Crisis Comms Expertise, an Essential Tool for US Businesses Surviving Bankruptcy, Financial Restructuring or Furloughs

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Crisis Comms Expertise, an Essential Tool for US Businesses Surviving Bankruptcy, Financial Restructuring or Furloughs

Per the American Bankruptcy Institute, 722 companies in May 2020 sought bankruptcy protection, the tech sector saw the most bankruptcy filings in the first half of a year since 2009, and well-over 2,200 commercial organizations nationwide have filed for Chapter 11 this year. Last year a total of 6,800 companies filed for bankruptcies. So ‘we ain’t seen nothing yet!’

Business leaders around the US are confronting unprecedented challenges. As uncertainty looms, we’re all looking to determine what’s next and how to implement future plans.

As we all undergo trying times, determining how to explain our struggles is more vital than it has ever been. Business growth may not be feasible now, and survival may hinge on carefully managing liquidity or restructuring efforts.

Maintaining liquidity or reorganizing during the current storm and beyond requires expertise that might not be available in-house.

Navigating Bankruptcy and Financial Reorganization

Many US companies will need to adjust to stay solvent. This may be as simple as implementing a new financial plan to accommodate the current situation, including not spending on rent, lessening expenses or reducing payroll.

For others, however, a more formal statement and new business plan will be required. One that creditors and a court can deem acceptable.

Actively seeking professional counsel is a critical way to show stakeholders your leadership and proactive efforts. Set a clear course and request help. From internal sources, but also outside professionals, such as financial consultants, lawyers, and communications specialists, who can advise you on available options to decrease financial burden and attain some level of continuity.

Communicating Optimism in Crisis

Whatever level of crisis an organization and its financial and legal experts must work through, it is vital for it to consider collaborating with a public relations firm equipped to manage bankruptcy communications. This can help uphold the integrity of its reputation and brand.

Planning and executing crisis communications effectively is necessary to ensure customers, investors, employees, media, and partners stay engaged with a company.

An effective bankruptcy communications roadmap will need to build hope and optimism. To achieve this, a plan should include close collaboration with bankruptcy lawyers alongside strategically-directed key messages for business representatives and media training for employees and executives, who will need to share unfavorable news with confidence while positioning the business to recover its value and succeed.

Implementing the Right Strategy

Crisis communications require precision on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, organizations facing challenges should seek communications partners that can customize plans specifically for their needs. Many organizations have their own strengths, so teams should carefully choose who to partner with and strive to gain an honest and transparent relationship with the firms they are considering.

Once a communications roadmap is laid out (and sometimes planning must overlap with execution), it’s time to implement a tactical key message approach. This must be done in a way that helps build and sustain positive relationships with the media and stakeholders via a multitude of strategies — from internal and external communications, social media, news releases, investor relations, and more.

Experience also plays a large role in success. Veterans who have been neck-deep in crisis and emerged successfully with positive messaging can explain first-hand what they have seen work and fail. And the human element is also vital. In every instance – it’s important that crisis communications clearly maintain the value businesses place on customers and employees and the humanity leadership displays as they try to help themselves and others navigate troubled waters.

About the Author

Bob Gold founded and manages Bob Gold & Associates, one of the premiere independent integrated communications public relations agencies in the United States.  The agency specialty is being experts at the nexus where video content meets technology and distribution. In 2019 Public Relations Society (PRSA) Los Angeles named him Communications Professional of the Year.

During his more than 30 years in public relations and marketing, Bob Gold has helped launch more than a dozen companies, re-branded many others, and created successful campaigns for numerous start-ups and Fortune 500 brands.

Gold is also the Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Hemisphere Technologies Inc., a Nevada corporation, which is dedicated to investing in technology companies. Gold has extensive experience in small and large-scale transactions and works as a key member engaged in all aspects including sourcing, evaluating, structuring, monitoring, and, where applicable, harvesting investments.

When he’s not helping others, Gold can usually be found more than 65 feet underwater on a scuba diving “mancation” with his three sons.

Why Listening to Local Knowledge Can Make or Break Global PR Campaigns

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Why Listening to Local Knowledge Can Make or Break Global PR Campaigns

When it comes to rolling out global PR campaigns, you will be faced with a multitude of choices and challenges to navigate. For example, how to achieve consistent results across all regions, while also making sure work is shared among teams to avoid double effort and fee for the same results.

Local knowledge is always at the heart of achieving results. That’s why we always recommend rolling out global campaigns through a network of local agencies who can work cohesively as one account team.

As a lead agency with experience in executing global PR campaigns, we embrace the task of not only being the primary point of contact for our client, but also having the responsibility to ensure we get the most out of the other agencies we partner with regardless of what country they operate in.

We spoke to our partner agencies that we regularly work with to find out their views.

The secret of success

Two key factors to consider are to thoroughly listen to partners and build a strong open relationship, as highlighted by Robert Brownlie, Associate Account Executive at Los Angeles-based PR firm Bob Gold & Associates.

“When working with a lead agency on a global PR rollout, collaboration and fluid communication are key, building trust and operating as if we are a part of the same agency. In this regard, we want to mutually understand the goals behind success metrics and to be able to study and share what has worked and what hasn’t. This helps us go beyond simply checking in boxes to meet deliverables and enables us to work as a successful team that builds and promotes a powerful client narrative.

“What we don’t want is to operate in a siloed vacuum or to go long periods without touching base. Even if two agencies are operating on separate sides of the globe, it’s important to communicate often and use each other’s resources,” added Brownlie.

This open method of communication gives each agency a platform they can comfortably express which specific tactics will engage the end audience in their region.

Listen to the locals

When operating as a lead agency, understanding the core differences in region and listening to each agency’s requirements can be the difference between success and failure.

Alain Blaes, General Manager at Munich-based communications consultancy PR-COM said: “In our experience, openness to understanding a regional agency’s needs is paramount to a successful campaign, as media landscapes vary drastically between regions. From big picture topics such as media strategy, to individual by-line topics, what works in one region may not work in another, and no one knows these ins and outs like a local agency.

“The German media values a local touch. A common misconception is that out-of-town executives will be shoo-ins for interviews with the business press when they visit Germany, but that isn’t the case. German journalists want to hear experts comment on their strategy, and back their statements up with experience in the local market. They aren’t interested in the marketing-speech common in the US, for example.”

It’s also worth adding, that these regional nuances might not be what your client wants to hear, but it’s your responsibility to not just share this with the client, but actively work with the regional agency to establish what will work – and what techniques will be effective.

Don’t break the budget

When planning a PR campaign that will ‘take the globe by storm’, realistic budget planning is crucial, as highlighted by Lauren Brush, Associate Account Director at Dubai-based Active Digital Marketing Communications Agency.

“The most difficult thing for US or European companies to understand is how expansive the Middle East is. Organisations often believe that a similar budget that equates to one European country will suffice for the whole MENA region, which isn’t the case. The Middle East consists of very different countries and they all approach journalism and target audiences in different ways. For example, in Saudi Arabia there needs to be a focus on digital as the media landscape isn’t as vast, while the UAE has a wide media landscape that includes both English speaking and Arabic journalists, which often requires additional translation costs.

“When multiple agencies work together, collaboration is key and sometimes agencies can tend to try and compete with each other in front of the client. This is often counterproductive, so establishing respect and two-way communication from the outset is crucial. That’s why working with Whiteoaks is easy, because it’s clear that we work as a partnership which helps achieves stronger results for the client.”

Our approach

At Whiteoaks International, we believe that local insight is priceless and pride ourselves on being able to lead the deployment of global PR campaigns for clients by working with local PR agencies across the globe through the WIN PR Group, an instant international PR network that covers over 70 countries. Our approach allows clients to tap into a wealth of local knowledge while benefitting from consistent strategic planning and account management delivered by the Whiteoaks team. We develop the best option that will meet your needs for global PR, whether that’s working with agencies from our WIN PR Group, selecting your own local agencies and working within our IPM structure, a combination of these two approaches, or leveraging active relationships with your local network of PR agencies and adopting the Whiteoaks IPM approach.