In Crisis Communications, Transparency is Key

By Crisis Communications

The worst messages in a crisis are those that are vague, provide incomplete information, and obscure the full message. These messages invite speculation. No, that’s not even the worst of it: they throw gasoline on the fire of speculation. Worse, still is when that message is posted on social media, where commenters behind the freeing veil of the internet feel empowered to invent conspiracies, to make accusations, and thrive on the attention created by the controversy.

Avoid this in a crisis by stating as clearly as you can what happened and why. If you don’t know something, say so. And then, explain that you’re investigating, looking into it, continuing conversations to learn more and (and this is critical) actually do that.

Sometimes there are legal reasons for not offering full transparency, and for that, make sure that your initial message is cleared with your legal team. Perhaps there is no initial announcement or message at all. This could be relevant in a number of scenarios. But when the time comes when your crisis must be shared and addressed with your community in a public-facing platform, be ready to be as transparent and as clear as you can. You’ll be glad you did, rather than spending your time battling the damage to your brand’s reputation, correcting misinformation, and arguing against untruths on a variety of platforms.

Facing a communications crisis now? Call a professional communicator or PR person if you lack an internal resource to guide you.

It’s Time to Adopt Gender Neutral Language in Business

By Communications

On January 6, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to adopt gender-neutral language in the official House rules and established a permanent Office of Diversity and Inclusion. From the article in Advocate:

The changes mean that the rules document will use language such as “parent,” “child,” and “sibling” instead of “mother,” “father,” “son,” daughter,” “brother,” and “sister.” It will also replace “chairman” with “chair,” “seamen” with “seafarers,” and “himself” and “herself” with “themself.”

It’s a small but significant move toward inclusion, recognizing both that nonbinary people do not use gender-specific language and that gender has no relevance in official government documents and proceedings. (These changes are for rules documents only: they do not prevent members of the House from using gender-specific language in other communication.)

Corporate communications should immediately begin to adopt these practices as well, setting the tone for individual businesses to support gender expansive team members as well as remove the burden of gender from hiring practices, promotions, assignments, and yes, pay. If removing gender from business communications is how we get to equal rights in the workplace, then let’s begin today.

 

Covid-19 Vaccines’ Massive PR Problem

By Communications

The speed with which Pfizer and Moderna developed and submitted for approval vaccines for the Covid-19 coronavirus is astounding. The vaccines have been approved by the FDA and trusted sources like the CDC and well-known scientists are urging Americans to get vaccinated as soon as they are able.  But even as the vaccines began rolling out first, to front-line health care workers and other essential workers, misinformation and doubt is beginning to spread.

African-Americans and other minorities are beginning to share a reluctance to get vaccinated, and who can blame them, when the spectre of the Tuskegee experiment still occupies memories?

The vaccines have a massive PR problem that must:

  • Correct misinformation, of which there is plenty
  • Reach people in their communities, through churches, neighborhoods, and even visiting nurses
  • Spotlight trusted individuals through public, televised and social media-broadcast vaccinations, to inspire confidence and change minds

It’s going to be a tough campaign, and like the Y2K campaigns that ruled 1999, the Covid vaccines campaigns will fuel the PR and communications industry for at least the year to come.

Fourth Quarter Marketing in a Pandemic

By Marketing

We’ve made it to fall and the pandemic rages on. Your business has adapted and now it’s time to start fourth quarter marketing, and a look into 2021.

  1. Look at the numbers. I know it’s hard, and it’s not pretty, but take a look at where you are so you are clear on your goals for the last three months of this year.
  2. Your business has changed. What have you learned? What is working? What isn’t? Decide what other changes you need to make before the start of the new year.
  3. What will you spend to support the marketing and communications of your business. 5% of your operating budget is the absolute minimum. 15% is recommended.
  4. Appreciate your customers. The people who stuck with you through this difficult time should hear from you. It’s not too early to make your holiday list and a plan for gifts and cards. Read how to note the holidays professionally.
  5. Ask your staff and customers what THEY would like to see from you next year. Their answers may be surprising.

— Marijean

Should We Re-brand Our Business Named for a Confederate General, Using a Racist Stereotype, or Honoring a Person who Enslaved Others?

By Public Relations

“Aunt Jemima” by JeepersMedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes.

 

Longer answer: I’m going to dispense with the “what took you so long” speech because I think we all know this day is so long overdue, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

I was contacted by a reporter yesterday, asking for my comment on the “PR perspective” on a local business changing its name from that of a person who enslaved other humans to a more geographic moniker. All over, we’re seeing the renaming of schools, roads, and other properties for someone other than members of the confederacy here in the South where for many years, we haven’t paid attention to how those names were making black people feel.

So yes, re-brand your business. Re-name it. But be clear on why you’re doing it and be ready with your statement. Ask the people of color who work for you, who serve on your board, and who are your customers what they think of your potential new name and brand. And if you don’t have any people of color in your community, fix that.

Today there’s news about the Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s brands revising their brands as well. At last. Let’s celebrate even these small steps in the right direction.