May 27, 2016In Crisis on
When a crisis hits your organization, with whom do you communicate? How? When? Being proactive with your audiences, before an issue becomes public, will help build trust, create goodwill and, most importantly, articulate clear messages about the issue of the day. In the heat of a crisis, you can leverage and build upon that goodwill by directly communicating with your stakeholders, rather than waiting for them to hear about whatever it is through other external channels.
It can be challenging to manage all the moving parts. Communications materials need to be developed and countless planning and strategy meetings are taking place. It’s critical not to overlook the importance of communicating directly with the organization’s key internal and external audiences. Direct communications allow for a measure of control—over both content and timing—and can provide a truly authentic avenue for accurate information.
Every organization has ambassadors—those that are on the front lines in terms of receiving and conveying messages, whether officially or informally. They need to be armed with the right messages and appropriate level of details. Depending on the organization, ambassadors can be employees, students, board members, customers, investors, business partners, parents, alumni and donors. They need to be considered, prioritized and communicated with, and not necessarily at the same time or through the same channels. Being proactive could bolster their support in weathering the situation at hand. They could be references for the media and advocates on social media, helping to tamp down any criticisms.
Control the Message
An organization can and should control the message to its key stakeholders and audiences, rather than have the media tell the story for them. If, for example, an employee learns about a crisis online or through the media for the first time, it’s most likely that employees will feel blindsided and have questions and a certain level of frustration around a lack of communications from the organization. Transparency and openness in communications have become the expectation, and silence from the corner office is counterproductive to those tenets.
Messages should be simple, relevant to the specific audiences and easy to remember, especially as they will undoubtedly be shared more broadly, through conversations and social media, after they’ve been distributed to stakeholders.
There are so many avenues for communicating, and it can be tough to determine which to take. A multi-pronged approach is usually the most appropriate. For instance, email may be the quickest, most effective channel, but there may be stakeholders who are not easily reached that way and might require a mailed letter. There might also be an existing newsletter, blog post or regular meeting to leverage—so that the message comes within an anticipated and “normal” vehicle. Town hall-type meetings, robo-calls, video messages, website updates and social media posts are additional options to consider depending on the severity of the situation and the organization’s structure and culture. Some stakeholders are important enough that they should receive individual phone calls alerting them to the situation.
The ultimate goals for crisis communications are protecting an organization’s reputation and managing risk. By proactively communicating with key audiences in real time, organizations can effectively reach these goals and further advance relationships with all constituents.
In addition to designing and implementing innovative PR programs for clients, The Castle Group, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, has extensive experience leading high-profile, high-stakes crises around litigation, sexual assault and misconduct/Title IX, workplace violence, data breaches, discrimination claims, financial and regulatory issues, leadership transitions and other issues that create daily PR challenges. Our crisis, PR and events management expertise is deep on both the consumer and B2B channels and our clients are local, national and international.
We can discuss your crisis communications and planning needs. Sandy Lish, principal and founder, firstname.lastname@example.org. The Castle Group is a proud sponsor of PRXNE. Castle leverages its Boston connections and global reach to create communications strategies that deliver business results, with an emphasis on PR, events management, crisis communications and digital. www.thecastlegrp.com.
March 7, 2016
This month, PRSA Boston’s theme has been cause and marketing partnerships, and if anyone knows about the B2B sponsorship game in Boston it’s HubSpot. The company’s annual event, “INBOUND,” is one of the most anticipated motivational and educational experiences in the city, drawing over 14,000 attendees in 2015.
We interviewed Nathaniel Eberle, (@ThanEberle) director of PR and brand at HubSpot, who for over his 18 year career, has built and executed publicity and digital media programs for emerging technology companies and global brands. Before arriving at his current position at HubSpot in early 2015, he worked for Weber Shandwick, Tufts University and Racepoint Group.
1. How do you keep up-to-date with what’s new in the sponsorship industry?
When we look at what’s going on in the industry, we pay close attention to the biggest events, and specifically how companies use those opportunities to really break the mold and provide a top-notch, memorable attendee experience. We love seeing brands that take chances with their sponsorships, because it provides great inspiration to us when we go to tailor experiences of our own, whether through sponsorships or through our own hosted events.
2. Tell us about an important trend you think will impact the corporate sponsorship market this year.
I think we will continue to see the rise of creativity. While opportunities like branded wifi, goodie bags, and logo’d banners will never disappear, attendees don’t really derive much value from these in relation to the sponsoring company. They’ve become ubiquitous among a sea of sponsors. Brands will start to see some real return on their dollars when they aim to “wow” attendees with unique experiences that add serious value to the event and add surround-sound experiences through social media. Even though it takes some extra brainpower (and maybe a little extra dough) to create a tailored sponsorship, the return will be much higher for meaningful and memorable experiences than for an otherwise standard sponsorship.
3. What factors are most important to you when weighing decisions about who to sponsor?
When we’re deciding whether or not to sponsor an event we take a close look at what our dollars are affecting and how big an effect they will have. Partnerships with our technology partners or agencies are often mutually beneficial because of the large area of overlap in our goals, and can be especially valuable when they’re in our hometown (or the home region of another HubSpot office). For example, we recently sponsored a Startup Pitch-off event by TechCrunch here in Boston, featuring the launch for our new program, HubSpot for Startups. Because many attendees were from startups themselves, they were able to get a ton of value from our presence, and on the flip side, HubSpot’s new program got some valuable face time in front of its target demographic.
One exception to the above is in regions where trade shows are THE place to convene and do business. A great example is the upcoming DMEXCO event in Germany — while we tend not to invest in trade shows, for our industry, this particular event is the must-attend (and expected) event in Germany. When we’re deciding whether or not to sponsor an event we take a close look at what our dollars are affecting and how big an effect they will have. Partnerships with our technology partners or agencies are often mutually beneficial because of the large area of overlap in our goals, and can be especially valuable when they’re in our hometown (or the home region of another HubSpot office).
4. How do you know when a sponsorship has been successful (or not) and has been worth the investment? Are there certain metrics you prefer to track?
As we all know, sponsorships can be hard to track because it’s not always about lead generation (which would be easy to measure). Instead, it’s often about building brand awareness or supporting a cause. While we have tools to measure brand awareness overall, drilling down to the marginal return for a specific sponsorship can be difficult or impossible. That’s why we usually look for sponsorship opportunities that are tied to thought leadership (speaking), as it ensures we can get up on the stage, where the impact is one-to-many and much greater than from a booth or table (which is very much one-to-one). It’s much the same when we’re sponsoring an event that supports a cause — we always try to get up onstage and talk about why that cause is important to HubSpot, and really get that messaging across in a meaningful, one-to-many way.
5. What is your “must-attend” conference, trade show, expo, event or meeting of the year?
Naturally, our “must-attend” event is INBOUND, HubSpot’s annual event here in Boston where the inbound movement meets up to learn and grow every year. In 2015, we saw over 14,000 registered attendees, and hosted content ranging from heartfelt with The Malala Fund to hilarious with Amy Schumer. With over 250 sessions and hundreds of hours of content for attendees, it’s our chance to provide a really great opportunity for like-minded brands to showcase their messages – in innovative ways – as sponsors of the event.
Join us on Tuesday, March 15th, as PRSA Boston hosts a webinar training session for corporate brand, marketing and PR managers on how to negotiate and design a corporate sponsorship. It’s free, so register today!
About FAST 5
This is a new feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos
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