Southern PR's blog is a multi-author, multi-purpose playground: you'll find news and thoughts on the latest issues affecting the sectors we work in, feature stories, practical communication and savvy social media tips.


Crisis Communications: What to do when your business reputation is on the line

Accidents happen. Incidents happen. Sometimes to the biggest and ‘best’ businesses out there.

But it shouldn’t really matter whether you and your business are ‘big’ or ‘small’.

If you’ve spent years of your hard-earned cash and sacrificed so-called work/life balance to build your business. If your personal reputation and brand is on the line if you’re CEO or GM. If something goes wrong, then why wouldn’t you have planned for that gut-wrenching moment when someone dies, someone lies, or someone lays the blame on you?

Sadly, it seems a fair few businesses adopt the head-in-the-sand approach to crisis communications.

WHY?

Being honest enough to admit that you and your business are not perfect (that business really, truly doesn’t exist) and being prepared before the crisis happens is not that hard.

Yes it costs to call on a communication company for training and in the event of a crisis. But what’s at stake here? The most important thing in your business is your reputation; what you’ve built up over the years is something you should be prepared to protect.

SO, HAVE A CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS PLAN.

If you’re in any kind of business you’ll no doubt have operational plans, rules and regulations coming out of your ears. In, for example, aviation, adventure tourism, or events, the levels of compliance are probably driving you nuts, as you’re constantly having to refresh or re-do the mounds of *online* paperwork or show that you meet the latest standards.

But what’s the point in having all that documentation if it can all be unravelled in a matter of two or three days if you don’t respond appropriately to a crisis?

CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS 101

Southern PR’s Director Fiona Woodham shares her ‘Crisis Comms 101’ top tips to help get you started:

  • Consider all the scenarios (from death, to injury, to your workplace burning down or a staff member going rogue)
  • Think about how, when and why you will communicate clearly and effectively with media, stakeholders, staff and customers
  • Think about how you will communicate with all relevant agencies involved in your incident – these might be police, your industry representatives, Victim Support or even the likes of your local RTO or Tourism New Zealand
  • Consider what your key messages would be around any of the potential incidents that might afflict your business and how and when you would communicate those to ultimately protect your business and achieve a ‘business as usual’ status
  • Review your operational plans in the light of the above scenarios and ask yourself whether you’re comfortable with successfully delivering timely, accurate and targeted crisis communications to all the channels above while you’re in the middle of dealing with the incident itself
  • Contact your PR agency so they can review your plans and assess what levels of training might be required BEFORE you need to put them into action

Accidents happen. Incidents happen. They’re going to happen because no matter how well you think you know your business and the people that work in or on it, human nature comes to the fore. People make mistakes. Things go wrong.

“Say sorry,” says Fiona.

“The company is sorry, the staff are devastated, saying sorry isn’t an admission of guilt. It’s all about reputation and trust, not about pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes.”

Businesses that deal with incidents best, big or small, are inevitably the ones that have planned for the unthinkable and are confident that their systems, processes and training are in place.

Hear more from the Southern PR team on what it takes to prepare for a crisis in our upcoming workshop – Southern PR Presents…Crisis Management 101.

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Is Public Relations Still Relevant?

Public relations has never been more relevant.

In today’s 365/24/7 news cycle, public relations has never been more relevant. The PR landscape has changed, but so has the focus of traditional agencies and in-house PR departments.

Everything you (a business or brand) say and do as a business is PR, whether it’s through traditional media channels, social media, blogger and influencer relations or brand communications.

The core of PR hasn’t changed – PR is about exchanging stories, expressing ideas and sharing conversations. Technology has changed the channels but PR is still about great storytelling, and the future of PR is about creating a ‘shareable’ experience.

We’re living in an ever-changing world of cross-channel integration, blending PR and media relations, social media and digital to successfully deliver campaigns across multiple channels. We’re engaging with our chosen audiences at the right time to inspire consumers to take notice, and take action.

A world of ‘new’ editorial opportunities

We firmly believe the traditional media release still has an important role to play for newsworthy content to reach editors of newspapers, magazines, online channels and bloggers. In fact, it’s one of the most beneficial tools if accompanied with creative visuals or video.

In this day and age, it’s imperative for companies and brands to produce shareworthy visuals to help increase exposure. Media are hungry for newsworthy content and they’re disseminating those visuals or the latest news (and remember the definition of news is ‘new’) through print, online and social media channels to engage their readers in conversation.

We live in a social media-obsessed culture so as part of your campaign strategy it’s essential to think about how your content can be reused or repurposed for different platforms to reach your audience. It’s a bit of an art form, but hey, that’s where PR companies come in!

Social Media Prism-Public relations-Southern PR

[Image: Conversation Prism]

Social media channels provide amazing opportunities to chat daily to customers, share stories and learn about each other, adding that human face to your company. Whether you’re collaborating with today’s public figures, thought leaders, bloggers and influencers or targeting your audience through traditional media channels, there are now more opportunities than ever to successfully tell your story.

The integrated public relations approach – top tip

As an agency, we help our clients get their ‘ducks in a row’ to develop content for each channel that accurately delivers key messages and is consistent with brand vision and values. We often align our campaigns with a ‘four C’s’ approach to ensure every piece of content is best placed to generate the results it deserves.

Coherence – different communications are logically connected

Consistency – multiple messages support and reinforce, and are not contradictory

Continuity – communications are connected and consistent through time

Complementary – synergistic (sum of the parts is greater than the whole)

Have you got a story to tell? We can help develop a PR and marketing strategy that delivers on your business goals, or help your marketing team deliver your next PR campaign. Get in touch today. We’re listening.

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Sharing the Process – A Story About Southern PR’s Re-brand

So, you’re thinking of a company re-brand? Well done, you’ve taken the first step – The Decision.

Here, at our little Southern Public Relations office in Queenstown, we were slowly but surely thinking the same thing.  Even though it was an allegedly monumental task, it was also a story that needed to be told in all its glory and shared with you all.

“What’s the ultimate definition of ‘brand’?” we hear you ask.

A ‘brand’ is one of those words that’s widely used, but not always fully understood. Over time, the word has gone from its more literal meaning of a trademark used to identify a product or service to encompassing everything that identifies as that company, including the relationship it has with its customers or clients.

A brand is a promise a company makes to its customers. It exists only in someone’s mind. It’s everything the public knows about your brand offering – both tangible and intangible.

Because we’re a caring, sharing kind of company, we’ve decided to share our story and process with you. It’s in sections so you can easily digest our entire rebrand story from beginning to ‘Launch Day’ in a nutshell.

 

THE DECISION TO RE-BRAND

The initial decision came out of left field, with the sudden realisation we’d exponentially evolved to a point where our branding didn’t fit anymore – we had outgrown it! Some prevailing questions shaped our focus. There was a digital shift in the industry. Were we growing with it? Could we offer a more robust service to our clients, both current and new? Was our communications outlet a creative space offering where our clients could come for reputable connections and communication support? These were the foundation questions to taking the next step – The Story.

 

THE STORY BEHIND THE COMPANY RE-BRAND

First up, we decided to reflect to the foundations of Southern PR and review the initial inspiration behind the company.

Before diving headfirst into our backstory, we needed to pin down the main protagonist to shape the story around – Southern PR director Fiona Woodham.

Note: We strongly recommend this exercise when telling your brand story as every business has a start-up story, giving it more dimension and becoming shareworthy.

Southern PR was founded with an adventurous spirit and a lofty objective: to offer honest and authentic connections to a curious, yet hungry audience. We’re proud to say that much of the essence of that objective still stands true today.

Most companies start the same way – with a challenge or struggle that needs to be fixed. Fiona had just started working for a brand-new radio station in Queenstown and was constantly receiving bad PR pieces. Fiona knew she could do it better. There were big businesses doing good business happy to use a professional service. Within three months Fiona had kicked all her goals, had all targeted clients locked in, and behold! Southern PR was born.

 

INSPIRATION FOR THE RE-BRAND

We drew our visual inspiration from a blend of different aspects and avenues nationally and internationally. These included emotive and descriptive words that were significant to the team, their perspectives and personalities. Our SPR team plays an extremely important part in how we operate each day and so it was a no-brainer to incorporate everyone’s ideas and tell the world a little bit about ourselves through our new brand. Let’s understand our vibrant and enthralling colours and the meaning behind each:

Pink – Calms and reassures. Pink is supportive, compassionate, nurturing, thoughtful, caring and understanding. Pink is intuitive and insightful.

This is particularly relevant to when companies reach out to us for crisis communications assistance. We’re a trusty source for advice and an authentic safe haven to turn to when things get a little tricky in the business world.

Green – The colour of life. Green is renewal, energy and freshness. Green is balance, harmony & growth.

News must be current otherwise it’s not news. We broadcast your message to the world in a way that’s always fresh and full of energy. We like to think we’re always growing with and helping our clients to grow, so green encompasses all that we do with our public relations services.

Black – Powerful and elegant, yet a bit mysterious. Design-wise, black gives the feeling of perspective and depth.

Now, it’s common to associate this colour with negative emotions and descriptions, but we see black as our solid foundation. Black is our contrasting element of the company, promoting power. A good communications story is powerful.

Stripes – Clean, easy-going, straightforward communications and clear distribution channels.

The stripes represent the clear and pragmatic approach Southern PR has towards any challenge big or small. We needed to capture that somewhere and stripes just seemed the best way to do it!

We know that we’ve got a reputation to uphold in Queenstown as we’ve helped many businesses along the way to launch, grow and get where they are today. We think we’ve earned the right to say we’ve “earned our stripes” by being a loyal and available support when required.

 

THE DESIGN PROCESS 

The actual process was a big hairy audacious experience uncovering some interesting and fun points, so we’ve attached an infographic to illustrate some facts and figures about our re-brand process.

  • Meetings 56
  • Ideas brainstormed 219
  • Doodles and scribbles 152
  • Design concepts 7
  • Tweaks and changes 402
  • Copy writing marathon 1
  • Chocolate bars eaten 46
  • Coffees drunk 560

 

LAUNCH

This is the nail-biting part. The day we’d been working towards when all our hard work pays off – fingers crossed! This is when Southern PR’s brand becomes recognisable.

With our social media channels loaded up, introduction newsletter ready to go, everything organised and planned from compelling copy to customer service, we pressed the big (we imagine ‘green’) ‘Launch’ button!

3…2…1…GO!

All big projects, design or not, re-brand or not, start with a desire to change. The hardest part is already done! Drawing on the backstory of why your company initially came to life is a crucial element of the planning process. This is where your story stems from and what fuels your inspiration for ideas. Multiple brainstorming sessions are highly recommended and make sure to jot down every idea at first no matter how silly it might seem. You’re just pouring out information for now and you can streamline the ideas later.

Record the process while you’re going through it. You never know exactly how many ideas you have or absurd amounts of coffee you drink over those months if you don’t record it! TIP: Then you can make cute little graphics to showcase your hard work and it doubles as content.

Remember to enjoy the process. It’s not very often you’re with a company long enough to go through more than one re-brand. Some say it’s life-changing!

Please excuse us as we relish in the experience of our new brand and reminisce on how far we’ve come to get to this point.

If you’ve got any questions on our brand launch or our services, then please drop us a line to see what we can do for you and your business.

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6 Must-Know Facts About Southern PR’s New Website Launch

We can’t keep it quiet any longer, the secret is finally out – we’ve rebranded! After months of sweat and creative ideas, we’re so excited to announce the launch of our fresh, refurbished and a little bit wild SPR brand! Here’s some of the treats you’ll find within our new site:

  • New look and feel that encompasses everything we are as a Queenstown public relations agency
  • Big, bold and vibrant graphics
  • User-friendly interface focusing on visitor experience
  • Responsive and mobile-friendly
  • Section designed to showcase clients and their triumphs
  • Blog section dedicated for updates, top tips, Southern PR news and insightful reads
  • A revamp of our services, plus a few newbies dropped into our client toolbox

 

1. New Look and Feel

As Southern PR Queenstown is such a big personality with a quirky culture we knew we needed an authentic brand to match. As the website’s often the first place of contact, it was imperative we made an enormous first impression. We’ve gone for a look that’s full of motion, interactive, and encompassed in bright colours, shapes, and fonts. Pair that with big, bold, and vibrant imagery and you’ve got yourself a don’t-hold-back style and vibe that deserves a damn good pat on the back! So get curious, be nosey, and make sure you check out every nook and cranny of our new website.

2. Visitor Experience

Our overarching website focus has been on visitor experience to encourage our new visitors, but also inspire them to stay longer, check everything out and familiarise themselves with our tools and services – this means you! We’ve amped up the entire customer process from your initial contact to publishing your news to the world. We’re with you every step of the way to ensure you get the best return on your investment.

3. Responsive and Mobile-friendly

Ok, you’re right, we’ve come out of the dark ages and transitioned into the digital imperatives of responsive and mobile! We know the world of news and communication never sleeps, so you need to have access to sites ‘on the go’. Mobile has overtaken desktop as the device of choice when it comes to internet usage. In fact, since April 2015, having a website that’s not mobile friendly now affects Google’s search engine rankings for mobile searches – shock, horror!

All that aside, please take the time to check out our functionality on your mobile device — we assure you won’t be disappointed.

4. Client Showcase

Our new-look client section is driven by the design idea of a client ‘show reel’ to fully showcase latest news, and well-deserved triumphs.

We love our clients — they’re the reason we do what we do, and why we’re here today so it’s a chance to celebrate their remarkable feats along the way. Our client relationships are mutually beneficial, it’s something we pride ourselves in creating and will continue to nurture into the future of our business.

Check out our clients and what they’ve done

5. Interactive Blog Section

At some point, everyone needs an extra perspective when making decisions and we’ve provided a portal that does just that; it has its own voice. Our ‘savvy’ blog is an interactive outlet that’s bursting at the seams with helpful tips, tools of the trade, and thought-provoking information right at your fingertips, just like your personal advisor. Our clients and website visitors can provide feedback straight to our hot little hands and get the answers to any lingering questions.

See what goodies we’ve already got in store for you!

6. New and Updated Services

We’ve also updated our services and added in a social media element to further enhance our clients’ ever-increasing needs for positioning in the digital realm.

We know our clients need a more robust package to ensure that they get full coverage on the media and communications spectrum, getting their news and ideas into the hands of their desired audience.

As you’re no doubt aware, social media is here to stay and we reach our audiences where they are. Did you know your number of fans is irrelevant? It’s all about engagement. How are you connecting and interacting with people and how are they engaging with you?

Businesses that are local, regional or just too small to have national recognition benefit greatly from social media. By creating amazing content and targeting it at an expanded audience, the world is your oyster! Make sure you check out our social media services and if you want to chat to us about this further then GET IN TOUCH.

Thank you for following us and our journey so far. We’d absolutely love to hear any feedback you may have so please feel free to comment if you think there’s something else we should know. Also, if you enjoyed the post and want others to know about it then please share the love!

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