ing pushed into an iso­la­tion­ist po­si­tion, it is now as­so­ci­ated with all in­dige­nous brands and styles.

Wilma de Bruin, who re­signed re­cently af­ter serv­ing on the com­mit­tee since in­cep­tion, says that the Truly South African route is the only re­al­is­tic way ahead for the Pen­dor­ings. Un­for­tu­nately, the Lo­eries are also mov­ing onto this plat­form with their Ubuntu Award. Is there room for both?

Fa­mous for their well-f illed goodie bags and for an awards evening full of fun and en­ter­tain­ment, the Pen­dor­ings now face new pres­sures – for rel­e­vance.

Daniel Mun­slow

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