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.