Companies with Solid Business Models can weather the volatility storm

Companies with Solid Business Models can weather the volatility storm

crisis management during COVID

Only time will tell the impact of the fiscal stimulus whose zeros are still difficult to count, and the repercussions yet to be deciphered

While the US $ is slipping consistently and the worst recession is about to hit the world economy, India is going the self-reliant way.

Coronavirus crisis has put the decision-makers on a fast track, and the latest fiscal stimulus is like a shot in the arm.

Almost 10% of the nation’s GDP, the industry players across the sectors have applauded the measures taken, but are they “too little, too late”, only time will tell.

The ease of doing business in China is being looked upon with skepticism, India is poised to cash in on the opportunity with an investor-friendly environment. COVID 19 severely impacted economies worldwide, and most companies are finding their balance sheets stretched as cash flows are drying up.

This has resulted in significant erosion in the stock prices of some of them. The risk-averse stance of banking sectors had made it even more difficult for companies to raise capital. There doesn’t belie the fact that investors worldwide are flush with liquidity, and are willing to bet on the companies provided they fit the right benchmarks. A strong crisis management plan and a new improved business model can bring in investors.

If companies can convince investors about their growth story, competitive advantage, the reason for raising capital as well as the need for it, investors would not mind looking at the picking up a stake in exchange for capital.

The rating downgrades of certain erstwhile market leaders have proved once again that markets have always rewarded companies that plan to raise growth capital provided their capital structure is balanced, they have low leverage and arrange liquidity fast.

Perform or perish!

As the markets are going into a stabilizing zone, there will definitely be a strong appetite for fresh capital as well as profitable investment avenues. While there will be a surge in capital raising activities in the country, we will definitely witness an influx of funds. Investors would now be ready to go beyond due diligence and the fund-raising models which have relied on numbers will definitely consider reading between the lines.

In a nutshell, only those companies will attract the most capital which has strong fundamentals, a great crisis management plan, a transparent and future-forward business model, and a brand narrative that can help them overcome the doom and gloom of the past 6 months. Now is our chance to divert the cautious optimism of investors in our favour.

Click here to understand how social media can help your company come out of the crisis.

About the author:

Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.

Public Relations Officers guidelines for corporate communications department during coronavirus crisis

Corporate Communications guidebook for companies to navigate coronavirus crisis

Public relations and corporate communications

Communication has always been at the root of all solutions. More so, during the Coronavirus crisis, Corporate Communications managers have an extremely vital role to play. As the organizations are looking up for strong and steady communications leadership- it is critical that your Corporate Communications Department helps address imminent concerns regarding safety and survival, work on stabilizing the business in the short term, and helping position it for future recovery.

The spread of novel coronavirus is not just a world-wide humanitarian and economic crisis, the events are unprecedented, with large-scale block quarantines, border closings, widespread lockdowns, and social distancing.

As everyone is looking at action points to “flatten the curve”, organizations have also braced themselves into concrete steps to protect employees, customers, suppliers, and bottom lines. With some companies losing up to 75% of their revenues in a single quarter and digital connectivity playing a fundamental role in continuity, even survival, of business operations.

As work from home becomes a global reality due to the coronavirus crisis, the need for frequent, transparent, and more engaging communications with internal and external customers has become paramount.

Public Relations Officers guidelines for corporate communications department during coronavirus crisis

Shifting roles

With conditions changing daily, if not hourly, the uncertainty about the future has made the role of the Corporate Communications Department (CCD) extremely vital for survival in the long term. The Public Relations Officer, or PRO for short, is the leader, after all, who most directly contributes to the intellectual capital of the company, the true strength of any organization.

Employees, investors, as well as all the contributors in the growth of the company in conducive times, must be kept closer now more than ever. Our experience in helping clients through both internal and external crises offers valuable actionable insights about the actions; PROs should take in the wake of the pandemic to put their companies on a sound footing and help reduce some of the fear and uncertainty.

 

Rewriting the communications code of conduct

Our in-house research team has reviewed a lot of case studies and the one thing that has come up on top is that the companies with strong communication fundamentals outperformed their competitors while coming out of previous crises –humanitarian, economic as well as socio-political.

While the present pandemic has been unprecedented and an entirely new rule book is being formed- with a new genre of communications being the new normal. Here are some points to ponder for communications during the Coronavirus Crisis –

 

Persistence and perseverance- How to address the imminent crisis

Companies have had to close their doors, albeit temporarily as the COVID-19 spread – leaving them under severe liquidity crunch and financial distress. As consumers are unable to make discretionary purchases, the communications team’s top responsibility is to straighten the messages going out. Now is not the time to hide behind the desks and cabins, but to roll up your sleeves and sit down with the marketing team and chalk out an action plan. Transparency in conveying the customers about your constraints in a tone that is emphatic yet sympathetic should be the core action plan.

 

Scenario planning

PROs can develop different scenarios based on the situations and potential paths of the spread, and roll out an internal as well as external communications plan.

A crisis is the most suitable time to bring out the leadership mettle. A leader who can be seen as standing with his team and managing the various challenges leading from the front would be perceived as strong, committed, and successful in all circumstances- even when the tides turn back in your favour! Bring out the small success stories and random acts of kindness as well as grit and determination of your team. From the office staff that is managing calls from home to finance team tapping into whatever available resources, your internal and external customers, as well as investors, would like to know how your team is facing the obstacles head-on.

 

Frameworking

All the teams of your company- finance, marketing, operations, and strategy, would need to rely on a range of scenario frameworks rather than individual KRAs. As different leaders present their point of view about two or maybe more scenario frameworks with multiple eventualities, it’s the role of the communications manager to come up with a uniform outlook that can include all concerns expressed as well as help articulate clear thresholds or trigger points or alternative action plans.

 

A well-networked professional PR company can bring the much needed unbiased approach to your communications strategy. Public relations firms that are experienced in crisis management have their ears to the ground as well as help cultivate excellent media relations to boost its reach and potential- reducing PROs’ concern of reaching the right platform at the right time to a considerable extent.

The goal should be to focus on the crisis’s actual and projected effects on the company, the actions being taken to protect the business interests and any changes to earlier earnings commitments.

Communication has always been the key to resolve any tricky situation, and the current situation is no different from the same. Connections with investors, suppliers, employees, as well as customers, are essential to demonstrate that the leadership is taking fast and resolute action based on their best understanding of the situation as well as their efforts.

A strategic communications plan worked out with the help of your public relations expert will help set a formal chain of command as well as priorities throughout the organization as well as act as a reinforcement of the leadership communiqué for all departments and business units to understand “why this matters now” and what is their specific role.

In order to be termed “Resilients” upon the return post this crisis, a strong communications strategy is the way forward.

Click here to understand more about how your company can weather out the pandemic and rise up a brand

About the author:

Shiv Shankar – He is the Executive Director & Founder of K2 Communications. Under his astute leadership, K2 Communications has developed into a frontrunner among PR agencies that incessantly delivers excellent regional and national PR support to clients belonging to various sectors including government, IT, education, consumer, and healthcare.

Consumer PR- No, it’s not Marketing!

How Consumer PR is different from marketing. By K2 Communications.
Public Relations is the missing piece of the puzzle to marketing efforts in reaching out to consumers.

Public relations revolve around the use of news and content to put forth a message about a product, a business, an organization or an endeavour using an effective medium to reach out to consumers. Over the years, PR has taken a lot of faces depending on the effectiveness of the communication channels. Public relations are all about storytelling and shaping a company’s image. But with technological advancements interfering and reshaping every aspect of communications and interaction, it is only fair to ask whether PR is really storytelling, non-advertising, image-shaping tool that we have known it to be?

For consumers, as well as for companies, the influence of effective public relations has been able to withstand the test of time. As companies aim for more ambitious depths in reaching out to the customers, more and more focus is shifting towards building and gaining an audience.

Public relations provide a fascinating and opportunistic landscape for building a brand. 

A consumer relations program is not a marketing initiative. Consumer relations program aims at developing positive relationships with consumers rather than selling a certain number of products. The loyalty won may help in higher sales; consumer relations is more of a public relations job than that of marketing.

The line between Marketing and Public Relations often gets blurred. Public relations and marketing do share some basic concepts like research methodology, finding the right target audiences, communication, and action plans as well as evaluation of various outcomes. Despite these similarities, the two have a fundamental difference, and that is while marketing is all about the product and is highly field-specific, PR is much broader.

PR takes into account aspects overlooked by marketing, like internal relations, surrounding environment and non-consumers in it, and overall consumer behaviour. Public relations require a deep understanding of the role each of these aspects plays within an organization. Public relations and marketing need to realign themselves and attempt to create a whole new field – “relationship marketing.” 

Relationship Marketing:

Relationship marketing is all about understanding that consumers make buying decisions based on their habit. The underlying principle is that customers want to be served, not sold. Usually, while making a purchase decision, consumers look for the following things:

  • Quality
  • Handling customer complaints
  • Crisis management
  • Safety of the product
  • Trading and business practices

Relationship marketing must work in the direction of delighting customers, so they become regular, repeat and loyal consumers. If you promise a consumer some benefits, they must meet consumer’s expectations and also maintain the customer base and handle service requests.

In today’s competitive environment, a company’s success depends on understanding your customers and exceeding their demands for service. With the internet, the world is shrinking, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate products. Profitability of a business depends on its ability to find, expand and retain valuable customers.

Everyone knows that it is far more cost-effective to build loyalty than to keep replacing existing customers. Valuing customers and making consumer relations a vital part of an organization’s PR strategy is extremely important as it helps tackle consumer issues effectively and create positive company perceptions.

Public relations involve communicating with the public, and your business will be subjected to a range of ethical and legal considerations. Every message released influences consumers’ opinions about you. Therefore, the public statements should be consistent with your brand and key messages.

If your PR efforts are focussed on crisis communications, you will be required to managing your reputation because of the situation or the issue. Effective consumer relations will help you tide over even the trickiest of the situations with ease.

How to launch an effective consumer PR campaign?

Staying true to your ethics and yet reasonably satisfy all consumers sounds like a tightrope walk. Maintaining one’s credibility while reducing the risks for potential damages to your reputation is very critical. Here are some tips:

  • Staying honest and consistent with your messages. Consumers today can easily make out double standards, distorted facts, and hypocritical statements.
  • Steer clear from paid media coverage. Effective consumer PR thrives on independent, third-party reports, stories and information. If you have to pay for good press, which means something is wrong at the very fundamental level with your product or service.
  • Maintain graceful composure with your competitors. Keeping your criticisms and disagreements with your competitors out of the spotlight is a great PR tactic.
  • Create platforms to interact with consumers. Consumers today want companies to be more proactive and keep up with their demands, or be left behind. As customers are turning to social media to communicate, it is imperative the companies reach out to them there.
  • Prepare a detailed digital PR plan- Today’s consumer engages with companies to give feedback, ask questions and discuss features, affecting their buying decisions. You can use this information that you gain during interactions and build relationships rather than just talking online. Growing relationships and attracting customers should be a part of the digital strategy of any PR effort.
  • Get influencers on board. Reliable third parties, backing the brand is a valuable function of consumer PR. It could be through a paid or unpaid agreement. Getting a brand an honourable mention or good reviews is the hallmark of effective digital PR.

Consumer PR is all about translating what the company wants to say and relay it in a manner that it becomes what consumers want to hear. Consumer PR is a company’s most valuable asset in today’s market. It helps a company position itself for success and weather the storms in the future.

Background photo created by mindandi – www.freepik.com<a href=”http://Designed by mindandi / Freepik“>http://<a href=”http://www.freepik.com”>Designed by mindandi / Freepik</a>

About the author:

Prashanth – He brings on-board his enriched journalistic perspective to K2 communications. Armed with a Degree in Sociology and a Masters in Philosophy Research from the University of Hyderabad, where his thesis was on Human Rights, his vast experience in the field of writing, reporting and editing in print media is highly valued and appreciated by our clients.

My language, My rules: Integrating Vernacular Languages in Public Relations in India

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.’

Nelson Mandela

With 23 major languages in India, written in 13 different scripts, with over 720 dialects, linguistic diversity has never been a bigger challenge for public relations professionals anywhere in the world.

There are sound reasons for the existence of such diverse languages, yet most public relations companies appear to be intimidated by the complexity of the socio-demographic landscape.

Public relations executives swear by taking the safe route and cater for majority understanding, creating all campaigns and communications in English, only to realise that perhaps they should also be valuing the vernacular, creating content in mother-tongue and cashing in on the ensuing return-on-investment (ROI).

Value of vernacular communications

Whether it is writing a press release or a pitch note, authored articles or trend stories, use of effective vernacular communication in public relations helps inculcate cultural insight, nuance, and context. It helps a PR manager show that their client and the brand understand and resonate with their consumers.

Vernacular public relations can help build long-lasting and profitable relationships of trust with their market. Vernacular communication has the potential to add huge value to a brand. Global brands can successfully localise, and local brands can become more relevant to their target market if they talk in the language their customers can relate to.

Using local language helps in ensuring a high level of engagement, respect, and understanding of the targeted customer. The emotional connect that vernacular comments, quotes bring has a positive impact on the overall brand equity.

Readers place extra value on native advertising and place trust in it in a way that they may not necessarily feel about an English campaign, as most people in the country still converse and often think, in their mother-tongue. Talking in their mother tongue instils a sense of pride and ownership which far outweighs the initial investment of creating a vernacular campaign.

Innovation in Public Relations in the era of globalisation

Vernacular public relations offers an opportunity to view a PR campaign from a new angle and provides a lot of scope for true innovations in the way communications are handled.

The world is becoming a global market for companies who have a common goal- to sell their products or services to as many consumers as possible. Globalisation also means that companies are now addressing an incredibly diverse target, with many different languages, and more importantly- cultures. International Public relations in the new millennium is about understanding, accommodating and harnessing the cultural differences for global brand building.

Telecommunication (Telcos) , consumer durable companies as well as FMCG companies today engage with the consumer speaking a language of the masses.

K2 communications recently achieved noteworthy success for a healthcare client by refocusing the PR strategy with a focus on vernacular media. By retargeting the release with regional translated press releases, the client witnessed astounding ROI on their PR efforts in a short period of time.

Vernacular Public Relations- a must have across all mediums

Native public relations is significant because the target audience is given eh content they want to consume. The challenge on content creation for vernacular language is on the written side, especially for native quotes, comments, and press releases. From the cost perspective as well, it is easier and cheaper to create vernacular language content. Your target audience no longer wants just to read, they want to watch contextual, real-time, user-generated content.

In a country where only 10% of total population interacts in English, and only 74% are literate, the message from a PR desk needs to jump through several hoops of communication distortion- illiteracy, lack of connecting, contextual misunderstanding or pure ignorance. The challenge is to remain impactful, relevant and cross the language barrier to reach the target audience without distorting the core values of a brand.

Vernacular content is also becoming a big mantra for successful digital marketing. Traditional PR methods neither expect nor ask the audience to think. However, they do want the public to respond- a feeling, an impression, a desire, and finally a commitment to take some action but ironically, unless all the fodder conveyed in a language the target understands, it does not result in any thought.

To effectively influence attitudes,  and outcomes in the public domain, including the crucial public opinion and reputation management, PR executives must keep a tab on the local pulse.

According to a 2017 report by KPMG and Google, “Indian Languages — Defining India’s Internet,” there were 234 million Indian-language internet users and 175 million English users in 2016. By 2021, the gap between the two groups is expected to widen. Users of Indian languages are expected to more than double to 536 million, while English users will increase to only 199 million. Nine out of 10 new internet users between 2016 and 2021 will use local languages, said the report. (Source)

As the Indian technology industry builds the internet for the next 1 billion non-English users friendlier public relations communication strategies are the only way forward for the brands looking to reach out.

It, therefore, makes business sense for Public relations companies to encourage their clients to become pan-Indian, linguistically.

  • Additional Resource: Ordinary People Can Reason: A Rhetorical Case for including Vernacular Voices in Ethical Public Relations Practice, Calvin L. Troup Journal of Business Ethics Vol. 87, No. 4 (Jul. 2009), pp. 441-453

  • Image source: Mashable India

    About the Author:

    Bulbul Satsangi – She is a Digital Strategy Consultant at K2 Communications Pvt. Ltd. A Finance professional in her previous avatar, Bulbul, entered the arena of content writing to soothe her creative energy. In the past 5 years, she has worked on all the aspects of the internet and helped many businesses establish their online identity.