Saturday, July 5, 2008

CRISIS COMMUNICATION


CRISIS COMMUNICATION
Crisis is a sudden and an unexpected event that may occur either naturally or as a result of human error, intervention or even malicious intent. Crisis communication is generally considered a sub-specialty of the public relations profession that is designed to protect and defend an individual, company, or organization facing a public challenge to its reputation. These challenges may come in the form of an investigation from a government agency, a criminal allegation, a media inquiry, a shareholders lawsuit, a violation of environmental regulations, or any of a number of other scenarios involving the legal, ethical, or financial standing of the entity. US research showed that 53% of all businesses hit by a crisis will not survive if they don't have an adequate recovery plan in place. Crisis communication is different from other forms of communication. A crisis creates extreme pressure.


Preparing for a Crisis

· Meet with management team to discuss options in a variety of crises. Consider all possible what-ifs.

· Delegate responsibilities and make clear who is responsible for what in a given crisis.

· Consider where you will meet if there's a fire or how you will communicate if the phone lines go down.

· Draft a loss-prevention manual to determine ahead of time how you will minimize loss. Doing so may lower your insurance liability payments.

· Post emergency evacuation routes in several sites in your buildings where they can be readily seen by employees.

· Have fire equipment where it can be readily accessed and seen.

· Make sure that there are employees trained ahead of time to deal with life and death situations, such as giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

· Drill employees regularly so that they will know what to do and not panic if a crisis situation occurs.

· Remember to plan for a variety of crises. Although a visit from the Immigration and Naturalization Services or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is not a matter of life or death, your receptionist should know how to respond ahead of time.


Crisis Communications Dos

· Do demonstrate care, concern, compassion
· Do demonstrate action to solve problem
· Do tell the truth
· Do be concise
· Do release only confirmed facts
· Do defuse negatives
· Do dispel rumors
· Do provide constant updates to media and public
· Do avoid business jargon
· Do keep your message simple
· Do repeat key messages again and again.


Crisis Communications DON’TS

· Don’t speculate
· Don’t discuss liability
· Don’t place blame
· Don’t estimate costs
· Don’t talk off-the-record
· Don’t give exclusives
· Don’t guess when conditions will return to normal
· Don’t reveal proprietary information
· Don’t presume solutions = end of the story


Example of food and beverage industry:

Food safety, crisis communications tools win chains' attention: In the aftermath of high-visibility foodborne illness outbreaks during the past 18 months, some restaurant chains are achieving enhanced food safety or improved crisis communications by leveraging technology that might not immediately come to mind for those purposes. The Web-based Instill Quality & Compliance Management system being used by the Subway chain's Independent Purchasing Cooperative, or IPC, is one such technology, as is the GroupCast LLC voice-messaging tool being used by Cheyenne, Wyo.-based Taco John's.



Reference:

http://www.ehow.com/how_15980_prepare-crisis-business.html
http://www.restaurant.org/events/business_continuity/index.cfm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_communications
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3190/is_45_41/ai_n21106404




21ST CENTURY COMMUNICATION TRENDS

Communication is rapidly expanding all over the world. Communication across the borders consists of flow of words, images, texts and data that move between and among individuals, government, social movements and business organizations. The current perceptions of innovation are it’s all about big ideas and primarily technological. Big ideas have a much lower success rate than small innovations. Innovations can occur in all aspects of business from new customer service ideas to improvements in operations. An idea isn’t an innovation until it is applied and turning a profit. The future belongs to small businesses that can turn innovations into profits.


Some of the 21st century trends are globalization, flexibility, flatness, networking and diversity.





GLOBALIZATION:



Globalization is the most important sector which will continue to accelerate during the 21st century and serve as the most important influence on the industry for the next few decades. Therefore communication is very important for globalization. Example: Wipro Technologies do business with many foreign countries, so they must know how to communicate with them.





DIVERSITY:



Cultural diversity encompasses the cultural differences that exist between people, such as language, dress and traditions, and the way societies organize themselves, their conception of morality and religion, and the way they interact with the environment. In the 21st century the workforce is getting more heterogeneous sexually, racially, culturally and individually. This has been a source of both innovation and also has caused conflicts because of the communication problems.





FLEXIBILITY:



In the 21st century companies are very flexible which means companies have a very few rules and regulations in their work place and they also have greater autonomy and encouragement for initiative. They provide lifetime employability and not lifetime employment. Companies will also have customizable employment relationships like telecommuting, job sharing, mommy tracks and pay for skills.





FLATNESS:



The latest trend in the organizational structure is the flat structure. This will have fewer levels of management and the workers will have the power of decision making. This is mainly due to increase the speed of the communication which will help the employees to interact faster and take faster decisions. This would also help the organizations to cut down their costs because this structure will have fewer managers.





NETWORKED:



Networking is a very key aspect in the 21st century. It will help the organization to directly communicate across unit and firm boundaries. It will help in cross-unit team structure, outsourcing and downsizing of the work. This will also help in getting in touch with the customers anytime and very quickly. This is mainly due to the fast changing customer needs and competitors offerings.



Reference:



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_diversity


INTERNAL COMMUNICATION



Internal communications includes all communication within an organization. Internal communications may be oral or written, face to face or virtual, one-on-one or in a small group. Effective internal communication - which can be said to be "downward, upward, and horizontal" - is a vital means of addressing organisational concerns. Good internal communication helps to establish formal roles and responsibilities for employees.

Effective internal communication is all about enabling employees to do their jobs to the best of their ability and ensuring that all of them are working together towards the same organizational goals.

Key Principles to Effective Internal Organizational Communications

1. Unless management comprehends and fully supports the premise that organizations must have high degrees of communications (like people needing lots of water), the organization will remain stilted. Too often, management learns the need for communication by having to respond to the lack of it.


2. Effective internal communications start with effective skills in communications, including basic skills in listening, speaking, questioning and sharing feedback (see Communications Skills.
These can developed with some concerted review and practice. Perhaps the most important outcome from these skills is conveying that you value hearing from others and their hearing from you.


3. Sound meeting management skills go a long way toward ensuring effective communications, too. (See Guidelines for Effective Meeting Management.)


4. A key ingredient to developing effective communications in any organization is each person taking responsibility to assert when they don't understand a communication or to suggest when and how someone could communicate more effectively.

Common Causes of Problems in Internal Communications

1. If I know it, then everyone must know it.

2. We hate bureaucracy -- we're "lean and mean."

3. I told everyone, or some people, or ...?

4. Did you hear what I meant for you to hear?

5. Our problems are too big to have to listen to each other!

6. So what's to talk about?

7. There's data and there's information.

8. If I need your opinion, I'll tell it to you.

Basic Structures/Policies to Support Effective Internal Communications

This communication can be looked at as communications downward and upward.

Downward Communications:

1. Ensure every employee receives a copy of the strategic plan, which includes the organization's mission, vision, values statement, strategic goals and strategies about how those goals will be reached.


2. Ensure every employee receives an employee handbook that contains all up-to-date personnel policies.


3. Develop a basic set of procedures for how routine tasks are conducted and include them in standard operating manual.


4. Ensure every employee has a copy of their job description and the organization chart.


5. Regularly hold management meetings (at least every two weeks), even if there's nothing pressing to report. If you hold meetings only when you believe there's something to report, then communications will occur only when you have something to say -- communications will be one way and the organization will suffer. Have meetings anyway, if only to establish and affirm the communication that things are of a status that there's not immediate problems.


6. Hold full staff meetings every month to report how the organization is doing, major accomplishments, concerns, announcements about staff, etc.


7. Leaders and managers should have face-to-face contact with employees at least once a week. Even if the organization is over 20 employees (large for a nonprofit), management should stroll by once in a while.


8. Regularly hold meetings to celebrate major accomplishments. This helps employees perceive what's important, gives them a sense of direction and fulfillment, and let's them know that leadership is on top of things.


9. Ensure all employees receive yearly performance reviews, including their goals for the year, updated job descriptions, accomplishments, needs for improvement, and plans to help the employee accomplish the improvements. If the nonprofit has sufficient resources (a realistic concern), develop a career plan with the employee, too.

Upward Communications:

1. Ensure all employees give regular status reports to their supervisors. Include a section for what they did last week, will do next week and any actions/issues to address.


2. Ensure all supervisors meet one-on-one at least once a month with their employees to discuss how its' going, hear any current concerns from the employee, etc. Even if the meeting is chit-chat, it cultivates an important relationship between supervisor and employee.


3. Use management and staff meetings to solicit feedback. Ask how it's going. Do a round table approach to hear from each person.


4. Act on feedback from others. Write it down. Get back to it -- if only to say you can't do anything about the reported problem or suggestion, etc.


5. Respect the "grapevine." It's probably one of the most prevalent and reliable forms of communications. Major "movements" in the organization usually first appear when employees feel it safe to venture their feelings or opinions to peers.

Example:

In the Ark Group, they believe internal communications is finally coming out of the shadows by demonstrating the value it brings to companies that address it at a strategic level.

Recognising that your internal audience is as important as your external one is the first step towards improving how your company engages with the people that live your brand. A well-structured and cross-functional approach to internal communications will drive cultural, behavioural and long-term change, ensure employee buy-in to business goals, encourage innovation and meet the information needs of the organisation.

Ark Group has followed the evolving role of internal communications and has supported its development with our strategic series of events and seminars. By bringing together key players and communicators, we aim to ensure that all organisations recognise this function as a critical business success factor.

Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_communications

http://www.ark-group.com/home/ic/

MEDIA RELATIONS


Media Relations is one of the most critical areas within the corporate communication function. It is an ongoing activity which ensures that the organization has a strong public image. This function helps the public to understand the organization and its products. Similar to effective advertising and promotions, effective public relations often depends on designing and implementing a well-designed public relations plan. The plan often includes description of what you want to convey to whom, how you plan to convey it, who is responsible for various activities and by when, and how much money is budgeted to fund these activities. Similar to advertising and promotions, a media plan and calendar can be very useful, which specifies what media methods that are used and when.

Often, public relations are conducted through the media, that is, newspapers, television, magazines, etc. Publicity is mention in the media. Organizations usually have little control over the message in the media, at least, not as much as they do in advertising. Regarding publicity, reporters and writers decide what will be said.

Example:

American Honda Motor Co., Inc., has appointed Sara Pines responsible for executing the national public relations activities for the company's Power Equipment division located in Alpharetta, Georgia. Sage Marie, who formerly held this position, has been promoted to Manager, Honda Public Relations, and has relocated to Torrance, California, where he oversees automotive public relations operations.


Personal Experience:

My personal experience on media relations is when a celebrity endorses for an ad talking about the problems in the society like AIDS, not to smoke in public places etc. it has a lot impact on the public.

Reference:

http://www.hondanews.com/

CORPORATE ADVERTISING


Corporate advertising is an action of calling attention of the public by paid announcements which will help to benefit the company’s image as a whole rather than its products or services. Corporate image advertising should brand a company the way product advertising brands a product. Since it is a paid form of advertising the payment will be made by the corporate communication department or by the CEO’s office. A corporate ad campaign should be Strategic and Consistent. Corporate advertising falls into three categories:

  • Image advertising
  • Financial advertising
  • Issue advocacy

Corporate advertisement is a long term goal. It maintains the image of a company and it gives an idea about the mission and vision of the company. Therefore a good corporate advertising can enhance a company’s reputation. The benefit of such an ad is that it influences the decisions of its external constituents but at the same time these organizations need to be very careful and cautious during the issue of corporate ads as it inherits risks. This type of advertising will also help in attracting investors, influence opinions, increase overall sales and also recruit and retain employees.

Example of a Corporate Ad:

Example of a product Ad:

IDENTITY, IMAGE, AND REPUTATION


IDENTITY, IMAGE, AND REPUTATION

IDENTITY

An Identity is conveyed by the company's colorful logos, its artistic designs, creative Web site, and business cards. Corporate identity has become an important tool for the promotion of corporate culture and companies. Corporate identity is the image used by a company which is designed to portray the company's identity, aims and objectives. Corporate identity is demonstrated by branding and trademarks. Logos are a part of corporate identity which contributes to success and recognition, which is not to be confused with logos. The world of business is hugely competitive and is comprised of thousands of logos. Out of those thousands only a few survive to become famous.

Example: you identify McDonalds by its big M.

IMAGE

A company image is the combination of the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, opinions and visions people have about you, your products and services, or your company. The look of your image backs up the corporate culture you've established inside and outside your firm. It's what you want to convey about yourself, your business, your product, your work ethic, and your professionalism combined with the strategy you've developed to reach your target audience.

It's so important because your image instantly tells all your customers and vendors what kind of company you're running. If your image is excellent, it will make your company stand out from its competitors.

Example: When you think of Starbucks, the vision, feelings and thoughts you get is of a good coffee.

REPUTATION

Reputation is built up over time and not simply a perception at a given point in time. It is a product of both internal and external constituencies. It is based on the perception of all constituencies. It is the reputation that builds brands and super-brands, it is reputation that makes organization qualify for FORTUNE's 500, etc.

Reference:

http://www.agmrc.org/agmrc/business/operatingbusiness/companyimage.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_image

http://www.smallbusinessnotes.com/operating/marketing/image.html

CORPORATE COMMUNICATION RELEVANCE


Corporate communication helps to communicate with hundreds, sometimes thousands of employees within an organization. This challenge is further complicated in organizations with a global presence, where corporate headquarters is responsible for delivering the same message to satellite offices in geographically dispersed locations. But it's not enough to just create the message. Effective corporate communication involves not only the message itself, but also the medium that carries and delivers it. It's these two components of a communication that dictate whether employees will receive and understand it. But don't fool yourself in thinking that there's some long process of deliberation when they receive one of these messages. Most corporate communications will grab the attention of an employee for no more than a few seconds — if at all. It's within that very narrow window of opportunity that they will decide whether to read something or toss it aside.
Corporate communication comparises of advertising and image building, change and corporate culture, media relations, investors relations, international communication, communication policy, internal communication and technology, crisis communication, corporate citizenship and ethics, executive communication issues, building a communication culture, leadership and communication and public relations.



Corporate communications encodes and promotes


Strong corporate culture
•Coherent corporate identity
•Reasonable corporate philosophy
•Genuine sense of corporate citizenship
•An appropriate and professional relationship with the press, including quick, responsible ways of communicating in a crisis
•Understanding of communication tools and technologies
•Sophisticated approaches to global communications
How an organization communicates with its employees, its extended audiences, the press, and its customers brings its values to life.
Corporate Communications is all about managing perceptions and ensuring:
•Effective and timely dissemination of information •Positive corporate image •Smooth and affirmative relationship with all stakeholders

Example:
Suzuki Auto Receives 2007 MarCom Awards for Outstanding Communications
Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals honors Suzuki for creative, effective dealer communications.


* Suzuki Auto collects seven MarCom Creative Awards, more than any other OEM
BREA, Calif. -- American Suzuki Motor Corp. announced that it has received seven prestigious MarCom Creative Awards for excellence in dealer training and communications in 2007. Suzuki Auto's seven MarCom awards, which represent more than any other auto manufacturer received in 2007, illustrate the company's commitment to deliver first-class communications and training support to its network of approximately 500 dealers nationwide.


Teaming with Drizen-Dohs Corporate Communications, Chatsworth, Calif. (DDCC) to produce printed sales support materials, and with Pacific Technology Solutions, Irvine, Calif. (PTS) to produce web-based dealership training courses, Suzuki Auto received a total of four Platinum and three Gold awards. The Platinum awards recognized DDCC's Vehicle Pocket Guide, a handy reference sales tool, and Fuel, a fact-filled salesperson publication, and PTS' Electrical 1 and Electronic Fuel Injection 1 training courses. Additionally, Suzuki received Gold awards for DDCC's Tracks, Suzuki Auto dealers' publication, and PTS' Parts Manager Bronze and Service Manager Bronze online operational training courses.

Reference:
http://www.valt.helsinki.fi/staff/aberg/amsterdam2/sld015.htmhttp://www.corporatecomm.org/pdf/0102_goodman.pdf
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2008_Jan_24/ai_n24221787




COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES


Communication Technologies

Today the world is considered as a global village, this has happened only due to the increase in communication

technology. The world is becoming smaller and smaller because of the use of highly advanced communication tools. An example of communication technology is teleconferencing. Teleconferencing is a telephone call between two or more people. The most simple form of teleconferencing is using three-way calling to setup your own teleconference between yourself and two other participants. More advanced PBX equipment can setup conference calls between more than three participants. Most businesses choose to use a teleconferencing service instead of purchasing and maintaining their own teleconferencing systems. Another advancement in the communication is the fax which is know as facsimile. It is a telecommunication technology used to transfer copies of documents, especially using affordable devices operating over the telephone network. The device is also known as a telecopier in certain industries. When sending documents to people at large distances, faxes have a

distinct advantage over postal mail in that the delivery is nearly instantaneous, yet its disadvantages in quality have relegated it to a position beneath email as the prevailing form of electronic document transferral.

Personal experience:

My personal experience in communication technology, one of my cousin lives in Australia and I talk to him on skpe and yahoo messenger through a webcam which has helped me to communicate better. I feel as though he is sitting next to me and having a coffee along with me when I chat with him.

Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fax

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication_technology

http://www.isomatic.co.uk/WBStandards.htm#Introduction

http://www.tech-faq.com/pbx.shtml

COMMUNICATION THEORY


COMMUNICATION THEORY
Communication is the production and exchange of information and meaning by use of signs and symbols. It involves encoding and sending messages, receiving and decoding them, and synthesizing information and meaning. Communication permeates all levels of human experience and it is central to understanding human behavior and to nearly all public health efforts aimed at fostering health behavior change among individuals, populations, organizations, communities, and societies.
Communication may be studied empirically and critically at different levels of interaction. These levels, often described on a "micro-to-micro" continuum are "intra-personal" (how individuals process information), "inter-personal" (how two individuals interact to influence one another), group (how communication dynamics occur among many individuals), formal and informal "organizations" (how communication occurs and functions in the context of organizations such as hospitals, schools, or public health agencies), and "community" and "society" (how communication builds or changes the agenda of important issues).
Empirical study means applying scientific methods to the study of communication; as in the study of behavior change resulting from exposure to a communication campaign. Critical study means applying methods of cultural, literary, or normative criticism to the study of communication; as in the analysis of how media content creates health-related meaning and influences behavioral norms through commercial advertising or entertainment.
Many fields emphasize the importance of communication theory as a basis for understanding human behavior. For the field of public health, the use of applied communication perspectives involves how communication activity positively or negatively contributes to health behavior, and how the planned use of communication influences health behavior within the context of health education and health promotion.
Reference:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication_theory

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

COMMUNICATING STRATEGICALLY

Strategic communication doesn’t necessarily require enormous time or resources. Instead, it involves a way of thinking about communication one that places communication squarely in the broader context of strategic organizational change. What is required is a senior-level commitment to actively leading a coordinated change effort with specific objectives. The creation of the initial announcement and communication strategy requires the active, hands-on involvement of top leaders. The transition period provides opportunities to use communication to build support, increase participation, and maintain performance during a period of instability and uncertainty. In the latter stages of change, strategic communication helps to sustain momentum and keep the organization focused on critical priorities and objectives. Under any circumstances, strategic communication provides a conceptual approach and some guiding principles that can substantially increase the effectiveness of leadership in today’s complex organizations.


Setting an effective organizational strategy is very vital for an organization. It has various steps involved like determining the objectives of the communication, deciding what resources are available like money, time and human resources. Organizations must also determine what kind of reputation they have with the constituencies. The next most important function in a communication strategy is to analyze its constituencies. The companies have to look into who are its primary and secondary constituencies because each company will have a different set of constituencies depending on their nature, size and reach of their business. In addition to this companies have to assess what each constituency thinks about their organization. The company should also determine what each knows and feels about the communication in question. A company which has a bad reputation will have a tough time to communicate its message.



Example: Toyota had always been known for its quality products. But people didn't know that Toyota was a creative corporate working on projects that impact everyday lives. To convey this image, Toyota engaged in eco-friendly activities, participated in motor sports such as Formula One and practiced philanthropy.


Refernces:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strategic_Communication
http://www.toyota.com/about/our_values/index.html

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Changing Environment of Business

One of the most important reasons for changes in the business environment is due to globalization. For example, Organizations such as General Motors have to worry not only about what Chrysler and Ford are doing, but also what Toyota, Volkswagen, and BMW are doing as well. In fact, Chrysler is not just “Chrysler” anymore. It is now a conglomeration of European, North American, and Asian manufacturers known as DaimlerChrysler. Therefore mangers need to have certain skills in knowing how to analyze and improve the ability of an organization to survive and grow in a complex and changing world. This means that managers must have a set of tools that enables them to grasp the complexity of the organization's environment.


The job of every manager involves what is known as the functions of management: planning, organizing, directing, and controlling. Managers have to understand that business environment is constantly evolving. Therefore they have to keep updating their knowledge on all the management functions.

THE CHANGING ROLE OF THE CIO

video

Personal Experience

One of my personal experiences on the changing business environment is on booking of my travel tickets. Before when I use to book tickets for my travel, I use go to a travel agent and then ask him for information and make my payments through cash or cheque. But now, I book all my tickets online and make payments through credit cards. This means that the companies have improved the technology in their business environment and have created virtual market place for their customers.

References

http://aaahq.org/pubs/AESv16/chapter2.pdf

http://www.ilocarib.org.tt/oldwww/infsources/productivity/WorkersProductivityTolentino.htm