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Instinctif Partners look towards new era of crisis management at Crisis Communications Conference

Instinctif Partners look towards new era of crisis management at Crisis Communications Conference
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Instinctif Partners played a starring role in this year’s PR Week Crisis Communications Conference (#PRWCrisis); an event that brings together hundreds of industry professionals to lift the lid on the communications stories behind recent crises, as well as discussing the direction in which crisis management is heading.

Attendees heard from a number of speakers, each drawing on their own experiences of planning, contingency and recovery, as well as sharing their visions for how the discipline of crisis communications is developing in a rapidly shifting media and digital landscape.

One such speaker was Instinctif Partners’ Managing Partner for Global Corporate Affairs, Tim Fallon, who explored how addressing risk and crisis is changing to reflect our digital-focused world, with 24 hour news, social media and instant online response adding a new dimension to the challenges faced by communications professionals.

“You no longer own your own brand,” began Tim. “Social media has turned the public into commentators who have the power to instantly affect your company’s reputation. Stories shared on social media quickly turn into culture.”

He went on to say how today’s technology-savvy teens are the consumers of tomorrow, and, with their lives being played out on social media sites, businesses must be alert, vigilant and engage effectively on these channels as both a pre-emption and response to a crisis situation. This generation, he said, is growing ever more conscious of the social and ethical codes that companies follow, affecting both their financial and emotional investment.

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Commenting on the shift towards the public having a much more significant stake in a brand’s reputation, Tim said: “The ability to manage issues effectively and maintain resilience in a crisis is intrinsically linked to an organisation’s cultural and corporate legitimacy. Behaviours are managed, reputation is the outcome.”

Cultural legitimacy – the notion that how a business is judged goes beyond the product and into the way it conducts itself, be it through sustainability measures, brand ethics or even internal behaviour – was another of the key messages in Tim’s presentation.

Part of achieving a high degree of cultural legitimacy, said Tim, is transparency: “In a time of crisis, humility and honesty go a very long way. Sometimes ‘sorry’ really is the right word.”

Wrapping up his speech, Tim recapped the three areas which are determining the direction in which the ‘new era’ of crisis management is heading:

  • New audiences
  • New cultures
  • New transparency

Instinctif Partners also facilitated the Crisis Communications Stakeholder Relations Management workshop on Friday 20 June. This ‘second act’ of the PR Week conference was a highly interactive session including case study examples and practical demonstrations to challenge delegates’ crisis management skills. Instinctif Partners crisis specialists Andrew Vincent and Debbie Daly helped participants improve their ability to identify, prioritise and tailor communications for key stakeholders in a crisis.

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