But there's a dark side to opening up the communication channels to everyone: it brings the "trolls" out of the woodwork, and allows them to do all kinds of malicious damage to individuals and brands

Planning for a crisis

By Monica Braganca, Account Director

Crisis communications is often only prioritised during an actual crisis. Most crises scenarios play out as follows, something unexpected happens, media person gets a hold of the story and contacts client, client has panic attack and asks that media person contacts PR agency, and PR agency then tries to make heads and tails of a situation and find the best route forward to best protect client’s name, brand and reputation.

These little surprises that turn everyone’s world upside down for a moment can be avoided or minimised to some degree with advance preparation.

For those communicators not doing this already, crisis communications should be a firm fixture on all client status reports, strategies and plans. Creating a solid platform from which to work from means clients are committed and involved from the very beginning, there is ongoing scenario planning and a bank filled with already drafted holding statements and Q&As ready to be used when needed. To take the preparation one step further, the communications and exec teams should be media trained on a continuous basis.

One of my mentors and close-friend always used the analogy of a piggy bank, which I loved for its simplicity. During a crisis we cannot afford to crack the piggy bank and expect to have everything there for us ready to use, it requires preparation ahead of time and ongoing deposits, so that when a crisis does come about and you have to crack the bank, you have everything you need in hand best manage the situation.

Pictorial PR strategies

By Lucinda Boddy

In the past, it was accepted that the best medium for distributing compelling content was some form of written communication, but public relations experts are quickly catching on to the fact that visual communication is often a more powerful way of informing, educating and persuading individuals.

Audiences are quicker to relate to pictures than words and our mobile generation often requires the immediacy of an image. This is reflected in recent research conducted by 3M, which shows that human beings process visuals 66,000 times faster than text and more than 65% of people are visual learners – compelling statistics to say the least.

PR and visual messaging have previously been regarded as completely separate aspects of a brand’s strategy, but PR needs to evolve into the principal driver of a brand’s visual development. There’s a reason why data visualisation has become so popular in the business environment. Google, for instance, has established that people are far more likely to click on links that are accompanied by images they trust, which has led to the success of their personalised searches.

Increasing use of infographics

The rising influence of visual communication is further evidenced by the increasing use of infographics as well as the popularity of social media sites such as Pinterest and applications such as Instagram, which enable users to upload, share and edit images.

How can PR strategy harness the power of visual communication? Storytelling has always been the most important element of PR – and that will never change – the story is simply going to become a lot more visual. Whether it’s through graphics that accompany presentations, cartoons, illustrations or graphic recording, expect to see a great deal more visual representation in brand communications.

The nature of critical business meetings, pitches, and traditional and social media strategies are starting to adapt as infographics are used to engage viewers and help them to assimilate more complicated information, by tapping into their emotional and cognitive responses to images that appeal to them

As visual communication becomes an increasingly important aspect of PR strategy, one thing is for certain, the story is about to get a whole lot more pictorial.

This article originally appeared on bizcommunity

Internal communications more critical than ever

Happy staff makes happy customers.

 As employees and their behavior are at the center of business success (or failure), employee engagement is, more than ever, critical in every company.

The right customer experience is through your staff. Engaged employees deliver better performance, which is critical for business success. They understand their role in the business strategy, have a strong connection and commitment to the company, are more involved, and strive to go above and beyond in their jobs.

Says Ingrid Lotze,  Johannesburg MD of marcusbrewster “We spend lots and lots of time considering our brand messaging, and we even spend a lot of time teaching our brand stewards (our front line employees, in particular) how to message our brand. But how much time do we spend ensuring our employees have the tools and the environment they need to effectively deliver our brand promises (as well as the actual desire to deliver the brand promises)?”

Over the past 3 months marcusbrewster has worked hard at morphing the business to offer a more holistic service which includes managed communication services on all levels.  “This includes that we maximize our internal communication more than ever, ensuring that each staff members maximum potential is reached with a unequalled job satisfaction” says Lotze.

According to Lotze you can’t expect business success without investing in you employees and listening to their needs. “Ensuring that employees invest effort in the right behaviors will be critical in delivering the business results needed in conditions of recession, stagnation, or rapid growth.”

“For this to happen a strong company culture with service as a value needs to be developed and nurtured through a proactive and strategically thought through internal communications program.”

Employees shape the experience a customer has with your company each time they have contact, making employees the most memorable voice of your brand as they constitute the actual brand experience.  It’s people who ultimately deliver your brand promise.  It does not make a difference what you tell your customers about your brand if those who actually encounter the customer don’t deliver the values consistently.

“Case stud­ies and com­pany pro­files repeat­edly show that for employ­ees to pro­vide not just good cus­tomer service—but great cus­tomer service—they must first be dri­ven by loy­alty and enthu­si­asm from their employer.”

“In other words, you can’t force devo­tion or com­mit­ment on your employ­ees, but you can fos­ter it by cre­at­ing a cul­ture that invites pride and own­er­ship in the job and company. Internal communications is the key to fostering success in this drive.”

When managers communicate effectively business outcomes improve. It also has an impact on employee behavior. Each business has its own unique needs and culture.  “Firms that communicate effectively are four times more likely to report high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction. Top performing companies treat communication as a key business driver” says Lotze.

The bottom line is that employee engagement matters—now more than ever.

Playing the Social Media Game – You’ve got to be in it
to win it

By Jeanri-Tine van Zyl, Senior Account Manager

Let 2012 be known as the year the communications industry (read PR) in South Africa finally woke to the potential of social media – and may 2013 bring with it more innovation in the way we incorporate it into our client service package. Developing and delivering a social media campaign is as much about strategic insight as it is about sociology.  A successful seeding campaign is a

Public Relations

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So excited to have @ChazMailula in our JHB office. We look forward to great things coming from this rising star: ow.ly/niM8x

About 5 years ago from Marcus Brewster's Twitter via HootSuite