Working in communications is not as frightening as running from Michael Myers, but there are pitfalls that all companies will want to avoid. In the spirit of Halloween, we wanted to offer some hauntingly good advice on how to keep your candy corn, sorry, communications strategy, safe and fresh. Proceed with caution!

 

Untrained Spokespeople – Scary!

Speaking with media presents a great opportunity for companies and individuals to share their message and position themselves in the marketplace. But without any preparation, what was once a positive development can quickly turn into a missed opportunity, and in some cases, a petrifying episode.

Whether you work for an agency or in-house, taking time to media train potential spokespeople is an essential part of a strong communications plan.

Reporters and producers, particularly those in broadcast, are constantly on the lookout for new sources. Those who appear knowledgeable, are dynamic, and clearly relay their message points will not only connect with their target audience but also have the potential to develop productive relationships with media contacts. Practice makes perfect, so don’t let your star burst. With proper preparation, you will be a whopping success!

Selecting the Wrong Influencer – Alarming!!

Having the opportunity to work with influencers is increasingly becoming an important component of communications today. In the age of digital media, influencer marketing has helped bridge the gap between marketing and communications strategies.

If you opt to focus on paid influencer strategies, the number of followers a potential influencer boasts on Twitter or Instagram is a good starting point. But relying on these numbers alone won’t paint the full picture, especially as micro-influencers can be just as effective and produce a high return on investment.

The following are a few key questions to ask to prevent a sour patch:

  • How often do they engage with their followers?

  • Do they come off as authentic?

  • Are they passionate and knowledgeable about what they say?

  • Are they viewed as just a popular personality or are they more highly regarded as a thought leader or authority?

 

Allowing a Crisis to Linger and Escalate – Terrifying!!!

Crises happen. No matter how successful a company is, no matter how well a company treats its employees, no matter how well-liked a company is by its consumers, it will need to deal with a crisis at some point in time. More often than not, crises will occur in the public eye and draw the media’s scrutiny.

The late great Don Canham, former athletic director of the University of Michigan, is known to have often said, “Never turn a one-day story into a two-day story.” This message rings truer today than it ever has before. We have continued to see companies and organizations fail to step up to the plate – or misstep – over the past few years.

In the age of social media and instant accessibility to both facts and fake news, failing to respond appropriately to a crisis can be detrimental to public perception and, ultimately, a company’s bottom line. Here are a few tips:

  • Proactively Communicate with the Public Be vigilant, communicate proactively to control the message and avoid information vacuums and fake theories that can cause more damage.

  • Be consistent in messaging, both internally and externallyJust as it is important to keep the public updated, the same can be said for employees. Be communicative and transparent.

  • Be Honest – Transparency is vital in today’s world, even if that includes admitting a mistake. Showing accountability can go a long way in helping repair your image, and the only thing worse than getting caught in a crisis is getting caught lying in response to that crisis.

Don’t find yourself betwixt. Follow these simple steps and you may end up being a life saver!