Combating Crisis – Why Response Protocols Must Be Put In Place

Crisis management is one of the major services that Public Relations consultancies can offer to companies and entities. A crisis can erode at the public perception of a firm or person and transform a positive image into a negative one. They could come in the form of anything – a technical breakdown, quality control failure, unsatisfactory customer experiences or reports of unethical practices. In order to combat potential crises effectively, it is necessary to plan and establish response protocols. Here’s why:

To appear to be in charge of the crisis:

The way a firm or entity responds to crises can make or break their ability to bounce back after one. Crisis communication needs to be given due care and diligence. How you respond and what you respond is often the only thing that is actually remembered in the long run. Hence, you should have a strong crisis communication strategy in place. Your communication needs to convey empathy and honesty, detail a plan of action and put the crisis in the context of the larger industry. At the same time, it is necessary that all communication presents a cohesive front. When you have your response protocols in place, you can ensure that there are strict guidelines to be followed when there is a crisis. For example, you can stipulate that all formal and media communication is only sent out after careful deliberation and vetting by you, that employees and other stakeholders are sent out missives the moment a crisis hits detailing the firm’s official stand, etc. When a proper order of things to be done during a crisis is set, it greatly offsets the panic that the crisis brings with it. Everyone knows what to do and the firm or entity can appear to be in charge of the crisis in the public eye.

To actually be in charge of the crisis:

While appearing to be in charge is always essential, the need of the hour during a crisis is of course to actually be in charge of it. Crises need to be controlled in the best way possible, and as a PR consultancy, you need to be the one in control. Having response protocols in place allows you to do just that. Protocols are basically plans of action and when everyone is aware of what they should be doing in an emergency, you remove the risk of thoughtless words and actions. Your crisis communication plan isn’t so much about ‘what you say’ – this will differ from crisis to crisis anyway – but about how it is said, who is contacted, when it should be said. In our internet-driven age in fact, response protocols help immeasurably. Let’s say for example that you represent a chain of hotels and a customer leaves a bad review of one particular establishment. In fact, being zealous in their unhappiness, they’ve left bad reviews on a number of different review sites. The first human impulse is to forgo all crisis communication training, defend the hotel, make justifications about why the service or amenities were found to be lacking. But if your response protocol demands that you first speak to the manager of the establishment, get to the root of the problem, collect details about that guest’s stay and only then respond, your message tone and content automatically becomes more mature and informed. In fact, you may even be able to solve the problem completely. You will also know exactly what you can offer as compensation in advance. Your entire approach to the crisis can now be cool and collected, instead of impulsive and personal.

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10 Surefire Ways to Add Sizzle to Your Brochures

Businesses rely on brochures as their front line in communicating their products or services. Yet according to Shannon Cherry, APR, many find them not as successful because they underestimate the skills and resources necessary to publish attractive and effective materials.

“Most people forget a brochure is important because it represents you to the world and reflects your image,” says Cherry, president of Cherry Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that helps businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations be heard.

“But the best brochures do more than impress,” she says. “Effective copy and design can intrigue, inform, convince and capture customer business just as an effective salesperson does. Brochure effectiveness is linked to an audience-appropriate marketing strategy that drives the design process.”

Cherry shares the following top ten list of hints can help your brochure put its best foot forward:

1. Keep headlines short. According to studies, headlines with fewer than ten words get more readership.

2. Focus your headline on your target audience. Show a picture of your target group and make sure the headline has the groups description in it. For example: If you are targeting moms, uses a headline like, “Moms Know Best.”

3. Keep text lines at a comfortable length. Body copy lines should never be shorter than the font size or longer than double the font size.

4. Keep paragraphs – especially lead paragraphs – short. Perhaps even one sentence.

5. Use graphical dingbats including bullets, hyphens, and asterisks, to break up text.

6. Use captions to draw the reader in. Next to the cover, captions are the most read items in a brochure.

7. Set captions in a different style.

8. Avoid typographic overkill by using too many CAPS, italics and bolds.

9. Stick to no more than three different fonts in a brochure.

10. If you use photos with people in them, make sure their heads are at least the size of a dime.

The Son of A Rat Catcher

Uganda is a country that was referred to as “The Pearl of Africa” by Sir Winston Churchill in 1907 during his travel tours in Uganda. The country has gone through many tremendous changes in economic, social and political spheres of life. Uganda offers an experience that is as varied ranging from colonial British colonial rule, dictatorial regimes, and a wide range of civil wars as well as modern democracy. What you see and experience are only limited by your imagination and sense of adventure. Jenkins Kiwanuka is one of the people who have witnessed these changing situations in the country. In his book titled “The Son of A rat Catcher”, he does share his memoirs – memoirs of one of Uganda’s exceptionally talented journalists who turned himself into a remarkable public relations officer and diplomat in Uganda’s Foreign Service. A man with no full formal education, this ‘son of a rat catcher’ presents to us a story of great determination, hard work and self-confidence, thereby fulfilling the advertiser’s remark that ‘when you follow your passion, success follows you. In his words, Prof. Samwiri Lwanga-Lunyiigo, describes these as memoirs of ‘a tailor, carpenter, builder, clerk, journalist, politician, public relations practitioner, diplomat and business executive’. “It’s that versatility,” says the Professor, “that enabled Kiwanuka to seize.

Son of a Rat Catcher, although relatively small, is just about everything in life. There are so many things to read and wonder about: Kiwanuka’s very humble beginnings; how he missed out on higher education; how he rose from working (as a clerk) in the King’s African Rifles to journalism, foreign service, journalism again, then business as an executive and progress from that phase to his present working life as a newspaper columnist and author.

Whom didn’t he meet and where didn’t he visit in his long service in both public and private services? He rubbed shoulders (literally) with such figures as Prime Ministers Harold Wilson of Britain, Holyoake of New Zealand and Indira Gandhi of India (who served him a glass of water when he dozed off in a conference), Pope John Paul II (now a Saint), Sir Andrew Cohen (a former Governor of Uganda whom he gave a lift in his car), Chairman Mao Tse Tung of China and many others.

As for his foreign service exploits, apart from serving at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at home, he served at our missions in London, Washington D.C., New York, Ottawa, Bonn and the Vatican. He wrote tributes to a host of people who have passed on and those of Pope John Paul II, Abubakar Mayanja, Daudi Taliwaku, Dan Zirimenya and James Namakajjo form part of the book.

Kiwanuka ends his book with 20 ‘Reflections,’ which are fascinating to read. In fact, if there is a section of the memoirs the reader should re-read, this is surely the one. There are lots of lessons to learn from these memoirs, the outstanding one being that if you have passion for your life and determination and self-confidence, the blue sky is your limit.

This is an extraordinary story of an extraordinary life told by a man with an extraordinary pen at his disposal. I have read many memoirs in my life, but these are among the best I have come across.