Why Using Social Media is a Thing of the Past

HOWE&WYE sees significant value in this post by Shama Hyder. Far too often we see firms using a ‘silver bullet’ approach to marketing, relying heavily on a single channel approach failing to see the greater potential of using an integrated approach to customer acquisition, member engagement or stakeholder communication. HOWE&WYE can execute a detailed analysis of your current strategy and provide you with meaningful feedback on how to improve the alignment between your marketing budgets and your corporate objectives.

Shama Hyder, CEO of Zen Media

Using social media to promote and advertise for brands used to be a forward-thinking strategy. Social was the future, and early adopters were rewarded for jumping on the bandwagon when they did. 

In the good ole’ days of early social media marketing, it made sense to “use” digital advertising in order to reach “wired” consumers. It also made sense to “use” social media to reach consumers who were discovering social media platforms. Back then, before widespread adoption of the internet and the advent of billions of Facebook users — that is, back in the days of interruptive advertising where campaign lifecycles and consumers’ journeys could be clearly identified, neatly segmented, and accurately assessed — it made sense, and was frankly quite easy, to “use” social media to reach consumers. 

But to thrive in the age of the connected consumer, marketers need to understand why “using” social media is a thing of the past. Today, it’s important to shift from a mindset of “using” social media to a mindset of adapting and thriving in an ecosystem where a highly connected, social, empowered consumer is now the norm, and traditional econometrics and data are no longer adequate to measure and track the success of content and campaigns.

Social media is a shrinking piece of a much bigger digital pie that requires rethinking consumer’s sociality, and relationship to brands. 

Consider that 77 percent of marketers rely on at least one dedicated social media platform, but less than half generate ROI from this strategy. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Millennials and Gen Z are annoyed over brands targeting their social media feeds and in response, a third of them have permanently deleted their Facebook account. 

What’s more, social platforms are changing the way they operate, making it harder for brands to show up to the audience they want without paying to do so. Twitter deleted more than 70 million suspicious accounts in less than 60 days, and Instagram switched to a non-chronological algorithm that has limited the appearance of organic branded content in users’ feeds. With this in mind, marketers need to redefine their understanding of “social” to extend beyond social media. 

To clarify, it’s not that consumers are becoming less “social,” it’s just that this sociality — which can be understood as digitally-enabled “connectivity” to other consumers and to brands — appears to be increasingly migrating from social media platforms onto aggregation, social, mobilization, and learning platforms. (Think, for example, of how “social” consumers are on sites like eBay or Amazon in terms of sharing product reviews and interacting directly with sellers and other consumers.) Said differently, though the number of consumers who can be reached through social media channels may be shrinking, the digitally-enabled “sociality” that characterizes today’s connected consumer is expanding.  

ROI is an insufficient metric for assessing success that requires rethinking the nature of the consumer journey.  

The expansion of today’s connected consumer across multiple digital touchpoints means that ROI is no longer a reliable default for accurately assessing campaign success. Marketers need to move beyond ROI and adopt metrics that are more sensitive to the complexity, ambiguity, and dynamism of the consumer journey correspondent to the category in question. Without this sort of approach, it’s impossible for brands to identify their particular challenges and to develop targeted strategies for overcoming them. 

Integrating social data and metrics with other KPI’s affords brands much greater visibility into the customer journey across multiple channels and digital touchpoints. In order to integrate social media strategies with other critical marketing practices — web analytics, CRM, and so forth — marketers must cease to view social media platforms as simply a marketing channel and leverage it instead as one prong of a larger strategy and source of customer insight. 

Metrics for measuring a campaign’s success require rethinking what “value” means in the digital age.

Determining if, how, why, and under what conditions a particular marketing strategy or campaign has value to a consumer requires rethinking what value means in the digital age. It also requires equally nuanced and sophisticated metrics for measuring this value. Depending on the variables, value can mean many different things — things that are invisible from the limited perspective of ROI. By adopting more nuanced and sophisticated metrics for discerning the subtle shades of value that nonetheless represent significant points of leverage, marketers can tune their content accordingly. 

While the concept of “using” social media no longer makes sense, the expanding sociality of today’s connected consumer offers new opportunities for defining, measuring, generating, and reaping value in ways that will continue to advance the digital age and benefit brands and consumers alike.    

Shama Hyder is a visionary strategist for the digital age. A web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of Zen Media, she has aptly been dubbed the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by ...

Original Article - Forbes

Questions Surface as Ford Government Launches Ontario News Now.

Now that the dust has settled on the ‘outrage’ over the Ford government’s launch of Ontario News Now (ONN), it’s time for some objective analysis.  

Among many other things, Al Gore invented the internet.

As a new government digital communication tool, ONN irritated activists who claimed this was a partisan vehicle for promoting the government's own objectives. 

Let us start with the facts. Premier Ford did not invent the internet, nor did his late brother. Those who follow the subject will appreciate that it was non-other than Al Gore.  More to the point, why has the development of ONN generated such widespread scrutiny? 

From the ONN’s first moments, Premier Ford and his political team came under fire for developing a vehicle designed solely to share the governments perspective. It is a corporate communications tool that uses social channels (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) to promote the interests of the government and subsequently the Ontario PC Party.  Is it news? Of course not. So why are so many people upset?  

Pundits and antagonists were enraged that the Ford government were so keen to communicate their agenda.  The CBC suggested that “the Progressive Conservative government's production of a TV-news-style video (Ontario News Now) is eroding democracy”.  Frankly, anyone who thinks what Premier Ford is doing is either new or unique is just uninformed or ignorant to the facts. 

Partisan Messaging is Exactly What Governments Do.
While the specific vehicle (Ontario News Now) may be new, the objectives are really no different than what any other government has done or continues to do. Let’s not let our short political memories forget that other governments in Ontario have done similar things with exactly the same intent. 

Columnist Christie Blatchford reminded us that during the 2007 Ontario election we saw former CityTV and CBC news personality (turned senior Liberal insider), Ben Chin host a series of YouTube ‘news features’. Embracing a full newsroom format, Chin’s visibility as a newscaster had an impressive impact. The content unfailingly promoted the Liberal agenda while attacking the Conservatives.

There is ample evidence of this type of creative content strategy throughout our history to level the playing field on this. All this to say that no one’s hands are clean in this regard, but the question remains is it wrong? This is the new political reality and one that sees political parties using the channels that mean the most to their constituents. Isn’t that what we really want from politicians, engagement? 

Digging even deeper, former Toronto Star reporter Richard Brennan also highlighted on Twitter that Bob Rae’s NDP produced a broadsheet newspaper (below) that mimicked the Toronto Star’s look and feel and presented the content as actual ‘news’. Why did Bob Rae’s government create their own vehicle? According to Brennan, “...because they complained the media was unfair to them and needed their own voice”. 

 Bob Rae's NDP Government produced their own broadsheet newspaper "... because they complained the media was unfair to them and needed their own voice”. 

Bob Rae's NDP Government produced their own broadsheet newspaper "...because they complained the media was unfair to them and needed their own voice”. 

Governments Must Demonstrate Communications Discipline
Now, more than ever, the election cycle begins with the new governments very first day in office. Higher rates of public awareness, social media and the media have turned an election cycle from being a few months to a never-ending process. The simple answer is that governments have to must demonstrate unfailingly and unwavering discipline when it comes to public communication.  

The reason for this level of management shouldn’t be foisted upon the shoulders of any one individual, however some clear examples come to mind as exemplars of the requirements for strong regulation. Former Harris era cabinet minister Dave Tsubouchi gives us a great example of why political communications are often controlled tightly from the centre (especially with new governments).  In the early days of the Harris government, Tsubouchi’s demonstrated a particular lack of skill when working with the media. He quickly gained a reputation for public gaffs that were embarrassing to the government.

Then, as a newly minted minister of community and social services, he was tasked with substantial cost reductions. Perhaps most notably his off-handed comments that those impacted by social service benefit reductions ought to perhaps shop more carefully, for example by purchasing marked-down cans of dented tuna. And thus, ‘Tuna-fish Tsubouchi’remains in the frontal lobe of every political leader’s mind when considering public communications.  Success in government really is about consistently and continuously controlling the narrative.

Tax Dollars at Work
Although this digs into the weeds a bit on political operations I will pile on a bit. To some, the premise of using taxpayer dollars for partisan messaging is outrageous and an unfathomable blight on our heritage. Let’s be clear. The development of the internet and social media have created are a wealth of opportunities for politicians to promote their (or their parties) own views and it is not limited to those in power. 

Sure, the premise of the government promoting their political agenda doesn’t sit well with the uneducated, but there is a stark reality that the antagonists are missing. Every single time an elected official takes to Twitter, they are in fact using public dollars (they are compensated from the public purse) to promote their own political agenda. This is not limited to the premier or cabinet ministers, it’s true of every parliamentarian irrespective of political stripe. Each time a communication is sent out, it is partisan. Each interview given to the media, every press release, every piece of direct mail you get, every public event… you get the point. It’s all partisan. And the majority of it is taxpayer funded. That is how democracy works, at its most operational core. 

There is also concern that Ford is scuttling ‘access’ and democracy by filling up press conferences with staffers is also demonstrative of a lack of understanding of how politics works. This is an exceptionally common tactic, in particular for new governments. Some journalists have complained about a lack of access, and again, this is a communications strategy to ensure politicians remain on message and to minimize early term PR disasters. 

Ultimately, the new Ford government have shown significant discipline in public communication, something we have come to expect at all levels of government. The current president of the United States isn’t the subject of ongoing and constant scrutiny because of his public policy agenda, it is because of his never-ending stream of communication failures (and a series of moral, ethical and legal entanglements). The tightly controlled messaging of any new government doesn’t diminish democracy if anything it should encourage more effective governing.  

What can we really learn from this?
The reality is that the Ford government has done little more than develop and deploy a content strategy. This is a strategy I deployed while working in Hamilton for the local school board in 2006. While at the earliest days of social media, the city only had two traditional print outlets, a talk radio channel and a TV station that had just transitioned into a ‘superstation’ (mostly movies). When I arrived the coverage of the Board was both minimal and unfriendly. I needed to reframe the Board’s activities by re-focusing our public messaging and revitalizing the website and all collateral material to create consistency and alignment.  And, it worked.   

When brands (including politicians) can’t get the attention they want or need, they often have to create it. Given the overall contraction of the news media across North America, there isn’t the same depth or breadth of coverage. Many organizations have turned to ‘content strategies’ to generate the interest and coverage they want, blending with executive visibility and other marketing techniques to deliver what can no longer be achieved with traditional PR. 

Three solid takeaways:

·      Control your message 

·      If you can’t get your own coverage, create your own 

·     There is no such thing as ‘too much’ communication with your stakeholders

There are many who have argued what Ford is doing is contrary to our democracy, but from a PR and Communications standpoint, adding in some political context, it's actually smart quite smart. 

 

Steve Virtue
President 

How vast is the social media universe?

There can be no denying the value of a strong social strategy, but have you ever wondered exactly how vast the social universe is? Visual Capitalist has created an outstanding graphic to help wrap your brain around the extent of the digital ecosystem.  When thinking about your social strategy, let us help you craft a surgical approach that helps you align your messaging with the right audiences. 

social media universe

The Ontario Election is over: Now the work begins

The past six months have provided Ontarians with an entertaining, terrifying and action-packed election campaign. Many who follow politics regard the time in advance of an election as the ‘silly season’ and with no exception, the political parties and candidates in this 2018 campaign have certainly lived up to the hype. 

The pre-writ period saw tremendous support and energy from the Ontario PC’s. The November 2017 launch of ‘the People’s Guarantee’ that, while light on detail provided a brilliant strategy that positioned the PC’s in the middle of the political spectrum. The package included a host of progressive nuggets of public policy, enough to court frustrated Liberal voters and ensure the PC base in Ontario. Consuming this middle ground also forced the governing Liberal’s to scrape away further at the left, which continued to reinforce the PC’s positioning them as ‘tax and spend’ and poor managers of the public purse. Perhaps more significantly, the strategy helped the very likable PC Leader Patrick Brown create distance between comparisons to conservative leaders like Trump, Harper and Harris.

As we watched 2017 come to a close, there was a strong sense that voters in Ontario wanted a new government. The Liberals went into full damage control focused their legislative agenda on delivering incentives to court voters. The spring budget included a host of financial and public policy leavers they felt necessary to win the election. The cornerstone of the agenda hinged on revised labour legislation that included a historic 32% increase in minimum wage and more than 60 changes to labour and employment law. The Liberals strategy sought to use public spending to drive a wedge into the political narrative, as a means of overcoming diminishing popularity. 

The Liberals had previously committed to balancing the books for the 2018 election however Finance Minister Sousa’s ‘Fiscal Recovery Plan’ proved to be a sharp U-turn with massive increases in spending and projected deficits well out to 2025. Ontario’s debt to GDP ratio was projected to balloon to 38.6%, and firmly cementing Ontario’s status as the most indebted sub-national jurisdiction in the world. While the Liberals were ready to hand out ‘free daycare’, ‘free prescriptions’ and more, all polling indicated that the voters clearly just wanted to be ‘free’ of the Liberals.

Not to be outdone, the Ontario PC’s have a history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Just weeks into the year, Brown faced a scandal that resulted in the leader resigning in January 25th, just five months from the election. Four candidates quickly emerged in the leadership contest, including the first to enter the race, eventual winner Doug Ford. The leadership contest was held March 10, and despite some concerns over the voting process, the party remained focused and united on defeating the Wynne Liberals. 

The uncertainty of a new PC leadership and redevelopment of a winning campaign for Team Ford, provided an opportunity for the Andrea Horwath led NDP to gain significant ground. Ford’s own lack of popularity both within the party and amongst the electorate at large created a significant window of opportunity for the NDP who remained predominately an afterthought until the 11thhour of the election. The NDP saw a considerable surge in support in mid-May as Horwath performed better than many anticipated in televised debates and found some momentum. In fact, 70+% of declared Liberal supporters indicated that that would consider throwing their support to the NDP as the next best alternative. 

The second debate provided a unique moment for the Premier and her team launched a ‘Sorry, Not Sorry’ campaign that sought to distance personality from electoral record, but this had little influence over voters. Support for the Wynne Liberals eroded so quickly during the campaign’s final days, that the Premier publicly announced on Saturday June 2nd, that a Liberal loss was inevitable.  In January, the Liberals were polling as high as 32% in a solid second position behind the PC’s and well ahead of the NDP. The incumbency of government is a natural advantage, however the Liberals declining fortunes met with a ‘change’ minded electorate as popularity dipped to less than 20%. The late-stage projections for the Liberals even had many within the campaign worried about retaining party status in the legislature. 

The results of the June 7 election to many, were unpredictable and provided for a wide array of predictions. Would the NPD win a majority? Would there be a minority government? Would there be a coalition? Could the PC’s and Team Ford possibly pull out a majority?  The PC’s early leads eroded into a statistical tie with the NDP within days of the election provided significant trepidation for volunteers and organizers in all camps.  The only thing that was absolutely clear, was that after 15 years of Liberal governments, Ontario votes were voting for change.

In the end, the Ontario PC party pulled out a clear majority delivering 76 seats with the NDP doubling their presence at Queens Park with 40. The decimated Liberals suffered their worst defeat in the history of Ontario politics, and will now officially lose party status managing only 7 seats.  Wynne immediately resigned as leader, setting the stage for a complete party rebuild. And, for the first time ever, the Green Party will have a seat in the Ontario legislature thanks to a convincing win in Guelph by leader Mike Schreiner. 

The circus atmosphere of the 2018 election campaign provided no shortage of mystery, wonder and its fair share of WTF moments.  The election results will be poured over by strategists and political sciences for years ahead. The challenge however for most organizations is to move beyond figuring out what happened and into the realm of how to deal with it. The new Ford government’s agenda will respond to the votes call for change. 

For many organizations this will mean retooling government relations and communication strategies. This will require re-engaging the array of new, untested and unproven MPP’s and political staff on all sides of the legislature. Ford is likely to move quickly to announce his cabinet, likely before the end of the month, and it is likely to be a smaller cabinet. Their agenda will be focused on creating quick wins by increasing economic opportunities and reigning in spending.

Premier-elect Ford and his transition team will be quick to will open the books and look for efficiencies. The question remains for you and your organization is how to influence the new dynamic at Queens Park. How does your organization maintain presence and focus with a narrow economic agenda? What will Ford and his government’s relationship with Ottawa look like and how can your organization benefit from that?  Give us a call, we can help.

Media Relations

I’ve spent most of my professional experience listening to business leaders provide me with arguments as to why they don’t need or want media training.

  1.  “I’m not the company spokesperson”
  2. “It isn’t my job to speak with the media”
  3. “I’m too busy”
  4. “We don’t have the resources for media training”

One excuse after another as to why you would never, ever need to be a spokesperson. Unfortunately, you never know when or what circumstance may thrust you into the spotlight. Just ask these business leaders, no one really needs to be prepared.

Executives should be ready to respond to media inquiries and feel comfortable sharing corporate messaging - even in crisis communications situations. Are you prepared?  

 Media interviews can often go sideways very quickly – and while most people think the media is out to get them, but in reality, interviews most often go wrong, because spokespeople go in unprepared.  

Executives often look to their communications team to be spokespeople, the truth is that it is far easier to train someone to speak to the media than to educate a PR team on your specific discipline and the sensitivities that go along with that. In particular, in the midst of a crisis. Get prepared, you never know when the media is going to be on your doorstep.

Join us in Vancouver, May 6-8 and we will help you advance your skills and help you prepare for dealing with the media.  Our program is designed to empower, educate and transform your performance with the media.  This is an exceptional opportunity to build your skills for public speaking, delivering presentations, or speaking to the media and investors. Unlike other training programs, we promise not to bore you with excessive jargon-ridden seminars.

 

Get American Investors’ Attention!

As a start-up founder or CEO in Asia, you are thinking about business growth in the biggest market in the world, the United States. To expand to the US you need the right investors. Most people think their only option is Silicon Valley. The fact is the US has many cities that are friendly to start-ups and also have investors. To get investors’ attention you need to think and talk like a them. In the US you get one chance to pitch a VC that you can’t waste. Nate Habermeyer has worked with large and small technology companies helping them create a brand and media coverage to help them achieve their business objectives. Nate will be presenting brand strategies for Asian start-ups to use to get noticed by investors and reporters in the US and Canada.

창업자 또는 CEO로서 세계 최대 시장 인 미국에서 비즈니스 성장에 대해 생각하고 있습니다. 미국으로 확대하려면 올바른 투자자가 필요합니다. 대부분의 사람들은 그들의 유일한 선택이 실리콘 밸리라고 생각합니다. 사실, 미국에는 신생 기업에 친숙하고 투자자가 많은 도시가 많이 있습니다. 투자자의 관심을 끌기 위해서는 그들과 같이 생각하고 이야기해야합니다. 미국에서는 낭비 할 수없는 VC를 던질 기회가 하나 있습니다. 네이트 하버 마이어 (Nate Habermeyer)는 대기업 및 중소 기술 회사와 협력하여 비즈니스 목표를 달성하는 데 도움이되는 브랜드 및 언론 보도 자료를 작성하도록 지원했습니다. Nate는 미국과 캐나다의 투자자와 기자가 주목할 아시아 스타트 업을위한 브랜드 전략을 발표 할 예정입니다.

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Ontario Election 2018 #2 The PC's Path to Victory

The path to victory for Patrick Brown and the Ontario PC’s is relatively straight. They just have to avoid making mistakes and avoid shooting themselves in the foot.  There’s an old adage that elections aren’t won – they are lost and the Liberals are well on their way to losing.  Just get out of the way and let it happen … at least that’s the plan, but it’s also not the full story. 

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HOWE&WYE Helps Unlock Northern BC’s Post-Secondary Education Potential

The result of nearly a year’s work had HOWE&WYE leading stakeholder consultation and engagement as well as the development of the overall strategy and project management with the myriad vendors involved in the project. Aside from generating growth for the institutions, the campaign will promote and dispel myths about living, learning and loving Northern BC. The campaign elements included brand strategy, creative execution, multinational media buy, social media execution, website development and media relations, as well as broad stakeholder communication. 

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HOWE&WYE Supports MSTA Canada’s Brand Shift

HOWE&WYE President Steve Virtue has been supporting MSTA Canada’s Managing Director Ryan McEachern deliver on his commitment to his members to modernize the organization and improve service to members with an aggressive brand transformation.  

“We are changing more than just our name and logo. For more than 35 years, we have built a strong reputation of delivering quality service to our members,” said McEachern.  HOWE&WYE partnered with MSTA Canada to undertake extensive consultation with members, stakeholders and the broader mining industry.

“I want to thank the team at HOWE&WYE – who led our engagement and brand research and have provided me with strategic counsel and communications support throughout this process,” said McEachern. The result of nearly 18-months of work had HOWE&WYE leading stakeholder consultation and engagement, developing strategy and communications management as well as the development of the overall strategy and project management with the myriad vendors involved in the project who have provided an outstanding framework to grow and expand the service offerings of MSTA Canada.

Formerly known as the Canadian Association of Mining Equipment and Services for Export the organization has a proud legacy of more than 35 years, however as the needs of the sector and its members have evolved and the organization required some deep strategic thinking to move the organization forward. MSTA Canada has adjusted their approach to business to better reflect the needs of its members. “Our members told us we needed a more modern approach to ensure we consistently deliver value to them, and we’ve done that,” said McEachern.

Do you have a strategy?

HOWE&WYE is often brought in to help evaluate how the current execution is aligned with business objectives.  Far too often we see organizations that get buried in the busy work of communications but fail to take a step back to align resources, expectations and objectives. In our practice, we often encounter organizations that have no strategy, they simply keep busy with the work of being busy. The book ends of success in our view are strategy and measurement, and far too often we see firms languishing without either.

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HOWE&WYE Celebrates Two Years

It has been an intense and amazingly rewarding two years of operation for us at HOWE&WYE. Having begun with no clients, no investor cash but a substantial passion and a great idea, our small firm has grown into a practice of 11 professionals consultants supporting our clients from operations ranging from Toronto to Vancouver to Mexico City.

We have maintained numerous long-term clients who trust our counsel and deep insights across a broad spectrum of communications and public affairs needs. The value proposition we offer remains as valid as it did 24 months ago – and that includes providing senior counsel with a significant depth of experience and expertise to support your growth needs. We maintain competitive pricing as a virtual organization, so you will always pay for the brains, and never the bricks.

We have been fortunate enough to work with multi-billion dollar firms, international governments start-ups and national non-profits and numerous organizations in between. Our own experience and expertise has grown along with our client roster. We are proud to offer consistent, senior account leadership because we think our clients deserve the best we have to offer.  Our results first approach has earned the trust and confidence of countless organizations from around the world.

So, from Nate and I, and all of us here at HOWE&WYE to our clients, friends and families, we want to thank you for investing your trust, faith and support over the past two years and we look forward to what lies ahead.  

Municipal Government Communications

A communications plan is the backbone of any government. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Government of Canada or a small municipality, the need for an effective communications plan can’t be overstated, especially during a crisis.  It sounds simple and straight forward, but without a plan the process of communicating in the midst of a crisis can often be paralyzing.     

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Failing to plan, planning to fail Pt. 2

Jan O'Driscoll, Senior Counsel
Crisis and Reputation Management 

After establishing that you have a crisis plan, the most important question is a simple one - are you confident that it will work? With virtually everyone plugged in and with access to social media and the fact that media cycles are 24/7, the potential for crisis is everywhere, making an effective Crisis Management Plan (CMP)  vital to organizations of all sorts - private and public sector, government agencies, charities, associations, etc. Even the biggest, most popular brands have disastrous failures. Lululemon's Chip Wilson's public apology is a perfect case study for what not to do. 

Sadly though, most organizations are woefully ill-equipped to deal with crisis.  Some will say that they have a communications plan or business continuity plan that covers crisis or that they have experienced professionals at the leadership levels who have dealt with and managed any and all types of crisis.  Some will even say that they are immune to crisis and that even if one arose, they would deal with it once it happens.  

What most people don't realize is that a CMP is all about execution.  My advice would be to bring in a third party to conduct an audit or of the organization's communications/crisis plan and apply a pressure test to determine if these plans will actually work as well as their ability to respond to crisis. A third party helps overcome the possibility of group think, while bringing in a broader range of expertise.  After a fulsome review, the establishment of a Crisis Response Team (CRT) is crucial.  This team should be made up of a combination of senior leadership, policy experts, communications and public affairs, as well as in-house legal counsel. Once the team is in place, anticipating and predicting crisis is the next step.  This will requires team members must be completely honest with themselves as to what exactly their company is potentially exposed to. 

From past experience, I have seen first-hand how egos have gotten in the way and have led to less than stellar team meetings and derailed any progress that had been made. This is yet another example of where an outside third party is necessary as they are not as impacted by internal office politics and egos.  Once there is an established list of possible crises, establishing holding lines and statements that can be used for each potential crisis identified is a must. These holding lines or statements are one of the most necessary parts of the entire CMP.  It has been estimated that a company has no more than 2-3 hours to make your initial response to any media reports or inquiries surrounding a crisis.  If that window of opportunity is missed, you face the unpleasant situation wherein your side of the story has been established by someone else - you're either the good guy or the bad guy or a neutral party to a bigger problem.  And even worse, you are now in reactive mode in the eyes of your stakeholders and media which make you look on the defensive.  Never a good place to be. 

Deciding who speaks on behalf of the company can be tricky.  Most will say the President or CEO, which is fine should the situation warrant their response.  Sometimes its better to have someone else respond first and should things escalate then the CEO should be the main spokesperson.  This step involves the CRT assessing the crisis and making their determination as to who will be the lead spokesperson.  In many cases there will be multiple spokespeople depending on the severity of the crisis and what stage is it at. For all designated spokespeople, monthly or quarterly media training should be done to give your company the greatest chance at successfully implementing a CMP should the need arise. When the inevitable happens and a crisis arises, a holding statement should be issued by the media relations department.