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.

You deserve to be getting paid right- clients are you listening?

Get paid right for your services

As an agency you deserve to be getting paid right- clients are you listening?

With an increase in competition in the market, the value for marketing, communications, sales have gone high. For any company’s success, it is very important to build its image in the market in a positive manner. This can be done in many ways but the most vital way is through building good public relations. And for PR agencies the relationship with clients matters most. Even though there are very few knowing the value of PR, Public relations has always been the most impactful strategy which is followed by many well-established companies.

When it comes to Public relations is not only about building relations, but also it is about maintaining a reputation for the company. It is very easy to read, but getting the job done in the field of media where everything works on contacts, can be challenging at times.

It is said that with hard work and dedication over a time everybody gets paid right. But this theory goes upside down when it comes to Public relations agencies. After a lot of hard work, these agencies come back to square one, bargaining to and forth for a decent hike. Why is this so? The trend for such needs to be altered, and this can be done by opting in a new methodology for getting paid right for the services PR agencies offer to the client and those are:

  1. Social Proof your effort: Show off your clients, put them up on your website as many times as possible. Show off your other clients to the one talking about your value and the results you have given them.

 

  1. Increase your price regularly: Based on Psychology research, if the price is quoted more, the client gets into a belief that we might be good at our jobs. Which we really are!!

 

  1. Put them into the right shoes: Get your clients in the right way, convince them in ways where your strengths are shown. Point out those where changes can be made and better brand image can be established for the client in the market.

 

  1. Beforehand payment: Request for upfront payment. Establish your terms in a way that a raise is a norm after a certain time period.

 

  1. If good needs to be rewarded, bad should be taken care too: Reward your clients if they pay before the given time period, i.e. earlier than the given date. Also, you should put a surcharge on delayed payments. Do not let them forget that PR agencies need to pay others too.

 

  1. Ask what they want: Communicate with your clients. It is important to know what’s their requirement and to know their expectation. Sometimes, clients require exactly what we don’t offer. To keep them as our life-long customers, we should work towards things that we are new too. Remember Hard Work Pays all.

About the author:

Sanjana Rao – She is a graduate in Journalism & Mass Communication. She has worked with Humane Society International/India as Public & Media Relations Coordinator and has already proved herself to be an integral part of K2 Communications Pvt. Ltd.

Golden Chariot- A Golden Opportunity to test our PR mettle

Golden Chariot- A Golden Opportunity to test our PR mettle

 

“A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad”

Richard Branson

The news that Indian Railways is going to resume The Golden Chariot – an alternative for Southern India to the Palace on Wheels for Golden Triangle up in the north, brought back a litany of memories of an uphill task that our team executed to perfection.

Déjà vu

Almost a decade ago, K2 Communications Pvt Ltd was proud to be associated with KSTDC to help position Karnataka Government’s gem-in-crown project -‘The Golden Chariot’- in a higher brand-bracket. Through a well-chalked out process for Press and Media Relations, our PR team was able to bring out the best-known features of the brand, and garner a lot of positive press publicity with media junkets that ensured experience traveling.

Press and Media Activity results by K2 Communications for The Golden Chariot train by Indian Railways

The game plan that our team came up with had three major milestones

  1. Reinforcing brand ‘The Golden Chariot’, underlining luxury, comfort-and high-end fine dining traditions onboard a running tourist train
  2. Positioning ‘The Golden Chariot’ as the ultimate luxurious travel on wheels with real value for money proposition in terms of travel, but without losing its ‘high-end’ charm.
  3. The popularization of the brand to reach out to domestic as well as international tourists

The proof of the pudding:

With our concerted efforts to organize a press contingent(media junket) to travel on-board and report a firsthand experience to the public, as well as ensuring that the postponement of the launch didn’t dampen the enthusiasm and media frenzy that was created, our team managed to pull off this feat and helped establish the brand organically. The service received a lot of rave reviews in India as well as internationally.

Its relaunch is indeed welcome news for travelers, heritage enthusiasts, as well as Indian Railways, as it is also a much-needed measure to promote the culturally rich heritage of the Southern peninsula with a route covering myriad destinations like Bandipur National Park, Mysore, Halebidu, Chikmagalur, Hampi, Badami-Pattadakal-Aihole and Goa in a week-long sojourn.

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.

How RBI could have done things differently in the latest scam

Boosting Public Confidence Through Communication And Transparency: Say ‘Yes’ To PR Mediums

Communications strategy for public institutions

All the frauds and scams in past have shown how, a loophole in the system was ignored till the storm hit (this time its YES Bank), and that is where RBI needs strong PR tactics that work to restore its relations with the public.

Public Relations (PR) starts with a very crucial word- “Public”. Ironically, the banks in India are also called PSBs, either public or private sector banks. The rise and rise of Yes Bank and then the sudden black hole it created in terms of not just the public’s hard-earned money but also an investor and general public’s confidence into the entire banking system in general, and RBI in particular.

We all know how demonetization pushed most of us towards relying on banking systems and financial inclusion – somewhat readily but a lot unwillingly. While baby boomers saw things like emergency curtailing banking growth, Gen X saw our banking bandwagon barely teetering its way through incessant frauds, scams and subprime crisis of 2008. Since then, the financial giants like IL& FS and decade-old HFCs like DHFL have only fallen apart. One leading to another and causing an even bigger mess to clean in its wake.

United they fall, and the aftermath

As many as 44 companies belonging to 10 large business groups reportedly accounted for bad loans of Rs 34,000 crore of Yes Bank. Nine firms of Anil Ambani Group reportedly owed Rs 12,800 crore while Essel Group had unpaid loans of Rs 8,400 crore. Other companies on the list include DHFL Group, Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd, Jet Airways (India) Ltd., Cox & Kings, and Bharat Infra.

Even though the CEA has assured that compared to the global average, Indian banks maintain 80% more money in honoring their liabilities towards the customers- the deposits, despite the stringent measures, regular auditing, and a hawk’s eye on NPAs by RBI, As the events unfold, investors are soon going to realize that Yes Bank has done nothing wrong, because re-routing your own money to settle a higher category NPA via a legitimate lending deal is not really a crime, and that’s what they did!

Toppling Investor Confidence

SBI at the behest of RBI is an unlikely savior for a private sector bank which was once considered to be the darling of Dalal Street punters.

On the day the crisis started unfolding, BSE Banking Sector Index was the top loser closing 1,146 points lower at 31,988 taking into account the hit YES Bank took after takeover from RBI. A clear indication of not just faith, but investor confidence in the banking system has also taken a massive blow, and it will be a while we recover from the same. While deposits in Yes Bank got eroded overnight, the day saw a D-street carnage the country hadn’t seen since 1942.

Would you blame an average Indian, who is feeling let down and is already planning to withdraw all his money and return it to unscrupulous private lenders, chit funds and Ponzi schemes, or a simple steel cupboard safe in his 1-room home?

The majority of Indians- barely earning a little over Rs 1 Lac per year ($1670) but had been convinced to “keep it safe” in a banking system and still grappling with the acronyms like PMJDY and everything now routed through banks are draining the ATMs dry, knocking at the doors of other banks and asking to be allowed to withdraw in hoards.

Fool me twice, thrice and many times more!

IL&FS, PNB, PMC, DHFL, and now YES, the list just got longer, with the majority of culprits going scot-free or at least enjoying their freedom- From Mallyas to Modis and now, Kapoors, everyone is engaged in pointing fingers while avoiding jail sentences. Yes, bank is a clear case of banking fraud, and RBI owes it to investors, bank customers, corporates as well as to not just come clean, but be a bit more transparent and forthcoming, and start the painful process of restoring the lost faith urgently.

Why RBI needs a sound Public Relations Strategy and how to go about it

Reserve Bank of India has, in the past taken up a lot of initiatives to restore public confidence in its ability to tide over crises. The Supreme Court and the RBI are the only two institutions in the country known to stand against the populist regimes and do what is right for the majority of democracy. If quick actions are not taken, the money will be following public faith and drain out of the banking system. An economy already reeling with high inflation liquidity crunch can not possibly suffer another blow in terms of investor confidence, because often, they are the last to return to roost after a crackdown. Like TRAI, RBI could also follow the Open house methodology to boost public confidence to clear all issues pertaining to banking.

Time to flex some PR muscles

The face of redemption:

For starters, RBI needs a more genial, public face that understands the worry of the common man as well as the nuances of labyrinthine banking laws. An open statement sharing the what, when, and why of the whole incident, followed by a step-by-step procedure to salvation will set the tone right and bring back some colour of hope into the drained faces.

Stronger regulations & checks:

Secondly, and most importantly- A mandatory surprise audit of all the banks, just like NBFCs are subjected to, is the order of the day. Any loan book that grows more than 15% YOY in a market that has been facing liquidity crunch needs to be scrutinized and dissected for tell-tale signs.

Whistleblowers and alarm bells are heard in time, and rewarded:

RBI should announce a reporting system where the smallest cog in the wheel of banks could have the right and access to reporting the minutest blip on the seismograph. Often, the small shocks are the warning signs and ignoring them often proves fatal, like this one. It is indeed hard to believe that the entire team at Yes Bank wasn’t aware of, or was not privy to what was going on. People don’t generally report if they fear they will have to face the heat.

Proactive and not reactive:

RBI must keep issuing public statements in the press and social media regularly, simplifying banking jargon, explaining the measures are taken and their immediate as well as far-reaching implications.

In today’s heavily connected world, news, especially bad news, is like a wildfire, and if the plan is to keep only your yard (banking & financial system) safe, it will not just be a PR disaster, but a potential threat to the economic growth of our country.

All the frauds and scams in past have shown how, a loophole in the system was ignored till the storm hit, and that is where RBI needs strong PR tactics that work to restore its relations with the public.

This article was originally published in Everything Experiential, from BW COMMUNITIES -BW Communities is an array of business news websites targeted towards niche communities and readers across various industries -an online portal of Business World Magazine. Click here for the original link or follow the URL below.

http://everythingexperiential.businessworld.in/article/Boosting-Public-Confidence-Through-Communication-And-Transparency-Say-Yes-To-PR-Mediums/18-03-2020-186563/

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.