Why organisations need a functional communications arm
SEE ALSO :PR firm makes changes at top leadershipThat’s why I always advise that some of these issues can be avoided when organisations allow their communication managers to sit in some of the boardroom meetings. When an organisation makes a communication manager part of its ExCo and Boardrooms meetings then you allow a voice of reason to be within the room to save the day. It is important to note that communication managers or agency executives are not branding or banner caretakers. They need to be at the same table with their executives to illuminate reason where it is not. At the same time, after mapping out your issues, it is important for the communication manager to craft a plan or strategy on how to deal with certain issues when they erupt. The issues could unfold internally or externally. Therefore, having a crisis plan that covers both scenarios is very important not just a feel good thing. Once the plan is done, it is not to be printed, filed and left to gather dust in drawers. This is a guided document that is used internally to track and monitor issues that may erupt and how they can be curated or managed before they get out of hand. Have a short term and a long term crisis strategy as a communication manager or agency. This will help you cushion yourself from any potential media attacks or crisis. It is important for listed organisations to be transparent and honest about their dealings. A communication manager or agency is not a magician. It is important to also clean house and ensure that what efforts are being placed out there to protect the external image of an organisation are fruitful. Notably, the most frustrating thing for a communication manager or agency is when the internal issues bedeviling the organisation are more operational and you are expected to do magic and control the media from exposing them. A Management or Board of an organisation should always put its house in order to ensure that communication efforts being applied to mitigate a situation have a progressive tangent to saving the face of the company. As I conclude, communication experts must also cultivate a good relationship with the media to ensure that they protect the image of the organization in case of crisis. The relationship I envisage is not about compromising the media to ensure bad stories die but ensuring that the media is furnished with facts to avoid any speculation. I have seen organisations who do not or delay to respond to issues that are raised about them in the media and assume they will die a natural death. That sometimes is a wishful thinking because this is usually a developing story and like a ravaging fire, it only becomes stronger when it is not properly quelled. I therefore advocate for organisations to respond to their issues in a more honest manner. That is what will kill a bad publicity when you respond accordingly and with facts rather than sweep issues under the carpet and expect a miracle. I would recommend that If need be walk into a media house and have a candid discussion with respective editors. It is also important to constantly brief the media of the organisation’s progress about an ongoing issue to avoid speculation. It can be through a press briefing or a press statement. Silence is a killer tsunami and it is expensive in the long run. It is like the proverbial “no comment” phrase that most organisation’s spokespersons use when confronted by the press to provide insights or information on a crisis. As a Board or Management, don’t entertain a docile or sleeping communication manager or agency. If they are not proactive in ensuring that issues are resolved, fire them. Dead weight is expensive and costly to an organisation trying to protect or guard its image. But as an agency, if the client is not being transparent about the issues bedeviling them and they are not allowing you to prescribe solutions, it will be counterproductive to work for such a client. It is effort applied in futility. As an organisation be vigilant, proactive and responsive to issues affecting your organisation. Don’t wait to seal your leaking roof on a rainy day but seal it on a sunny day. The author (above) is the founder and Managing Director for Alexander PR and Communication Network
Register to advertise your products & services on our classifieds website Digger.co.ke and enjoy one month subscription free of charge and 3 free ads on the Standard newspaper.